This Luxury Airline Is a High-End Cocktail Bar in the Sky

Fully loaded drink cart included.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Soaring through the sky somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, perhaps an hour after leaving Hong Kong on a flight to Los Angeles, a loaded, legit cocktail cart comes rolling out for service. 

This is about as far from the standard in-flight routine—where you’re grateful to keep the whole can of soda to refill your plastic cup with bottom-shelf whiskey and Coke—as you can get.

This is luxe in-flight drinking, with signature cocktails ready to be mixed up at your beckoning. You can partake of quality spirits such as Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve scotch whisky and Hine Rare VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, or prestigious wine vintages and varietals, served in real glassware.

When it comes to drinking in style while soaring above the clouds, your best bet is choosing the right long-haul international carrier and upgrading your seat. Consider it an investment in sheer, giddy traveling happiness.

Cathay Pacific Airways is one such carrier that has helped transform the flight experience from something to endure to something to revel in and enjoy. 

Begin your flight with a welcome glass of bubbles from a rotating assortment of vintage Champagnes, such as Krug Brut 2004 or the 2006 Tattinger Comtes de Champagne. An equally compelling lineup of reds and whites are available, handpicked to match a broad range of tastes while pairing perfectly with the lavish, multicourse meals served on board.

Cathay Pacific’s head of Food & Beverage and Hospitality, Bernard Mills, notes that the airline’s wine panel, including Master of Wine Debra Meiburg and wine educator Roy Moorfield, blind tastes hundreds of wines and spirits each quarter to make their selections. Those signature cocktails aren’t haphazardly put together, either; they are actually the winning entrants of a competition involving a handful of Hong Kong’s top bartenders.

It’s not just alcoholic beverages that are getting an upgrade. When you’re ready to freshen up in the morning, you can choose from an assortment of fine teas from Jing or freshly brewed Illy coffee and espresso. 

You can even fit a bit of wellness into your travel routine, as Cathay Pacific has partnered with Pure Yoga to develop a series of videos available through each seat’s entertainment system. Select one at your leisure and follow along to get guided instruction for in-flight stretching and meditation.

Of course, where comfort is concerned, business class is just the beginning. There’s always another upgrade, another experience to chase—up to first class, up to one of the enclosed rooms or suites that several carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates now offer, or even up to your very own private jet.

The good news is you don’t have to buy one, and renting a plane on either a one-off basis or as part of an ongoing subscription or member- ship is easier than ever. Consider Magellan Jets, an on-demand air charter service with tiers of bespoke memberships based on how far, and how frequently, you’ll be traveling, and what types of aircraft will be at your disposal.

At this level, ask and you shall receive. “In flight, there’s nothing that can’t happen,” says Anthony Tivnan, Magellan’s president and cofounder. “It really comes [down] to your imagination, and your wants and expectations.”

Bring a massage therapist along for the ride, a personal chef, or your own bartender. Enjoy stacked seafood towers on fine china plating. Or have the crew actually pick up food from your favorite restaurant to be prepared and served during the flight. As Tivnan says, “Anything is possible.”