Airlines and airports have majorly upped the stakes in recent decades, with heaps of new luxurious offerings for travellers from in-flight suites to airport lounges that will make you wish your flight gets delayed.
However, there are some experiences which go above and beyond – and they’re the stuff of travel wishlists.
Now the team at Netflights has offered up a serious dose of travel inspiration, compiling a list of the top 20 bucket list worthy flight experiences.
We’re talking the kind of experiences you’d want if money was no object from on-board private suites, ridiculously luxurious airport lounges, and some very cool once-in-a-lifetime destinations (like the edge of space).
The best part is that some are actually doable, even if they’re not always completely budget-friendly, from flying on certain routes or booking into certain airport hotels.
Check out the full list below – and why each one makes for such a unique adventure!
1. Take the world’s longest passenger flight
Currently, the world’s longest passenger flight is between Singapore and New York, offered by Singapore Airlines. The flight takes around 18 hours on board the airline’s Airbus A350-900 ‘Ultra Long Range’ aircraft.
However, it’s worth noting that Qantas has been testing a new route from New York to Sydney which, if put into service, would become the world’s longest with a flight time of 20 hours.
2. Travel by sea plane to the Maldives
Arriving at Male airport, you’re still a short plane ride away from the island resorts – and a seaplane can make for quite a unique experience.
Trans-Maldivian airways operates a fleet of 48 De Havilland Twin Otters – which seat just 19 passengers – flying to the 1,200 atolls that make up the Maldives.
Oh, and if you’re tempted to visit, you may want to check out our guide to finding cheap Maldives holidays.
3. Fly to New York on board BA Flight 001
This Airbus A318 operates a regularly scheduled flight from London City to New York – only it has just 32 Club World Business Class seats, so you’ll feel like you’re on your very own private jet.
4. Experience Etihad’s ‘The Residence’
So luxurious it even puts First Class to shame. The Residence is a three-bedroom, private apartment on board Etihad Airways’ A380 that even has a living room and bathroom. Oh, and a butler to cater to your needs.
5. Discover LAX’s private suites
Live the life of a Hollywood A-lister with The Private Suite at LAX, a private terminal where a dedicated team looks after you, and you can even get chauffeured to the plane in a BMW 7 Series.
In fact, you can take a sneak peek inside the terminal here.
6. Grab a seat on Qantas’ Antarctic flight
Qantas operates some special round-trip charter flights from Perth, Melbourne and Sydney to the South Pole. The flight time takes around 13 hours, ad offers some once-in-a-lifetime views of Antarctica.
7. Fly back in time on a WW2-era plane
The DC-3 in New Zealand played a heroic role during the Berlin Airlift, and nowadays it takes you on a scenic trip around the North Island.
8. Take a non-stop flight from London to Perth
It takes just under 17 hours to make the journey, although new technologies mean that the future could see flights from the UK to Australia take just four hours.
9. Stay in the TWA Hotel in JFK
The TWA hotel is no ordinary airport hotel. For a start, it boasts an infinity pool overlooking the runway, not to mention its 10,000 sq ft observation deck which is sure to be a hit with plane spotters.
There are 512 rooms, some with direct runway views (but don’t worry, they are quiet enough that you can get some sleep!).
10. Discover the Island Hopper route
Hailed as one of the world’s most scenic flights, the United B737-800 flight goes from Honolulu to Guam, with stops at Majuro, Kwajalein, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Chuuk, making for some seriously spectacular tropical views.
11. Experience British Airways’ new Club Suite
British Airways is currently rolling out its seriously swanky new Business Class cabin which boasts mini suites with their own doors for greater privacy, flat-bed seats, up to 40 per cent more storage (including a vanity and mirror), and of course more leg room.
12. Settle into the Pier Lounge at Hong Kong Airport
Cathay Pacific has upped the stakes with its Business Class lounge which boasts a Tea House, a Noodle Bar and even yoga and meditation facilities thanks to the swish Sanctuary.
13. Watch the planes from Maho Beach
The iconic beach in St Maarten near Princess Juliana International Airport is famous for the low-flying airplanes which delight the beach-goers and plane spotters.
14. Fly to South America with Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is set to launch a new service to Sao Paulo in March 2020, on board the B787-9 Dreamliner.
15. Travel through Beijing’s new mega airport
The size of 100 football fields, the new Beijing Daxing International Airport is a must-visit.
The 700,000 sq m main terminal has eight ‘arms’ connecting it to various runways, while inside there’s a seriously impressive offering of bars, restaurants, shops and lounges.
The new airport is estimated to host up to 72 million passengers annually by 2025, although it’s actually been designed to accommodate closer to 100 million.
16. See the Northern Lights from the air
If you’re flying to Iceland from the UK during the winter, the right conditions could mean you get to spot the Aurora Borealis right from the skies.
For somewhere a little closer to home, there are plenty of places in the UK where you can see the Northern Lights.
17. Hop on an ’empty leg’ flight
No need to have a millionaire’s budget to have a private jet. ‘Empty leg’ flights – when the plane is flown empty at the end of a season – sometimes have tickets available at temptingly cheap prices.
18. Soar in a Spitfire
Ahead of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the Imperial War Museum at Duxford Aerodrome in Cambridgeshire will be offering flights on a specially modified two-seater training Spitfire.
19. Take a 53-second flight
Head to Scotland where you’ll find the Loganair flight, which covers the tiny 1.7 mile route from Westray to Papa Westray and lasts as little as 53 seconds! Flights operate daily and cost just £17.
20. Fly to the edge of space
Virgin Galactic could be on track to begin passenger services in 2020, although nothing has yet been confirmed by the company.
Tickets will set you back around $250,000 per person (approx £190,000) and you’ll need to attend pre-flight training.
For something more affordable, you can book flights aboard a modified Boeing 727 departing from a range of US airports each year which offers a weightlessness effect you can experience.
You can also find out more on the Netflights blog.