The days of pampering and luxury while traveling by commercial jet have returned.
On-board shower spas, soft pajamas, premium-brand amenity bags and wine tastings are all ways airlines are trying to woo passengers to exotic destinations.
Since 2011, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has added two dozen new international routes to far-flung cities like Sydney, Dubai and Hong Kong. With these flights, which can last as long as 16 hours, airlines are attempting to make the journey as pleasant as the destination. Book a premium class, they’re saying, and you’ll get a premium experience.
On some of the new aircraft flying in and out of DFW, an on-board lounge staffs a bartender to mix passengers’ favorite cocktails while hors d’oeuvres are served. On others, nannies keep the kids entertained while personal chefs whip up whatever dishes passengers desire from the in-flight pantry. Mood lighting, soft pillows and a cozy duvet make it easy to fall asleep at 35,000 feet on a lie-flat seat.
Here’s a look at some of the newest in-flight luxuries offered on planes that fly in and out of DFW, or will by the end of the year.
Emirates operates more double-decker A380s than anyone else in the world, and as a result, the Dubai-based carrier has poured all of its efforts into creating a luxurious travel experience.
Each first-class suite has a sliding door, personal mini-bar, adjustable lighting and its own vanity area with a wardrobe compartment. A privacy divider separating adjoining suites can be lowered if passengers are traveling together. There also are two on-board showers with a walnut and marble design and fine linens available for use by first-class passengers.
“We have two cabin-service assistants that take care of the showers,” says Hubert Frach, an Emirates divisional senior vice president. “They place the Bulgari products in the shower and equip it with fresh towels and tell the customer when the shower is available.”
The highlight of Emirates’ A380, though, is the on-board lounge and bar area on the upper deck, available only to first- and business-class passengers. Vintage wines and reserve liquors are poured by a bartender who can also mix passengers’ cocktails by request.
“It is the hot spot on board,” Frach says. “Everyone mingles there and networks there. The bar is open from reaching cruising altitude and closes down when the aircraft is ready for descent.”
The carrier will launch its A380 service on its DFW-to-Dubai route Oct. 1.
The DFW-to-Sydney route is the longest commercial flight in the world, traveling close to 8,600 miles. And on Sept. 29, it will also be the first to land an Airbus A380 double-decker at DFW.
The A380 offers 14 individual first-class suites that have electronically adjustable seats with a multi-zone massage function. A leather guest seat and dining table have been designed to accommodate two passengers so travelers can dine together as if they’re at a restaurant.
“The Qantas A380 is perfectly designed for the long-haul route, delivering one of the best on-board experiences for our customers,” says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
Women receive a slim-line travel pouch in a City Lights print by Kate Spade, while men receive a modern travel pouch designed by Jack Spade.
For business-class passengers, Qantas offers a chauffeur service to take travelers to the airport. Once on board the A380, the business lounge, with its comfortable couches, can be used for meetings or presentations.
It’s not pajamas, it’s designer sleeper suits from Qatar Airways, which launched flights from DFW to Doha on July 1.
Along with the sleeper suits, premium passengers are provided with Italian Frette linens and Ferragamo Attimo amenity kits while they dine on dishes created by Japanese celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
On its Boeing 777-200LR, there are no first-class seats, but there are 42 business-class seats on the flight. Since Qatar Airways is part of American’s oneworld alliance, passengers can have their baggage checked through to their final destination if they are returning from Doha and traveling on to another city in the United States.
There’s even a plus for passengers flying coach: Qatar features only nine-abreast seating in its economy class, which is one less seat than its competitors, giving passengers a little more room.
Etihad Airways is launching nonstop service from DFW to Abu Dhabi in December, and it’s bringing Mary Poppins with it.
“Yes, we have a flying nanny,” says Geert Boven, Etihad’s senior vice president of the Americas. “It’s a service we introduced on the long-haul flights because we saw parents with children and they needed assistance.”
The in-flight nannies work in the economy section of the aircraft; they play games with children and sometimes offer face painting.
First-class passengers who want to look their best can use the full-length mirror and leather fold-down changing room seat in the first-class lavatory. Swarovski Elements-embellished cosmetic purses are given to women, while cuff-link boxes are given to men; both are filled with La Prairie skin-care products.
Also in first class, a personal chef can cook whatever dish a traveler would like. Chefs’ pantries are stocked with prime cuts of meat, spices and fresh vegetables, allowing them to personalize dishes.
The chefs, who are required to have six years of professional experience in five-star restaurants and hotels, also have a whisk and foamer available for use on the aircraft.
Heading to Hong Kong, London or Sao Paulo on this sleek new addition to American’s fleet makes the transoceanic flights simply dreamy.
Muted grays and a star-lit sky are part of the decor of the walk-through bar in business and first class. The lavatory, which is slightly larger than most, has an espresso faux wood floor and full-size lotions to refresh a passenger’s skin throughout the flight.
“White walls and blue seats worked before, but in the end, that’s not how people live their lives anymore,” says Alice Liu, American Airlines’ managing director of onboard products and connectivity. “We wanted you to know that we have thought about your journey and it was a very integral part of our design process.”
Mimosas and amuse-bouches are a standard part of the first-class menu, which passengers can request to have served at any point during the flight. American also partnered with renowned chefs, including Grapevine’s Stefano Secchi, to prepare palate pleasers for travelers. Secchi, who is the executive chef at Ferrari’s Italian Villa, created a ragu bolognese with creste di galli for American’s international flights.
Passengers also can take part of their flight home with them, as American offers amenity kits with Dermalogica and Akhassa cosmetics and skin products in first and business class. The Bose noise-canceling headsets that can be used throughout the flight, however, have to stay on the plane.