In the past two months I've had the opportunity to sample business class on Cathay Pacific (LA to Hong Kong), Qantas(Brisbane to LA) and Air New Zealand (LA to Brisbane via Auckland, and (international) first class on United (Beijing to San Francisco).
I'd rank them as follows:
1. Air New Zealand business (brand new, and flat beds with very pleasant and attentive staff)
2. United first (old and shabby with ancient staff, but flat beds)
3. Qantas business (reasonably new, but angled flat beds and indifferent staff)
4. Cathay Pacific business (old, non-flat beds, but very nice staff)
United have just announced that they are about to begin a major upgrade of their premium cabins, finally introducing flat beds which will give me a decent business class alternative to Qantas between LA and Sydney.
Cathay have also begun an upgrade and are going to a similar style seat to the Air New Zealand which is great.
Hidden in a recent Qantas announcement about the fitout of their A380s due to be delivered next year is also the news that that are making some adjustments to their business class seat to deliver a truly flat bed (it looks like the same product spaced a few inches further apart and adjusted to remove the annoying angle).
I also discovered today that my new Qantas Platinum (Oneworld Emerald) status entitles me to use Qantas First Class lounges. So I'm sitting here in the Qantas international first class lounge at Sydney airport on my way to Wellington New Zealand and I can tell you it's really nice. Check out this entrance with a living wall of plants.
And I just had a lovely sit down meal complete with espresso coffee and this fantastic desert, all complementary of course.