Passengers who have been traveling on airplanes for decades have witnessed an astonishing number of changes over the years.
Culture blogger Messy Nessy explained her thoughts about the flying experience for passengers in one notorious decade.
“The 1970s was without doubt, a golden age of air travel,” she wrote. “It was the era that saw the upper decks of Boeing 747s turn into full-scale cocktail lounges and restaurants for first class flyers. On the lower deck, there were also coach or economy lounges.”
In a television advertisement from the 1970s, American Airlines promoted how it took the in-flight cocktail bar to a new level: by adding live music.
“Put a piano in a room full of strangers, and something nice happens,” a narrator is heard saying. “In the coach lounge of all our 747 luxury liners, why start your vacation with strangers? Only one airline has the piano bar.”
The airlines that still offer the cocktail bar experience
Now, several other carriers still emphasize the social aspect of air travel, but in different ways. Here’s a quick summary.
It’s fairly common knowledge that Emirates features in-flight bars as part of its passenger experience.
“The airline has 100+ Airbus A380s that feature a bar at the back of the upper deck, for first and business class passengers,” wrote Ben Schlappig of One Mile At a Time.
“The bar is staffed throughout the flight, and you can either enjoy a drink at the bar, or take one back to your seat,” he added. “There’s a huge list of cocktails to choose from, and there are also a variety of self-serve snacks available.”
Virgin also enjoys a reputation for its popular social spaces.
“Historically Virgin Atlantic has had an onboard bar, and this is something you’ll still find on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330,” Schlappig wrote. “Standard A350s have a lounge area immediately behind business class, featuring a few couches, as well as an entertainment screen.”
A Virgin Atlantic airplane flies in the sky above.
Qatar Airways’ fleet of A380s is not nearly as large as what Emirates has, but the airline receives a positive review of its social areas.
“I’d argue the carrier’s onboard bar is even nicer (than Emirates),” Schlappig wrote. “The bar is available to first and business class passengers, and is located behind the business class cabin (in front of the small upper deck economy cabin). The bar is gorgeous, spacious, and has plenty of seating.”
Korean Air calls its lounge the Celestial Bar and operates under a partnership with a vodka brand.
“Korean Air has a lounge at the back of the A380 upper deck behind business class,” wrote One Mile At a Time. “It’s an inviting space with a good amount of seating. It’s operated in conjunction with Absolut vodka, and there’s a specialty list of aviation-themed cocktails.”
Qantas features its lounge at the front of its Airbus A380 upper deck.
“(It) features two sets of booths, intended for business class passengers,” Schlappig explained. “This is in the same area where Emirates has its A380 showers, so this is truly just using up space that couldn’t otherwise really be utilized.”
Etihad has a few Airbus 380s with lounge spaces that fly from Abu Dhabi to New York and London.
“The Etihad A380 has a social lounge located between first and business class, known as ‘The Lobby,'” Schlappig wrote. “This space has a couple of couches that can accommodate half a dozen people, and flight attendants are also happy to service food and drinks here.”
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