Travel in style: the best airplane seats

Luke Graham, special to CNBC.com

Travel in style: the best airplane seats

The wing of an A380 airbus
Tongho58 | Moment | Getty Images

First-class seats have always been one of the best ways to fly, but now some airlines are offering increasingly indulgent experiences, including private cabins and on-board showers.

Ahead of the Dubai Air Show, CNBC looks at some of the best premium seats available. Prices are from the airlines' own websites in the week of November 2, 2015.

- By Luke Graham, special to CNBC.com. Posted November 6, 2015.

Singapore Airlines Suite

Singapore Airlines first class private suite
Singapore Airlines

If you're flying to or from Singapore, you can travel in your own private cabin.

Introduced in 2008 and only available on the Airbus A380, each cabin has wood paneling and leather finishes, as well as sliding doors and blinds to create your own private space.

Rather than having seats that convert into beds, each cabin has a full-sized, fold-out bed and mattress. Plus, the 23-inch entertainment screens in each suite are some of the largest available on a flight.

The experience has a high-price tag and a return flight costs up to $18,000.

Qantas First Suite

Qantas First Class cabin aboard the A380
Qantas

The Australian carrier offers a premium experience on its A380s. Passengers are surrounded by a partition creating a sense of privacy, and the seats stretch out into a fully-flat bed.

The suite is only available on flights from Los Angeles and Dallas to Australia and comes at a significant cost (a return flight from Dallas to Sydney costs $16,823) but that does include an eight-course menu and the services of an on-board wine steward called a sommelier.

Etihad First Apartment and Suite

The Etihad First Apartment
Etihad

While currently only available on flights between Abu Dhabi and London or Sydney (or New York from December), the First Apartment and First Suite on the Etihad A380 can fetch up to $4,250. The seats are similar to the Singapore Airlines Suite, with private cabins and full-sized beds, but Etihad's has slightly larger entertainment screens (at 24-inches), a lobby on the upper deck for passengers to socialize, and showers in the First Class bathroom.

Emirates Private Suites

Emirates A380 First class bathroom with shower
Emirates

Emirates had beaten Etihad to provide showers for its first-class passengers and the airlines provide a similar luxury experience: Both have private cabins and a lounge area for passengers to get a drink and socialize. But, Emirates has a broader network with the Emirates A380 flying to more than 55 airports around the world. But be warned, the novelty of taking a shower while flying is expensive. A return flight from New York to Dubai in December would cost almost $26,000.

British Airways First

British Airways first class cabin
British Airways

BA's First cabins are a slightly more modest experience. The seats have a plastic partition creating a sense of privacy and a seat comes with a 15-inch entertainment screen, along with USB ports so passengers can use their laptop or tablet. The first-class cabins are currently available on 53 routes, with a return flight from London to New York costing $3,850.

A newer version of the First cabin has been designed for the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. These seats will feature more storage space, 23-inch entertainment screens and touch controls. It's currently only available on flights to Abu Dhabi and Muscat, but will be expanded to Kuala Lumpur this year and Texas and California in 2016.


Qatar First Class

The Qatar Airways first class cabin
Qatar Airways

The Qatar A380s do not have the segregated, private cabins and private showers that are offered by the two other big Middle East airlines, but Qatar's First Class cabin is spacious and boasts a five-star dining experience with a menu prepared by master chefs. A return flight from London to Doha would cost around $6,000.

Japan Airlines First Class Suite

Japan Airlines first class suite
Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines offers private suites to passengers on its Boeing 777 flights. There are only eight seats available in first class on flights between Japan and destinations in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, allowing for wider seats which fold out into beds. A return flight from Tokyo to New York in first class would cost just under $16,000.

Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific's first class cabin
Cathay Pacific

The First Class cabin on board the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 was designed by Foster and Partners, a world-famous design and architecture firm, which also designed Cathay Pacific's departure lounge at Hong Kong International Airport.

The cabin has similar features and layout to the Qantas and British Airways cabins, including reclining seats, touchscreen controls and a connector which will charge iPads and other devices. For $15,600, you could fly return from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

American Airlines Flagship First Class

American Airlines first class cabin
American Airlines

The first class cabin on American Airline's Boeing 777 is not available on every route. At the moment, you can travel in luxury on the New York-Sao Paulo or -London routes, or Dallas to Hong Kong. The service does have one novel feature: swivel seats.

The seat, which folds out into an 82-inch bed, can turn, allowing passengers to access the aisle, watch films on the 17-inch entertainment screen, and turn away from the aisle to work or eat at a side table. The New York to Sao Paulo return flight costs $7,371.