Here are some of the Perks You may enjoy flying as a Premium Passenger this Season

The way we travel has changed, even though it happened sooner than the industry would have anticipated – or liked for that matter. As more people are prioritising their safety, time and overall experience, private jet travel has increased drastically, helped by companies making it even accessible. Now that a lot of us have had a taste of private air travel, would we ever go back to flying commercial?

Your answer is probably a strong ‘no’, but major airlines do not agree with it. And in fact, to prove just how wrong you may be, they are throwing in enticing offerings and services that would tempt luxury travellers like you to come back to them.

On the ground

Using American Airlines? You can now pop into lounges in New York and Miami, with more soon to follow. There, you can expect a welcome glass of Champagne at the check-in area, plus dining menus in each lounge that have been revamped in partnership with local chefs and the James Beard Foundation.

The American Airlines flagship lounge is open to premium passengers
You can relax at the American Airlines flagship lounge in-between flights. Image courtesy of Traveling for Miles

Also, if you are Hawaii-bound on nonstop flights from (or to) Charlotte, Chicago or Dallas/Fort Worth, the airline now gives Flagship Business passengers Admirals Club access. Previously, you had to be a Club member, but now these flights are treated like long-haul international flights, so you get that extra perk.

British Airways, on the other hand, has reopened its Concorde Lounges (reserved for first-class fliers), and both the New York JFK and London Heathrow locations now feature a new custom cocktail list plus sleep pods with wakeup service for catching some quick shuteye during a connection.

Over in Paris, Air France recently cut the ribbon on one of its largest lounges in the world. Taking the place of two smaller lounges, the Charles de Gaulle Terminal F lounge sits between the two F terminals, which are used for intra-Europe flights. The new facility boasts two floors of designer furnishings, hot and cold food buffets, shower rooms, self-serve drink areas and plenty of workspace.

The bar at United Airlines' Polaris lounge
The bar at the United Airlines’ Polaris lounge for its premium passengers. Image

United Airlines unveiled its newest Polaris business class lounge at Washington Dulles last month. Measuring 21,000 square feet, the lounge features an a la carte dining area, shower suites, a library and a cocktail bar. Existing Polaris lounges, which are available to United business class and Star Alliance business and first-class passengers, are also steadily reopening, with outposts in Chicago, Houston and Newark set to be available before the end of the year.

In the air

After all this five-star treatment on the ground, it only makes sense that the service continues in the air. And the airlines understand this.

In addition to recently launching transatlantic flights to London aboard its new Airbus A321 Long Range planes, JetBlue just launched a new Mint (business class) cabin with custom bedding and headphones, menus from New York City-based Delicious Hospitality Group (whose restaurants include Charlie Bird and Legacy Records), all-aisle seating and Studio Suite options in which you can dine with a travelling companion.

Diptyque products available at the lounge of Qatar Airways
Passengers in the premium cabin and lounges of Qatar Airways will now have access to Diptyque products. Image courtesy of Qatar Airways

Virgin Atlantic premium passengers abroad the Airbus A350 planes can choose to socialise in the booth, a new lounge-style are near the galley (instead of the standard bar found on some other Virgin Atlantic aircraft). The space features a booth with a centre table at which you can grab a drink or catch live footage of the plane via tail cameras. The airline plans for it to be flying between London and many leisure destinations, including Florida and the Caribbean.

Back to JetBlue: its Mint travellers are gifted chic amenity kits packed with useful skincare and wellness items tailored to both the time of your flight (morning, evening or red-eye) and your destination. In an exclusive partnership, Qatar Airways is stocking products from high-end French line Diptyque in its premium cabin washrooms; hand washes, lotions and facial mists will be found on-board, while shower gels, shampoos and conditioners will be available in the airport lounges at key hubs.

KLM Delftware houses on a tray
KLM has a new Delftware house for its loyal premium passengers. Image courtesy of KLM

Finally, KLM loyalists who collect the airline’s gin-filled, signature Delftware houses have something else to look forward to:  in honour of its 102nd birthday, the Dutch airlines unveiled a new house commemorating Amsterdam’s landmark Tuschinski Theatre. As a business-class flyer, you can also keep track of your collection via a dedicated app.

On your plate

All of this is great, but what will you eat on the way, you may wonder. Don’t worry, the airlines have got that covered too.

In addition to partnering with Do & Co for first-class and international Delta One meals, Delta Air Lines is joining forces with notable chefs for Delta One meals on its transcontinental flights. On certain flights from Atlanta, for example, passengers can enjoy personal, Neapolitan-style Margherita pies from Antico Pizza (dubbed the ‘best pizza in Georgia’) while select JFK departures offer menus from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events. If you’re departing from San Francisco, look out for Greek fare from local restaurant Souvla.

Air France has been trialling a pre-order system in business class that allows travellers to pre-select their meals to ensure their preferred option will be available (this helps reduce food waste, too.) But it also just announced that, from now until February 2022, its premium cabin menus long-haul flights will be created by French Michelin-starred chefs Régis Marcon and Mathieu Viannay.

Dish by chef Mathieu Viannay for Air France
Premium passengers abroad Air France will enjoy dishes like this. Image courtesy of Air France

The former has crafted six new dishes for the La Première cabin, ranging from a vegetable lasagna with tangy chive cream to pike and shrimp cake with lobster sauce, mixed scallops and scampi with truffles and confit pigeon with apricot sauce and lemon bulgur. For the Business cabin, Viannay’s eight new offerings will include risotto with vegetable Bolognese, poultry fillet with morel mushrooms and beef tenderloin with potato patties and roasted beets.

Japan’s ANA is focusing more on wellness foods: it is offering a new collection of special-order meals—four different diabetic, low fat, low calorie and low salt options—on all international flights. These dishes were created with the input of French-trained chef Hideki Takayama, who has twice won the Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition Asia Pacific.

Still keeping with the wellness theme, Singapore Airlines has partnered with the legendary California destination spa, Golden Door, to offer a range of wellness-focused touches on its long-haul flights. Menus were crafted by top chefs and nutritionists, and dishes might include scallops or tofu with cauliflower sauce, wild rice and beurre noisette; orange-braised baby beet salad with endive, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts; and vegan coconut ice cream with mango. You’ll also find exercises and stretching programs created by Golden Door trainers, and other useful tips for sleep, hydration, relaxation and more—all of which will be very useful on that 19-hour non-stop to Singapore.

So, do you still think you’ll be saying no to commercial airlines?

Source: Robb Report

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