The top 5 inflight bars


Aviation has always been associated with a luxury way of travel. Even though the golden age of the industry seems mostly in the past, there are still some airline companies that like to add that little extra flair to the experience, by adding a bar onboard their planes in order for the passengers to pass their time onboard in the most relaxed way possible. Truth be told, these bars are only accessible for travelers in business and first class, but nonetheless they do make the overall experience much more enjoyable. Let’s take a look at some of the best flying bars.

Emirates

Probably the best known by most of us, as they are installed on their A380’s of which Emirates has the largest fleet in the world. Their massive marketing budget might also have to do with it of course. But let’s be honest, it looks amazing and recently they have started to roll out a new look for their bar, which looks and feels more like a mix between a private jet and a yacht. It takes some time to get used to all the bling when flying Emirates, but it only takes one drink to get used to this bar.

Qatar Airways

In my opinion the most beautiful bar in the sky, and surely also the largest one. With ample space on both sides of the bar, there is loads of space to sit down and relax to try some of the cocktails or snacks which are offered. The location of the bar is ideal, on the upper deck of the A380 in between business class and economy class. It provides a space where there is minimal traffic from passengers or crew, making the lounge the perfect spot to relax and have a little chat.

Virgin Atlantic

A bar has been one of the staple amenities onboard Virgin Atlantic, and even on their new A350 they still installed one for their business class passengers. While less exuberant than the ones you’ll find on the Middle Eastern carriers, it is still a nice space where you can have a drink instead of having a glass on your own in the seat where you are already spending way too many hours. The only downside about the onboard bar on Virgin Atlantic is the fact that there’s little separation between the cabin and the bar, which means it can get rather disturbing for the passengers seated close to it when there is a lot of people having a drink, often resulting in a lot of noise.

Etihad Airways

While being very known for their onboard Residence (yes, the seat that comes with its own bedroom and bathroom), there are far less people aware of the fact that Etihad also has an onboard bar on their A380s. Between the first and business class you can find “The Lounge” which features a circular seating area which can host 6 passengers. Not massively big, but again a nice space to unwind outside your own seating area. There is no dedicated bartender, but the friendly crew is always in the neighborhood to help and serve up your favorite drink. A downside is the galley which is located next to it, and as a results there’s more noise and lots of traffic to and from the business class cabin by the crew.

Korean Air

Another airlines that has an onboard bar on their A380’s is Korean Air. Located in the back of the upper deck, you’ll find the Celestial bar. It has an open and inviting atmosphere, with plenty of seating space. As it is operated in collaboration with Absolut Vodka, they only serve you the signature vodka based cocktails in this bar. Maybe that is why it may look a little bit like an ice bar. However, as we all know how customer orientated the Asian airline crews are, you can always ask a friendly staff member for anything else to drink, though they will have to go and get that for you in the galley.

Have you visited one of these onboard bars already? And if so, what were your thoughts?


Comments (16)

  1. Dan Swan says:

    I’m flying with Qatar in November so I look forward to dropping into the bar. I have major problems with my back and seize up if I’m sat still for more than about 80 or 90 minutes. Usually I go for a “walk” every now and again which looks very strange as I try to do some stretches. The prospect of going for a walk with a purpose appeals, leaning against a bar would stretch the back and a mid-air cocktail could be quite a useful muscle relaxant.

    • Kristof Eyckmans says:

      Just make sure you fly the A380 as this bar can only be found on those type of aircraft when flying Qatar Airways. Besides that, I would say…enjoy the cocktails!

  2. Chris H says:

    In-flight bars eh? This is a whole new ball game. I love the idea of passing a few hours jawing with fellow passengers. People flying usually have some good stories to tell.

    • Kristof Eyckmans says:

      I agree, there are always some good stories told at the inflight bar. And often they get better with time (and drinks) passing by :)

  3. Diana Presley says:

    In flight bars are a great addition to help wile away the hours on long flights. It’s amazing how much better the airlines have got at keeping us occupied on flights and also how much better we’ve become as passengers.

    I can remember being on transatlantic flights when you had to pay for headphones to watch the one movie showing and if passengers didn’t like the movie they got quite restless.

    Nowadays most passengers are immersed in the movies but it will still be good to have the option of a drink or two.

  4. Kristof Eyckmans says:

    Those were indeed other times. Much more interaction between the passengers, causing more noise too.

    Then again, you could still smoke and that wasn’t always a pleasure for the other passengers when flying long haul.

    But as you say, the bars (which were also fitted on some of the planes back in the days) are a great way to make the time fly by (pun intented)

  5. Simon says:

    I think these bars are a great idea, taking a break from sitting in your seat is such a good idea. I can watch films back to back on a long flight but it would be great to spend some time at the bar. Isn’t that what everyone else thinks too?

    How do they stop these bars becoming as packed as my local boozer on a Saturday night? Are they exclusively for Business and First Class only? Or are the prices high enough to put people off using them?

    • Kristof Eyckmans says:

      These bars are only for Business and First class passengers. And most of the times I was in one of these bars, I was there on my own, or maybe 1 or two other passengers, but that’s it.

      No price need to be paid as all the drinks and snacks on offer are complimentary of course.

  6. Elaine Rogers says:

    Oh how the other half live! Qatar Airways always come to mind for me when it comes to luxury, they really pull out all the stops. A good point with the Virgin Atlantic one as I wouldn’t want to be seated too close to the bar area, not if it gets noisy or rowdy. The Celestial Bar on Korean Air’s A380 looks very futuristic, I wonder how much a signature vodka cocktail would set you back? Probably half the price of your ticket! If you can afford it though I’d love to spend my time at a bar in a plane. I imagine it would be good for the more anxious flyers too as it would make the experience far less anxiety ridden and far more enjoyable.

  7. Paul Johnson says:

    I have drunk at the Virgin Atlantic bar on one or two occasions, and you’re right – it is close to some passengers, separated by a screen and curtain and not a great deal else. That said, it’s also quite small – with seating for just a few, plus a place to stand at each end, I guess, so you’ll never get many people there. So long as the drinking passengers are considerate – and I know, that can’t be guaranteed – it shouldn’t be too much of an issue, hopefully.

    • Kristof Eyckmans says:

      The bar on Virgin Atlantic and on Emirates are probably the most likely to annoy passengers who are sitting on the last row of business class indeed

  8. Oscar says:

    You’ve got to admire the design on all of these bars. The designers have done a great job: most of them somehow combine Art Deco elegance with a sort of futuristic Utopia vibe with just the right tones of nightclub decadence. Clever work indeed when there’s not a huge amount of space to work with.

    • Kristof Eyckmans says:

      Those designers kicked it out of the park indeed, cause it is not an easy job to design these things.

  9. Gerald says:

    Interesting move from the airlines to try to upgrade the 1st Class / Business product. Recently, I saw some statistics showing a decline in numbers of passengers using First Class / Business throughout the world. In fact it may even have been a Travel News story on A Luxury Travel Blog. Some airlines are even cutting back on the number of seats offered or totally scrapping the service.

    I hope that there will always be some First Class available on most routes. A few months ago I spoke to a very senior and very weary executive who had just flown from London to Sydney for a two hour meeting with a disgruntled client. Increasingly business will require us to make long journeys and if it is to be possible we need to fly in as much comfort as possible.

    • Kristof Eyckmans says:

      The airlines make most of their money from business and first class passengers (not including cargo), so they will do whatever they can to attract them with fancy cabins, lounges, perks,… But it all comes at a cost of course, and companies are less inclined to pay these high prices for it.
      The introduction of premium economy also added to that.
      Of course as you mentioned, some senior executives will keep using this way of travel as they need to start working from the moment they arrive on the other side of the globe. And that is something which is hard to put a price on.

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