Nowadays, flying can be a journey so filled with hassles that you almost wish you'd stayed at home.
Unless, of course, you have a ticket in the business- or first-class cabin, where the seats are larger, service is more attentive and the perks are beyond what anyone back in the economy cabin can imagine. As summer vacation season shifts into high gear, CNBC recently took a look at some of the higher-end perks offered to luxury travelers by some airlines.
For travelers flying in Air France's La Premiere cabin, the carrier offers a wide range of creature comforts like a seat that turns into a fully flat bed, a partition and curtains that can be pulled all the way around. The in-flight dining menu contains dishes designed by Michelin-starred chefs, sommelier-chosen wines and cocktails created by the head bartender at the Ritz Paris.
For premiere passengers starting their trip from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, the perks begin curbside, with a dedicated baggage porter, a private check-in lounge, complimentary spa treatments and a Chef Alain Ducasse restaurant.
First-class flyers on most Emirates A380 and Boeing 777 flights get privates suites, Bulgari amenity kits and on-demand, gourmet meals served on Royal Doulton bone china plates. On overnight flights, sleepwear with "microcapsule technology" release hydrating nutrients and stimulate circulation. Passengers can also refresh in an in-flight shower spa.
Etihad's Residence is just that: a three-room flying apartment on the airline's A380, designed for two people flying together.
The space includes a living room with sofa, two dining tables and a 32-inch flat-screen TV; a separate bedroom with 6-foot,10-inch double bed and a 27-inch flat TV; and a bathroom with full-height shower. Bonus amenities include a butler, inflight chef and concierge service.
For all passengers, Etihad also has a "Flying Nanny" on board most flights to help keep kids entertained – and parents sane.
Small amenities are expected from all airlines, but KLM offers premium flyers something unique: An end-of-flight gift of a Delft Blue miniature Dutch house filled with Dutch gin. The flag carrier of the Netherlands has been doing this since the 1950s, introducing a new little blue – and now highly collectible – souvenir house each year.
The first-class cabin on Qatar Airways offers top-tier passengers plenty of personal space and special attention, but the airlines' new, already award-winning business class 'Qsuite' — which debuted at the recent Paris Air Show — is getting all the attention. The patented seats offer a double bed in a business-class cabin and have privacy panels that allow passengers in adjoining seats to create a first class-style private room.
Qatar plans to install the seats on long-haul Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.
Designed by French luxury yacht designers and available only on its Airbus A380-800 aircraft, Singapore Airlines' suites are individual cabins with sliding doors, window blinds and a bed that's separate from the 35-inch-wide leather armchair. Amenity kits are by Ferragamo and meals are served on specially-designed Wedgewood bone china.
Through a "book the cook" option, passengers may order from a menu that might include lobster thermidor, rib-eye steak, pan-seared pheasant, New Zealand lamb and other dishes created by internationally acclaimed chefs. A signature premium perk in some Singapore Air's suites include the choice of Dom Perignon or Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne (although many passengers choose both).
It's hard for domestic carriers to compete with the upscale service and offerings of many international airlines, but United Airlines is giving it a go with its new seats, service and lounges on its Polaris business-class flights.
Passengers get Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, slippers, restaurant-quality menus designed by Trotter Project chefs, customized afternoon wine flights, kits filled with spa amenities and on flights longer than 12 hours, cotton pajamas.