The Diva’s No Brainer Guide to Flying First Class
Or Flying Coach is for dummies….
For this Diva, flying First Class—or at least Business—is the only way to go especially on flights lasting 5 hours or more. I stop at nothing to get that upgrade, using miles, paying for upgrades, smiling, crying, stomping my feet and most of the time it works. I hate coach.
Why? Let me count the ways.
First of all checking in. Most carriers allocate special check in not only inside the terminal but outside where you can be dropped off and go right in. Once in it’s usually a breeze going through the first class check in line. After which you are often escorted to a faster, dedicated first class security line. Then you get to board before coach passengers and can settle into your cushy seat, often with a beverage while you await take-off.
And speaking of seats, depending on the flight designation: i.e.: Premium Class, Deluxe First, or simply First, seats can recline anywhere from 60 degrees to flat.
When flying solo on Delta I often go online to check out the aircraft because certain ones have one seat in the middle which means you are all by yourself for peace and quiet. I like to take domestic flights that are heading abroad because the airline usually uses planes that have more luxurious first class sections. This means better seating arrangements, food and more premium wines (I enjoy the grape when I fly).
American, which I also fly often, has seats that go way back to almost bed configuration on domestic flights, usually those flights that are heading for Europe.
Disembarking is also more pleasant when you’re a First Class pax. You get off the plane before everybody and your luggage usually arrives first, but not always.
Refunds or itinerary changes are also easier when you purchase or use miles for an upgrade. Most carriers allow no fee changes or at least give you back the value of the fare. You also get to check at least one bag free of charge (two if in First).
Of course there are times First Class fails. One such instance was a recent flight on USAir to Philadelphia. It was a morning trip and I ordered an omelet. When the flight attendant brought me my tray it had cereal and fruit. “I didn’t order this,” I explained. To wit she nastily replied, “We had to serve our “premium passengers” first, and you don’t have enough miles so you get second choice.” Obviously this did not go over well with me having forfeited 30,000 miles for my upgrade. I had a similar incident on the same carrier only this time it was for a fully fare First Class ticket and man was this Diva ticked off. So much so I wrote to the airline and they sent me a First Class upgrade certificate on any flight. Still left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.
There have been a few instances when due to mechanical problems I have had to land in a airport that wasn’t my destination and overnight. In those cases, when I had a First Class ticket I was always put up in a hotel and given food vouchers. Some coach passengers weren’t as fortunate. A few times when this happened on American the company actually refunded me miles for the inconvenience.
But most of the time you are treated better in the front of the plane. Hawaiian Airlines, which has a fine reputation of Aloha-like service throughout its Ocean-crossing flights, goes out of its way to please First Class passengers. I have flown them many times and was never let down. The food is created by top Island chefs and almost always excellent for airline food. They pour decent wines and are very generous and attentive. The seats recline comfortably.
First Class is a non brainer when flying to Europe, Asia or the South Pacific. It’s just too many hours to be cramped in coach. I love the International carriers that provide night clothes and beds covered in down comforters.
I’m flying Virgin American for the first time soon and have booked their Main Cabin Select (Business Class in most airline jargon), I’ll let you know how it goes. I joined the airline’s Elevate frequent flyer club and can upgrade the day of departure to First Class for $150 if seats are available, I’m going to try it.