Class warfare might be a thing on the ground, but being 36,000ft in the air exaggerates everything -- especially when the people at the front of the plane are wiping their faces down with hot towels and guzzling champagne while plebs in the back eat cocktail peanuts amid whiffs of a chemical toilet.
But, in flying, as in life, you get what you pay for.
While not everyone can drop a month's rent on a flight, first- and business-class passengers account for 27 percent of airline revenue, according to the International Air Transport Association. That's a lot, considering they make up only 8 percent of all flyers. And since they're so valuable, airlines go out of their way to provide every creature comfort imaginable to these well-off folks.
Here are eight of the most luxurious first-class cabins out there -- and you don't even have to pay for a ticket to check them out.
Double Chicken Please Is a Traveling Bar in the Back of a 1977 Vintage Van
In December, Etihad will launch "The Residence", first class seats that are nicer than most people's houses -- and definitely bigger than most New York apartments.
That's all assuming your place doesn't come with a private butler, a personal chef who’ll cook anything you want, a fully stocked mini bar, and a 32-inch flat screen. On top of that, The Residences total 125sqft spread over three rooms: a living room, separate bedroom, and ensuite bathroom with a shower.
Joining the Mile High Club has never been classier. Or easier. Or more expensive.
Time will literally fly as you hit on chicks at the onboard bar, asking them to, uh, partake in your Bulgari amenity bag. Because that's a thing on Emirates. Otherwise, lounge around your private suite in provided pajamas, check yourself out at your vanity table or in your full length mirror, or drink from your private minibar.
And yeah, there's a shower on Emirates, too, but why you'd ever need to take a shower on an airplane is still beyond us. But it's an option, because why not? You're rich.
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cathay recently re-hauled its first class suites (all six of them, per plane), asking frequent flyers for input, as well as having posh British architecture firm Foster + Partners (yes, like Norman Foster) design them.
The result takes the form of huge personal closets, thick mattresses and luxe bedding, Bose headphones, pajamas, and a menu curated by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Foie gras, truffles, and caviar sure beat choosing between standard airline options of chicken (likely rubber) or vegetarian (possibly edible) options. Suites are also big enough to house ottomans for guest visits. Just don't invite any of the riff-raff from economy to tip them off about how good you've got it.
They might not entail three separate rooms, but Singapore's first-class cabins boast plenty of private suite action. Fully enclosed rooms house standalone double beds or 35-inch-wide seats – some of the widest in the skies – depending on the plane. Each features soft mattress toppers, padded headboards, turn down service with fancy Givenchy linens and duvets, as well as 23-inch TVs and Bose headphones. Just imagine putting your couch and TV on an airplane, except without the weird pocket change between all the cushions.
Walk-in closet? Pssh. Try a sleep-in closet. Leave it up to a Japanese company to figure out how to make the most of its space. Looking like luxurious storage containers, ANA's first class suites come decked out with designated jacket and shoe storage compartments, cubbies for personal items fitted into the cabin walls, 23-inch TVs, noise-cancelling headphones, and the clincher, a giant international satellite phone that looks like those really early cell phones. Now you can live out your Gordon Gekko dream, though having impeccable hair is really on you.
Germans are known for being efficient, and they won't sacrifice quality, even to save space. So of course, Lufthansa installed a chair and a bed into each first class spot that will accommodate the average German at 6ft5. Good lord they're big.
There’s also automated air humidifiers – supposedly an industry first – as well as sound-absorbing curtains and floors. And when you think about it, it makes a ton of sense, given how awful, dry, and noise-polluted the air on most airplanes is.
First, JetBlue Mint is just a cool name. But nomenclature aside, this class is allegedly the only one on an American carrier with enclosed suites with doors. It also features extra long beds -- clocking in at 6ft 8in -- that have a delightful massage function. So even guys like 6-foot-5 Iman Shumpert can sit comfortably. But Amar'e Stoudemire can't. Partially because he's 6 foot 11, and partly because he's always injured.
Flyers also receive a Birchbox goodie bag of grooming products, and meals curated by New York’s upscale Saxon + Parole restaurant, as well as artisan Blue Marble ice cream. All of which clearly put the standard moist towelettes and microwaved dinners to shame.
Nothing is more American than making tons of money and spending it on whatever you want, so in keeping with that motif, American Airlines debuted swivel chairs for the business-types who populate its first-class cabins. The chairs are meant to make it easier for movers and shakers to hold meetings and work together, but also to dine, vis-à-vis, ergo, making them concordantly more productive. Actually, who knows that vis-à-vis really means, but it sure sounds cool.
Also, the swivel seats fold into comfortable beds.
Sophie-Claire Hoelleris Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and has had frequent flyer status since she was born in a Lufthansa terminal. Follow her @Sohostyle.