Flying business class is so much more than the seat, bed, menus, champagne, extensive bar and multi course dining on board. Business class is about a complete experience from start to finish. A few airlines deliver at every juncture, so we’ve put together a guide of the five quintessential business class experiences, including which planes to fly and where to experience them at their very best. Here are the best business class offerings, based on the overall experience…

Honorable mentions to: EVA Airlines, Virgin Australia, Cathay Pacific, JetBlue.

#5 Virgin Atlantic Out Of London Heathrow

Private check in, bespoke cocktails, massages, on board bar. 

The Planes for best experience: Boeing 787, Airbus A340, Boeing 747

Why: Virgin Atlantic offer an “Upper Class Wing” at Heathrow, which looks like a hotel lobby. It’s an entirely separate entrance to the terminal, where a porter comes to take your bags out of the trunk, and a “red coat” from Virgin Atlantic will hand deliver your boarding passes, sending you to the lounge (and through private security) in mere minutes. Their Clubhouse is one of the very best business class lounges. While their on board seat and bed is not amongst the very best, the on board bar and consistently great service makes this a wonderful experience.

#4 Singapore Airlines Out Of Singapore Changi

Book the cook, spacious lounge, widest seat, excellent champagne.

The Planes for best experience: Airbus A380, Boeing 777, Airbus A350

Why: Singapore Airlines offers a delightfully smooth experience at Singapore Airport, with an extensive network of lounges. But it’s the on board offerings that have them climbing the ranks. The “book the cook” service allows passengers to order a la carte- off of an extensive menu. The Singapore business class seat is the widest in the business, and if you happen to get a bulkhead (front row) you’ll have tons of extra legroom. The crews, champagne and service are consistently polished and fantastic- making this a truly spectacular option- especially on their A380.

#3 Japan Airlines Out Of Tokyo Haneda

Incredible seat, cozy lounge, outstanding dining, superb crews.

The planes for best experience: Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300.

Why: Flying long haul on Japan Airlines is a sure fire winner. The departure at convenient Haneda airport is simple and effective, with a very solid lounge offering, including savory items and a variety of spaces- plus excellent runway views. Things reach new heights however on board. Japan Airlines uses the Apex Suite (Oman Air does as well, by the way), which is used by some airlines as a first class seat. It’s second to none for the size of the entertainment screen, direct aisle access and privacy. When you then add in the utterly professional demeanor of Japan Airlines crews, and their unique BEDD food menus, featuring multiple course Japanese delicacies- you get a truly spectacular feeling.

#2 Etihad Out Of Abu Dhabi

Whisper quiet A380’s, on board bar, spacious, private seats, biryani

The planes for best experience: Etihad 787, Etihad A380

Why: You can’t go wrong with an A380. Etihad offer extremely refined, luxurious and polished check in and lounge experience in their home base of Abu Dhabi and abroad. The lounges are both large and modern, featuring worldwide delicacies and excellent drink options. On board the A380, the airline offers game changing experiences. With on board bars and incredibly private seats- just four across on the massive A380- they’re (almost) the same as first class, kinda! As to the soft touches, any frequent traveler will tell you, it’s tough to beat spiced food on board an aircraft– and Etihad consistently makes wowing meals in the sky. The Etihad on board chefs are classically trained and it really shows. Plus, their excellent wines and champagnes never hurt.You can even go  enjoy them with friends at the on board bar. Yep, even in business class.

#1 Qatar Airways Via Doha

Dine on demand, the best seat, incredible lounge, attentive crews

The planes for best experience: 777 (QSuites), A350, A380

Why: Before the launch of the QSuites, we and many other organizations had already named Qatar the world’s best business class. Perhaps it’s their over the top a la carte and buffet offerings in the Al Mourjan lounge in Doha, complete with showers. It’s almost as large as some stadiums, by the way. Or, perhaps it’s the dine on demand service on board, allowing you to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, the pajamas, state of the art aircraft or the fancy amenity kits. But then they changed the game- offering the first “double bed” in business class. Qatar’s new business class offering on select routes operated by the 777 and A350 rival many first class offerings, and with the attentive crews, delectable alcohol selections and award winning entertainment systems, we can’t think of a better way to fly, without moving up to first class. Ding, ding- we have a winner.

Any additions?