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Which Domestic Carrier Has The Best 1st Class?  
User currently offlinePacifico From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 6 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7869 times:

Hi Folks.

I'm trying to plan a 1st class multi city trip with US Domestic carrier and I've tried to do online research to find the best airline, but it seems people are so divided on who is great and less than great.

I'm looking for new first class cabin, lots of room, new(er) planes, great meals, and a good all around first class experience.

Which US carrier offers great first class service for both domestic and international trips?


13 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineDc10guy From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 2685 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7851 times:

Thats an easy one ................Southwest.

Next time try the old "dirty Sanchez" She'll love it !!!
User currently offlineJAXpax From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7846 times:

I'm going to say American....

Seats are on average pretty good. Legroom is good. Inflight service is more than you'll find on most other domestic carriers, like a choice of meals on some flights as short as 90 minutes, a meal on most flights over 2 hours, and just about every flight over 3 hours has a choice of hot meals.

I don't recommend US Airways, where I do most of my flying in First Class every other week. It's awful. Old seats on most aircraft, legroom isn't great, plastic cups, meals on few flights that aren't mid-con or trans-con, and even then the meal is basically one of the buy-on-board items but for free.

User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 11166 posts, RR: 52
Reply 3, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 7836 times:

Domestically I will say either United or Continental. CO has the highest proportion of first class seats to coach on their 737s of any US carrier. United also has decently large first class cabins compared to most carriers. Both will serve meals, but they are via a single tray. The meals are usually decent. The benefit over American is there is at least some form of IFE in the form of overhead monitors and Ch9 air traffic control on UA. They both have relatively new fleets compared to the MD-80s of American (before I get blasted, I know some of the MD-80s are not that old, however the new Airbus and Boeing 737s are much nicer).

For international first class it is American and United because they are the only two that offer first class on international flights (all others only have business or a hybrid). AA and UA are almost the exact same on transatlantic flights, but over the pacific, UA is better because they have the same good seats on every plane compared to AAs less desirable transpacific first product.

I hope that helped. In general almost all of the US carriers are the same. None offer anything special and all have seat pitch around 36-38. I avoid Delta because their seats feel old and dated, and it is often hard to get first class on Northwest because their first cabins are smaller on the 757s. Check out trip reports for more info.

If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineAAplatnumflier From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7782 times:

I would have to say that American is probably your best bet after being on all of the others. It also depends on where you are traveling from/to because that has an effect on the plane. But American in my opinion is the best overall. Great service.... Food on shorter flights..... And pretty descent seats.
Especially if you are privileged enough to fly on one of their bigger planes, Finaminal legroom! Best bet, Fly American!

User currently offlineTrickijedi From United States of America, joined May 2001, 3266 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7763 times:

At some point, all US-based legacies are going to be comparable when flying first. Rarely would you ever receive extremely poor first class service as I'm sure the airlines will be the first ones to treat their F passengers with care (extreme care in the case of international flights  Big grin)

However, for your purpose, I'm gonna have to say go with United, primarily because of their wide fleet availability. Depending on your routing, on some east-west flights, you may be aboard a widebody with wider seats. Since these are going to be 3-class planes, a Business Class seat is going to better than a F seat on a narrow body anyway.

Its better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than be in the air wishing you were on the ground. Fly safe!
User currently offlineBurnsie28 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 7923 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7747 times:

I would have to go with either NW or CO domestically, NW may not offer leather seats but the seats are very comfy, CO also offers a similar (almost identicle) product in their FC. Both are very good up front, Delta is ok, but the F/A's tend to be downright nasty most of the time

User currently offlineNewyork355 From France, joined Jul 2004, 148 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7746 times:

First, I would just like to say avoid NW first class, especially on the DC-9s. On a 3.5 hour flight from MSP-YVR, I remember it was on an A320, which actually had really nice seats (especially compared to the DC-9 on the IAD-MSP leg), but there was no inflight entertainment, and the meal service a simple two-course snack service; basically, a sandwhich on a nice plate.

US Airways, before 9/11, had a really nice first class service. I remember flying from PIT-SEA and back in first class, and even though it was on a 757 (still really nice seats, just old), the service was very nice. We were given a four-course meal, starting with an appetizer, then a salad (and bread), the main course, and finally dessert.

I've only flown Continental first class on the DCA-EWR route, so I can't really comment too much on it. I can say though that their first class seats are really nice (new and old).

I've flown Delta first class on the 737-800 and the MD-80. I flew the 738 first, and the seats were nice, and for such a short flight, the service was nice. Same deal with the MD-80, just really small seats compared to the 738.

I recently flew US Airways from CLT-SFO in first class, and that was on an A319, the return flight was on an A321. Both were really clean and new, large seats, and lots of legroom. The service though was lacking in terms of the meal (it was essentially a snack on a transcon flight), and as mentioned earlier, the beverages were served in plastic.

I have had the pleasure to fly US Airways Envoy Class (pre 9/11), and was delighted by the newness of the A333, the comfort of the seats, the IFE, and the overall service (the food was top notch, and we were given a hot breakfast on the red eye to LGW). I do have to admit, the IFE was the best that I had encountered, albeit, all IFEs are now of that same quality.

"No Way BA/AA"
User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3626 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7583 times:

Go AA or UA in a widebody 777 or 747 (United). Those are generally 3-class aircraft (I know there are some exceptions). DL, CO, NW, U don't have 3-class service. If you're looking for a real FIRST class with a Suite, I suggest some of the following routes:

DFW-ORD (AA 777)
DFW-MIA (AA 777)
LAX-DFW (AA 777)
LAX-ORD (UA 744)
LAX-IAD (UA 777)
DEN-ORD (UA 777)
DEN-SFO (UA 777)
DEN-IAD (UA 777)
SFO-ORD (UA 744; UA 777)
ORD-IAD (UA 777)
ORD-SEA (UA 777)

No airline besides AA or UA offers Suites in F, and that is definitely the way to go.

I would also try the premium transcon First on either AA or UA from either SFO or LAX to JFK.

User currently offlineN312RC From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 2684 posts, RR: 15
Reply 9, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7544 times:

I have flown First on Delta on the 737-800 and MD-88 and its alright. Nothing special. Beverages were served in real glasses and there were multiple beverages. We were, however, only offered peanuts or pretzels on a 2 hour flight. The cabins were nice. Newer navy blue leather seats and everything seemed clean. The attendants were friendly.

Other times Ive been in First have all been on Northwest. DC9 first is nothing spectacular. There are no leather seats in the entire Northwest system, so if you equate leather with luxury, youre out of luck on this airline. 757 first was alright. DTW-West Coast flights will get you a full hot meal with choices. Ive found Northwest attendants to be generally friendly and efficient. DC-10 WBC is actually quite nice and spacious. On all of these flights I was offered a pre-departure drink in a plastic cup, except for the DC-10 flight, where real glasses were used. After takeoff, the domestic service was pretty similar to anyone elses service. Real glasses for all drinks and multiple drinks, even on a shorter flight like DTW-ATL (DC9-30). All domestic meals Ive ever had on them have been served on one tray. Quality was never bad though.

Therefore, I would not recommend Delta, because for what you pay the service you recieve just isnt worth it. Northwest I would recommend, as they are pretty solid and across the board consistant with their services in the front.

Edited for clarity.

[Edited 2004-09-21 18:36:22]

User currently offlineCO2BGR From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 558 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7535 times:

Avoid MD-80s and DC-9s in first on domestic flights, the seats are much narower, in Y they are fine because of the 2 seat section.

AA and NW lose out here.

There are too many self indulgent weiners in this town with too much bloody money" Randal Raines- Gone in 60 Seconds
User currently offlineJeffrito From United States of America, joined May 2001, 137 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7495 times:

If you are actually paying for the ticket (which is implied since upgrading wouldn't give you the choice of airlines), then this is certainly a waste of money given the high cost & rather ordinary service offered on domestic flights. Just buy a nice meal & spa treatment at your destination and you'll still have loads of money left over.

If you are expensing the ticket, could you please offer the name of your employer so that I could sell my stock?

User currently offlineJafa From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 782 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 7346 times:

Roseflyer: where did you get this info?
NW has 22 FC seats on the 757-200, pretty much the same as all other carriers.
All other aircraft have at least 16 FC seats. Including the A319, A320, DC9. United has 8 FC seats on thier A319. And we don't have any planes configured with NO FC like TED. So I believe that NW has a higher ratio of FC seats to coach seats than most airlines.

User currently offlineAMS From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 1693 posts, RR: 11
Reply 13, posted (11 years 8 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 7327 times:

Always try to be booked on a wide-body aircraft (if possible), since you may experience international C/F Class!

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