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The best airlines know that no one likes to arrive at their destination tired and groggy. To enhance the sleep experience of their customers, airlines have designed luxurious first class suites with mini apartments and separate beds, business class with seats that can convert to comfortable recliners, and much more.
Luxury seats come luxurious offerings such as gourmet meals, television, and champagne – although we recommend avoiding heavy meals and alcohol if you plan to sleep. Apart from the mentioned, the best airlines offer various sleep-promoting products that can ensure restful sleep, such as sleep headphones, luxurious bedding, pajama sets with slippers, toiletry kits (eye masks and moisturizing creams) and turndown services. As you can see, air travel doesn’t have to be exhausting. However, all of this stuff comes with a price. If you are able to spend thousands of dollars for a first or business class suite, you will definitely sleep like a baby.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the very best airlines for sleep, and review first class, business class, and coach. In our ranking is included the number of sleep-focused amenities the airline offered. Extra points were given to airlines that took care of providing their customers different bed lengths, privacy doors and similar.
The Best Airlines for Sleeping in First Class
Etihad Airways: First Apartment
- Separate bed up to 80 inches long + bedding
- Privacy doors
- Do not disturb function
- Sleeping headphones
- Mood lighting
- Turn down service
- Luxury toiletry kit
- Sleepwear set
The Etihad Airways First Apartment won the first place for an apparent reason – the first class suit looks like a room at a spa and contains one of the most enormous bed found when traveling via plan, 82 inches long. The suite also has a do not disturb button, separate doors for privacy, and small seating area.
During turndown service, the flight attendant can make your bed and leave a sweet note on your pillow. Toiletries contain luxury skincare and pillow mist. First class customers can also enjoy a shower upon waking up. The suits are, so there are only nine of them available. If this is not enough luxury for you, you can opt for The Residence – a three-room suite with a private bathroom, shower, and bedroom.
- Lie-flat seats up to 80-inch long with adjustable firmness + bedding
- Seats with massage functions
- Privacy door or partitions
- Turndown service
- Luxury toiletry kit
Sleeping seats are typically offered on international or transatlantic flights. However, JetBlue stands out from its competitors by providing it on domestic flights traveling coast-to-coast or to the Caribbean. Travelers can either opt for a lie-flat seat or a suite with a window and privacy door. The firmness level can be adjusted, and you can even get a massage while snoozing.
Cathay Pacific: First Class
- Lie-flat seats up to 81 inches long with massage function + bedding
- Privacy partitions
- Sleeping headphones
- Turndown service
- Luxury toiletry kit
- Sleepwear set
This airline is roomier than its competitors. In the business class, there are only three seats per row. A comfortable seat with built-in massage function makes it easy to relax, while a personal sleepwear set which contains an eye mask and slippers provides added comfort. Turndown service includes a sweet treat for your pillow.
When it comes to honorable mentions, we have to opt for the Emirates, Japan Airlines, Air France, Singapore Airlines and Swiss Air.
Emirates airlines feature everything we have mentioned in the first three examples, plus a mini bar. The mood lighting in the first class is specially designed to create an illusion you are sleeping under the stars. First class travelers also won’t have to deal with dry air during travel and will enjoy moisturizing toiletries, as well as the Hydra Active Microcapsule Technology sleepwear. The best thing is that you can take this sleepwear kit home with you after the flight is over. A shower spa facility is also available.
Japan Airlines feature a lie-flat seat that is almost the size of the bed, and all the other features we have mentioned in the first three examples. What makes them stand out is that they offer reversible mattress pads with a softer and a firmer side.
Air France first class has a comfortable lie flat size that is up to 78 inches long. Other features we mentioned before, such as mood lighting, television, luxury toiletry kits and so on, are also included. Their first class suite resembles a hotel room – it’s cozy with floor-to-ceiling curtains, and even has a small nightstand table with a lamp.
Singapore Airlines first class have private suites that are perfect for cozy sleeping. Apart from the usual features, their suits have their own door, armchair and a separate bed. The bed is a bit shorter than most (only 76 inches) but since it’s a real bed, it provides more comfortable sleep.
Swiss Air first class, apart from the mentioned typical features, offers adjustable firmness level for their recliners, privacy partitions, and luxurious bedding.
The Best Airlines for Sleeping in Business Class
Etihad Airways again won the first place due to their numerous sleep-promoting offerings on the flight. The lie-flat seats are one of the longest beds in the business class (80 inches), and for added comfort passengers can also enjoy mood lighting and reversible blanket with a cooling or warming side.
Qatar Airways qsuite business class have a convertible arrangement. These seats are perfect for families who want to chat or travelers who need to conduct a business meeting. When the passengers want to sleep, they can simply pull their privacy partitions up to separate themselves from other travelers.
If you are flying with Virgin Australia, you will be able to enjoy plush leather seats that recline up to 80-inches, mood lighting, comfortable memory foam pads, sleeping headphones, and turndown service.
When it comes to our honorable mentions, we have to mention Delta Air Lines, United: Polaris Business Class, Air France, Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Airlines have a lot to offer to their business class travelers. All seats have access to a window and come with privacy doors that entirely shut out noise and views of other nearby passengers. The bedding includes memory foam cushions, and the suite consists of a TV and a bedside table. Delta One business class service is available on domestic flights.
United: Polaris Business Class
United has pretty large business class cabins with lie-flat seats. In the service is included a toiletry kit, a comfortable memory foam pillow, and a pajama set with cozy slippers. Onboard shower facilities are also available.
Air France seats in the business class are focused on providing privacy and peace during flight. The seats are designed in such a way to keep the passenger isolated from the shiny window light that might disturb their sleep. The seats can fully recline, as well as the armrests. The only downside is that their partitions are significantly smaller compared to other airlines. For a better sleep experience, headphones for sleep, mood lighting, and duvets are also included.
Japan Airlines offer a Sky Suite with fully partitioned seats, and a special Airweave mattress and pillow designed for cool sleep. The only downside is that the seats are only 74 inches long which may be uncomfortable for taller travelers.
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand Business Premier seats use a herringbone configuration, meaning the seats are reversible. One side is made from memory foam, and the other contains a leather seat. For added comfort, toppers and duvets are at your disposal.
Most airlines offer herringbone configuration, but British Airways Club World stands out with a yin-yang arrangement of seats, where travelers are facing toward each other and have a screen in between for privacy. This particular arrangement saves space, allowing British Airways to cram a lot of seats in a small area. Unfortunately, this makes things a bit noisy and no so peaceful for sleep. The beds are also very short for business class, only 72 inches which may be a problem for taller travelers.
Cathay Pacific business class features the reverse herringbone configuration – the seats fully recline, together with the armrests for the passengers have a wider sleep surface to snooze on. Besides standard sleep-promoting products such as skin care items and toiletry kit, you also get a pair of socks.
The Best Airlines for Sleeping in Coach
Unfortunately, there are no private suits or fully reclinable seats in coach. However, many airlines are working hard this and make flying experience as sleep-friendly as possible. To sleep better in coach, it is best to look for a seat pitch or the distance between seats in different rows. The seat pitch may help you calculate how much legroom you will get while on the flight. Many airlines reduce legroom in order to squeeze in more rows and seats.
Tips for Sleeping Well on a Plane
No matter how great your seat or flying suit is, sleeping on a plane is never easy, especially because you are thousands of feet in the air, and surrounded by strangers. Here are some tips for sleeping better while flying.
Prepare for Jet Lag
If you are traveling long distances and changing time zones, you should prepare for jet lag in time. Preparing yourself in advance is actually the only proper way to avoid it. A few days before your trip, you should slowly adjust yourself to the new time zone. For example, depending on the time zone of your destination, you should adapt your sleep, wake, and eating schedule. It is best to adjust your schedule up or down by 1 hour each day. The night before the trip, go to bed early to ensure you travel well rested.
In case you still experience symptoms of jet lag when you arrive, melatonin supplements can help you to adjust faster.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
Again, if you are traveling long distances, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to you, you have to eat and drink plenty of water. Fluid intake is particularly important because the air in the airplane cabins is very low. If you plan to sleep while on a flight, avoid drinking alcohol and eating heavy meals or sugary foods. Best snacks when flying are cheese, nuts, and dried fruit.
Choose Your Seat Wisely
Unfortunately, not all of us have a budget to afford first class or business class seats with luxurious treats and sleep-promoting settings. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose a better seat in the economic class. If you are traveling in coach, pick a seat with more legroom so you can stretch your legs as much as possible. Also, select a window seat, because in case you have an aisle seat, some passengers may have to wake you up in order to go to the bathroom.
Sleeping smart can also help you reduce the symptoms of jet lag. So, if you are traveling overnight, try to fall asleep once you are on the flight. If you are traveling during the day, avoid sleep, and try to nap only 20 to 30 minutes. Doing otherwise may disrupt your sleep schedule too much. If you have a first class seat, choose the Do Not Disturb option when you go to bed. If you don’t want the flight attendant to disturb you, keep your seatbelt buckled while you nap or sleep.
Pack Sleep Supplies
If you have a seat in the first or business class, make sure you take advantage of any sleepwear items and toiletries the airline offers. In case they don’t provide them for you, bring your own. To sleep better, you need loose and comfortable clothing, a travel pillow, earplugs, and a sleep mask. In case you want to isolate yourself from noisy passengers, download a white noise smartphone app to play on your headphones while you drift off to the dreamland.
Sleeping Position – Uncross Your Legs
Crossing your legs while flying and trying to get some rest is not a good idea because it restricts blood flow and increases the chances of a blood clot if your flight is longer than four hours. Crossing your legs is also bad for your back, and it can lead to torque. If you fall asleep that way, you will probably wake up and subconsciously cross the legs the other way to even out the additional stress you are putting on your lower back.
The best sleep position to sleep in while on a flight is to keep your legs straight or to bend your knees slightly. If possible, shifting your entire body to the side and leaning your shoulder into your seat should be comfortable for sleeping.
When You Land
Once you have landed, it is essential to stay up until it’s really time for sleep. We understand that you are tired, but sleeping all day will only make it even harder to fall asleep during the night. If you need to rest, take short naps that don’t last more than half an hour. It may take a few days to shift your circadian rhythm and adjust to the new time zone, so don’t worry if you are feeling a bit groggy, hungry at odd times and similar. It’s just your body adjusting, and soon you will be back to your regular sleep schedule.
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A wannabe journalist who somehow ended up as an art historian. She is a gamer, a coffee addict and a sleep aficionado. When she is not researching about sleep and finding out new ways to fight off the insomnia beast, she’s spending time with her friends, gaming or visiting local museums.