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What a First-Class Experience Is Like on These 5 Airlines

The most popular airlines all do first class a little differently. Learn about the amenities each airline offers before booking that first-class ticket.

First-class flights are certainly an upgrade from your typical airline experience. However, not all first-class experiences give you the same bang for your buck.

Check out some of the most popular airlines’ first-class amenities to see how they compare with one another!

American Airlines

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When you have a first-class ticket on an American Airlines plane, your perks begin as soon as check-in begins. American Airlines calls their first-class experience First. Passengers who purchase a First ticket enjoy a speedy check-in process, as well as expedited security and boarding procedures.

On the plane, the seats in the First cabin are much wider than a seat in coach, and of course, the legroom can’t be beat. Many of their flights also include a dining option, and First passengers can choose from a menu curated by acclaimed restaurateur, Julian Barsotti.

On paper, at least, the First experience from American Airlines is rather underwhelming. The first-class amenities they offer are quite basic compared with other airlines. These days, it’s a given that a first-class ticket should include a speedy check-in process, comfy seats, and in-flight dining. It’s the extras that sets an airline apart these days, and American Airlines doesn’t have a whole lot of them.

For example, even passengers with a first-class ticket still must purchase Wi-Fi if they want to connect to the internet while in the air. Free Wifi should already be included in a first-class package, in my humble opinion.

Alaska Air

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Alaska Air has a first-class feature worth bragging about: They offer the most legroom of any U.S. domestic airline. The Recaro leather seats also recline comfortably, and they even have a footrest.

Furthermore, first-class passengers on Alaska Air can check two bags for free. The flight attendants will take your coat and hang it up, too, offering a very personal experience. You can even order which meal you’d like to enjoy on your flight before you even board the aircraft.

Alaska is also ahead of the curve when it comes to Wi-Fi. They state on their website that they are in the process of upgrading their planes to satellite Wi-Fi, which is reportedly 20x faster than air-to-ground Wi-Fi.

United Airlines

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Keeping things simple just like American Airlines does, United’s premium tickets are called United First.

Passengers with a United First ticket get to enjoy Premier Access benefits as soon as they arrive at the airport. This means that check-in, security, boarding, and baggage services are quick, easy, and far less stressful than usual.

United passengers will also typically have to pay a fee if they want to check any bags. However, a United First passenger can check up to two bags for free.

On the aircraft, the seats in the first-class cabin have been designed to make your experience in the sky a lot more comfortable. Their two-tone leather seats feature a headrest that can be adjusted in six different positions.

Customers love the universal AC power plug in the seats that allows them to charge all their devices. Oh, and don’t forget the granite-topped cocktail tray!

United First passengers also enjoy free DIRECTV, an array of restaurant-quality dining options, premium snacks, and beverages.

Delta

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First-class passengers on a Delta flight get to enjoy the airline’s Sky Priority Service. Sky Priority and first-class members enjoy accelerated check-in, security, and baggage handling.

On short flights of less than 900 miles, you’ll be offered a complimentary beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and a variety of yummy snacks–stuff that’s a little more tasty than the plain crackers you get in coach these days.

On flights that are 900-1,399 miles, first-class passengers can enjoy a meal curated by a chef. If it’s a morning flight, the meal options will be for breakfast and lunch. Flights from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. will offer a dinner selection.

jetBlue

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The airline jetBlue calls their first-class experience Mint. Passengers who purchase a Mint ticket get a meal that comes with a playlist. “It’s like dining in SoHo while being so high in the sky,” they state on their website. They also offer an open bar with an artisan wine list, and cocktails that are shaken on board.

Mint passengers will also get a complimentary pillow, a convertible blanket, and a “snooze kit” designed by mattress brand Tuft & Needle. This isn’t your typical, scratchy airline blanket; it’s actually comfortable.

You won’t get a cheap pair of earbuds if you forget yours, either. Mint passengers will receive a set of headphones that fit comfortably over your ears and offer Master & Dynamic’s MH40 noise-isolating technology.

If you’re taking a long flight, Mint is one of your most luxurious options. This is because Mint flights offer the longest fully lie-flat seats on a domestic premium flight. For an extra fee, you can also reserve an enclosed suite that has its own door.

Should You Splurge?

If you’re going to travel first class, choose the best experience for you. If you’re a foodie, for example, jetBlue’s menu is one of the most enticing on this list. However, if you’re trying to save money, go for an airline that offers free checked bags.

Splurging on a first-class ticket isn’t always an easy decision, but those little extra comforts can make all the difference in taking a travel experience from okay to fantastic.

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