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Best Business Class Airlines of 2014

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Remember when you used to fly coach and had to take a peek behind the curtain just to have a glimpse at the luxury of business class? Back then it simply meant slightly larger seats and an extra pillow. Today’s top business class airlines are pulling out all of the stops to make sure that passengers arrive at their destinations well-rested, well-fed (you can forget that microwaved airplane meal), and looking forward to a comfortable ride back home. With once-enviable amenities like fold-flat seats and in-flight films becoming the standard for intercontinental travel, more and more air carriers are looking to distinguish themselves through luxurious cabins that incorporate on-board lounges, personal entertainment systems and high-altitude haute cuisine. Read on to discover which airlines really mean business when it comes to giving their business class passengers the top-tier treatment.

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New Zealand may be one of the most geographically-isolated nations in the world; however, this Kiwi air carrier will have you feeling right at home with its comfy 22-inch leather armchairs, premium on demand audio and video, and convenient self-service refreshment areas. An amenity kit provides passengers with travel basics such as eye cream, lip balm and moisturizer, socks, eyeshades, toothbrush kit, earplugs and a pen. Feel the need for some company on your long-haul flight? Your separate ottoman footrest also doubles as a “visitor’s seat,” making it easy to invite a guest over for a glass of fine New Zealand wine. After a dinner focusing on fresh New Zealand produce and regional flavors, recline your chair to its fully lie-flat position, put on your complimentary noise cancellation headphones, and get some much-needed rest before your big adventure Down Under! 

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North America’s largest airline is also leading the way in terms of luxury long-haul service. On flights to Europe, Asia and Latin America, business class passengers receive pampered treatment that includes 180-degree fold-flat seats, ergonomic motorized seat controls with a convenient memory feature and complimentary Bose noise-cancelling headphones. An in-seat entertainment system provides hours of movies, games, music and TV shows, and can be removed from the headrest so you can watch your favorite programs in your most comfortable position. A four-course meal includes options like seared scallops and beef filet with seasonal vegetables, and is paired with an award-winning selection of wines. Have a long layover in a port far from home? Business class guests are welcome to grab a free drink or even take a shower at American Airlines Admirals Club locations around the world.

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When it comes to high-altitude, high-class travel to Dubai and 131 additional destinations, Emirates Airlines literally soars above the competition. Live it up on your long-haul flight with massaging seats, complimentary Champagne and gourmet canapés and meals. Forget the flimsy plastic food tray — five-course lunches and dinners come served on bone china tableware with fine linen and flowers. After dinner, head over to the onboard lounge for cocktails and conversation with your fellow travelers. However, should you become too engrossed in one of the 1,400 entertainment channels playing on your personal widescreen TV, feel free to grab a cold drink from your seat’s built-in mini bar. 

Etihad Airlines Business Class

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The national airline of Abu Dhabi boasts all of the luxury amenities that one would expect from the flag carrier of the oil-rich emirate. The 1-2-1 seating configuration, available on all of the airline’s wide-bodied aircrafts, gives direct aisle access to each guest, while a privacy shell around every flat bed seat ensures uninterrupted rest and relaxation. For dinner, consult the Food and Beverage Manager for dining options and wine pairing suggestions. Brought in from the world’s best restaurants, these highly-specialized individuals undergo extensive training in order to become intimately familiar with the onboard menu. Luckily, the luxury treatment doesn’t end when the wheels hit the tarmac. Upon arrival, Pearl Business Class guests receive the added convenience of complimentary door-to-door limo service, complete with a personal chauffeur.

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After the hassle of getting to the airport and through security, settle into Japan Airlines’ business class cabin, a step above most thanks to its excellent, varied dining options and above-par relaxation opportunities. Most seats slide down into a fully flat bed position and feature a USB port, power outlet, noise-cancelling headphones and an LCD monitor so you can listen to pop tunes, play board or video games, and watch movies or traditional Rakugo-style Japanese comic monologues. Before arrival in select cities, you will be served a warm breakfast and may choose between a Japanese- or Western-style meal that varies according to season and flight. Past selections have included simmered potato and chicken with light soy sauce, carrot mousse and poached lemon prawns. Ask a flight attendant for an amenity kit so you can freshen up before your next big adventure with a moisturizing mask, eye mask and eye refresher.

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