A few months ago I wrote about my thoughts on flying in business class for the first time and how it compares to my previous travels. Well, now that I’ve enjoyed my maiden flight in the comforts of First Class during my recent trip to London, I thought it was a fitting occasion to share my general impressions of the experience as well.
First Class Is Luxurious
There’s no two ways around it: First Class the most luxurious experience you can find in the realm of commercial air travel. From the moment you arrive at the airport, you’re treated as an esteemed guest of the airline, and they'll be bending over backwards to meet your needs and satisfy your wants.
Let’s begin with the pre-flight rituals. Not every First Class passenger will schedule their flight, as I did, in order to maximize time in the First Class Lounge. But since it was my first time, I figured it would only be fair to myself to get the most out of the experience.
Since the Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich and the Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt both mandate a same-day First Class departure in order to gain access, I opted for the latest evening departure to North America: the 6:10pm service from Frankfurt to Boston. A midday hop between Zurich and Frankfurt would then nicely split my day in two, giving me ample time in both lounges.
I don’t need to rehash the specifics of the time spent in the lounge – you can read the individual reviews of the lounges to get a taste of the over-the-top luxury afforded to you as a guest. But from the standalone day room I had all to myself in the Swiss First Class Lounge, to getting wined and dined by Lufthansa (even in the bathtub!) in their world-famous First Class Terminal, I can safely say that no other experience has made me feel quite so pampered.
That awesome feeling transitioned smoothly onto the flight itself – and I mean that quite literally, since after all the transition from the First Class Lounge to the airplane took the form of a private ride in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Once you're on board, a long list of stuff that’s usually very expensive is now available to you on a complimentary basis, and all you have to do is ask. There’s caviar with all the trimmings, there's premium wines and spirits in full flow, and there's delicious meals and treats crafted by the world’s leading catering companies. Even the La Prairie hand creams in the amenity kit turned out to be worth about $50 for a tiny 50mL tube!
Generally, we consider it a basic premise of air travel that each passenger has their own seat on the plane, but in First Class, the lines around this concept are blurred. Most First Class seats are better thought of as “suites” – rather than being confined to a seat, you generally get to enjoy a tremendous amount of private space in which to dine, work, sleep, and relax. You’ll never look at economy class in the same way again.
Read the full review of my flight to immerse yourself in the experience. But one thing's for certain: when you're in First Class, the usual weariness associated with the act of flying goes out the window. Instead, First Class dazzles and delights, treating you to a taste of what life is like as a VIP, leaving you craving for more and counting down the days until the next time you collect a boarding pass adorned with that coveted letter "F".
First Class Is Unnecessary
Yes, flying in the front of the plane is a grand old time indeed, but we all knew that already. How about the real question on everyone's minds: Is flying First Class worth the cost?
It goes without saying that the full retail cost for a First Class ticket can set you back quite significantly. The flight I took, Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Boston, starts at $11,065. That's a crazy price to pay for a flight, and that's just Lufthansa – many First Class tickets on other airlines command even more astronomical sums of money.
Even crazier is how a First Class ticket is easily within reach, once you bring Miles & Points into the equation. A one-way ticket on Lufthansa First Class can be booked for only 70,000 Aeroplan miles, which you can earn by signing up for a single credit card! Even if you have to pay $400 in fuel surcharges, you could probably get multiple times your money’s worth out of the food and drink that’s available both on the ground and in the air.
But after mulling it over, I have to say that the luxury of First Class is just that: a luxury. In terms of the act of travel itself, I can’t think of any regard in which First Class offers you something that's not found in business class – where you can enjoy well-crafted dishes and fine wines, you can stay productive, and you can arrive at your destination well-rested.
If all you’re looking for is a way to get from Point A to Point B in a comfortable way, First Class is entirely unnecessary in my opinion. Business class will do the trick more than capably, especially if it’s on an outstanding airline like Swiss or EVA Air.
In fact, it’s quite possible that First Class leaves you a lot more tired than if you flew business, especially if you’re focusing on getting the absolute most out of your flight. You’ll be tempted to sample every expensive dish on the menu, and you’ll probably consume more than a healthy amount of fancy alcohol. I certainly felt this way during my flight; not only did gluttony become my favourite deadly sin, but I also felt reluctant to get any proper rest on the flight because I didn’t want to miss out on the “awesomeness” of the experience. Sleeping on a First Class flight, and missing out on all this awesomeness around me? Never!
I have a handful more First Class flights lined up in the coming few months, and I’m really struggling to decide whether I’ll continue to feast decadently in a permanent state of wakefulness, or just sleep and eat like a normal person – a true first world problem, I know. But that brings me to my final point…
First Class Is an Experience
It may seem like there's very little to differentiate First Class from business class, especially when you consider that both forward cabins whisk you away from the toil and tedium of economy class. But there is one thing that sets it apart, and justifies the unbelievable prices that airlines like to charge for the fanciest seats (and also probably explains why I feel compelled to capitalize "First Class" whenever I write those words).
You see, in business class, you do get a comfortable lie-flat seat, quality meals, and attentive service when compared to sitting in economy. But there’s still thousands of people fly around in business class every day. And the entire selling point of First Class rests upon the exclusivity of it all – the fact that, Miles & Points aside, First Class tickets and all their bells and whistles are typically only accessible to the shockingly wealthy.
In my book, that makes First Class an experience in itself, one that I simply had to try at least once in my life. Going forward, I'm not going to snobbishly turn my nose up to other forms of travel. I'll be mostly aiming to fly business class and settling for economy if the conditions aren't right – after all, we're all privileged to be able to participate in the miracle that is modern flight.
But First Class will continue to be something that's "aspirational", as we like to say in these circles, and I'm sure every flight in First will be incredibly special. Lufthansa offers one of the world's top products, but there's so many more airlines out there with dazzling cabins out there, and I'm excited for the process of checking them off the list.
Meanwhile, even if you're someone who doesn't usually care for this kind of stuff, it's still worth trying at least once! Throughout the day of my flight, I was constantly pinching myself at the thought that this was all so readily available to the Average Joe just by earning and redeeming points.
Simply by grabbing a few welcome bonuses on credit cards, everybody and their mother can get comfortable in spaces normally only frequented by global elites. That's simply mind-blowing to me, and really highlights the sheer magic of Miles & Points when it comes to unlocking better travel possibilities. Don't let these opportunities pass you by.
Flying First Class was some of the most fun I've had in recent memory, and I can't wait for the next time I step into a pristine forward cabin. While much of the opulence represents style over substance – especially when business class will typically get you to your destination comfortably enough – First Class remains one of the most coveted air travel experiences, so get out there and put your miles to good use!