Wish You Were Flying First or Business Class, But Have an Economy Class Budget? – Part I

Everyone wants to sit in the front of the plane, because it means bigger and better: bigger seats, bigger personal bubble, better food and beverages, better service, and overall, a better experience. What happens in first or business class after they close the curtain? Actually, the effect of the price difference takes place before that, at check in. For larger planes, there are separate check-in lines for first, business and economy class passengers. Some airlines combine first and business class. Passengers in the premium seats check in faster at some airports, and get to check more luggage pieces (which get priority status, and are available first at baggage claim), go through security quicker, and then get to relax in a lounge providing reading material, refreshments, television, and wi-fi,  in a calm atmosphere with comfortable seating. Some lounges even offer luxury amenities, i.e. showers, massages or a fitness center.

Of course, you board the plane first, and your service begins immediately, unlike economy class which has to wait until the plane is in flight for any attention. Once you are seated in your wide, leather recliner (sleeper seat on some international flights), a flight attendant will great you, often by name, and offer you a drink, a snack and reading material. You are given a menu, and must place your order either before take-off, or once you’re at cruising altitude.

Once in flight, meals are served sooner than those in the “cattle section”. Depending on the airline, you could dine with silverware, china, crystal, and receive salt & pepper shakers, as opposed to the packets you get in the back of the plane. The service is closer to fine dining vs. fast food in tourist. A tossed salad is served from a bowl, steak can be ordered medium rare, and you have more choices than the generic “chicken or beef”. You feel like royalty, and you could be paying 3- 15 times the price of a restricted economy class ticket for first or business class.

The amenities don’t end there. There is better entertainment provided, sometimes offering Bose noise cancellation headphones for your use, larger individual LCD screens to view video on demand (up to 100 movies & TV shows), a power outlet for laptop use, individual lighting, international luxury passengers could have privacy cubicles around their seat, and the list goes on. Is this lavishness worth it? For a select few, absolutely yes! Especially, on longer flights. So, what do you do when you have champagne tastes on a beer budget? Part II will answer that question.

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