The Guide to the Most Expensive Airline Experience

Airlines · 8 min read · Oct 31, 2022
most expensive airline

When it comes to air travel, there are a lot of different factors that can affect the price of your ticket. The most obvious one is the distance you travel – the further you go, the more you will pay. But there are other things that can drive up the cost of a flight ticket as well, like the time of the year you are flying with some seasons usually having higher prices, or the airline and the type of seat you choose.

For example, while you can also find some regular airfares on certain routes, Singapore Airlines offers first class cabins they call first class suites that can cost more than 20,000 EUR depending on the route.

If you want to discover the most expensive airline in the world, you should keep reading as we share a list of the more costly airline choices. We will be comparing the airlines based on their more luxurious flights with first-class ticket options.

The 10 most expensive airlines in the world

Clearly, flying can be expensive, but some airlines charge more than others. We will now take a look at the 11 most expensive airlines in the world. Some of these airlines are no surprise, like Emirates and Singapore Airlines, but there are a few that may come as a bit of a shock. So, if you have money to spare booking a luxury flight soon, you should keep these airlines in mind.

Here are the 10 most expensive airlines in the world, based on average ticket prices for first-class flights.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has always had a reputation for being expensive and luxurious flights. With more than $1 million in revenues during 2018, this Singapore Airlines aims to provide the best flight experiences to its customers. The airline is a popular choice for people seeking upscale and comfortable accommodations.

Flights are available between 66 destinations. Singapore Aircraft has separate seats built in real leather and also features an LCD television and an 78″-inch sofa. What’s more, the airline offers suite accommodations with a cost of around 30,000 Singapore Dollars. This is the second-highest priced suite class on an Airbus A380.

Singapore Airlines Airbus taking off from the runway.

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines ranks among the most expensive airlines in the world because it offers first class travelling at an estimated price of 12,000 USD. Japan Airlines luxury features include gourmet foods prepared by professional chefs which usually design classic Japanese menus, and the private first class seats with a 23-inch TV screen.

First-class passengers also get ample seating space on walled-in sides so that there will not be any concerns regarding neighboring passengers.

Television sets keep everybody entertained even on long flights, while WiFi is also available for wireless connections. After reading all these, some might think the 12,000 USD price tag is a bargain.

Japan Airlines Airbus ready to land on the runway.

Cathay Pacific Airways

If you enjoy napping at the comforts of a luxury hotel-like bed when you travel, Cathay Pacific Airways is the perfect airline for you.

Also, Cathay Pacific Airways offers a variety of in-flight entertainment options, and delicious gourmet food as well as an impressive variety of international wines.

You will be greeted with luxurious treatments and comfortable cabins with complimentary skincare products and travel kits. These rooms are spacious and perfectly equipped with work and relaxation spaces.

Of course, all the above comes with a price. Prepare to pay around 34,000 USD for a round trip flight to New York, for example. This is why Cathay Pacific Airways makes the list of the most expensive airlines in the world.

A Cathay Pacific airlines flight boarding at a jetway.

Lufthansa Airlines

Lufthansa Airlines is certainly regarded by some as the best amongst the most expensive airlines. This is because the largest carrier in Germany offers excellent services both on-board and on the ground.

Lufthana Airlines provides premium cabins for distinguished travelers who can afford the prices. Lufthansa Airlines caters to 220 destinations with a fleet of 293 aircraft. However, the best cabins are not available for short-haul flights.

When you travel in a premium cabin with Lufthansa between New York and Hong-Kong the ticket will cost you approximately 43,000 USD. Based on this, it is one of the most expensive airlines.

A Lufthansa aircraft being loaded before a flight.

Virgin Atlantic Airways

This british airline usually operates from Gatwick and Heathrow in London. Virgin Atlantic Airways makes the list because you can expect to pay about 20,000 USD for a first-class ticket from Manhattan to Singapore. However, customers continue admiring the seamless journey experience offered by Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Virgin Atlantic Airways offers a first-class ticket with several in-flight services included. For example, Virgin Atlantic Airways provides private suites with beds, shower facilities, and a dining area. It also offers a wide selection of entertainment options, including movies, television shows, and video games.

Moreover, first-class passengers receive complimentary champagne and other premium beverages.

The comfortable seating allowing for bed adjustments and the in-flight service that includes a spa or massage and quiet areas with entertainment systems explains the expensive ticket prices. The firm also offers private airport transportation services that fit the needs of any modern traveler.

Clearly, Virgin’s first-class services are among the best in the industry, and their prices reflect this. However, for passengers who can afford it, these first-class tickets are well worth the cost.

A Virgin Atlantic aircraft in flight.

British Airways

British Airways is the British government’s official airline, which makes it a bit shocking to see it in this list. In the end, national airlines are usually operating to offer access to more affordable airfares for the country’s residents.

However, British Airways offers first class options where the aircraft are decorated with luxuries, thus making it one of the most expensive airlines in the world. Passengers will have an unforgettable experience with the airline offering skincare as a welcome gift.

In simple words, for a British Airways first-class ticket, passengers can expect to enjoy a spacious seat with plenty of legroom, delicious meals and snacks, and a wide selection of in-flight entertainment. In addition, British Airways first-class passengers will receive complimentary access to the airline’s business lounge, where they can work or relax before their flight.

British Airways first-class tickets are typically priced between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the destination. However, travelers can sometimes find deals on British Airways first-class tickets by booking in advance or during off-peak times. Regardless of the price, British Airways’ first-class services provide travelers with an enjoyable and hassle-free flying experience.

One of the most expensive airline for first class flights: British Airways aircraft.

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airline is a world class luxury airline. The lavish suite called “The Residence” is basically a luxury hotel accommodation.

The Residence” comes with a lounge area, a bathroom, and a bed for two guests to be fully comfortable. A second sofa can be provided in this suite. Of course, the Residence suites are not readily available for every flight, there is only a few of them, and they are usually quite tough to book!

Etihad Airways first-class tickets are some of the most expensive in the industry, with an estimated price of 64,000 USD. But Etihad offers a number of reasons to justify the high cost. Apart from “The Residence” which is part of Etihad Airways first-class spacious and luxurious cabin, it also offers a number of amenities to first-class passengers, including complimentary chauffeur and limousine service to and from the airport, priority check-in and boarding, and access to a private lounge.

In addition, Etihad’s in-flight services are among the best in the business, with gourmet meals and top-shelf wines available for purchase.

For travelers who can afford it, Etihad’s first-class services are well worth the price. This carrier operates on 113 planes, which include 10 Airbus 380s that fly to five different destinations: Sydney Abu Dhabi, New York, London, and Mumbai.

One of the most expensive airline Etihad Airways Airbus in flight.

Emirates Airlines

Emirates Airlines is an airline based in Dubai, and it is widely considered to be the most luxurious and prestigious airline in the world. And that luxury comes at a price – a first-class ticket on Emirates can cost upwards of 20,000 USD.

But, what makes Emirates so expensive? A big part of it has to do with the amazing amenities and service that they offer their passengers. First-class passengers on Emirates can enjoy features like private suites with fully reclining seats, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, and onboard showers.

They also receive top-notch service from a team of dedicated flight attendants. It is no wonder why people are willing to pay a premium for an Emirates flight.

The most expensive airline Emirates aircraft taking off.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that offers a truly luxurious first-class flying experience. In recent decades, Qatar’s brand recognition has been increasing in the market since it entered the luxury zone.

Qatar Airways’ first-class service includes a private suite with a full-size bed, an in-flight chef, and a personal butler. Qatar Airways also offers its passengers traveling on first class a complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport while they are received with an all-amenity package containing Giorgio Armani items.

The expensive airline has devoted itself entirely to securing the most suitable services and products for its passengers. Qatar Airways’ First Class tickets are some of the most expensive in the industry, with prices starting at $10,000 for a round-trip ticket.

No wonder why it makes the list to the most expensive airline candidates. However, Qatar Airways’ First Class passengers receive an unparalleled level of service and luxury that is worth the price tag.

Most expensive airline for first-class: Qatar

Swiss International Airlines

Swiss International Airlines makes the list because the airline offers a first class flight from New York to Singapore at around 22,000 USD.

While this might be seen as a bit of an outrageous amount to some people, when you consider what you get for your money it actually does not seem so bad. At least for those who can afford it.

For starters, you will be flying on one of the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world, the Airbus A340-300. You will also be treated to gourmet food and wine, served on china with real silverware, and you will have your own personal seat that converts into a fully flat bed.

Moreover, you will have access to a state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system, and of course, there is their service. Swiss International Air Lines is renowned for its impeccable service, so you can expect to be well taken care of from the moment you step onboard.

Swiss International Airlines aircraft taking off.

All Nippon Airways

Nippon Airways is Japan’s largest and oldest airline which is also heavily focused on providing a comfortable and luxurious experience for the business and first class passengers. Not to mention, they are also a member of the Star Alliance.

While still being on the list of the costliest experiences in the air, ANA offers a first-class ticket for some destinations with their Boeing 777s at about $9,200.

At this price, you will be seated in a private cabin that usually comes with a window. ANA has recently collaborated with a well-established Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, to redesign their private cabin also called “the Suite” or “the Room”. They claim that the design of this first-class cabin reflects the Japanese heritage while still adhering to global standards and an “East meets West” look.

During your first class flight, you will also be able to pre-order or choose your meals onboard from an extensive menu that offers a selection of Japanese cuisine as well as some international dishes. You are also allowed to make requests for small dishes and drinks at any time during the flight.

For sleep, each passenger in first class is provided 2 pillows and a mattress for their seat that turns into a single-person bed.

What’s more, All Nippon Airways boasts excellent customer service with their highly-skilled and friendly cabin crew that goes through diligent training to be able to offer a top-notch experience for you on board. It is no surprise though as customer satisfaction is deeply rooted in Japanese business culture and there is probably no country in the world that can compete in this area with Japan.

All Nippon Airways flight taxiing on the tarmac of the Tokyo International airport.

Final conclusions

So, which is the most expensive airline in the world? You may be wondering at this point. Well, as you can see, it is hard to say as it depends on a number of factors. High-priced ticket rates will vary when complementary services such as an exclusive lounge or a first-class cabin are included.

However, if we only focus on the most expensive first-class ticket for a round trip, we must go with Etihad Airways and the ticket for its private suite called “The Residence”.

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Carlos Collantes
Carlos Collantes
A mechanical engineer and aviation enthusiast dedicated to share some knowledge by creating top-notch content, especially in engineering and aviation topics.

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