What we expect from a first class air travelBack to Forum
A lot of discussions happens here regularly about service quality (or lack there off) of BA first. We also have a long discussion about tea service in Virgin. Reading those I was wondering what really I expect and prefer from a first class travel based on my first class travel experience.
I travel mostly in business class and my first class travel was very limited, hence my experience may not count that much, but I am sure some posters will provide feedbacks based on their experience.
I travelled first class only in SQ, BA and LH and total only about 12 long haul sectors. And although I went with some expectations, I was neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed.
Hardware: In my opinion is the most important. I would pay high fare for space, privacy and good sleep. And all 3 airlines were very good with SQ obviously was excellent.
Pre-flight lounge: not so important unless one reaches airport early. SQ (escorted immigration check plus very exclusive lounge in Singapore) and LH (very good lounge plus escorted boarding)score way above BA; but I am not so fussy about that.
Food and wine: Again SQ score very high on this, but to me as long as some decent options are there, I am good. I did not really pay high price for food, for that I will go to a good restaurant. To me food and wine during flight is just sustenance and time pass. Rarely I was disappointed, only once I could not tolerate the BA first food, requested a plate of cheese and wine and that was good. Having said that my only experience with caviar was in SQ first class travels.
IFE and other amenities: IFE is very important for me during long haul to pass time. SQ is excellent, other 2 very ordinary. Amenity bags are not important to me, however I used the Givenchy night suits provided by SQ many times afterwards at home. BA supplies are very ordinary except the BA swish.
Service: To me it is not so important. It does not matter if the crew is chatty or not as long as he or she behaves nicely and try to accommodate small requests (I understand some gripes are about not fulfilling small request, but it never happened to me even in business class where I travelled a lot of sectors) Seating arrangements in F is also not conducive to have a long chat with crew members – for that the best option is Emirates bar that is available in business class where a dedicated crew is available for talk as long as you want. I am not sure why some people take umbrage if the service is not like five star hotel restaurant waiters. Crew members are not really waiter or butlers. Among the 5 areas I listed, service rank 4 out of these 5.9 May 2021
I must’ve done about 20 long haul flights in first, on different airlines. I expect a better experience (from start to finish) than in business class, as it cost me a lot more than that. My main requirement is for plenty of space and privacy, and for a good bed to sleep in. After that, very good food (not wine, as I don’t drink).
Can I say that my best first class experiences were on Cathay Pacific (and needless to say, I hope, that I am not associated with Cathay Pacific in any way). They were really good.9 May 2021
When I used to travel in F before retiring (a long while ago), it was always about space, privacy and quality of sleep.
Nowadays, or at leat pre-pandemic, the priorities have changed. Normally I now have my wife with me, and so we look for how much the flight contributes to our overall trip. So time of day and length of flight, and what is happening at the end of the flight, tend to determine what we are looking for.
A 12/13 hour flight from CDG to MEL is always going to be about lounge/transfer/on board indulgence plus quality sleep on AF. Especially, as is often the case, it is only us in the four seat cabin.
A 6/7 hour hop to JFK daytime is also about indulgence, but the return is about sleep.
No matter, a good F experience is for me an essential part of the trip.
I’ve never been to Weatherspoon’s, but I hear they do a pretty good impersonation of the BA F cabin as it is these days.9 May 2021
esselle has added a great many well informed and enjoyable posts on this forum over the years.
Am I alone in wondering how this particular post (with a tongue-in-cheek comment at the end) could possibly be considered “inappropriate”?11 May 2021
If available long haul, I always travel in F and have done so since the 80’s. I’m not fussed about the wine and food on board as I rarely drink and hardly ever eat, though if offered I’ll take the caviar and perhaps a glass of port with some cheese after.
For me it’s about comfort, from a dedicated check in, to a good lounge, with good food, and the drive to the plane avoiding the queues to board. Expedited arrival is also a bonus where you are met at the plane’s exit and whisked through.
As to sleep, again not fussed, I can sleep anywhere, anytime and rather than a bed on board, I usually just set the seat up as a lounger and wrap the duvet round me. I then sleep like a baby. I find it very difficult to get comfortable on an airline bed. The exception to this was when Lufthansa had a flat one piece bed next to the seat in F on the 747-400’s. I recall getting into the bed after takeoff from JFK, and sleeping solidly till woken 20 minutes before landing in Frankfurt.11 May 2021
I have been very fortunate to also travel F predominately since the 80’s. For me it’s the experience and for that reason I try to focus on daytime flights.
I am one of those passengers who wants the bells and whistles. Easy check in, fast track, exclusive lounges, priority boarding, comfort and recognition on board, fine food and wine beautifully presented. In recent year I have become increasingly disappointing!!
And of course to travel like this for the price of an overpriced economy ticket. There is nothing so self satisfying that sitting in F for not much more than flexible Y 🙂 Though it is probably because of people like me that standards have fallen so far.
In recent years the demise of F and huge improvements by some carriers in J means my F experiences have dwindled, the last time was April 2019. I do have possible F flight in August but each day that passes makes that look more and more doubtful.11 May 2021
LP, forgive me if I am confusing you with someone else, but I seem to recall an ancient post where you had had the aforementioned glass of port on SQ in a Suite, and then accidentally lit up a cigar before remembering where you were? Hahaha12 May 2021
For me it is all very simple:
My expectation is that the airline properly deliver that which they advertised would be delivered.
This was the criterion on which my choice of airline, class, and seat was made and that it my simple expectation, not more not less.12 May 2021
Long time reader second time poster.
First class most months for many years. Business where they don’t have it.
Swiss/Singapore (for M&M) or Cathay/Qantas (AA and Marco Polo member) east and Aus.
Swiss and American west.
BA avoided unless it’s necessary which has been a lot over the last year.
Menu and extensive wine isn’t so important to me. Where available I will arrive early and have a kitchen cooked meal in the lounge. Best for that Cathay Pacific and JAL.
Key theme for me – who will be the most helpful if I need it?
AA comes in for unjustified criticism often by people who have one bad experience in coach years ago or haven’t traveled on a US carrier since they all upped their game. AA Admiral’s lounge desk staff are empowered to accommodate almost any change or alternative when it’s needed including weather delays. Best ‘insurance policy’ included in the cost.
BA stink in comparison. If you’re lucky enough to find someone who doesn’t need your whole history and experience in order to figure out something’s up, they’re usually not able or allowed to procure the change needed without a lot of help.
On the plane I want quiet and space.
Unnecessary to talk about Asian airlines’ crew service!
Swiss and American staff appear to value what they do every time and their product is reliable. Swiss crew have a specific charm and expertise.
BA flight attendants in first class are too unpredictable. They either really know their game – including manners – or they know nothing. It’s also the one first class where one has a high chance of being told what’s no longer available rather than what is from the menu.
All in all, I know what works for me and send my money that way…12 May 2021
Wow, what a memory IanFromHKG! Yes, it was on Emirates, and I do take the occasional glass of port, some cheese and maybe the odd snack, but never (or hardly ever) the full meal that’s offered.
Safe travels if you’re able to. LP12 May 2021
A truly believe that airline First Class is an endangered species. F service on CX has declined in recent years (no more caviar on their appetizer plate!) just as Business Class on CX and most other airlines has been upgraded. Except for the size of the seat, I actually favor Qatar’s new suite C-class over Cathay’s old F-class. And except for the size of the washroom, there is now very little difference between Qatar’s F and C service. And fewer and fewer planes even offering a First cabin.
I also suspect that many traditional money-is-no-object F-class passengers are now chartering private jets.
My prediction: Within three years, SQ will be the only airline with a First Class, due to their large base of wealthy snobbish customers.
1 user thanked author for this post.12 May 2021