I love helping you go further on your travel dollar with tips like the best day to buy cheap airfare. But there are some travelers for whom comfort and convenience are much more important than just saving $40 on a non-refundable ticket. For these passengers, price seems to be no object.
As airlines provide fewer amenities for coach passengers squeezed ever closer together, the carriers seem to be doing just the opposite for high value first-class passengers. The competition for the most outrageous first-class perks is soaring sky high.
These perks are most extreme on long-haul international flights where a couple of first-class, round-trip tickets can approach six figures or more! How about singing in your own private shower at 40,000 feet? Or having a butler attending to your every whim inside your airborne "apartment?" Seriously!
Now in fairness to the airlines, these pampered passengers are definitely paying for the privilege. I just checked round-trip fares from New York to Dubai. On Emirates Airline, you can pay just over $1,000 to sit in coach for 12 hours, or $30,000 for the same trip in a private first class compartment complete with your own "shower spa."
Thanks to the world's largest airliner, the Airbus A380, designers now have more options to install opulent perks like never before. On that Emirates flight to Dubai I wrote of above, when you feel like getting up to stretch your legs, you can mingle with other first-class passengers in the exclusive in-flight lounge.
The A380 can seat more than 850 coach passengers. But when airlines trade those tiny seats for spacious first-class accommodations, they can earn even more revenue from well-heeled travelers eager to pay for the luxury.
But it's not just Emirates Airlines competing for high-end flyers. Etihad Airlines has stepped up its game with first class options the airline calls "First Apartments." The First Apartments come equipped with a flat-screen TV, which can be viewed from the armchair or while relaxing in bed, together with a vanity cabinet with ample lighting and space for your carry-ons, a refrigerator and a spacious wardrobe closet.
After a restful sleep, passengers can prepare for arrival in their private bathroom.
But in-flight perks aren't just for the rich and famous. Now you can get free in-flight Wi-Fi and streaming movies through Amazon.
Over on Virgin American, the airline is offering a seat-to-seat chat feature. See a passenger you'd like to meet? Now you can send over drinks, snacks or meals to a fellow passenger courtesy of a clever seat-back touch screen. The airline says it is to facilitate business meetings but it doesn't take much of an imagination to see how it could also be used for a little in-flight flirting.
On British Airways, nervous passengers and animal lovers can relax with the airline's new TV channel, Paws and Relax. The video stream is dedicated to showing cute footage of cats, kittens, dogs and puppies.
Here are a few more photos of Emirates' in-flight perks.