When Flying First Class Isn’t All That

by Sandra Foyt on May 19, 2011

in Travel Ideas

first-class3First class air travel conjures up images of swank leather seats big enough to get lost in, shrimp cocktails with champagne, and a two-story flight deck with spiral staircase leading to the cocktail lounge.

I didn’t expect such luxuries on my American Airlines flight from Charlotte to LaGuardia Airport, but I was curious to see what I would get for the $45 upgrade fee.

To start, it bought first boarding call, which can be a boon on crowded flights. On this half empty flight, we all ended up boarding nearly simultaneously.


Next, first class passage lands you in the first few rows. Often this comes with a privacy screen separating the seating tiers, as well as access to the first class restroom. Neither were available on this flight. The plane was too small to have more than one bathroom, a cramped little affair squished in next to the flight attendant’s seat at the rear of the plane.

Look closely at the above image and you will note some minor differences between the first class seats and the rest of the plane: seat color, a mini-tray built in to the arm rest, slightly wider seat, and if you squint you might detect a modicum of increased leg room.

The biggest disappointment came with the refreshments. Not only was the flight distinctly lacking in champagne and caviar, the snack of a beverage and pretzels was remarkably similar to what used to be available for free in the not too distant past.


What I did enjoy most about my upgrade was the exquisite pleasure of sitting all alone. No kids in tow. No amply endowed fellow passenger. Nada. Alone in my own row with my book for two glorious hours. Priceless.


| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

joe May 20, 2011 at 5:41 am

hi Sandra, I would say to the right of these companies, that’s what they tell us in advertising, go first class, get quiet and no noise of children. What is true – true 🙂

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