I’m an airline product geek, and I like to keep an updated list of some of the best products out there, ranging from the best first class airlines, to the best business class airlines, to the best business class lounges, to the best business class seats. In this post I wanted to share my updated ranking of the world’s best first class lounges, especially as I recently visited a couple of newly opened lounges.
First, I wanted to talk briefly about my method for ranking first class airline lounges, and then I’ll get into my rankings, with an explanation of each.
Why you should trust OMAAT lounge reviews
Hopefully I don’t have to explain this to regular OMAAT readers, but I feel like this is worth mentioning for those who aren’t regular readers…
All the time I see media outlets ranking first class lounges, though they’re almost always just going off stock media images and how airlines describe their lounges, rather than actual firsthand experience.
Why should you trust OMAAT lounge reviews?
- I pay for all of my own flights, either with cash or miles
- I’ve visited virtually every first class lounge in the world, most several times, so have lots of context for what makes a great lounge (there’s one exception at the moment, as I’ll note below)
- I don’t have any sort of financial relationship with any airline
- This is my passion, I’ve been reviewing airlines for over 15 years, I’ve written hundreds of airport lounge reviews, and have logged millions of miles
There aren’t many sites that can say all of the above, and in the case of some other rating agencies (like Skytrax), I certainly wish we’d see a bit more transparency regarding the financial relationship they have with the airlines they rank.
My method for ranking first class lounges
Let me emphasize that my rankings are entirely subjective, and that’s by design. One of the challenges with reviewing airline lounges is that everyone is looking for different things.
Some airline lounges have bedrooms that are almost like hotel rooms. That’s valuable if you have a long layover, but worthless if you have a short layover. Meanwhile other lounges have top notch food, but that’s of limited use if you’re between long haul flights and aren’t hungry. Other lounges can save you time getting through security and to the plane, but it depends on the circumstances.
I’m going to try and balance the above amenities, though you can shift around which lounge is best based on what you value the most. I’m not saying anyone’s rankings should be in the same order as mine, though I think most people can at least agree with my general list of the top lounges.
Let me also note that I’m only putting one lounge from each airline on the list, even if that carrier has multiple great lounges.
The world’s 10 best first class airline lounges
With the above out of the way, below are what I consider to be the 10 best first class airport lounges, starting with the best (and you can click each headline to read a review of that lounge).
1. Air France First Class Lounge Paris (CDG)
The Air France First Class Lounge Paris is the best first class ground experience in the world, in my opinion. Air France’s first class really is the whole package, because the inflight experience is spectacular as well.
If you’re connecting in Paris, you’ll be picked up at your plane and driven to the first class lounge, and then later on will be driven from the first class lounge to your connecting flight.
There’s so much to love about the Air France first class lounge, though my favorite thing is probably the restaurant, which has an Alain Ducasse menu. In my experience it’s the best food offered in any airline lounge in the world. It’s not just that the food quality is excellent, but the service and presentation are equally good.
There’s not a first class ground experience in the world that’s as seamless and has as much attention to detail. It doesn’t matter whether you’re originating in Paris or connecting, Air France has thought of all the details.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Air France first class same day, or select business class passengers can buy access to the lounge for €650.
2. Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt (FRA)
Rather than just offering a great first class lounge, Lufthansa has taken it to the next level with its First Class Terminal. This allows you to skip the main terminal at Frankfurt Airport altogether, and instead drive right up to the First Class Terminal, and then be driven to your plane when your flight is ready to board. All formalities, including check-in, security, and immigration, are handled in the lounge.
The lounge itself is beautiful, with attentive service, a great restaurant with a buffet and a la carte dining, a cigar bar, nap rooms, and collectible rubber duckies.
As an aviation geek my favorite part is being driven across the apron to the plane. This is one of the few situations where I hope my plane is parked as far from the terminal as possible. 😉
Why doesn’t Lufthansa get the number one spot? Because the experience is inconsistent. It’s fantastic if you’re originating in Frankfurt, but if you’re just in transit, the experience isn’t nearly as seamless.
The only time you’ll be picked up from your flight by car is if you’re arriving at a remote stand. Otherwise you’ll potentially have to walk thousands of steps and navigate your own way through the maze which is Frankfurt Airport. The horror. 😉 If connecting, I actually prefer the Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Lufthansa first class or SWISS first class same day, or Miles & More HON Circle members can use the lounge when flying a Lufthansa Group airline same day, regardless of the class of service.
3. SWISS First Class Lounge Zurich (ZRH)
The SWISS First Class Lounge Zurich is spectacular, and features a gorgeous design.
In addition to service throughout the lounge, the SWISS lounge has an excellent restaurant, and after the Air France lounge I’d say it’s probably my favorite restaurant in an airport lounge.
But there are two other features that make this lounge exceptional. The first is that the lounge has private bedrooms for those with long layovers. The beds are as comfortable as the ones you’d find in top hotels, not to mention the bedroom has a view of the tarmac and runways, which made me not want to sleep.
Furthermore, the lounge has a large terrace with views of the gates. In summer they’ll even have ice cream out there for guests to enjoy.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Lufthansa or SWISS first class same day, or Miles & More HON Circle members can use the lounge when flying a Lufthansa Group airline same day, regardless of the class of service.
4. Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong (HKG)
In terms of design, Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong is one of my favorite lounges in the world. The lounge is designed in a way that makes you feel like you’re in a really swanky hotel or even home, rather than at an airport.
The Pier also has a good restaurant with a la carte dining.
On top of that, the lounge has private rooms where you can relax, or just watch planes pass by outside.
Guests also receive a complimentary 15-minute spa treatment, with the choice of foot reflexology, a head massage, a neck and shoulder massage, or an eye revitalizer.
While Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge is also excellent, The Pier is definitely my preferred of the two great first class lounges at the airport.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying oneworld first class same day, or oneworld Emerald members can use the lounge in conjunction with a same day oneworld ticket, regardless of destination or class.
5. Qantas First Lounge Sydney (SYD)
The Qantas First Lounge Sydney nails all the basics. The lounge is physically stunning and spacious, with lots of natural light and panoramic views.
I love the food in Qantas first class lounges. The menu is designed by Neil Perry of Rockpool Bar & Grill, and my favorite is the salt & pepper squid (though nothing on the menu will disappoint).
On top of that, passengers receive a complimentary 20-minute spa treatment, with several choices, including a facial, a foot massage, a hot stone back massage, and a neck, shoulder, and scalp massage.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying oneworld first class same day, or oneworld Emerald members can use the lounge in conjunction with a same day oneworld ticket.
6. Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha (DOH)
The Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge feels sort of like a museum. The ceilings are probably 40 feet tall, and there’s so much space. Not everyone will love the minimalist and industrial design, but personally I do. While many other lounges feel crowded, this one feels empty no matter how full it actually is, due to the sheer size of the space.
The lounge also has a restaurant with solid food, though not quite to the level you’d find in the Air France or SWISS lounges. One other feature I love about the lounge is that it offers private bedrooms for passengers with long layovers, and I’d say these are the second best airport bedrooms after those in the SWISS lounge.
The lounge also has a spa including a jacuzzi. While use of the jacuzzi is free, spa treatments come at an extra cost.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Qatar Airways first class same day (regional first class flights are eligible), or it’s possible to buy access to the lounge for 600QAR (~165USD) per person when flying Qatar Airways business class.
7. Singapore Airlines The Private Room Singapore (SIN)
Singapore Airlines’ The Private Room is the carrier’s most exclusive lounge, as it’s more exclusive than the Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge. The Private Room feels incredibly intimate and elegant. The lounge has a bunch of semi-private seating, so it’s easy to get comfortable.
The lounge also has a large dining area with restaurant quality food and service, plus an excellent selection of drinks, including champagne comparable to what you’ll find onboard. It’s easy to have a great meal in The Private Room.
The lounge also has a couple of other unique features, like private nap rooms, which are much appreciated if you’re looking to get some rest. However, there are some quirks to these nap rooms that you should be aware of.
Unfortunately Singapore Airlines’ ground service otherwise leaves a bit to be desired, as there’s nothing more to it. Given that security is at each individual gate, it sure would be nice if Singapore Airlines escorted first class passengers to the gate and allowed them to jump the queue, as you’ll find with some other top first class ground experiences.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Singapore Airlines Suites or Singapore Airlines first class same day.
8. Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (DXB)
Th Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai is more of a concourse than a lounge. That’s because the lounge literally spans the entire length of the terminal. On one hand that’s super impressive. You have a lounge that’s tens of thousands of square feet, and at times there will only be a few guests.
The lounge also has a restaurant with a la carte dining, a cigar bar, a spa with complimentary 15-minute treatments, and more. One other awesome feature is that you can board your flight directly through the lounge, assuming your flight departs from the “A” Concourse.
The problem? The lounge is so big that it actually feels incredibly sterile and unwelcoming. You feel like you’re sitting in a terminal rather than in a top first class lounge. The lounge doesn’t have an intimate and residential-feeling design, like you’d find in Cathay Pacific’s lounge, for example. Also, the design of the lounge perhaps isn’t the most cutting edge or modern, to put it politely.
This is probably the first time in history that a lounge being too big has been a complaint.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Emirates first class same day, or be an Emirates Skywards Platinum member. Furthermore, you can buy access to this lounge, at the cost of $250 if traveling in economy or at the cost of $150 if traveling in business class.
9. Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Etihad recently moved to Abu Dhabi Terminal A, which represents a huge improvement for the airline. This also means that the carrier has all-new lounges. While the new Etihad Business Class Lounge is a huge improvement, I’m not sure the same is true of the new Etihad First Class Lounge.
On the plus side, the lounge has stunning design, and is consistently very quiet, so it’s an oasis of calm.
The lounge also has proper a la carte dining, with very good quality food and drinks. This is one of the better dining experiences that you’ll find in any first class lounge.
Another nice feature is that you can board select flights directly from the adjacent business class section of the lounge, so you don’t even have to go to the gate, which is great.
The only real downside to this lounge is that it lacks other amenities. It doesn’t have nap rooms, a bar, a gym, or even a smoking room. Still, it’s a very nice lounge for passing some time.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Etihad first class same day, or be an Etihad Guest Platinum member traveling same day on Etihad. Furthermore, it’s possible to buy access to this lounge, at the cost of $150-180, depending on how long you’re staying.
10. Oman Air First Class Lounge Muscat (MCT)
The Oman Air First Class Lounge Muscat has to be one of the best “boutique” first class lounges in the world. The carrier only has a few aircraft with first class, so this is truly a very exclusive lounge.
In addition to the cool design, the lounge has attentive service, a la carte dining, and a spa in the business class section where you can get a complimentary treatment.
How to access this lounge: You must be flying Oman Air first class same day.
Most people dread having time to kill time at the airport, though the above lounges make spending time at an airport a pleasure. From enjoying a restaurant quality meal, to being driven to your plane in a luxury car, to getting a private bedroom that makes you feel like you’re in a hotel, to enjoying a pampering spa treatment, these lounges have it all.
I’d like to emphasize that I think anyone would be reasonable to think that the above lounges should be in a different order, but hopefully this is at least a useful list in terms of the 10 all-around best first class airline lounges.
I’m curious to hear what OMAAT readers make of my rankings! Are there any other lounges that should have been on the list?