8 Most Expensive Airlines in the World

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In 1903, the Wright brothers launched the world into the skies with the first successful flight of a powered flying machine. The groundbreaking moment wasn’t the first time humans tried flying or even the first time people successfully joined the clouds — but it was the first time a powered flier soared through the air. Until that historic day, the most sophisticated flying machines simply glided along through the wind — so being able to power and steer this new creation was truly historic.

Just a few years after the Wright brother’s historic launch, another important milestone was met: the first-ever regularly scheduled commercial airline. The novel idea was thought up by Percival E. Fansler, an engineer based in Jacksonville, Florida. Fansler got an airplane manufacturer on board and launched the airline’s first flight on New Year’s Day, 1914.

Since then, more and more airlines have been established all around the world. In 1939, the first transatlantic flight traveled between New York and Marseilles, France  — establishing air travel as the modern way to get around the globe.

Find out more about the luxury side of air travel with this list of the most expensive airlines in the world.

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: £4,000 (about $5,200)
    Airline Origin: Doha, Qatar
    Luxury Feature: In-flight lounge and bar
    Interesting Fact: First class passengers get on-demand meals
    Qatar Airways
    photo source: dailymail.co.uk
    Qatar Airways
    photo source: dailymail.co.uk

    Traveling with Qatar Airways feels more like booking a nice hotel than a crowded plane. The luxury first-class package comes with an incredibly spacious seat that transforms into a comfortable bed along with access to the plane’s exclusive lounge area. Passengers enjoy an on-demand menu of delicious meals as well as personal TVs, so staying comfortable is easy even during long-haul flights.

    For overnight travel, Qatar Airways offers first-class passengers individual wardrobes containing slippers, pajamas, and amenities from high-end brands like Dior and Giorgio Armani.

    In the end, Qatar Airways is the eighth-most expensive airline in the world. A first-class ticket easily costs $5,000 — but that price likely climbs even higher depending on the destination.

    Did you know?

    Qatar Airways is based in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The country as a whole is very wealthy, partially due to the nation’s oil production.


  3. British Airways
  4. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $5,000 to $10,000
    Airline Origin: The United Kingdom
    Luxury Feature: Ambient lighting and luxury loungewear
    Interesting Fact: British Airways first-class offers free Wi-Fi
    British Airways
    photo source: elitetraveler.com
    British Airways
    photo source: britishairways.com

    British Airways is all about the little things. First-class tickets get you comfortable seating (as you’d expect from any high-end flight), but you’ll also enjoy free Wi-Fi, a diverse menu, and relaxing ambient lighting.

    Unlike some airlines, British Airways starts the high-class experience before you even get on the plane. With an exclusive lounge in the airport, this airline offers luxury at every level.

    Beyond Wi-Fi and fancy food, anyone with enough cash for this airline is treated to a personal set of loungewear and beauty products from high-end skincare brands. Plus, with seats that seamlessly convert into beds, long overnight flights are comfortable and stress-free.

    So how much does all that luxury cost? Prices vary depending on the destination, but you could easily spend $10,000 per ticket from British Airways.

    Did you know?

    Each first-class passenger on a British Airways flight gets a free pair of noise-canceling headphones to enjoy during the trip.


  5. Emirates
  6. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $10,000 or more
    Airline Origin: Dubai
    Luxury Feature: Private suites with doors
    Interesting Fact: Emirates flew 56 million passengers between 2019 and 2020
    Emirates
    photo source: emirates.com
    Emirates
    photo source: qz.com

    Emirates is synonymous with luxury air travel. The ultra-high-end airline is based in Dubai, which in turn is situated in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

    All that wealth means airline passengers have high expectations — and Emirates delivers. One of the airline’s most striking features is its “hotel room[s] in the sky.” These extremely expensive airline suites replace standard airplane seats with entire rooms for each passenger. Personal showers, spacious private cabins, and gourmet meals can all be found on an Emirates flight.

    When it comes to the price, things get a little crazy. A first-class ticket costs at least $10,000 for many destinations, but that price skyrockets even higher if you want the airline’s most exclusive features during longer flights.

    Did you know?

    Despite its hefty price tag, Emirates serves a lot of customers — the airline flew well over 50 million passengers between 2019 and 2020 using a fleet of 270 luxury jets.


  7. Japan Airlines
  8. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $12,000
    Airline Origin: Tokyo, Japan
    Luxury Feature: Gourmet food made by professional chefs
    Interesting Fact: Each private first-class seat includes a 23-inch TV
    Japan Airlines
    photo source: lifeofatravelczar.com
    Japan Airlines
    photo source: viewfromthewing.com

    Japan Airlines has a lot of luxury features. First-class passengers enjoy spacious seats with walled-in sides — so privacy is no issue. Personal TVs keep everyone entertained, even during long-haul flights, while free Wi-Fi ensures easy connectivity.

    At dinner time, travelers enjoy a menu curated by professional chefs. From traditional Japanese dishes to worldly combinations of international flavor, the food on a Japan Airlines flight is truly show-stopping.

    Beyond the food, Japan Airlines offers champagne, hot towels, and a selection of on-demand wines.

    In the end, a first-class ticket with Japan Airlines costs about $12,000 — making it the fifth-most expensive airline in the world.

    Did you know?

    Japan Airlines traces its roots to August 1, 1951. The airline owes part of its existence to the Japanese government’s Airline Act, which provided funding to launch the company.


  9. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  10. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $20,000 or more
    Airline Origin: Tokyo, Japan
    Luxury Feature: Admission to Star Alliance luxury airport lounges
    Interesting Fact: ANA is a certified five-star airline
    All Nippon Airways
    photo source: ana.co.jp
    All Nippon Airways
    photo source: ana.co.jp

    For people who fly around the world a lot, finding an airline partnered with the Star Alliance is extremely valuable. The Alliance is a collection of highly rated airlines and airport lounges. If you fly with an airline in the Alliance, you’ll have access to a variety of luxury airport lounges across the world — and that’s exactly the case with ANA. The Japan-based airline is a certified five-star company and a member of the Alliance, so passengers enjoy the company’s own lounges as well as access to over 1,000 more operated by the Alliance itself.

    Beyond all those comfortable lounges, ANA’s first-class customers are provided a stunning menu featuring meals developed by professional chefs. The delicious selection includes everything from pricey wagyu beef to blood orange and lychee mousse. One reviewer called the selection “over-the-top fantastic.”

    So how much does all this cost? A single first-class ticket easily pushes past $20,000.

    Did you know?

    As a five-star certified airline, everything from ANA’s flight attendants to the cleanliness of its in-flight bathrooms has been scrutinized and approved.


  11. Singapore Airlines
  12. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $30,000
    Airline Origin: Singapore
    Luxury Feature: Private room with a bed
    Interesting Fact: Singapore Airlines’ seats are known for being spacious
    Singapore Airlines
    photo source: executivetraveller.com
    Singapore Airlines
    photo source: singaporeair.com

    Long flights can be really uncomfortable. Trying to sleep or even just stretch is usually impossible — but not with Singapore Airlines. The high-end travel service offers large first-class suites complete with entire beds. That’s right, these suites are big enough to hold a bed and a large seat. Passengers also enjoy a personal TV, plenty of storage space, and total privacy thanks to complete wall enclosure. It’s really like a hotel in the sky (there’s even enough room to stand up and stretch).

    After a quick nap or full night’s sleep in their private beds, passengers are treated to a fresh menu served on elegant bone china table sets. All this luxury comes with a steep price tag — one first-class ticket will cost you a steep $30,000.

    Did you know?

    First-class passengers on Singapore Airlines have access to spacious restrooms complete with complimentary toiletries. Unlike most airplane bathrooms, these lavatories have enough space to stand up, walk around, or sit at the included counter to get refreshed before landing.


  13. Cathay Pacific
  14. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $34,000
    Airline Origin: Hong Kong
    Luxury Feature: Complementary skincare products from Bamford
    Interesting Fact: Cathay Pacific founded the Oneworld Alliance
    Cathay Pacific
    photo source: cathaypacific.com
    Cathay Pacific
    photo source: cathaypacific.com

    Coming in at number two is the impressive Cathay Pacific. The ultra-expensive airline offers a wide range of luxury amenities, including high-end skincare products from Bamford and BOSE® noise-canceling headphones for maximum comfort.

    As the founding member of the Oneworld Alliance, passengers of Cathay Pacific have access to a variety of perks including hundreds of airport lounges, fast-tracked security, and the Oneworld point system.

    With a price tag of about $34,000 for a first-class flight, Cathay Pacific is easily the second-most expensive airline on the planet.

    Did you know?

    Cathay Pacific has an “award-winning onboard cellar” offering everything from high-end champagne to artisan beer.


  15. Etihad Airways
  16. Estimated Price of First Class Ticket: $64,000
    Airline Origin: Abu Dhabi
    Luxury Feature: Apartment-style environment
    Interesting Fact: Etihad uses the Airbus A380 airplane
    Etihad Airways
    photo source: cntraveler.com
    Etihad Airways
    photo source: theluxurytravelexpert.com

    Etihad Airways is the most expensive airline in the world.

    With a jaw-dropping price tag of $64,000 for a first-class ticket, Etihad is by far the most expensive airline on the planet.

    If other high-end airlines offer “hotels” in the sky, Etihad offers an entire apartment. The massive first-class space offers spacious seating options, dining room-style tables, and plenty of room to stretch. The setup really looks like a full-on apartment at 35,000 feet.

    Beyond the impressive space, Etihad offers a curated wine list and a farm-to-table menu.

    Did you know?

    Etihad offers an online 3D tour of part of its first-class passenger areas so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

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