In the post-COVID-19 world, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re taking all the necessary precautions when it comes to booking travel.
While the vast majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs in economy cabins, you still want to do everything you possibly can to preserve your health.
And as the world opens back up, you may find yourself desperately needing to book travel.
Whether you’re booking leisure or work travel, it makes more sense now than ever to fly in first or at least business class so you can optimally distance yourself from other passengers.
In this guide, we’ll be showing you the top first class seats for maximum social distancing and privacy.
Subtleties in your seat design and airplane layout can make a huge difference throughout your flight.
- How Is Flying First Class Different From Economy?
The 22 Best First Class Seats For Social Distancing and Privacy
- 1. Emirates New 777-300ER First Class Suites
- 2. Etihad Airways A380 The Residence
- 3. Singapore Airlines New A380 First Class Suites
- 4. Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartments
- 5. Air France 777-300ER La Première First Class
- 6. ANA 777-300ER New First Class "The Suite"
- 7. Cathay Pacific First Class
- 8. Garuda Indonesia First Class
- 9. Korean Air Kosmo 2.0 First Class Suites
- 10. China Eastern First Class
- 11. Emirates Older 777-300ER First Class
- 12. Emirates A380 First Class
- 13. Swiss International Air Lines First Class
- 14. Qantas First Class
- 15. Oman Air First Class
- 16. British Airways New First Class
- 17. Saudia First Class
- 18. Kuwait Airways First Class
- 19. China Southern Airlines First Class
- 20. Air China First Class
- 21. Japan Airlines First Class
- 22. Lufthansa First Class
- Final Thoughts
How Is Flying First Class Different From Economy?
When you’re on a plane, social distancing is difficult and/or impractical.
Usually, you won’t have to worry about lingering in the airport very long because you’ll have access to some of the best airport lounges out there, whether you’re in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, or even the South Pacific or South America.
When you are flying first class, you typically have a much larger seat with partitions that are actively blocking germs from getting to your respiratory cavities. In some cases, your entire seat may be shielded in the form of floor-to-ceiling doors that fully enclose your suite.
Additionally, you are literally spaced out from everybody around you, much more so than in coach.
The problem is that not all business and first class seats are created equal. Some airlines, such as EL AL, have outdated first class seats compared to, say, Emirates.
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The 22 Best First Class Seats For Social Distancing and Privacy
There’s clearly a hierarchy of the best first class, in terms of which airlines have committed the most investment in installing private seats.
If you’re considering flying, you absolutely need to do whatever you can to sit in a seat where you’re mostly insulated from other people. This is even true for domestic flights!
When we developed our rankings, we took into account the seat design, partition placement, distance from nearby passengers, as well as the height of any seat doors.
Let’s get started!
1. Emirates New 777-300ER First Class Suites
Our first, most obvious winner is Emirates’ new first class suites. These new suites were rolled out in 2017 to much-deserved fanfare. Inspired by Mercedes-Benz and NASA, this seat offers the only fully-enclosed first class seat in the world. With floor-to-ceiling doors, this is a complete oasis of privacy. You’ll truly have your own private pod to relax in.
This is one of the best ways of demonstrating how first class can be leagues above business class.
In addition, you can order your food and beverage completely contactless, thanks to an advanced tablet in your suite. This bespoke luxury experience hinges on total privacy, and there has never been a more prescient innovation in commercial aviation seat design than in a post-pandemic era.
When you compare this product to Emirates’ A380 first class, however, you won’t be able to enjoy the first class shower or the bar, so just keep that in mind.
Lastly, the new Emirates first class suites aren’t available on all 777-300ER aircraft. Even on the older 777’s, the Emirates 777 first class experience is arguably more private than the A380!
2. Etihad Airways A380 The Residence
Etihad Airways offers an unbelievable experience in their A380 aircraft’s top cabin class: The Residence. The Residence is a term for the 3-room private suite that Etihad Airways offers on their A380 aircraft. You have access to your own living room, bedroom, and bathroom.
In The Residence, you’ll have a private butler dedicated to you and your partner, offering the most bespoke and magnificent service. The most important, aspect, however, is the fact that you have all 3 of these rooms to yourself on the plane.
3. Singapore Airlines New A380 First Class Suites
Singapore Airlines has a small network of refurbished A380 aircraft. Notably, the new A380 offers the largest first class suites in the sky with over 50 square meters of space. As you can tell, the suite has a swiveling, oversized armchair along with a separate bed, which can actually be turned into a double bed.
The doors separating the Suites from the rest of the plane are around 66 inches tall, which is significantly higher than other competitors. Overall, these new first class suites are incredibly spacious and private, which is perfect for post-pandemic travel.
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4. Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartments
We talked about Etihad Airways A380 The Residence above, but Etihad Airways actually offers a separate first class product that is slightly more affordable. Importantly, this flight is bookable using a reasonable amount of points and miles. So while it’s not as luxurious as The Residence, it’s an attainable redemption using points.
The Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartments offers a stunning first class experience. In each First Class Apartment are an oversized leather armchair and a separate bed. While not fully enclosed, the walls of each First Class Apartment are up to 62 inches tall, offering a truly private and safer experience. If you’re traveling with a companion, you can lower part of the wall partition next to the bed to make a double bed!
5. Air France 777-300ER La Première First Class
Air France’s first class product is dubbed La Première, and it is one of the chicest, private first class seats in the world. On their 777-300ER aircraft, there is only 1 row of seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, which makes it one of the most exclusive flights in the world.
Also, La Première is the only first class seat in the entire world that offers floor-to-ceiling curtains, creating an extra layer of privacy and ultimately contagion protection.
The La Première Lounge and Spa in Paris is one of the best airport lounges in Europe, which sums up the quality of Air France’s first class product is.
6. ANA 777-300ER New First Class “The Suite”
ANA’s brand-new 777-300ER aircraft has a first class product known as “The Suite”. Besides having the largest TVs in a plane, a brand-new, mint-condition first class seat, and ANA’s “The Suite” offers incredible privacy with tall sliding doors separating yourself from the rest of the cabin.
Also, there are only 8 seats in the entire first class cabin, and each seat is 38 inches wide, 76 inches long in bed mode, and has a gigantic 43-inch 4K HD display. The exclusivity and privacy of this first class suite make it one of the best ways to fly to Japan in style. The drawback is that these brand-new aircraft are very rare, so chances are you won’t find a convenient itinerary that suits your plans.
7. Cathay Pacific First Class
Cathay Pacific first class has long been one of the most exclusive and expensive ways to fly. With a tiny cabin size of 6 seats in a 1-1-1 configuration, Cathay Pacific first class is one of the best ways to fly in seclusion and privacy.
Notably, the seats are incredibly large and spaced out from other passengers, which will reduce your probability of interacting with anyone with COVID-19.
8. Garuda Indonesia First Class
Garuda Indonesia has first class suites with doors, and they are indeed one of the best first class products with maximum isolation and privacy to distance yourself from others.
Each of these first class suites is equipped with an ergonomic seat and sliding door for privacy. If you happen to be in a middle seat and you’re not traveling with a companion, you can raise the adjustable center dividers for even more privacy.
9. Korean Air Kosmo 2.0 First Class Suites
Korean Air’s first class seats vary, and the most private offering they have is known as Kosmo Suites 2.0. Kosmo Suites 2.0 are the only first class suites offered by Korean Air that have a sliding door and upgraded technology for maximum privacy and comfort.
You’ll also have access to a ton of storage space including a personal closet right at your seat, which means you won’t have to leave your seat for much.
Also, the distance between each first class suite to the one in front is 83 inches, which is way over the recommended 6 feet for social distancing.
10. China Eastern First Class
China Eastern is one of the very few airlines that offer a double bed, along with Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.
Additionally, there are only 6 first class seats in the entire plane, and each seat has sliding doors for maximum privacy.
11. Emirates Older 777-300ER First Class
Emirates has a couple of first class suites. And while their newest first class suites, which are top-to-bottom enclosed for maximum privacy, are our favorite choice overall, you’ll still have an exceedingly private experience if you fly on the “older” 777-300ER first class suite.
Emirates’ older 777-300ER first class cabin has just 8 suites in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each of these seats is 26-27 inches wide and 76 inches long when in bed mode.
The suite has a motorized sliding door soaring above your seat that you can close for maximum privacy. You can also turn on and off a Do Not Disturb light so that you’re not bothered unnecessarily.
If your flight is 4 hours and 40 minutes or longer, this product entitles you to the full first class experience, including Bvlgari amenity kits and Byredo toiletries, moisturizing pajamas, Dine on Demand with caviar and Dom Perignon Champagne, plus superb service and ultra-comfy bedding.
12. Emirates A380 First Class
Emirates’ A380 first class suites are further down our list because they are actually less private than you might think. Where the new Emirates 777 first class cabin has just 6 suites and the older Emirates 777 first class cabin has 8 suites, the Emirates A380 first class cabin has 14 suites, which can feel less exclusive and private.
Also, the Emirates A380 first class suite is slightly smaller in footprint than the 777 first class, since the A380 first class cabin is located in the slightly narrower upper deck of the A380.
However, you’ll still have an incredible experience because this is one of the only planes where you can take a shower in the air! You’ll have 5 minutes of shower water, which you can turn on and off to maximize your time in paradise.
Emirates uses the same suite as the older 777 first class — the only difference is that the A380 suites are just slightly smaller than the older 777 suites.
You’ll still enjoy the full Emirates experience, which includes a pampering of luxury Italian amenities and toiletries, some of the best food and drink you’ve ever had on a plane, a ton of in-flight entertainment options, a fantastic shower spa experience, and best-in-class service.
13. Swiss International Air Lines First Class
Although Swiss Air first class can’t be booked using miles unless you’re a top-tier elite member, we’re still including this superb first class seat that’s truly one-of-a-kind luxurious.
The experience starts before you even board the flight because if are departing from Zurich, you’ll have access to an incredible first class lounge with a cigar bar, à la carte dining and waiter service, beautiful shower suites, plus VIP security and a private limousine chauffeur transfers to satellite gates!
Swiss Air first class consists of 8 private suites in a 1-2-1 configuration. With sleek wooden tones combined with functional engineering and thoughtful design elements, these first class suites have captured the hearts of many.
This first class suite has 24 inches of width, 83 inches of pitch, and 80 inches of length when in bed mode. The suite also has a massive in-flight monitor and an ottoman that can also be used as a buddy seat to dine with your companion.
These first class suites have a privacy partition and a coat closet that you can extend to enclose your suite from the rest of the cabin.
Once you’re on board, you’ll enjoy lovely Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne, a rotating cuisine program from different chefs featuring seasonal ingredients, lovely service, ultra-luxe La Prairie amenities, and more.
Swiss Air does an incredible job of offering a private, exclusive first class experience, especially if you’re departing from its mega-hub in Zurich.
14. Qantas First Class
Qantas offers a first class product, but only on its ultra-rare A380 aircraft. There are just a handful of routes Qantas chooses to deploy these aircraft, and you should consider this product to be a unicorn, especially if you ever find a chance to redeem miles for this seat.
Known to be ultra-expensive and the most stylish way to fly to Australia, Qantas first class also features an incredibly unique first class product! If you snag one of these seats, you’ll also have first class lounge access, which features waiter service, à la carte dining, and complimentary spa treatments.
There are a total of 14 seats in this aircraft, and they’re arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration with 5 seats along the windows at each side of the cabin and then 4 seats in the middle section.
Although these first class suites aren’t fully enclosed, they are actually very private because you can swivel your seat towards the window and effectively cocoon yourself in the seat.
If you fly Qantas first class, you will notice some spectacular bedding with a plush mattress pad, 2 pillows, a daytime blanket, and a comfy duvet, an ASPAR amenity kit with an incredibly high-quality eye mask, Martin Grant pajamas, and more.
The food and beverage program showcases a delicate caviar course, classic Australian favorites, and sophisticated drink selections including Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
15. Oman Air First Class
Oman Air offers rare first class suites aboard the 787 Dreamliner aircraft exclusively, and they’re known to have a refreshing and modern sleekness to them.
These first class suites are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with 2 rows, and they’re one of the few airlines that have installed a first class seat onto their Dreamliner aircraft!
The product features private suites with sliding doors, privacy dividers, crisp in-flight televisions, velvet suite walls, high-tech design elements, personal air vents for temperature regulation, and much more.
Each of the suites is a whopping 30 inches wide, 82 inches in seat pitch, and 76 inches long in bed mode. The suites also have an ottoman that can also be used as a buddy seat for in-flight dining.
Amenities are by Amouage, pajamas are offered, and your bedding comes with a couple of pillows, a mattress pad, and a duvet.
As far as the food and beverage go, you can enjoy Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Champagne, Arabic coffee and date service, plus a medley of Western and Arabic options via the Dine on Demand service.
Lastly, the first class crew is known to be splendid, which will make your flight even more memorable.
16. British Airways New First Class
British Airways recently had its new first class design leaked, and while it doesn’t represent much of a change compared to its new business class, it’s a huge improvement to its old first class seats.
The difference is that the new first class suite has 2 sliding doors that meet in the middle and extend significantly above the seat. This design provides a more private experience, and this should complement British Airways’ solid soft product.
This includes pajamas from Temperley, amenities from Elemis, a revamped 400 thread count bedding set with a mattress topper, 2 pillows, a duvet, and a day blanket, new à la carte menus focused on British provenance and fresh seasonal ingredients, fine bone china crockery by William Edwards, Dartington glassware, and a new signature afternoon tea service.
British Airways first class is now, without a doubt, the best way to fly in style between the U.S. and London with this elevated first class experience.
17. Saudia First Class
Saudia isn’t exactly a popular airline, and that isn’t because it offers a bad in-flight experience. It’s because Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a huge route network, so many of us don’t have the fortune of flying on Saudia unless you’re headed to the Middle Eastern country.
And even though Saudia has some quirks, like being a dry airline that doesn’t serve alcohol, the service is known to be phenomenal in first class!
There are 12 suites in a 1-2-1 configuration spread out across 3 aisles, and all of them have sliding doors to enclose your suite. Each of the suites has 23 inches of seat width (not including the armrests) and 81 inches of seat pitch.
Saudia’s first class suite showcases an oversized, lavish armchair with leather diamond stitching patterns throughout, akin to what you’d find on a sports car seat.
Once you’re on the plane, you’ll enjoy a traditional Arabic coffee and date service, an onboard chef, a Porsche Design amenity kit with Acca Kappa toiletries, and a bedding set with 2 pillows, a thin mattress pad, and a blanket.
Even though the flight doesn’t include alcohol, the onboard chef more than makes up for it because of the tremendous quality of the food you’ll enjoy!
18. Kuwait Airways First Class
Kuwait Airways has also historically been a second-tier Gulf carrier, falling behind the likes of Emirates and Etihad Airways. However, this small-but-mighty airline is deploying new 777-300ER aircraft with enclosed first class suites on its long-haul routes.
Kuwait Airways has an incredible first class hard product, and every first class suite has a whopping 33 inches of width and 76 inches of pitch. There are 8 suites in total, spread out across 2 rows in a 1-2-1 arrangement.
These incredible first class suites have huge doors and privacy dividers that’ll make you feel like you’re in an oasis in the sky. Also, the seats have personal minibars and an oversized ottoman that doubles as a buddy seat for in-flight companion dining. All of the suites have individual air nozzles, too.
The amenity kit features toiletries from Thai skincare brand HARNN, and you won’t find slippers and pajamas in first class, unfortunately. Bedding is generally pretty lackluster and comes with 2 pillows and a comforter.
One of the most impressive aspects of Kuwait Airways first class is the incredible food and beverage offerings, complete with refined appetizers, refreshing salads, hearty soups, a variety of Arabic main entrees, unlimited vegetable side pairings, and a number of sweet pastries, all beautifully presented.
Overall, Kuwait Airways’ first class suites offer an incredible amount of space and a bountiful food and beverage menu, minus the alcohol.
19. China Southern Airlines First Class
China Southern Airlines, also known as China Southern, is one of the world’s largest airlines. Connecting the world to South China, this airline offers a unique first class product as the sole Chinese operator of the A380 superjumbo.
The first class suites are exceedingly private, but slightly dated. There are a total of 8 comfortable suites, each with an oversized armchair, a generously-sized in-flight monitor, an ottoman, and sliding doors to fully enclose your personal space.
One unique aspect is that this suite also has personal lockers for every first class passenger! The gigantic suite measures 29 inches wide and a whopping 83 inches in pitch.
Salvatore Ferragamo amenities are stocked aboard this flight, and you’ll also enjoy fantastic pajamas, plush slippers, and first-rate bedding. First class comes with 2 pillows, a mattress pad, and a spectacular comforter.
The catering aboard this flight is also impressive, showcasing Chinese classics like Cantonese-style clay pot rice as well as Western favorites like steak.
The service is generally hit-or-miss, but you won’t have any problems relaxing in this spacious and private first class suite.
20. Air China First Class
Air China’s luxurious first class product is also a great one from a privacy perspective. Although you won’t get a sliding door, you will get an oversized space that’ll enable you to relax in privacy.
The first class seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, and they are each 24-27 inches wide and 80-83 inches in pitch. In fact, these seats are so long that you’ll have 4 to 5 windows all to yourself if you choose a window seat!
The amenities are quite bare-bones, with L’Occitane amenity kits, decent pajamas, and acceptable bedding.
The food and beverage tend to be pretty tasty, and the service tends to be professional if not a bit robotic.
21. Japan Airlines First Class
Japan Airlines first class is a spectacular and aspirational first class product that should be on your bucket list. And although its competitor ANA has a superior seat, the signature of Japan Airlines is its flawless service.
First of all, the first class seat isn’t the most private out there since it doesn’t have a sliding door. However, the seat shell is protected by a larger privacy divider for a significant degree of isolation.
Each first class seat is 33 inches wide and nearly 80 inches in pitch when it’s in bed mode. Arranged in a 1-2-1 layout across 2 rows in the 777-300ER aircraft, this seat is still an exceptionally comfortable product.
You’ll enjoy substantial ETRO amenities, as well as one of the most refined food and beverage services out there with multi-course Japanese and Western meals.
And one of the biggest highlights is the incredible selection of fine alcohol, including $1,000 bottles of sake, $500-$700 bottles of Salon Champagne, and rare bottles of Japanese whisky!
This extraordinary in-flight product is finished off with a fantastic crew to make your first class flight memorable. So, even though Japan Airlines first class doesn’t have the most private first class seat out there, it’s definitely one of the best products in the world.
22. Lufthansa First Class
Lufthansa first class is truly a special experience overall, but it falls to the bottom of our list, simply because the seat itself isn’t especially private.
These open-air first class suites are exceptionally comfortable, but there aren’t many privacy dividers that separate you from your seatmate.
Each of these seats is incredibly spacious, the amenities by La Prairie and Rimowa are impressive, and the service is impeccable. You’ll be pampered with amenities like van Laack pajamas, as well as a phenomenal food and beverage program aboard Lufthansa first class.
Plus, you’ll enjoy complimentary chauffeur service (restrictions apply).
There’s quite a bit of variation in first class seats across different airlines and even different planes! In order to minimize your chances of contracting any sort of illness, you’ll want to do everything you can to fly in a protected first class seat.
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