Flights of Fancy, Part 2: Airlines' Class Warfare
By Donna Rosato

(MONEY Magazine) – Snaking security lines and crowded terminals are making airports feel like hell on earth this summer. But on board, it's heavenly up front as airlines wage a high-altitude battle for high-paying passengers. With traditional first-class and business-class goodies like leather seats, extra legroom and personal TVs trickling back to economy, airlines are one-upping each other as they duke it out for the extra-profitable premium-class flier. Consider:

--VIRGIN ATLANTIC AIRWAYS has retooled its first-class seats and set them at 40° to 49° angles to ensure that passengers always get a window and are not looking at the back of a balding head. A leather armchair and matching ottoman turn into a 6 1/2-foot-long bed complete with its own mattress. First-class fliers can hang in a private bar area in the back of the cabin or visit an onboard "salon" for free massages and manicures. Recent round-trip fare from New York to London: $7,917.

--BRITISH AIRWAYS' new Sleeper Service, on overnight flights to London from North America, offers business-class fliers hot chocolate and warmed cookies to soothe them in their seats, which recline to a fully flat bed. On landing in London, get your clothes pressed while you shower and grab a free massage or facial in the arrivals lounge. Round trip from Chicago to London: $7,900 (business class) and $12,432 (first class).

--EMIRATES AIRLINE, based in Dubai, offers a first in commercial air travel: fully enclosed suites in first class. The individual cabins have sliding doors that can be opened or closed by the passenger, "dine on demand" room service so you can eat any time, your own minibar, a 19-inch TV with 500 channels and a vibrating "massage enabled" seat that reclines to become a flat bed. First-classies flying from New York to Dubai get a pre-flight five-course meal at the Ritz Carlton on the eve of departure. Can't afford the $11,282 round-trip fare? Take heart: Economy-class passengers ($1,838) also benefit from special interior lighting that changes with the sun to help reset body clocks and reduce jet lag as the plane flies through different time zones. --DONNA ROSATO