Is First Class worth it?

Dec 26th, 2006, 12:32 PM
  #1  
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Is First Class worth it?

I am flying Atlanta to Seattle this spring and I have some extra skymiles so upgrading to First class is a possibility I am considering. I'm flying Delta and I've found some information on their Business class, but nothing on First class.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that Business class is for overseas flights and First class is for flights within the U.S.

With that being said, does anyone have some suggestions on whether First class is worth the fuss, or should I just tough it out with all the other Joe Schmoes in Economy class.

Thanks for the help,
Bellman
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Dec 26th, 2006, 01:30 PM
  #2  
 
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Are you tall or large? The biggest benefit to me of 1st class is the extra room in the seat (I'm tall). But I don't drink, so the free alcohol isn't a big benefit. You will probably get fed fairly well on that long flight, though, but of course you can just buy extra food in the airport.

I recently flew 1st class on two legs on AA. First flight was only about two hours; the only food we got was a little tin of nuts and a tiny little pan pizza. The people in the first few rows of coach got drinks (of any sort) before we did, which I found a bit dismaying. Other than that big seat, I would probably have been fine with an exit row, aisle seat in Coach provided I didn't have someone taking the armrests next to me...

2nd AA 1st class flight was a bit longer and we got much better food and more of it (but still no drinks until the first few rows of coach had gotten theirs). Yummy ice cream, decent food, etc.

Another benefit I found of flying 1st class when you are in oversold/missed flight situations is that you get through the lines first. There's a special security line for 1st class and airline employees and the ticket counter at AA had a 1st class line, too, so that saved a lot of time when I was sometimes in a rush to make a flight. And I found that getting rebooked was easier after a canceled flight than the coach people probably had this busy holiday season. That might not apply to you this spring, though.
Andrew is online now  
Dec 26th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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"There's a special security line for 1st class" I am not sure which airport that was, but I have not seen this in any airport I have been in and I 've been in quite a few in the past few years since security lines have been in existence.


DebitNM is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Two years ago, we blew a whole bunch of frequent flyer miles on American and flew first class to Trinidad from Boston. Indeed, there was a fast lane for first-class passengers through security.
The food was good, too. However, my main enjoyment, since AA stopped offering more room in coach, was the luxury of stretching out a bit. I'm nearly 6 feet tall. The booze isn't important to me, as I don't want to be blotto when I arrive at my desination. Anyway, to me, it's all about leg room.
marigold is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 05:52 PM
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I flew first class on AA out of Miami Airport in September and there was a seperate security line for first class. It took 5 minutes instead of about 30 minutes so that was quite a nice benefit of flying first class.
JohnK is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 07:11 PM
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ATL-SEA is a long flight and I'd think well worth the miles to upgrade. You're right, it's just nomenclature - FC in the USA, business (or "business/first") for overseas flights. People in the US want to think that "first class" means just that, even though FC on domestic airlines is on a par with mediocre business-class service most everywhere else.

Still, 37 or 38" of legroom vs. 30", and (on the 757) 21" of width vs. 17"? Not a hard decision for me but YMMV.
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 26th, 2006, 07:50 PM
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Hi DebitNM, when my daughter & SIL flew BC via NW from SFO (to Rome via Detroit) last summer there was a seperate security line for the BC passengers.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 26th, 2006, 07:58 PM
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There were "express" security lines in Portland and Phoenix last week where first class and airline/airport employees could go through ahead of everyone else. I had assumed all major airports had them now.
Andrew is online now  
Dec 27th, 2006, 02:12 AM
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It's always worth it to me for longer flights. On American domestic flights First is called Business when there are only 2 classes of service instead of 3. Don't know about Delta.
Carrybean is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 04:49 AM
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I've used first/priority security lines recently at ORD (T1), PHX (T2) and SNA--although the "priority" line at ORD this morning evenutally merged with the general line (usually that isn't the case), so it was only an advantage through the point of reaching the ID checker.
ms_go is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 07:17 AM
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Thanks all for the correction; guess I don't fly "upfront" enough to have noticed that those priviledge lines exist.

As my home airport is ABQ and there isn't one there, I guess I will have to apologize for my bad post.

Debi
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Dec 27th, 2006, 11:46 AM
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There are so many variables that people will disagree as to the value of flying in the front cabin.

For example, the cost of the ticket can vary. Sometimes a fully refundable first class ticket is about 8 or 10 times the cost of the cheapest tourist ticket; but there are sometimes deeply discounted first class tickets that cost little more than a full fare tourist ticket. Some people have so much money they don't care about cost; others are watching their pennies. Of course, what can you use miles for, other than reward tickets and upgrades, and some airlines even demand some cash when you use miles for an upgrade.

I don't think the food in either cabin is worth writing home about, and if alcohol is that important to you, you can always buy it in tourist. Your coffee in first class comes in china; in tourist it comes in plastic; but it tastes to me like the same coffee. There are more flight attendants per passenger in first than in tourist, but I've never been unable to get any assistance I've needed in tourist.

So the attraction of the front cabin seems to me to be limited to more space, and being able to exit the plane first. You can almost equal this in tourist by getting a front bulkhead or exit row seat, but that is not easy, even for one with frequent flier status.

So it is pretty much up to you and your shape and situation whether the upgrade is worth the miles it will cost you.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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I'm small, about 5'2 and 100 lbs. and adore first class. Not only is there a lot more room, the seats are usually really soft leather. And it's fairly quiet which is a huge plus.

However, I believe with Delta that you can only upgrade certain fares (the more expensive ones). So be sure to check to see what the 1st class fare is cause sometimes it's not a lot more than the upgradable fare.
jlillberto is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 08:43 PM
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A few years ago we returned from Europe via JFK, on AA, and on the flight through to SFO the plane had first class, business class, and coach sectionsnot just business and coach. I wonder whether some flights still have that configuration?
Underhill is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 10:00 PM
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I flew biz class to Australia a few years ago on United and, although other airlines have flat-bed seats and better entertainment systems, it was a huge improvement over coach. The seat was like a lazy boy recliner and the food was good. A few months ago, I upgraded to domestic first on a United flight from Hawaii and the seat didn't compare. It was wider and more comfortable than coach, but there were no individual monitors on this 777. The food was good though. It was better than being in coach, but not as good as business on an overseas flight. I'm guessing it's not much different on Delta, so keep that in mind.
andrews98682 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 08:23 AM
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A few years ago we returned from Europe via JFK, on AA, and on the flight through to SFO the plane had first class, business class, and coach sectionsnot just business and coach. I wonder whether some flights still have that configuration?

It varies by airline and aircraft. On heavy domestic routes like JFK-LAX or JFK-SFO (some flights, not all) AA runs 3-class 767 aircraft (economy, business, first.) Most domestic AA flights have just two classes, first and economy, and a great many of their overseas flights (including Canada and Mexico/Central America) use two-cabin planes, in which case the cabins are named economy and business class. AA's 777s used for London and Japan flights, and a couple of others here and there, all have three classes. So it's possible to fly LHR-JFK-SFO/LAX in business class all the way.

A number of domestic and foreign carriers have dropped first class altogether and have focused on providing near-first class service in their business class offerings. Some others have dropped first but added premium economy - Virgin and Air New Zealand for example. And British Airways offers 4-class service on many of their longhaul flights - first, business, premium economy and economy.

Does this make it confusing to occasional or leisure travelers? Is is possible this confusion (aka "market segmentation") is intentional? Ya think?
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 9th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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Some airports offer first class and premium airline frequent fliers an express line through security. Atlanta has a separate line (to the left of the main line). However, this line is often not much shorter than gonig through the "coach" line.

Delta has domestic flights that are "first" and "business". The domestic business flights are on the nicer planes they use for the transactic flights with in seat movies and a 2-2-2 configuration and great lounging seat with awesome legroom. Food/drink/blankets are the same. Until a couple of years ago many flights were business domestic but now it is not as common.

If you can snag an upgrade to business it would definately be worth it.
CathyM is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 09:27 PM
  #18  
dmc555
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At Hartsfield you can go through the speedy security line if you are (i) flying first class; or (ii) are a certain level Delta Skymiles member. Business vs. First Class on Delta depends on the plane you're on. If you're on a flight that has a business class section, go for it. Just as good as first class, in my opinion, because all I'm looking for is the leg room. Some of the business class sections have so much room the seats are practically zero gravity, just like the international flights. If the plane only has coach and first, for that length of flight, I'd use the miles to upgrade especially if you're flying alone unless you can guaranty you'll have an exit row aisle or window seat. Even if you have a regular aisle seat in coach, if you have a large person in the middle seat, or someone who wants to fight over the armrest, you'll wish you'd upgraded.
 
Jan 10th, 2007, 05:35 PM
  #19  
CecilBD
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The last time we left Heathrow for home (US) we got into the departure hall and were dismayed to find lines and crowds so thick that one could not push thru them. People with huge amounts of luggage on trolleys were stacked up, great gaggles of them together. We (fortunately) had a business class ticket and were able to get in the express line, walk up and check in without too much hassle, then on to the lounge where we sipped cocoa and wine, had a bit of cheese, and then when our flight was called, strolled to the gate. What a difference!!! If you can afford it, or manage it thru your business, it is definitely worth it to me. My business usually gets me a business ticket, if available--excepting a last minute arrangement, but I am allowed to keep my miles to my personal account and this has made worlds of difference.
 
Jan 11th, 2007, 04:31 AM
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If someone else is paying (like the boss) or you can write it off as a business deduction, or use frequent flyer miles, it is worth it. But if it is your own hard cash and you haven't won the lottery and you can't pay your credit card bills, forget it.
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