Business

Latest airline perk: Safe distance from the masses

In Dubai, passengers enter the first class section of an Emirates Airbus A380 from a separate floor.
In Dubai, passengers enter the first class section of an Emirates Airbus A380 from a separate floor.Kamran JebreiliAssociated Press/File

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On flights from San Francisco to Hong Kong, first-class passengers can enjoy a Mesclun salad with king crab or a grilled USDA prime beef tenderloin, stretch out in a 3-foot-wide seat that converts to a bed and wash it all down with a pre-slumber Krug ‘‘Grande Cuvee’’ Brut Champagne.

Yet some of the most cherished new international first-class perks have nothing to do with meals, drinks or seats. Global airlines are increasingly rewarding wealthy fliers with something more intangible: physical distance between them and everyone else.

The idea is to provide an exclusive experience — inaccessible, even invisible, to the masses in coach. It’s one way that a gap between the wealthy and everyone else has widened.

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