A little luxury when we travel can go a long way. Long-haul flying is famously gruelling, and the companies that can take the pain out of the skies win the undying love and repeat business of thousands of travellers.

The destinations matter, they need to be the places the rich want to be, but when the journey itself is such a pleasure, you might be tempted to change your travel plans for the sake of getting on one of these planes.

Here are five luxury airlines.

Cathay Pacific Airways Limited

It will cost you $7,500 or thereabouts to take a Cathay flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. As China opens up to western money, more and more business travellers will want to take this flight and Cathay are already ahead of the game to cash in.

It’s quite a long flight, but if you get peckish you can prepare for the best Asian fusion cuisine – five courses-worth of it. You’ll be entertained well too, the movie and music options run into the dozens. The amenity kits are put together by Elemis and you’ll drop off to sleep in Shanghai Tang designer pjs. The world agrees, in 2006 Cathay Pacific took the Airline of the Year award back to its Hong Kong headquarters. It can’t be long until they’re adding more gongs to their trophy cabinet.

Japan Airlines

None of these carriers are cheap, but to travel between two of the world’s most exciting megacities – Tokyo and New York – for $7,000 isn’t too bad when you can travel like this.

Japan Airlines have long had a reputation for comfort and first class service. You’ll know this as soon as you sit down, adjust the headrest and cushions or rest your head on the down-filled pillows. Flip a switch and your seat will give you a massage.

For the ultimate in luxury book a Skysleeper Solo ticket with its Poltrona Frau upholstered leather seat, which folds flat to let you sleep. The airline offers the both of two culinary worlds and can match many a fine restaurant with the quality of its Japanese and western food.

Lufthansa

From Germany to New York will cost you just shy of $5,000. The seats are roomy – 92 inches apart and 6’6” long when stretched out – and an adjustable screen keeps you protected from prying eyes.

France might take the food plaudits, but this German carrier employs an army of sommeliers and chefs to keep its menus at the cutting edge.

If you’re travelling from Frankfurt you don’t get a first class lounge, you get a whole terminal. The Lufthansa Media package that entertains you is packed with the best movies, music and video games. You’ll never be bored.

Lufthansa would rather not fall into that category. Their sleeper seats are spaced up to 92 inches apart and extend six feet, six inches (or nearly the length of two rock stars laid end-to-end).

Singapore Airlines

Just over $5,000 will get a first class ticket from LA to Singapore, with it you’ll get toiletries from Italian luxury kings Bulgari, and Givenchy sleepwear – you’re going to look, feel and smell fantastic when you climb off a Singapore flight.

You can design and pre-order your perfect dinner, and choose just the Champagne that suits you. The planes are the massive Airbus A380, and first class is all about space. The SkySuites are huge, with just 12 available on each flight. You’ll rest your behind on Connelly leather seats too.

Swiss Air

The home of international banking and the ultimate in luxury timepieces ought to produce a good luxury airline and they have. Bang on $5,000 will get you from New York to Zurich, and every mile of the trip will be a pleasure.

Although it’s now part of the Lufthansa group, the Swiss Air reputation for the best in quality and service remains undimmed. The chocolates are, of course, superb, and made by Sprüngli, the menu extends to a seven course feast if you so desire and afterwards you can wash up with La Prairie toiletries.

Some of the real fun stuff is pretty technical and probably not for anyone who flies first class so they can forget they’re on a plane. You can keep up with all the flight data as you cruise above the Atlantic and two cameras give you the view from the cockpit and looking straight down.

Luxury travel is a big business and there are lots of ways to go about it, the Orient Express is still chugging away and travel with American Express is famously high quality.

Guest author Larry Davis is a travel writer and enthusaist who loves to see the world and also has a soft spot for luxury.