The Real Truth About Flying First Class

Joe and I have flown first class a few times, usually because he’s saved up enough points and it’s a long enough trip where we’d rather be in first than economy class seats. We usually save those trips for when we go overseas, although we’ve occasionally used them for when we’re just going cross country.

Anyway, about a year ago, Insider Magazine posted an article titled:

DISAPPOINTING PHOTOS SHOW WHAT FLYING FIRST CLASS IS REALLY LIKE

The post was mainly several photos and comments about each photo. Its synopsis is:

  • Despite its reputation, flying first class isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
  • Advertisements for first-class accommodations — and even our own imaginations — can look vastly different from the true experience.
  • Take a look at what the full experience of flying first-class — from check-in to the exclusive lounges to the seats and meals on the flights themselves — can really look like.

Well, I read the whole article and looked at all the pictures, and all I have to say is, what a load of crap! Here’s why…

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When The Onion Satirizes Travel & It’s Not Very Far From The Truth

The Onion is a U.S.-based satirical digital media company and newspaper organization that publishes articles on international, national, and local news. Some people love it, some hate it. Either way is fine to them, I’m sure, as long as you keep clicking on their site ;-).

A while back, we discovered that The Onion has posted several articles about Disney parks and, like most satirical pieces, the articles were outlandish but very often based, in varying levels under the surface, in truth.

The Onion has also done a bunch of pieces on travel in general, many of which may or may not give you a chuckle:

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New Advice for PreCheck & Global Entry, Warnings Countries Give About USA, Airports with Longest/Shortest TSA Lines, & More!

And in the blink of an eye, we’re already well into the first week of September. Time goes by so quickly! Anyway, here are our most popular posts for August 2019. Some of them were actually written before August (heads up that rules and offers change and we can’t guarantee that those older posts are still accurate), so take a look to make sure you didn’t miss any of the good stuff:

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What It’s Like To Travel Around The World On The Four Seasons Private Jet

In February 2015, Four Seasons started their World Tour Packages that featured travel on their own luxury private jet. This was no normal Boeing 757-200; this plane was specially designed for Four Seasons and included 52 lie-flat seats and meals prepared onboard by an executive chef.

This plane would whisk travelers on around-the-world itineraries, visiting iconic landmarks and staying at world-class Four Seasons hotels along the way. The initial response from bloggers like Ben from One Mile at a Time was skepticism about who this plane and these trips were for:

And to some degree I have to wonder how much of a market there is for this. Millionaires probably couldn’t reasonably afford this, while billionaires would presumably want a more tailored experience than a month-long journey with 50 other people and no flexibility — they can just get their own jet. Maybe they’re going after “poor” hundred millionaires?

A year later, Ben wrote another article asking if the Four Seasons plane was overrated and questioning its long term viability:

But personally I’d be surprised if this business model works long term or is expanded. I’m guessing some high end travelers are trying it once out of curiosity, but long term do you really want to drop that kind of cash on such a “rigid” trip, when you could ultimately fly better airline products and have a more customized experience for less?

Well, here we are in 2019 and Four Seasons has announced they’re getting a new plane, an Airbus A321-LR, which will go into service for the trips in 2021. So I guess they’re doing OK. But how?

I was lucky enough to get to talk to someone who’s been on a Four Seasons trip. They were nice enough to share with me the pictures from their trip and even let me read the personal journal they wrote while away (yes, people still write in notebooks, and this leather-bound book was specially provided to guests by Four Seasons for just that reason).

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How To Understand Airline Seat Class Names

Have you ever felt like this when booking airfare? “I’d like to book a seat in Basic Premium Extra Plus Comfort Class that includes exit row seat assignments but without an extra carry on bag.”

Knowing what class of airline seat you were buying didn’t use to be hard. There were only two or maybe three classes to choose from. First Class. Business Class and Coach. Yep, that’s Coach. Not Economy. Not Main Cabin. Not Core. Just plain old Coach. And do you know what? Everyone was fine with that. No one was complaining that the names were inappropriate. You knew what class you were in and everyone was happy.

Flash forward to today and there are numerous names differentiating the seat choices offered by each airline. None of the names are the same and names that happen to be similar can still mean very different seat types. American Airlines leads the pack with eight different types of categories. United follows closely behind with seven and Delta has six. Southwest Airlines is the easiest to understand, as they only have one class of seat, and they don’t even bother to give it a name 🙂

Here’s my attempt to make sense of all of these names, from top to bottom…

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