If you’ve got the dosh, never dread a long-haul flight again


If you’ve got the dosh, never dread a long-haul flight again

Eight airlines that are leading the way in wellness travel

Zola Zingithwa

It is exciting to plan a long-awaited trip to take your mind off your stressful job. However the journey can be tedious and leave you drained, making you question whether it’s worth flying to that faraway destination.
But while we wait for the Elon Musks of this world to roll out teleportation vehicles, some airlines have tried to make air travel not only more comfortable but also healthier for your mind, body and soul.
Here are eight airlines that have tailored experiences for first and business-class passengers, both on flights and at airports, to help them feel rested and invigorated, even after long-haul flights.
Singapore Airlines has just introduced a programme in collaboration with wellness brand Canyon Ranch for its nonstop long-haul flights to the US, according to Robb Report. It aims to make long-haul travel less arduous, as well as to decrease the adverse effects it can have on health. One focus is on wellness cuisine, centred on nourishment and hydration. Other features include integrative medicine and stretching videos guided by Canyon Ranch physiologists. No wonder it was voted number one airline this year.
Ranked second best by Skytrax, Qatar Airways has a dedicated page on its website you can browse before flying, giving tips on how to boost your energy levels and how to relax while flying. It has also partnered with British Airways to offer a Flying With Confidence course run by cabin crew and a clinical psychologist. At Hamad International Airport in Doha, first-class passengers can choose between two lounges that offer spa treatments or relaxing in a hydrotherapy bath.
If the first-class experience on Emirates is good enough for Jennifer Aniston, surely it is good enough for the rest of us. The airline offers luxurious travel amenities, such as Bvlgari kits, luxe cabins, an on-board spa shower, and healthy meal options. First-class passengers can indulge in complimentary spa treatments, such as a back massage at Dubai airport. There is a reason this Gulf carrier consistently makes it onto Skytrax’s top airlines list.
Cathay Pacific is also among the top 10 airlines, which means it takes its service seriously. Not only can you request a light, healthy meal from a celebrity chef on some long-haul flights, you can take an in-flight yoga lesson developed in collaboration with New York studio Pure Yoga. Instructors lead passengers in a series of customised videos that can be accessed on the in-flight Lifestyle channel. The yoga and meditation exercises for before, during and after the flight aim to improve the comfort and rest levels of passengers by helping “to improve circulation, enhance joint mobility and relax the mind”.
In June 2017, Air France introduced the Mind app, a mindfulness programme that includes guided meditation sessions accessed on seat-back screens, aimed to help passengers achieve “inner calm and peace”. There is a session for people who are afraid of flying and ones that are child-centred, Robb Report says. At Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, its business-class lounge offers a detox bar, two saunas and a Clarins spa giving facial treatments.
SAA’s business class offers top-class food prepared by local celebrity chefs Reuben Riffel and Benny Masekwameng, who have created signature dishes. The airline also has a five-star sleep rating on Skytrax for its 180° leather flatbed seats, which come with luxurious pillows and noise-cancellation headsets.
Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is well known for being service-orientated and the airline is no different. Virgin Australia has partnered with meditation outfit Smiling Mind to create a programme that helps fliers overcome anxiety. The meditation and deep-breathing exercise videos can be accessed during the flight. Anxious fliers can look forward to other initiatives to help with nerves before the flight. The focus on reducing anxiety will hopefully catch on with other carriers and decrease the number of people popping pills.
The first thing to note about Etihad is that its first-class cabin on board the A380 is is referred to as an “apartment”. This makes sense when you consider it has a couch that can be converted into an 2m bed and an armchair that allows you to put your feet up while watching TV. Say goodbye to circulation problems! You can ask the on-board chefs to create personalised meals for you during the flight if nothing on the a la carte menu takes your fancy. You can also book a treatment at the Abu Dhabi first-class lounge and spa.
• Visit CNN Travel to see the airlines that were voted the best in 2018 announced by Skytrax.

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