Is Flying First Class International Worth the Cost?

flying first class international
Luxury interior aircraft business aviation decorated table

Have you ever seen that category on your flight results page, that shows ticket prices of 9, 10, or even 11,000.00 and thought “Who the hell would pay for that?” I have. Well ladies and gents, with a stroke of luck, I managed to snag one of these seats and I’m here to tell you what you really get when flying first class International

When it comes to travel, airfare can be one of the largest expenses. With International flights ranging anywhere from 700.00 all the way up to 2,500.00 airfare can really be a hit to your overall budget. If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time searching for the cheapest transportation options so that you can make the most of you budget, and to not be limited on your actual trip.

As I mentioned before, I’m always looking for the cheapest way to fly. I’m lucky enough to have a relative who works for a major airline and I am able to fly standby using a limited amount of passes given to employees for friends and family. I am required to pay some fees and taxes but the overall price of the tickets is considerably less.

There are some downsides to flying standby. There can be a lot of people ahead of you on the standby list, and if the flight is full you can be bumped to the next flight’s standby list. This can cause you to spend  lot of times sitting in airports waiting. With international flights it is even more risky because often times, there is only one non stop flight per day, causing you to miss an entire day of your trip.

Having said that, there are some upsides. The obvious reduction in rate is one, but the other is that you can be given a first class ticket if there are a lot of seats open. On my most recent trip I flew from London Heathrow to Chicago O’hare, and I was given one of these seats.

The first perk, is obviously boarding the plane first, and not having to fight for your overhead bin space. Upon getting on the flight, the stewardess checks your seat, and directs you to the left. The opening to this area is off center from the opening to the economy area, so you can’t see from one into the other.

I won’t lie, I was expecting that area you walk through before getting to economy where there are only two seats next to each other (instead of three) and you have four inches more of leg room.

Instead I was presented with around 20 individual seats that each had an abundance of leg room, and an extra seat across from you that could be used as a foot rest. I am 5’11, and there was so much space my feet barely reached the foot rest/seat from a neutral seat position. (This never happens. Usually I can’t fit my knees in the seat. A nice change I must say.)

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Each pod includes its own overhead bin, and a large amount of under-the-seat space. Upon sitting down you are offered a choice of orange juice, champagne, or water. I chose the orange juice since it was 7:45am. I had only gotten two hours of sleep the night before so I was happy find the comfy pillow-pocket comforter and real pillow.

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The stewardess let us know that she had both pajamas and slippers available for anyone who wanted to change. (There is also a dress code with flying standby so that you look presentable if you fly first class.)

At your seat you have a travel bag that included the following items:

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • lotion
  • a pen
  • ear plugs
  • tissues
  • a sleep mask
  • socks
  • headphone covers

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You are also offered Bose headphones for the duration of the flight, to watch your personal tv. On your TV, you can choose from movies, tv shows (including HBO), music, games, or the flight path map. You can even watch a video explaining the features of your pod, which I did watch. Your station also has an extensive menu.

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The seat is operated by a key pad that is not unlike the ones on massage chairs. (No massager in this chair though.) There is a level on the left side or your seat that allows you to swivel your chair towards the foot rest and recline it. In addition to the seat/foot rest in front of your, your chair has a foot rest that raises up. Your seat can then move forward and recline to a flat bed.

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You also have the option to adding lumbar support using the keypad. In addition to all this, if you keep your chair in the neutral position you can swivel it towards a work desk.

When I was halfway done with my orange juice, the stewardess offered to top me off with some champagne. Yes please. She then came around, pulled out my table and laid down a table cloth. I was served a fruit cup, with a large serving of a yogurt/fruit parfait with a crumble, and a croissant with butter and raspberry jelly.

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Your pod has a divider to allow privacy if there is someone in the pod next to you. However, if you are traveling with the person next to you, you can lower the divider so that you may sit together. In addition to that, the seat/foot rest has a seatbelt, so if you are traveling with four people, two people can come over and eat with you.

I watched the movie Taken 3, and before I knew it they were taking my entree order. I ordered the Belgian waffle bread pudding with creme anglaise and raspberry compote. It was on a real plate, and it was delicious.

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I reclined my chair to the “Bed mode” and was able to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up I was given a dessert/cheese plate, warm nuts, and later a warm chocolate chip cookie. I watched a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory, and before I knew it we were only 25 minutes from landing.

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I can’t say that this ticket was worth 11,000.00, mainly because if I had 11,000.00 I would spend it on multiple trips, but I can say that it was definitely worth the price I paid for it, and if you have air miles or points, I highly recommend trying it once. I can see why people pay the money for those luxuries on an 8 hour flight.I could fly international every day of the week under those conditions!

Have you ever flown first class International?

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2 Comments

  1. I greatly enjoyed this post! I can tell you really care about what you are writing about, which is a rare thing these days. I wouldn’t be surprised to see you get an offer to write for a famous publication. I hope you know that people actually appreciate quality writing like this!

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