Have you ever seen those old photos of people sitting around cocktail bars on the upper deck of specially fitted Boeing 747s?
It would seem that for anyone flying first class back in the 1970’s it was almost obligatory that once the dinner service was over you had to pop up to the bar and mingle with complete strangers.
Back in the day, American carriers were the leaders when it came to bars aboard aircraft with several airlines even putting a bar in the plane for their economy class passengers.
These days we don’t know of a single American airline that has a bar on-board where passengers can get together for a drink or two. Now it’s more about getting as many seats squeezed in as they can and making sure people stay in their seats and wait for the trolley to arrive.
The concept of having an inflight bar is not dead with several of the world’s leading airlines installing bars or lounges for their high-paying customers.
What makes a good airplane bar?
The answer to this question is straight forward and that is square footage! The more room you have to play with, the more chance you have to create an exciting social space.
This is one of the reasons we love the Airbus A380 as it has plenty of room to squeeze in a bar. Sadly though, due to its demise in popularity over more fuel-efficient aircraft, everyone’s favorite plane is flying on borrowed time.
With the Boeing 747, a dinosaur of the skies these days, and the A380 on the way out, does it mean the end of bars and lounges on aircraft? Happily, it does not, as we will explain later, but for now, here is a list of airlines that still offer a bar on their aircraft.
Airlines that still have a bar on some of their aircraft
Located at the very back of the A380’s upper deck, the Emirates Airlines onboard bar is one of the liveliest and most popular. We don’t know if Emirates designed it this way on purpose or if it just happened, but there is always something going on. Flight attendants in business class must pass by the bar on the way from the galley to the cabin which can often make for a good time if you have a fun crew.
The Emirates bar is open to first and business class customers and, as well as drinks, offers snacks throughout the flight.
If you are looking for a bar where you can relax without the cabin crew walking past every other minute you will love the bar on the Qatar Airways A380. Of all the A380 bars, Qatar’s is probably the most spacious with plenty of seating available.
Called the Celestial Bar, Korean Air’s business class lounge/bar is located at the back of their A380s upper deck.
Having partnered up with Absolut vodka, the Asian carrier only offers signature cocktails at the bar, so if you want a beer one of the crew will have to bring it from the galley. The space is well laid out with plenty of seating for Korean Air’s business passengers.
Called “The Lobby”, Etihad Airways’ idea of an onboard bar is slightly different than the traditional bar where you have someone to serve you. Similar to the Emirates A380 bar, the Lobby is located between the business class seats and the galley, which means you should be able to catch one of the flight crew’s attention when you want a drink.
With a reputation for customer service, all Virgin products are good and their bar service is no exception. Moving away from the A380, Virgin Australia offers a bar on their Boeing 777-300ERs.
Located between the aircraft’s two business class cabins, the bar comes complete with four traditional bar stools.
For years Virgin Atlantic has touted its business class bar, and on many flights, especially during the daytime, it can get quite busy and loud. This is something you need to be aware of when choosing your seat. It is also something Virgin Atlantic may have decided to change with their brand new lounge-like space they call “The Loft.”
Quieter and more tranquil than bars on other Virgin aircraft “The Loft” is only available on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. Simple Flying editor Joanna Bailey recently flew on Virgin’s Atlantic’s A350 to New York and loved it. You can read her review of the flight and what she thought of “The Loft” by clicking on the link.
Virgin Atlantic may have hit on the right idea with their loft rather than a traditional bar by creating a space where people can relax and not necessarily be there just to drink. What do you think; are aircraft bars going to disappear? Please let us know in the comments.