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Airlines Bring On the Amenities in First Class

Tickers in this article: UAL

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ( MainStreet) -- In an era of scaled-back travel services and many airlines opting for a two-class cabin versus a traditional three, there are still airlines ramping up their first-class offerings with unprecedented amenities and luxury services that bring aviation back to its golden age -- providing you're seated in the right part of the plane.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class begins showing its service muscle even before travelers depart for the airport. For those dreading a rush-hour commute in London or lengthy ride on the Heathrow Express, Virgin Limobike offers select Upper Class passengers one of the fastest and chicest ways to go from city to airport: Travelers are picked up throughout London by specially trained motorcycle chauffeurs that navigate the nooks and crannies of the congested capital as passengers hold on and marvel. Boasted about by celebs and a handy tool for time-strapped CEOs, the chauffeur even provides protective clothing and a fluffy blanket for passengers during colder winter months.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class begins showing its service muscle even before travelers depart for the airport: They can be delivered to this luxury via chauffeured motorcycle.

Emirates knows how to treat its First Class passengers, from its impeccable in-flight services to airport lounges that impress in Dubai and elsewhere. Rather than share airline lounge space with less-luxurious code-share partner, Emirates is expanding its infrastructure of airline-operated luxury lounges with its first West Coast location -- San Francisco. Available to first-class as well as business customers, the grand SFO lounge space sprawls almost 10,000 square feet over two levels with glossy decor of veiny marble floors and walls strewn with Rolex clocks. The lounge boasts the biggest dining room of any SFO airline lounge, with nightly dinner service in addition to a full-service bar that makes for the ultimate preboarding send-away for its daily Boeing 777-300ER service to Dubai.

Those lucky enough to score a first-class suite on Emirates' fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft find that well-publicized burl and gold boudoir in the sky with sliding door, stocked mini-bar and fully flat mattresses trimmed in high-thread count sheets. Service is impeccable, with choice of Asian, Western and Middle Eastern dinners and Dom that's poured like Diet Coke. While the onboard lounge and its bartender service is a great perk, it's the signature shower spas that are the true piece d'resistance . Guests are offered their own bath time, with water regulated by time per passenger, inside shower suites trimmed in marble and wood paneling with a selection of bath products that include an amenity kit of Bulgari toiletries for each passenger that will have you smelling better upon landing than on takeoff.

Picky spirit drinkers will want to look into Singapore Airlines First Class and Singapore Suites, where patrons are offered a choice of Dom Perignon or Krug champagne. Further perks include cuisine from an International culinary panel, which includes Singapore's Sam Leong, L.A.'s Suzanne Goin and France's Georges Blanc. Passengers can "book the cook" and order favorite main courses in advance of their flight directly through the airline -- an amenity especially popular with Middle Eastern clients.