Can You Bring Alcohol & Mini-Liquor Bottles on Planes: A Sobering TSA Guide [2022]

Sometimes a little bit of alcohol goes a long way when it comes to relaxing on a plane.

Yes, most airlines sell alcohol to passengers but what about the much cheaper and convenient route of bringing your own hooch through TSA?

Is it actually legal to take your own alcohol on board or are you asking for trouble with the FAA.

I was curious about this myself and so I took a deep dive into the FAA/TSA rules and even spoke with some TSA agents to see exactly what was allowed and what wasn’t.

In this article, I will talk about the rules for bringing alcohol and mini-liquor bottles through the airport and drinking them on the plane.

Can you bring alcohol on a plane?

Yes, you can bring alcohol on a plane but there are very specific restrictions that differ based on whether you are bringing your alcohol on in your carry-on or in your checked baggage.

If bringing alcohol in your carry-on, you need to abide by the TSA liquids rule and the FAA regulations on alcoholic content and consuming alcohol on the plane.

And if you’re bringing alcohol in your checked baggage, you need to be mindful about the FAA regulations on alcoholic content and limits to the total quantity allowed, especially when coming back from an international trip.

Below, I’ll break down these buzz-kill restrictions into clear terms so that you don’t miss out.

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Bringing alcohol on a plane as a carry-on

If you want to take your booze with you in your carry-on, you’ll have to contend with the TSA liquids rule and a couple of very important FAA regulations.

Alcohol and the TSA Liquids 3-1-1 Rule

Alcohol fall in the liquids category and so when you are bringing it on as a carry-on you always have to abide by this rule.

The TSA Liquids 3-1-1 Rule states that you can only bring liquids in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and that all of your liquid containers must fit “comfortably” into one clear, quart-size bag.

(When going through the checkpoint, you’ll have to remove your quart-size bag from your luggage unless you have TSA Pre-Check.)

So if you plan on bringing alcohol in your carry-on bag, this rule means you’ll be limited to only small amounts.

Alcohol and FAA regulations

If you like guzzling down some seriously strong alcohol I’ve got some bad news for you.

The FAA forbids you to bring beverages with an alcoholic content of more than 70% (more than 140 proof) in your carry-on or checked baggage.

Why is that? It’s just a little bit too flammable for comfort.

The next regulation you need to be aware of pertains to partaking in your adult beverages on the plane.

FAA regulation §135.121 on alcoholic beverages states that:

No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless a certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage.

Notice that the regulation only states that you may not drink alcohol unless a “certificate holder operating the aircraft” (aka a flight attendant) has served it to you.

This means that in theory you could request a flight attendant to serve you your own alcohol and be compliant with the FAA regulation.

But don’t get too excited.

First, to pull this off you need some serious master of persuasion skills. This is especially true in the post-pandemic world.

More crucial, if you look at the policy stated by virtually every major US airline you will see that they don’t seem very open to this idea (or they are just outright against it).

Alaska AirlinesPolicy“may not be consumed… unless it has been provided by a flight attendant”
American AirlinesPolicy“Opened containers aren’t allowed”
Delta Air LinesPolicy“must be in its original unopened retail packaging”
FronterPolicy“Personal Alcoholic Beverages may not be consumed onboard the aircraft”
HawaiianPolicy“may not be consumed… unless served by a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant.”
JetBluePolicy“You are not allowed to consume your own alcohol while on board”
United AirlinesPolicy“You can’t drink the alcohol you bring on our aircraft”
“One does not simply drink their own alcohol on a plane”

So generally speaking, drinking your own alcohol on a plane is going to be difficult to do (the legal way).

But what would you be risking if you chose to violate the law?

The FAA could slap a fine on you. In fact, they have been busy dropping huge fines on unruly passengers for alcohol related incidents.

In reality, if you were asked to put away your alcohol and you immediately complied I doubt you would suffer any consequences.

It’s only when things escalate that the fines seem to come into play.

Alcohol on Alaska airlines flight

Mini liquor bottles

Although the odds might be stacked against you when it comes to consuming your alcohol on the plane, you should at least know that bringing mini liquor bottles on the plane is permitted.

Subject to a couple of restrictions, of course.

First, going back to the liquids rule.

Mini liquor bottles are about 1.7 ounces, so this means that they are small enough to be brought on the plane as a liquid.

If you would like to bring more alcohol, you can consider pouring your liquor bottles into larger carry-on size containers that are 3.4 ounces.

The tricky thing to remember is that the percent of alcohol can dictate what you can bring in your 3.4 ounce containers.

TSA has no rules against transporting alcohol in bottles that you did not purchase the alcohol in but if they contain more than 24% alcohol but not more than 70% alcohol they need to be in unopened retail packaging.

So that means that many types of vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, tequilas, and other alcohols cannot be legally transferred from an open bottle of liquor into one of your personal liquid bottles and then carried onto a plane because the alcohol would not be in unopened retail packaging.

For your reference, here are some ranges for the alcoholic content of some common beverages:

Alcohol Percentage Content

  • Vodka | ABV: 40-95%
  • Gin | ABV: 36-50%
  • Rum | ABV: 36-50%
  • Whiskey | ABV: 36-50%
  • Tequila | ABV: 50-51%
  • Liqueurs | ABV: 15%
  • Fortified Wine | ABV: 16-24%
  • Unfortified Wine | ABV: 14-16%
  • Beer | ABV: 4-8%
  • Malt Beverage | ABV: 15%

Related: TSA Marijuana Rules Explained

How many mini-liquor bottles can you fit in a quart sized Ziploc bag?

The amount of bottles that you can fit inside of a quart size bag will depend on the shape and size of the mini-liquor bottles.

However you can generally expect to fit between five and seven mini-liquor bottles inside a quart size bag. 

Just remember that the bottles must fit “comfortably” within the bag.

Comfortably means that the bag will seal without busting at the seams.

If you cannot completely seal up that bag then the TSA agent will likely state that you have not met the “comfortable” requirement and you will have to throw away some of your alcohol.

Making cocktails on planes

You might be surprised that there are some food items great for cocktails that you can bring on planes. For example, you can bring fresh fruits (lime, lemon, etc.) with you through airport security.

Most airlines will serve many drinks that are perfect for mixing up cocktails such as, orange juice, Coke, Sprite, ginger ale, tomato juice, and other fruit juices. These are usually served either on a complementary basis or for a small fee.

If you want some inspiration for cocktail ideas you find those here.

You can also buy cocktail kits online.

The key here is to be mindful about those FAA regulations.

What about duty-free liquor bottles?

If you have purchased liquor bottles from a duty-free store then you should be able to bring those on the plane even if they are larger than the standard 3.4 ounces allowed.

If you are coming in from an international flight and you are connecting to another flight within the US, you should still be able to bring your duty-free liquor bottles with you through TSA and onto your connecting flight.

However, there are special requirements for doing so.

You may carry duty free liquids in secure, tamper–evident bags, more than 3.4 oz or 100 ml in your carry-on bag if:  

  • The duty free liquids were purchased internationally and you are traveling to the United States with a connecting flight.
  • The liquids are packed in a transparent, secure, tamper-evident bag by the retailer and do not show signs of tampering when presented to TSA for screening.
  • The original receipt for the liquids is present and the purchase was made within 48 hours.

Read more about this rule here.

duty-free liquor shelf

Alcohol and checked bags: know your limits

If you want to bring your booze in your checked baggage, there are additional (but similar) restrictions that apply in that case.

Let’s start with the lightest type of alcohol.

Alcoholic beverages with 24% alcohol or less are not subject to limitations in checked bags. 

This would be mostly things like beer, champagne, wine, and some limited liquors.

Alcoholic beverages with more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol are limited in checked bags to 5 liters (1.3 gallons) per passenger and must be in unopened retail packaging.

And, as stated above, beverages with more than 70% alcohol are not allowed on the plane at all.

The rules above don’t mean you should bring in unlimited amounts of alcohol, though (especially if flying into the US).

The CBP states that:

There is no federal limit on the amount of alcohol a traveler may import into the U.S. for personal use, however, large quantities might raise the suspicion that the importation is for commercial purposes, and a CBP officer could require the importer to obtain an Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) import license (which is required for all commercial importations) before releasing it. 

So if you go pushing things to the limit you could find yourself subjected to license requirements. And I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that those licenses aren’t free.

So what would be a safe limit when bringing alcohol back into the country?

CBP does provide us with some guidance and they state:

A general rule of thumb is that 1 case of alcohol is a personal use quantity – although travelers are still subject to state restrictions which may allow less.

So if you are bringing in alcohol in your checked baggage, my advice would be to stick to one case of alcohol. If you try to push the limits, you could be subject to additional fees or worse, so it is just not worth it in my opinion.

Alcohol on planes FAQ

Is it illegal to bring alcohol on the plane?

Contrary to what you might believe, it is not illegal to bring your own personal alcohol on a plane.

Can you drink your own alcohol on a plane?

The FAA requires all alcohol consumed on a plane to be served by a flight attendant. Most airlines have policies that don’t allow you to drink your own alcohol on the plane so the odds of you getting a flight attendant to serve you your own alcohol are probably very low.

Can you bring syrups for cocktails?

Many cocktail recipes call for special syrups. If you are wondering about bringing syrups on the plane, you should know that TSA will consider them to be liquids and they will be subject to the 3-1-1 rule. You can read more about different foods and liquids permitted to bring on a plane here.

Can you take mini-liquor bottles through airports?

Yes, you can take mini-liquor bottles through airports and onto planes. However, you need to be aware of the special regulations that govern liquids through security and those for serving alcohol on planes so that you are not violating any laws.

How old do you need to be to drink alcohol on a plane?

You must be age 21 to consume alcoholic beverages on a US plane.

Final word

You can bring a handful of your mini-liquor bottles through airport security and even drink them on the plane.

However, you need to be aware of the FAA regulations and decide the best way for you to go about complying with those. Some airline crews may be more relaxed than others or be more strict so you will have to get a sense of how the flight crew is going to be.

Where to Stay on Easter Island: Options for All Budgets

If you are trying to figure out where to stay on Easter island, I have good news for you: it’s not very hard to narrow down your options and find a place because the island and main town are so compact.

Still, you want to have some insight into the hotel situation before booking.

I recently spent over a week on Easter Island and we hopped around to different hotels in different areas of the island, so that we could report back on the best places to stay on Easter Island based on real experiences and not just summarizing reviews.

So below, I’ve broken down our experiences and also included some of the properties we were considering staying at so you can look into those as well.

Where you’ll likely be staying: Hanga Roa

Almost all of the hotels on Easter Island are located in the town of Hanga Roa or its nearby outskirts.

This makes planning a lot easier because you’re not having to choose from several cities like you would in most of their destinations.

You’ll just need to think about things like if you want to be close to the coast, near restaurants, farther from the city, etc.

In reality, as you’ll see below, everything is so close, that even if you are “farther away from it all,” you are still pretty close via a short car ride.

Things to look for


One thing to inquire about is the air conditioning or fan situation in your hotel room. Some lodges may not have these and they may not have the power to support them throughout the night if they rely on solar.

If you’re visiting during the peak of summer, it can get pretty hot and if you don’t have access to a fan or to air conditioning, it can be really difficult to get comfortable if you’re not used to the warmer temps.

If you have the room in your luggage, it might be helpful to bring a battery-powered portable fan with you just in case you end up getting too hot. Luckily, some of the hotels have really good air conditioning units and it’s possible to cool down your room.


The other thing you want to think about is the internet situation.

Luckily, Easter Island recently added Starlink so some places have very fast internet connections. If you don’t have enhanced Internet, you could be dealing with extraordinarily slow connections. For people planning to get off the grid that could be a very good thing.

But if you’re like me and need to remain reasonably connected, some of the hotels can make that borderline impossible! Hopefully, as Starlink continues to roll out on the island more hotels will pick it up.

Hotel locations and getting around

Getting to and from the airport

Lots of the hotels will offer a transfer service from the airport to the hotel, often included in your price.

If you’re staying in town, the airport is literally just a few minutes away, so it’s a very short journey.

Even if you are staying in one of the rural areas, it’s still probably only about 15 to 20 minutes away. I wouldn’t necessarily prioritize getting a hotel close to the airport but there are some hotels that are extremely close like Hotel Puku Vai.

There’s also a little pocket of hotels near Ana Kai Tanata at the west end of the airport, which is a really beautiful area to explore. If you stay near here, you’ll also be close to Mirador Rano Kau and the hiking trail that goes up and down into the crater.

Getting to the city

The town of Hanga Roa is very small and basically has one main road. Here you will find a lot of different mini-markets, shops, restaurants, etc. Think of it as downtown Hanga Roa.

Unless you are staying on the outskirts of the city then you should be able to get to that main area within about a 10 to 20 minute walk.

A lot of the restaurants will be on this main road but you can also find a lot of them near Playa Poko Poko which is along the coast.

Easter Island hotels near beaches

You might be drawn to the idea of staying at a hotel right by the beach but you don’t really have that option on Easter Island.

There are some places with nice ocean views like the Iorana Hotel, Kona Koa, etc. and some hotels are very close to some swimming and snorkeling spots like Hotel Boutique La Perouse but you’re not going to find high-rise hotels overlooking beaches like you would in some place like Hawaii.

Instead, to access the best beaches you’ll have to drive out from the city which brings me to the next point.

Playa Poko Poko

Getting to main attractions

To get to the most of the main attractions on the island you are going to have to venture “far” out of the town.

For example, if you want to get to the main beach of the island, Anakena Beach, it’s about a 20 to 25 minute drive. This is also the case if you want to get to Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki, etc.

For this reason, when you visit Easter Island you need a vehicle to get around or you need someone to take you around. Uber is not an option.

Some of the hotels may allow you to rent a vehicle through them. Other times, they will work with a tour provider who can pick you up and take you around. So this is something to be thinking about when choosing your lodging.

We chose to just rent a vehicle for the entire duration of our stay. That gave us the ultimate freedom to explore the island whenever we wanted and I thought it was a great decision looking back, although the company we went through left some to be desired.

We rented through Insular rental car company and while the car was mostly fine, the service was a bit iffy.

They “accidentally” canceled our booking after the refund cut-off date (but would not respond to any of our emails even though we had pre-paid), they told us at booking they would deliver the car and then said they couldn’t, and then when we were able to get over to the rental car building they told us it would be only five minutes and it ended up being like 45 minutes. It just felt very disorganized.

Some people do get around via bicycle or some other type of motorized vehicle such as ATV so those are also options.

Ahu Tongariki
Ahu Tongariki

Related Easter Island content:

Luxury hotels on Easter Island

If you want to have a bonafide luxury hotel experience while on Easter Island there are basically only two established hotels in that category I’m aware of.

First, there is the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa, which we stayed a couple of nights at. The service at this hotel was great and it has a beautiful and unique design inspired by Orongo, the ancient village found at Rano Kau. It’s also pretty equipped with multiple restaurants, a bar, pool, gym, and spa.

They had only been re-opened for a few months when we visited so they were still finding their stride, but I’m sure as time goes by the experience will be smoother.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa can go for $500+/night and it even has an all-inclusive option that includes food along with excursions, so it can actually be a pretty good deal depending on how you find the price. You can read our full review of that hotel here.

There is also the Explora Rapa Nui, which is located farther from the city and has some pretty nice ocean views (from a distance). We tried to check out this hotel during our stay but it was tucked away on the hillside — it definitely has a very secluded feel from what I could tell. This hotel is even more pricey at around $1,800 per night.

I saw a couple of other hotels with high price tags but they did not have the established reviews for me to feel good about booking with them or recommending them.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa.

Mid-tier hotels

If you’re thinking about spending somewhere in the middle tier range between $200 and $400 per night, here are some options:

  • Kona Koa
  • Taha Tai Hotel
  • Hotel Hare Uta
  • Iorana Hotel
  • Hotel Puku Vai
  • Hare Nua Hotel Boutique

We stayed at the Kona Koa Lodge which is one of the more remote hotels. It’s located farther away from the city than almost all of the hotels on the island but you’re still relatively close as you can get to the “city” in about 10 minutes while driving.

This distance gives it a very peaceful vibe. Moreover, the bungalows, which are fully equipped with mini-kitchens and private bathrooms, face west so you can enjoy those awesome Polynesian sunsets right from your patio.

There are only a few bungalows and the owners give each guest special attention to help them get acquainted with the island. Moreover, they are only steps away or are reachable by phone in case you need them for anything.

I really enjoyed the four nights we stayed with them and if you want something a bit removed from the city life, Kona Koa Lodge is an exceptional choice. You can read the full review here. Rates are around $250/night.

View from Kona Koa Lodge.

We also stayed at the Taha Tai Hotel. This hotel is located right in the city very close to Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa and only about a five minute walk to the main street area.

The owner was very friendly and we enjoyed the property. Rooms were very spacious and cool with good AC. They even had TVs!

Taha Tai Hotel.

They also have a really nice pool area. In addition to hotel rooms, I believe they also have villa-type lodging.

Taha Tai Hotel.

Budget hotels

You can find quite a few hotels and hostels for under $100.

We did not experiment with any budget properties but I did see quite a few like: Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana, La casa del Kori, Cabañas Henua Iti, and Hostal Marari.

The only thing I did not like about some of the budget options is that they did not have many photos or reviews so in some cases it could be hard to know what you are getting into.

Final word

Choosing a place to stay in Easter Island is not that difficult because your options are fairly limited.

Once you decide on a budget, chances are there will only be a few hotels that stick out based on your preferences, photos, and reviews.

I really enjoyed Kona Koa Lodge and for the luxury experience, I also would recommend Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa.

JetBlue Mint A321 Review (MIA-LAX) [2023]

For quite a while, I heard so many good things about JetBlue Mint that I was highly curious about the product. I envisioned it being a relatively solid experience but the flying experience turned out to far exceed even my best expectations.

In this article, I will review my recent flight from MIA to LAX on the JetBlue A321 Classic with Mint and explain just how this flight blew me away!

JetBlue Mint A321 Video Review

If you are a video person, be sure to check out the entire video review I did for this flight here:


Like some other premium products, prices can fluctuate by a lot for JetBlue Mint.

If you’re flexible with redeye flights or early morning flights, you may be able to find the good deals easier.

In this case, the price for the 7 AM nonstop flight was about half the price of the other nonstop time and so we only had to pay around $730 per seat which I thought was great value, especially while earning 5X with the Platinum Card!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!


We arrived to a pretty empty MIA around 4:30 AM for check-in and made our way to the exclusive JetBlue check in desk for Mint and Mosaic members.

JetBlue check-in

The agent working at the desk was clearly not in the best mood.

I sympathize with her because it was so freaking early but at the same time when you are the first point of contact with Mint/elite customers you have to do a little better than early morning stank eye.

JetBlue Mosaic Mint check-in

After checking a bag, we made our way to security where we breezed through thanks to CLEAR and Pre-Check.

The CLEAR staff was very friendly and professional which unfortunately I’ve found to be decreasingly common over the past few years.


After screening, it was time to take a very short tram ride over to our gate which only took a couple of minutes.

We did have the option to spend a little bit of time at a Priority Pass lounge (Turkish) but, it just did not really seem worth it. Plus, I was trying to save my appetite for the flight.


After we made our way over to the gate, I realized that we would not be boarding in a typical JetBlue boarding area.

JetBlue boarding area

Instead, we had to go downstairs and board at a British Airways gate. It took me back to the days of living in the UK but was a little bit odd.

For the most part, boarding went pretty smooth. A couple of potential line cutters were turned away, including one who tried to swoop under the stanchion belt.

I don’t know what it is about boarding a plane that makes some people act a fool but it’s one of the weirdest things.

british airways boarding area

JetBlue A321 Classic with Mint cabin

The cabin has a total of 16 Mint seats but they are not all the same, as the cabin has a unique configuration.

The rows alternate with odd rows having two side-by-side seats and even rows featuring a fully enclosed single suite.

JetBlue A321 Classic with Mint cabin

The side-by-side seats are more of your typical domestic first class product although they still have the lie-flat feature.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint double seats

From the bookings that I have done, there was no additional cost to select the fully enclosed single suite, so it was just a matter of booking early and selecting that seat. I highly recommend going with that suite since you have the optimal level of privacy and extra room.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint double seats

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

As soon as I finally saw the Mint suite, 2A, with my own eyes, I could tell that I was going to really like the seat.

One of the first things I look for in a business class seat is what type of counter space and storage it offers. This suite clearly had a lot of counter space and it also had ample storage space

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

The main counter area featured two power outlets (with two USB ports) so it’s a great laptop station.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite outlets

The other side of the seat had a reading lamp, additional storage pouches, and one more outlet.

There’s also a really deep compartment that opens up that could fit things like amenity kits, headphone cases, and more.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite storage

Then you also have a couple of storage pouches in the front including one directly below the TV monitor and one further down. So you’re definitely covered with the storage space!

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite storage

Overall, I found the seat to be very comfortable and just a great way to fly transcontinental.

With its central design, it very much has a “throne” type of feel to it, which is only amplified by the fact that only four seats are comparable within the Mint cabin. In other words, it gives you more of a first class feel while surrounded by business class.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

And obviously with a seat like this legroom is not an issue. It’s also nice that they have a floor ramp that gives your legs a place to rest in the upright position.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

As for privacy, it’s great even whenever the suite door is open.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

To close the door on your seat, there is a little latch button you pull and that slides out the door. Sometimes the door will slide all the way closed but other times I had to give it a little bit of a push. With the door closed, it’s obviously a lot more private although you don’t have the tallest suite walls.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

The headphones were from Master and Dynamic and very high-quality.

Unlike the headphones that I had just received on my American Airlines business class flight, that were extremely worn and even a bit of tattered, these felt very fresh.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite headphones

I really loved the design and high quality feel of the headphones and the sound was great.

One thing that was a nice touch is that when JetBlue requested for us to return the headphones about 15 to 20 minutes before landing, they offered to supply us with ear buds so we could finish anything we were watching.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite headphones

The flight would offer us two amenity kits: one pre-flight and one that we would receive just before landing.

The pre-flight Tuft and Needle amenity kit came in recyclable packaging and included toothpaste tablets, a toothbrush, earplugs, and an eye mask.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite Tuft and Needle amenity kit
Tuft and Needle amenity kit

Now, let’s talk about the only true complaint I had. And that would be the in-flight entertainment.

I thought the screen was just dated. It was reasonably sized but with lower picture quality and the responsiveness of the touchscreen was severely lacking.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite TV

An IFE remote comes out from the side so you can use that to navigate but overall the IFE just has an “old school” feel to it.

But now let’s get back to the good stuff.

One thing I really liked was getting pre-departure beverages. Not just that, but I received multiple refills while we were boarding without even having to ask.

That was the first sign that service was going to be on point, but it was going to be a lot better than I ever anticipated!

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

Eventually, it was time for an on-time departure and we took off around sunrise, offering amazing views of Miami.

Dining (breakfast)

With such an early flight and no real time for enjoying lounge access, I was holding my appetite for the flight and I’m glad that I did because breakfast was exceptional.

Basically, for breakfast you can choose 3 of 5 options which included: strawberries, chia pudding, avocado toast, crepes, and frittata. You could also add on some bacon. Here’s a look at the menu:

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite menu
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite menu
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite menu

It started with a large, flaky croissant.

Lots of airlines give you croissants that are mediocre or feel sort of like an afterthought but this one was clearly a prized croissant. Delicious!

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast

After the croissant came out some heavy turbulence started. We would have some pretty noticeable turbulence throughout the flight, which made the service that much more impressive.

Anyway, after the turbulence break, I was able to pop out my tray table which can easily be done by pulling a small tab.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

Then the full breakfast was served.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast

Initially, the bacon seemed like a bit much as this maple bacon was pretty heavy and thick and not the typical bacon I go with. But I decided to give it a shot and indulge and it was worth it.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast

When the avocado toast first came out, I didn’t even recognize it, as it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

But it turned out to be one of the best breakfast dishes I’ve probably ever had. The tomatillo sauce added a twang on the avocado that really set off the flavor.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast

The crepes, loaded with hazelnuts, ricotta, and praline sauce were on point and made even better with juicy strawberries.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite breakfast

In the drink department, Brad was served up the signature “Mint Condition,” which was mixed and poured at his seat. He had high remarks for the cocktail along with other drinks he tried like the Bloody Mary.

Here’s a link at the drink menu:

By the way, this breakfast absolutely blew the American Airlines breakfast I just had out of the water. It was a night and day difference.

About midway through the flight, I was offered a cheese plate which I definitely did not need but still accepted, mostly out of curiosity. Nothing but good things to say about that.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite cheese plate

I found the seat controls to be pretty straightforward. It’s very easy to go from the upright position, to recline, to fully lie-flat with just one button. I enjoyed using the massage feature and thought the floor light was a pretty cool addition.

The lumbar support function took a little while to get going but seemed to work fine for me after some trial and error. Brad on the other hand had some issues which led to us both receiving a $200 flight credit (without even asking for anything)!

That was just another reason why the service was tremendous on the flight.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite seat controls

Now for the sleeping experience.

I didn’t really have any intention of getting shut eye on this flight so I only made the bed to briefly test it out.

I forgot to deflate the lumbar support which made it a bit uncomfortable but I think had I deflated that it would’ve been a lot better.

I really did love the pillow which was one of the most comfortable pillows I’ve been given by an airline.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite bed

One thing about this bed is that it’s great for tall people as the foot well is extremely deep. I felt like I just kept sliding sliding underneath the seat in front of me!

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite bed

I found the in-flight wifi very easy to use. I loved that it was free and it gave me a reliable connection throughout the flight.

Another feature that I really loved about the cabin is the lavatory lighting system upfront. You can instantly see which lavatories are occupied so that there is no confusion when getting up to go.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint cabin
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint lavatory
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint cabin

I was surprised to be issued a second amenity kit towards the end of the flight.

This one had pretty much everything I needed including honey lozenges, pain cream, and lip balm, along with socks. It also came with rejuvenating eye gels.

As an aside, I really appreciated the recyclable amenity bags. Especially on trips where we do a lot of long-haul flights back to back, I start to really notice the waste that goes into amenity kits.

While premium bags are cool, I wouldn’t mind if more airlines made the switch to more sustainable packaging.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint amenity kit
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint amenity kit

As we approached LAX, the cabin lit up with natural light and I was able to get a better well lit view of the suite. The more I looked at it, the more I really appreciated the design.

JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite
JetBlue A321 Classic Mint suite

Record amounts of snowfall had been hitting California and it was impressive to see so much of the landscape covered in snow.

It was also just a beautiful day in Los Angeles.

When we landed our bag was the second bag to come out. So many times priority luggage bag tags don’t mean anything so it was a nice surprise to see our bag come out so quickly. Pretty much the cherry on top of what was an amazing flight.

Service levels

While I loved the breakfast and seat, the biggest thing that stood out on the flight was the level of service. The main flight attendant provided a level of attentiveness that is really hard to achieve.

He anticipated all of our needs throughout the entire flight, yet it never felt like he was over doing it which can happen with some overeager flight attendants.

He was world-class professional, committed to getting things right the first time, and patient with every passenger, including the passengers in front of us who tried to sneak in an economy passenger!

I’ve flown on most of the top first class products out there and the service level on this flight was right on par with some of the best. It was impressive to witness and it really changed the way that I view JetBlue.

Final word

This flight could not have come at a better time.

After a very mediocre AA flight, I was seriously questioning my passion for long-haul flying. It had been so long since my last long-haul flight and I was surprised how meh the entire experience felt. It seriously made me wonder if I just didn’t have the love for flying anymore.

But then this flight came along and woke me up. It reminded me that flying is still something that I love and it also reminded me how much of a difference great service can make on a flight. I was officially out of my little flying slump!

Is Easter Island a Wonder of the World?

If there’s one place in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that seems like it would qualify as a wonder of the world, it’s probably Easter Island.

But is Easter Island and its stone statues (called moai) actually a wonder of the world?

Below, we will explore this question and dive into some of the details to better understand what counts as a wonder of the world.

Is Easter Island a wonder of the world?

Easter Island is not considered one of the 7 wonders of the world by the leading authorities on natural wonder designation. With that said, Easter Island’s moai have still been recognized as one of the top wonders of the world and it could be argued that they are the 8th wonder of the world.

Keep reading to find out more!

What are the wonders of the world?

The original Seven Ancient Wonders of the World were seemingly designated by a few different people but one of these could’ve been Philo of Byzantium’s work in 225 B.C. called On The Seven Wonders.

These sites were:

  • Temple of Zeus at Olympia
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Pharos of Alexandria
  • Pyramids of Giza

If somebody tells you that they have visited the seven ancient wonders of the world, ask them if you can borrow their time machine because the only one of these seven wonders that still exists is the pyramids of Giza.

In fact, there is even debate if some of these ever existed at all!

But more recently, a new global initiative took place to allow the public to vote on the seven wonders of the world but also appeared to use an expert panel selection system.

This platform considered over 100 million votes and they arrived at the following new 7 wonders of the world:

  • Great Wall of China
  • Colosseum
  • Taj Mahal
  • Chichen Itza
  • Petra
  • Machu Picchu
  • Christ the Redeemer

All of these still exist today but you’ll see no Easter Island on that list.

(It’s worth noting that there are several other types of “greatest wonder” lists, including some that focus on natural wonders or specific types of engineering achievements.)

Even though Easter Island didn’t make it as one of the new 7 wonders, it still made it in as one of the top 21 finalists.

Initially, there was a list of 176 sites and that was reduced to 77. That figure was was further reduced to 21 in 2006 and Easter Island moais were one of the items on that list.

It’s also reported that the Easter Island moais finished 8th, which I guess technically would qualify them as an “eighth wonder of the world.”

So there are a few things to say about Easter Island’s designation.

First, the designation for Easter Island is a little bit “looser” than other sites.

That’s because it is specifically the Easter Island moai that was on the list — not the entire island.

That’s interesting because there are roughly 1,000 of these moai statues found all around the island in various shapes and sizes.

Some have been preserved very well, others have been partially restored, and then there are many that are basically just ruins.

Some other candidates on the list are somewhat similar to the Easter Island moai like the Great Wall of China that has several different parts (in various stages of preservation) but a lot of the names on the list are specific sites with clearly defined borders and boundaries.

That could be one reason why Easter Island did not end up on the final 7 list. The designation is not quite as “clean” as it is for other places.

But still, the fact that it landed in the top 21 (and likely the top 8) of all places located around the world is still extremely impressive.

It is right up there with other sites like Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, and Sydney Opera House, in terms of being universally recognized.

Even if people don’t know the name “Easter Island” or “Rapa Nui” they recognize the statues and probably associate them with “somewhere” in Polynesia.

In the end, while I fully appreciate what New 7 Wonders has done (they’ve done a lot more than create lists) a list of seven wonders is a completely arbitrary (and outdated) cut off in my opinion.

While we have pretty much all grown up with the familiar idea of “seven wonders of the world,” it’s a pretty wild assumption that there would only be seven sites in the world in a league of their own and deserving of such a classification.

This is especially true when you think about the fact that the ancients initially picked out their seven wonders from such a tiny region of the world since they had not discovered other parts of the globe yet.

Our world in the 21st century is so vastly different from what it was 2,000 years ago that it’s kind of crazy we even still try to reduce all of our most amazing places to seven like the ancients did.

I highly doubt that if the ancient Greeks or Romans had access to today’s sites, they would have ever thought about stopping at a “top 7” list.

Consider that when putting these travel lists together the ancient Greeks spoke of “theamata” (θεάματα), which simply means “sights” or “things to be seen.”

To me, it’s more about thinking about what places make up the most fascinating sites in the known world, regardless of how long that list gets.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s value in making special lists for the most fascinating places. And I get it, it’s fun to debate and think about the “7 wonders,” check them off a bucket list, etc.

My argument is just that there are probably dozens of places that will fascinate the masses at an optimal level, so why leave so many out? Just for the sake of tradition? Because 7 is catchy or easy to remember?

I don’t know how many places would be on a modern equivalent of the Greeks’ “things to be seen” list but I have to believe it would be more than seven.

And without a doubt, I believe Easter Island would be on this list.

Why is that?

Let’s take a look.

Why Easter Island should be a natural wonder

First, I just think the fact that Easter Island existed as an inhabited island for centuries is very notable from a human achievement standpoint.

That Polynesians even located this tiny island in the vast Pacific is monumentally impressive enough to begin with.

But it’s the moai culture that stands out above all else, especially when you understand what it entailed.

These statues were designed to represent the ancestors of the inhabitants of Easter Island.

Not just in a way that remembered them but in a way that captured supernatural power that could be used to protect their clans or community. This power was called “mana.”

These statues were huge and heavy. The average height was roughly 13 feet but some were much larger.

The biggest one to make it to a platform at Te Pito Kura stood 10 meters tall and probably weighed 80 tons or more, so perhaps around half the weight of a 747.

In the quarry, there was one moai being built that would’ve stood close to 70 feet tall!

The largest moai statue to make it to a platform (now broken in two).

Now think about how the moai were moved several miles through hilly terrain all around the island, possibly being “walked.”

For large moai, this could have involved hundreds of people utilizing a sophisticated system of ropes and coordinated balancing — a truly underrated feat that probably took untold hours of trial and error.

This is evident by all the road moai that never made it to their final destination.

About 300 made it to their final destinations (ahus) but about 100 are found en route to ahus. That’s a very high failure rate which further shows the difficulty of their work.

Imagine having to wait a year for a sculpture to be finished only for it to fall over during transport and then being forced to abandon it and start over.

It had to have been an absolutely grueling process sometimes, especially considering the spiritual significance of the statues.

At the end of their journey, the moai would eventually be placed on a raised ahu platform and then have a huge and heavy hat (pukao) placed on top of them to finish off the job, all of which sounds massively complicated and risky to execute.

This entire system and all the requisite skills of the moai culture were developed in isolation and persisted for a few hundred years — longer than the existence of the US. (There is some debate as to when exactly these were created but they were generally thought to be created between 1,100 and 1,650 AD.)

There may have been some limited contact with South America or other cultures but based on the research I’ve seen, the evidence suggests that the Rapa Nui existed largely without much outside influence.

That’s one of the crucial factors I think about.

Consider that in 100 AD Rome had a population of over 1,000,000 and even ancient Egypt had millions of people.

That’s a very different type of environment for fostering ideas, developing engineering, and of course accessing trade and resources (slavery is obviously a major consideration, too).

So when you consider the level of construction and engineering that went on in Easter Island — with such an isolated and small population — it’s even more impressive what they were able to accomplish and it says that much more about human achievement and creativity.

I think the biggest case against Easter Island landing on the list is just the damage that was done to the moai.

Initially, these statues represented ancestors who had supernatural power to protect their people. But overtime, the people in the island faced tough times including things like starvation and battles over resources.

This ultimately led to them rejecting their stone ancestors and it’s probably the main reason why so many statues were toppled over.

Other events like earthquakes and tsunamis also contributed to damage to these so lots of the moai had to undergo restoration efforts.

They lost the coral eyes that once fit into their face, many lost their hats, and several were broken. A lot of the restoration efforts that begin around the 1950s have been very successful. Lots of the statues are beautifully preserved or “put back in place.”

However, even the Great Pyramids are missing much of the original look and it’s not hard to notice the significant sections missing from other sites like the Colosseum in Rome. So I don’t think the damage is much of a factor for not including Easter Island.

Final word

Easter Island is not considered one of the seven wonders of the world by the leading authorities on this subject. However, the moai did make it into the top 21 finalists for the new wonders of the world and likely landed at the #8 spot.

Ultimately, I question the arbitrary cut off at seven when designating modern “wonders of the world” and fully believe that Easter Island should qualify as one of the most fascinating places to visit on the globe a.k.a. a wonder of the world.

Where Is Easter Island Located? Interesting Facts About Rapa Nui’s Geography

Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui locally) is one of the most interesting locations in the world because of its mysterious history and remoteness.

But its unique position as a boundary for major geographic areas like Polynesia and Oceania also make it an interesting location to study.

Below, I’ll give you some insight on where is the island is located and talk about some of the cool facts related to its unique position on the globe!

Where is Easter Island?

Easter Island is located about 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile and 2,500 miles east of Tahiti. At only 64 square miles (about ten times smaller than Oahu), it’s very easy to miss, which is yet another reason why it remains one of the most remote islands in the world.

In fact, the area is so remote and located so close to Point Nemo (the farthest point from land), that NASA actually set up an emergency space shuttle landing strip on the island!

Red pin showing location of Easter Island. Map via Google Maps.

The Easter Island GPS coordinates are: 27.1127° S, 109.3497° W, which means that Easter Island is directly south of Chiricahua National Monument near Tucson, Arizona.

Its latitude also means that the island is just under the “tropic zone” and falls under a subtropical climate. So compared to a place like Hawaii, the temperatures actually get much cooler with lows dropping into the lower 60s in winter.

If you want to visit Easter Island by air, chances are you will be flying through Santiago, Chile. Since Easter Island is considered a special territory of Chile, this means that it’s treated as a domestic flight.

Before arriving at the island you have to comply with some specific requirements and present special documents and you can read more about those here.

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Interesting things about the location of Easter island

It makes up a corner of Polynesia

The geographic region of Polynesia is typically represented in a large triangle that spans across the vast Pacific Ocean from New Zealand to Hawaii to Easter island. It covers a huge chunk of the ocean and over 1,000 islands.

Map via Wikipedia (creative commons).

Easter Island (also called Rapa Nui) marks the easternmost corner of the Polynesian triangle (which is fitting considering that the island also takes on a triangular shape).

Map via Wikipedia (creative commons).

Some believe that Easter Island was the final corner of Polynesia that was settled by humans although there is debate about when exactly that happened.

This means that if you were to follow the commonly believed path of human migration out of Africa and through Asia, Easter Island would have been possibly one of the last and/or most remote destinations reached in mankind’s spread across the globe over the last 200,000 years.

Image via Nat Geo.

Easternmost point of Oceania

Another interesting thing about the location of Easter Island is that it’s found at the easternmost point of Oceania.

It’s worth noting that not everyone agrees on exactly what makes up Oceania.

In fact, people don’t even agree on whether or not Oceania is a continent!

At the very least, Oceania is a region that makes up a large portion of the South and North Pacific Ocean. This would include: Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

You need to head to the east side of the island on Poike, near an area called Cape Cumming to see this point.

This is a pretty remote area of the island and it’s not clear to me that it’s accessible although if you go with a local guide who is knowledgeable, they can probably help you get there (or very close).

Since that point represents the easternmost point of Oceania, it also would be the easternmost point of Polynesia.

Map via Wikipedia (creative commons).

Westernmost point in Chile and entire South America

Because Easter Island is way out in the middle of nowhere and is a part of Chile, it represents the westernmost point of Chile and of all of South America.

Specifically, this point is found at Motu Nui, which was an important site for the Tangata manu (“Bird Man”) cult. It looks like such a small chunk of rock but it actually is part of the 6,000+ foot mountain that is covered by the sea.

You can get a great view of Motu Nui when you visit ancient village Orongo situated on top of the dormant volcano, Rano Kau. Or, if you want to get more close to this point you can take a boat tour or potentially even do a dive or snorkel trip.

Final word

Easter Island has some pretty fascinating history and its geography is also pretty interesting.

Once you realize where the island sits geographically, you realize just how remote this place truly is.

It’s also really cool to think about its position as a boundary marker for huge geographic areas, despite it being such a small place.

Kona Koa Lodge Review: Private Bungalow on Easter Island

During our time at Easter Island, we tried out a few different types of lodging.

We were drawn to the Kona Koa Lodge because it looked like it was a bit more of a remote and quieter experience than the hotels that we booked in town like the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa. And I could not have been happier that we gave it a shot!

In total, we stayed four nights at the Kona Koa Lodge and this is how that experience went in this private bungalow!


I really loved the location of Kona Koa Lodge. It’s basically a 10 minute drive into town which isn’t bad at all and you only have to deal with bumpy dirt roads for a short portion of the drive.

Even though you are only 10 minutes away, it feels like you are much farther away because of the peacefulness. It’s pretty quiet too although the roosters and dogs definitely let their presence be known!

There are a few attractions really close to the lodge including the Mirador Hanga Kioe and Ahu Tahai — two outstanding places to watch the sunset. The museum is only a couple of minutes away and if you want to explore the caves they are also pretty close.

There’s also a really cool blowhole to check out nearby on the coast and if you want to find out more information about the spots, be sure to check out our in-depth Easter Island guide.

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The check-in experience began at the airport where we received leis once we exited.

There was a little bit of rainfall happening but as far as airport greetings go, this was definitely one of the more memorable ones!

The owner’s daughter, Fidji, helped us with our luggage and took us to her truck and then we were off!

We needed to make a quick pitstop to the market and so she took us through the market so that we could purchase some essentials.

It’s a great feeling to have a local pick you up and give you a quick tour of the city to help you get familiar with your new surroundings.

The bungalow

The property has a few different bungalows or cottages (whatever you want to call them) and we had a bungalow with a king bed. We found the bed to be pretty comfortable and enjoyed having outlets nearby.

Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge

The bungalows they have built here are beautiful and I love what they did with the natural wood features. They definitely have a unique rustic charm to them.

Kona Koa Lodge

You’ll have your own little kitchen where you can put together breakfast every morning. The kitchen comes with a sink, some cooking and cleaning supplies, a stove top, and mini fridge. You’ll also have some cookware along with plates and cups.

Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge

You’ll also have some spices on hand.

Kona Koa Lodge

We ran through a crazy amount of water during our stay and luckily they did have filtered water for us. We still ended up purchasing a couple of large jugs because we knew how much we would be drinking and I’m glad we did!

Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge

We had a little patio with a pretty good view of the ocean and because we were facing west we also had pretty good sunset views.

At the same time, all of the vegetation gives you a feeling of secluded privacy — not to mention the feeling like you’re in a lush tropical paradise.

Sitting out on the patio while a rain storm blows in from the ocean is the ultimate exercise in relaxation.

Kona Koa Lodge

There are shades you can pull down on the patio to block out the sun if it gets too warm.

Kona Koa Lodge

But make sure you pull them back up for sunset!

Kona Koa Lodge

I thought the bathroom was really well done as well. It’s got a good-sized window for ventilation and plenty of counter space along with a beautiful glass sink.

Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge

The shower is also very spacious. It’s pretty interesting how the water just drains through a whole but you should be able to get comfortable in the shower no problem with a small bench and even a port hole. We never had any issues with water pressure or temperature.

Kona Koa Lodge
Kona Koa Lodge

Now let’s talk about the internet situation.

When we visited, the lodge had recently installed Starlink and it was absolutely amazing.

We had a strong connection and I was able to get work done and even had a video call without any loss in quality — something I did not expect to be able to do on Easter Island.

Some of the pretty expensive hotels in Easter Island did not even have an internet connection this solid so it was a nice surprise and an underrated benefit!

Kona Koa Lodge


One of the nice perks about this lodge is that you can request breakfast.

You need to make a request the afternoon before so that it will be prepared but your breakfast will consist of: eggs (you cook them), bread, pastry, fresh fruit, and deli meats and cheese, along with milk and juice.

I really did love this breakfast and it’s a great way to start your day!

Kona Koa Lodge

Rental cars

We had our own rental car which was a four-door Suzuki and I really liked having that. I knew the tour guide would be accompanying us so having four doors made those full day tours a lot more comfortable.

However, if you want to rent your car through them you can ask about the Jimmy.

The only issue with the lodge…

So the area surrounding the lodge is beautiful, the bungalows themselves are lovely, and the service that you get from the owners is top notch.

The only issue, which can be a big one depending on your preferences, was the power situation.

I believe because the lodge is so sustainable, it doesn’t have enough electricity to power a fan through the night.

There is no ceiling fan inside the lodge and while the owners were gracious enough to give us a fan to use during the day, we were not able to power it through the night.

This may not have been a big deal during other times of the year but we were visiting during the hottest month of the year.

This made it very difficult to get comfortable at night because we were sweating so much. For people who keep their homes warm or who live in warm and humid environments, this may not be a big deal.

But for people like us who like to sleep in crisp conditions, it can be a major challenge.

If I could go back in time, I would have brought along a fan that could be charged via my computer. Or perhaps some other type of battery powered fan that I would not have to plug-in all night.

That would have made a huge difference!

Final word

I am a huge fan of the Kona Koa Lodge. The personalized attention was phenomenal and you really cannot ask for better service. It was great having a solid breakfast and I enjoyed the peacefulness of the location. If I could have just figured out the fan situation it would’ve been perfect but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Kona Koa Lodge.

The Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa Review: Easter Island Luxury Hotel

The Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa is one of the two luxury hotel properties located on Easter Island.

We recently stayed at the hotel after they had only been open for a few months since the reopening of Easter island and here’s how the stay went!


The Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa is located in Hanga Roa and sits very close to the coast. Though there is a road that runs along the coast, it’s nice to get out and explore the rocky coastline along Mirador de las Olas and just listen to the waves pounding the shore.

Mataveri Airport is only about a mile away and it’s only about a 10 minute walk to the town’s main street where are you will find lots of markets, restaurants, and shops. So overall, Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa has a great central location.

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We arrived at the beautiful lobby area ready for check-in in the early afternoon.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa lobby

The check-in experience what is a little bit rough.

My booking through Expedia was not properly showing up for the hotel and so they did not initially offer us the all-inclusive package we had booked (and paid for).

It was about midway through the introduction when I realized we were not getting all-inclusive instructions and we looked into the issue.

I then had to dig through my emails to find reservation codes and wait for the situation to be resolved.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa lobby

So it took a while to get that straightened out but then I ended up finding out that we each had two excursions per day that were part of our package.

Expedia didn’t mention anything about these so these were a surprise which meant we had to do some replanning in a hurry so that we could take advantage of them. It ended up mostly working out but I really wish I would have known about these when we were planning our trip!

And that brings me to my only real complaint about the hotel.

I tried to initiate communication via email a couple of months before our stay and also called Nayara but could not get a response or get through. This led to a communication breakdown so that the staff was waiting for us at the airport even though we had already been on the island for several days.

Once we got all of the confusion cleared up, the staff was tremendous and really did whatever they could to help us out throughout our stay so I don’t have any complaints about the service.

I also understand that they had been closed for a while and had only opened up a few months before we visited so they were still working out some of the kinks most likely.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa drinks
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa welcome drinks.

The room

Our room had two twin beds with an ocean view which initially I thought would be somewhat of a disaster because I had not slept on a twin bed in forever.

But these appeared to be larger twin beds and each of us had plenty of room so it wasn’t hard to get comfortable.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa room

There was a comfortable sofa across from the bed with some interesting driftwood art above it. I also thought that the re-utilized cypress trees in the room and throughout the hotel were an interesting feature they gave the property a unique feel.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed sofa
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed room

A small desk was built into the corner of the room.

One of the first things I noticed about the room was the portable AC unit. Apparently, they like to bring this in for Americans who are more accustomed to colder rooms.

This was absolutely perfect for us.

We had just spent four nights in a lodge with no AC and no fan which was a bit of a struggle at night considering we were visiting during the hottest time of the year. But temperature was never an issue in this room thankfully!

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed room ac unit

The bathroom is divided by some blinds which add an interesting feel to the room. Just next to the blinds you’ll find the beautiful black soaking tub, which was made from artisanal clay.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed room
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed bathroom
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed bathroom

I also thought the sink, crafted from volcanic stone, was unique along with the entire counter set up and leaf shaped mirror. You definitely don’t feel like you are in an ordinary hotel room when you stay here, which is one of the draws.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed bathroom
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed bathroom

They had an interesting shower which was very spacious. It had this cool little port hole that looked out to the ocean view, which was another unique touch to the room.

The hotel provided plenty of quality shampoo, conditioner, and soap.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed bathroom

The toilet was a private room with a thick door and walls for good privacy.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed bathroom

Inside the closet there was a small mini fridge with complementary beverages for us since we did have the all-inclusive package. These beverages included water, soda, and beer. We were able to swap out still water for sparkling water, as that is all we really drank.

The room had a spacious patio with a couple of chairs and a view of the ocean. The only drawback is that the view has a road running through it so you do have to deal with occasional traffic driving by. But the patio still did feel pretty private and gave us some decent sunrise views.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed ocean view patio
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa twin bed ocean view patio

Overall, whenever you are dealing with a high price tag you have pretty high expectations for your room.

I did feel like the price tag was not totally in line with the quality of the room but there are a couple of things to say about that.

For one, I noticed the price was lower for different dates after our stay so it looks like you could book this hotel for around $500 per night which is a couple hundred less than what we paid. That price seems more in line with the experience.

Also, it’s admittedly difficult to compare a hotel like this to others because Easter Island is such a different and remote place. Hard to compare apples to guava.

Still, I did think the room was pretty beautiful.

The premises of the hotel or also very well-kept. You’ll find shaded pathways which give you a nice respite from the heat. Everything is pretty close by so it’s not hard to get to the restaurants or the spa.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa premises

You’ll also appreciate how the architecture blends in with the natural environment of the island. The hotel’s architecture was inspired by Orongo, the ancient village found atop the Rano Kau

volcano crater and it’s not hard to see the resemblance in the shapes and composition of the buildings.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa premises
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa premises


Our room did come with complementary Wi-Fi which did not work very well.

Some places on Easter Island have Starlink which provides an amazing high-speed connection. Indeed, the first lodge we stayed at had Starlink.

But otherwise, your internet connection may be dreadfully slow.

It was barely tolerable to do anything on my apps or social media and I did not even attempt to stream anything.

So if you were planning on getting work done or any kind of video calls or streaming with the hotel’s internet connection, you may need to rethink that. Hopefully, they can upgrade soon.

Easter Island head moai chocolates

The Vaitea Pool

The hotel boasts what appears to be the best pool area on Easter island. The Vaitea Pool is a pretty large area that is just across the street from the ocean. Perfect for cooling down on a hot summer day.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa pool

You’ll find some lounge chairs to relax on along with a few shaded spots (although they could probably use a couple more). If you need to shower off have several outdoor showers.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa pool
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa pool

There’s even a moai overlooking the pool which I believe is an actual moai?


Whether you go with the all inclusive package or you just want to book excursions through the hotel, the hotel has a great staff to help you out.

I really liked the excursion area of the lobby with a huge map on the wall that helps you plan out your outings. The staff member helping us out was also very knowledgeable about the different excursions which can include things like:

  • Tours of the archaeological sites
  • Hikes
  • ATVS
  • Exploring the caves
  • SCUBA or snorkeling

Basically, if an activity is offered on the island you can probably book an excursion for it with the hotel.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa

We chose scuba diving and an excursion to the caves.

We were put with a great tour guide who took us to one of the caves and it ended up being one of the highlights of our trip to Easter Island!

Some of the English speaking guides may not always be the best guides, so it was very refreshing to get placed with such an amazing guide during our stay.

I really liked how they arranged shuttle transportation and everything is taken care of.

You could stay here and not have to rent a car and still be able to get around to various sites which is a major advantage of staying here.

Manavai Spa

For one of our excursions we also each chose a spa treatment at the Manavai Spa.

I went with a full body 60-minute massage with geranium rozanne oil and experienced one of the best massages I’ve had. I’m not a huge spa person and I’ve only had probably six or seven massages but I feel like she really knew what she was doing in there — so relaxing!

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa spa room

Unfortunately, Brad did not have the best spa experience.

He doesn’t speak as much Spanish as I do though so sometimes things like this don’t go over as well for him because he can’t fully voice his preferences. I think some things got lost in translation.


The hotel has a small gym that is still relatively equipped with cardio equipment and a couple of machines. They also have three showers in the gym.

Interestingly, they only allow two people at a time inside the gym.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa gym
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa gym
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa gym

Make sure you don’t miss the hidden hot tub!

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa hot tub


We really wanted to take advantage of our all-inclusive dining so we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the hotel during the two nights/three days of our stay.  

During the first night, dinner was a little bit hectic.

That’s because one of the private National Geographic excursions (where you pay 100 grand to travel the world in a private jet) was staying at our property during the first night.

This meant that there were a lot of guests and the staff was pretty overwhelmed. National Geographic also rented out the restaurant so we were forced to eat dinner in the Vaikoa Bar. It was a nice area with good views, so I can’t complain too much.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa bar

But when you are a paying guest at an expensive hotel and told you can’t access the restaurant, there’s a certain level of distaste that accompanies that decision.

Still, we were able to watch the special dance show they put on for National Geographic (from a distance) so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

The good news is that after that dinner we were able to experience the Poerava Restaurant on the other days.

I actually think there may be a third restaurant or dining area (Kaloa Restaurant) that was not open during our stay, so it’s possible that if you visit there could be an additional dining spot.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa restaurant

As for the food quality, overall I enjoyed it but it needed a little bit of improvement. The biggest issue was just that some of the protein was not cooked to standard and the tuna had a substantial amount of tissue in it.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa restaurant dinner

But there were several dishes that we did enjoy.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa restaurant dinner

Before each dinner, we ordered a salad, usually a shrimp or chicken Caesar salad which was delightful.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa restaurant dinner

I will say that for lunch we went with a pizza which was an amazing choice. They have to have one of the best pizzas on the island!

In addition, I absolutely loved all of the desserts. We had an amazing chocolate mousse along with a trifecta of ice cream perfection. I feel like you couldn’t go wrong with any sweet here!

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa restaurant dinner

Also, as you can probably tell the food had amazing presentation. You’ll definitely feel like you are enjoying fine dining when your plate is delivered.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa restaurant dinner tuna

Breakfast consisted of a pretty extensive buffet. You had a lot of the basic breakfast food items like a variety of fruits, cereals, pastries, sweets, and pieces of crepes and waffles. You can also request for an omelete to be made.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa breakfast
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa breakfast
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa breakfast
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa breakfast
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa breakfast
Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa breakfast

Each morning, I was able to put together a pretty solid breakfast. However, in terms of the quality, I did expect a littler more for the price point. Perhaps some more quality protein would’ve been nice? full-sized crepes? Just felt like it was missing something.

Then there was the service during our dining.

The service really was great throughout all of our meals. They were friendly, attentive, and always a pleasure to deal with.  

Whether you are eating around sunset or sunrise, you can opt for a seat by one of the large glass doors or windows or just simply eat outside. It’s a nice vibe.

Final word

Overall, the hotel stay did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. I have to cut the hotel some slack though because I know they were still just getting back on their feet after being closed for so long.

The entire stay did feel a bit overpriced but it looks like you can take advantage of lower rates at different times of the year so in those cases I think the experience would be more in line with the price.

With that said, it is a beautiful property and being able to experience some luxury while on Easter Island is special in its own right.

The biggest thing that stood out during the stay was the service.

I truly appreciated how the hotel helped us handle some of our random requests including things like managing our rental car, contacting other properties, etc. That’s always a mark of a quality hotel.

I also really loved the excursion system they have with a huge map area for planning and of course the quality guides.

I think that if you consider the rental car savings and you go with an all inclusive package that includes excursions, there’s a good value opportunity there (and big convenience).

And if you decide to not head out to explore anything, you can always stay back for a nice spa treatment!

Do the Easter Island Heads Have Bodies?

You’ve probably seen any number of YouTube thumbnails or header images with a huge Easter Island statue, known as a “moai,” being excavated with a huge and (likely photoshopped) stone body being revealed.

I know I have seen my fair share of these images and this has led to a lot of people asking questions like do the Easter Island heads have bodies?

In this article, I want to clarify the answer to that question but also clarify what I think is a common misconception about our knowledge related to Easter Island.

Do the Easter Island heads have bodies?

Yes, the Easter Island heads have bodies.

However, this question is often accompanied by a narrative suggesting that this knowledge was gained by some type of major (recent) discovery when in fact it would have always been known to anyone familiar with the island or even just someone casually visiting.

Let me explain below.

The weird and nonsensical narrative that started this question

There is this narrative that exists that goes something like this.

Some team of excavators arrive on Easter Island one day (in recent memory) and decide to dig up the ground surrounding a moai statue.

Upon excavating, they discover that the moai statue does not just consist of a head but has an entire “full body” connected to it! Unbelievable!

This was apparently some type of major archaeological revelation that changed our understanding of the moai and Easter Island as a whole.

But this narrative does not make sense when you look at the facts.

Why this revelation never took place

First, consider that these moai were first built over the span of a few hundred years. There is some debate as to when exactly these were created but they were generally thought to be created between 1,100 and 1,650 AD.

(So the statues are likely not thousands of years old as some also believe.)

These statues were designed to represent the ancestors of the inhabitants of Easter Island.

Not just in a way that remembered them but in a way that captured supernatural power that could be used to protect their clans or community. This power was called “mana.”

Indeed, this is probably why the vast majority of the moai don’t face out towards the ocean – they needed to keep a watchful eye on their descendants.

Anyway, when these statues were created they were created with “full bodies.”

Yes, the heads were way oversized but the bodies had arms, hands, and were often decorated with art and tattoos and symbols. There were even these cool hats called pukao that were placed on top of them along with white corals eyes.

I should clarify that when I say “body” I mostly mean a trunk with flat arms and hands. Think body like a bowling pin.

Most of them always seem to have taken on a universal male shape although there were some feminine moai. Also, a few select moai do have feet and even “junk in the trunk” although that was rare to see.

Some of these statues were transported miles away from the quarry that they were carved out from.

Many believe that they were basically “walked” by using a system of ropes and a lot of muscle which is one of the most impressive human feats in all of history if you ask me.

The statues would be transported to platforms called ahu and that is where you could find a row of statues overlooking a local village.

Eventually, the inhabitants sadly seemed to have turned against the statues.

Perhaps it was famine, disease, or something else but it seems that the inhabitants rebelled against these ancestral statues and eventually toppled them over.

Other natural events like earthquakes or tsunamis could’ve also played a role in the toppling of many of these. But I think it’s pretty clear that the reverence for the moai was largely lost at some point and that resulted in many of these coming down.

As Europeans started to arrive on the island in the 18th century, they found some statues standing but lots of them toppled over.

At no point during this time would the original inhabitants or European explorers have thought the statues were commonly just heads.

Instead, they would have seen the moai’s entire body like the moai that was taken to the British Museum in 1868 and put on display for everyone to see the body.

Easter Island Statue British Museum
Easter Island Statue

Now, as you get close to the quarry, known as Rano Raraku, where the vast majority of statues were carved you will find a lot of statues covered up to their chest or chin.

If you were blindfolded and then just dropped on Rano Raraku’s slopes in front of one of these, you may not have thought that the statues have a full body.

But anyone who arrived on Easter Island within the last 1,000 years would have seen the statues toppled over or standing and would have instantly recognized that the statues typically have full bodies.

In addition, any scientist (or team of explorers) arriving on the island would surely have also known this by the time they saw a buried moai.

There have been many excavations on the island and they have dug up statues that were completely buried or partially submerged.

This, I’m sure, has led to a better understanding of the shapes and designs of the moai and probably the Rapa Nui culture but it doesn’t make sense that any explorer would have been shocked to find a body below one of the Easter Island heads as is commonly portrayed.

That’s because there were dozens and dozens of full body moai that could be found scattered all around the island. Moreover, the quarry where the statues are carved is full of incomplete moai (with bodies) that were essentially frozen in time.

So one would be able to easily deduce that the statues were always created with the intention of them having a full body.

Perhaps the excavated moai bodies could’ve been bigger, wider, or better preserved than originally thought but I don’t see how anyone could have ever seriously questioned whether or not there was a body under the ground or not.

Indeed, the surprise would have been if there was only a head!

Where did this idea come from?

So where did this idea come from that society was all of a sudden shocked by the existence of a full body moai?

That’s a really good question.

My guess is just that images at some point surfaced of the excavations at Easter Island.

Since so few people have actually visited the island or seen the standing moai on ahus (which were not restored until the 1960s and even more recently), all it would take is one publication to post some type of clickbait type of image and headline that made it look like as if some grand discovery had recently been made.

Easter Island heads, like the emoji 🗿, also became a thing in pop culture and so this “revelation” narrative easily found some footing and millions were introduced to it.

So there you have it.

Yes, the statues on Easter Island are more than just heads and have bodies.

And no, there should never have been any serious doubts that the “head statues” had bodies.

That was just some narrative that caught traction and that still has traction today, largely because of its clickbait potential.

Personally, I certainly understand why lots of people would be surprised to find out that there are full body moai (because of the fake narratives out there).

But when I see some platforms trying to promote some type of recent major discovery that never actually happened it’s just annoying and often just contributes to a false understanding about this place’s history.

I think the real story about these moai, which hits on their unbelievable human engineering, mysterious demise, and tireless restoration efforts, is much more fascinating than some fictitious discovery.

If you have interest in visiting the island and learning more about this history, be sure to check out these resources:

The Best Places to See on Easter Island

Despite Easter Island being so small, there are a lot of places worth exploring here.

With so many different moai, ahus, and caves, you can easily get overwhelmed with options and lost in the rich history and fascinating stories.

So below, I have highlighted some of the best places to see on Easter Island.

I’ve also provided some historical insight into some of these spots so that you’ll better understand the significance of these sites before you visit. Trust me, it really pays to have some insight when visiting a place like this!

Overview of the Best Places to See on Easter Island

Below you will find over 30 places to see on Easter Island (or in some cases like scuba diving just “things to do”). I believe these are the most “worth it” sites to see and furthermore that these will give you a very well-rounded set of experiences.

We experienced virtually all of these places and things and some of them are places we found that were not even listed on any maps or recommended by local tour guides!

To visit some of the places below, you will need a guide and not all of these places are open 24 hours.

This means that you want to do some planning and put together an itinerary that works within the amount of time you have to visit Easter Island.

Easter Island related content

You may already be aware but Easter Island is not the easiest place on the planet to visit for a few reasons.

Here are some additional articles you may find helpful when preparing for your visit:

With all of that out-of-the-way, let’s jump into the different places you’ll want to visit!

Rano Raraku

When the average persons thinks of Easter Island, chances are they are conjuring up images of Rano Raraku.

This is the birthplace of virtually all of the moai. It was here at this quarry known as Rano Raraku where the vast majority of the moai were carved out of tuff (volcanic ash) and then began their downhill journey, usually to an area along the coast.

The smooth hillsides of this volcanic crater are covered with moai of various sizes and there is just something majestic about strolling through this area — I only spent 45 minutes here but I could’ve easily hung around for a couple of hours.

It’s estimated that there are about 400 statues located around Rano Raraku, so this place has by the far the highest concentration of moai.

To fully explore Rano Raraku it’s somewhat of a miniature hike so be prepared for some steps but nothing too strenuous.

I particularly liked seeing some of the huge moai still unfinished, including the largest one which would have stood an unimaginable 60 to 70 feet tall! You really get the feeling of history being frozen in time at this place like no other.

Something extra fascinating about Rano Raraku is that there is a lake on top of it that recently went dry. In fact, that is where a moai was discovered while we were visiting the island!

This is one of the destinations that you only can visit one time per park entry pass so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time and that you visit when you have all your energy.

If you only have a short amount of time on Easter Island then you have got to see Rano Raraku — there’s simply is no way around it!

Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki, which can be viewed from the hill sides of nearby Rano Raraku, is one of the most popular sites on Easter Island.

The largest ahu on the island, you’ll find a row of 15 stone giants towering along the horizon including the largest one erected on the island which weighs a whopping 86 tons! Like some other ahus, this one is oriented to the sunrise on the summer solstice.

Ahu Tongariki

Not only can you appreciate Ahu Tongariki from the front but take a loop path around the back which gives you an entirely different perspective.

Ahu Tongariki required decades of restoration work after a powerful tsunami in the 1960s caused a great deal of damage to the ahu. What you’re seeing today is a relatively recent product!

Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki is THE spot where people convene for the sunrise.

There’s a small mound in front of the ahu and if you get there early enough you can lock down that spot. But there is plenty of space to get a great view of the sunrise here.

Before the sun emerges, look for a bright “star” that is probably actually the planet mercury as seen in the photo below.

Ahu Tongariki

I would recommend that you get here 30 minutes to an hour before astronomical twilight ends so that you can stargaze under some of the darkest skies you’ve ever seen: Bortle 1 skies!

We were fortunate enough to watch the Milky Way rise behind these beautiful moai statues and it was a sight I’ll surely never forget.

Ahu Tongariki milky way
Ahu Tongariki

If you are interested in stargazing there is a stargazing tour where you can actually use a telescope to admire the night sky. Unfortunately, availability did not line up for us so we just did our own stargazing which was still very impressive to see.

Easter Island is in the Southern Hemisphere so for people coming from the Northern Hemisphere (US, Europe, etc.), you can observe a much different night sky.

If you don’t know much about stargazing, here’s what to look for:

  • Southern half of Milky Way Galaxy
  • Carina Nebula
  • Southern Cross
  • Magellanic Clouds (two cloud-like things pictured below)

Ahu Tahai

There are quite a few places worth catching the sunset on Easter Island and Ahu Tahai is probably the most popular.

We checked out the site on a couple of different evenings and one of those nights blessed us with a sensational sunset. You likely will run into some crowds here but every night that we visited, the crowds were never that bad.

Ahu Tahai

This is also one of the few places where you will see a standing moai with restored eyes. These were typically one of the last things added to a moai after it arrived at its ahu.

There’s something about those white eyes that make the moai take on a completely different appearance, especially with a magnificent sunset in the background!

Ahu Tahai

Ahu Tahai

The other great thing about Ahu Tahai is that you don’t need to have a guide with you and it is open all night so it’s also a great place for stargazing (although there is some nearby light pollution).

Mirador Hanga Kioe

If you want a more low-key sunset spot then head to Mirador Hanga Kioe.

It’s just a little bit up the road from Ahu Tahai and it’s another spot that does not require a guide. I like this spot because it primarily features a single moai and it’s also very easy to access.

We watched the sunset here the first night of our trip and there were only a couple of other people in this wide-open area. It was a very still and spiritual type of feeling compared to the more festive oriented Ahu Tahai.

The light pollution over here is also less of an issue so this could be a better place for stargazing or astrophotography.

The blowhole

Just a little up the way from Mirador Hanga Kioe is a cool little blowhole that you can get up close to.

We randomly stumbled upon this so you probably won’t find this on a map or local guide books. It’s found right about -27.128737090229826, -109.424727846241. It seemed to be firing away around low tide but I’m not sure if it also puts on a performance around high tide. Perhaps it’s even more impressive then!

This is also just a cool spot to go tide pooling and to admire the rocky coastline. We found lots of sea urchins, crabs, and some really cool coral fragments. (Of course, you can’t take these with you.)

Go to a dance show

Another thing that I would consider a must to do is to attend an evening dance show. Music and dancing is big here and the shows are a sight to behold.

Personally, I enjoy luaus in Hawaii but these Polynesian shows are a little bit different.

They are smaller and more intimate than your typical luau, so it’s easier to get up close and personal with the performers which I really liked. The shows also had more of a “primitive” feel to them with less reliance on the spectacles.

The show that we saw was Te Ra’ai, which might be the most popular.

They offer a full package or you can participate in a traditional dinner. We opted just for the show. Make sure you don’t turn down your opportunity for some face painting and a traditional head dress!

Te Ra’ai dance show.

Other shows to look at to attending include Kari-Kari, Te Moana, and Vai Te Mihi. We actually were able to enjoy a surprise outdoor show by Kari-Kari at our hotel which I really enjoyed. They literally stopped traffic which was pretty funny!

Kari-Kari dance show.

You can talk to your tour guides and locals about which show is best but chances are you’ll end up getting recommendations for all of them!

Note: Sometimes they may not have enough audience members to put on the show for the night so you may have to get confirmation just before the show starts in some cases.


Orongo is a ceremonial village found on the rim of the Rano Kau volcano and is one of the most significant sites on Easter Island.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it served as the hub for the Tangata Manu or “Birdman” cult. After the moai culture declined sometime in the 16th century, the “Birdman” ceremonies took place here.

Clan members climbed down the treacherous cliff side and made a swim to the islet of Motu Nui, where they would attempt to recover the first sooty tern egg of the season. Then they’d swim back and climb back up the cliff.

The first person to return with an intact egg was declared the Tangata Manu or “Birdman” and earned the right to rule the island for the following year.

As you wander atop the cliff sides, you’ll get up close views of the stone houses (hare paenga). These were used by the competitors during the ceremony, which I was told lasted up to a month.

Your tour guide should also help point out some of the petroglyphs or rock carvings depicting the Tangata Manu and then eventually show you an amazing view of the crater.

Note: You can only visit Orongo one time per park pass.

Mirador Rano Kau

Mirador Rano Kau is the lookout point for the Rano Kau crater that has the added bonus of a beautiful ocean view in the background.

You definitely want to stop by after a visit to Orongo but the great thing about the spot is that unlike Orongo, you don’t need a guide.

This is also where the trail drops down into the crater so if you are feeling adventurous you can give that trail a shot.

Mirador Rano Kau
Mirador Rano Kau

Ana Kakenga

Ana Kakenga was one of the major highlights of the trip for me. It’s probably the most iconic lava tube on Easter Island. If you just want to see this cave, it’s about a 2.25 mile round-trip hike with just a small amount of elevation gain.

Hopefully, your guide will take you along the coast so that you can admire the impressive cliff views but be careful about getting too close. Also, make sure you don’t roll your ankles on the uneven terrain.

There is no official trail along the coast — you just sort of find your own route. But on your way back, you can walk along the road which is a much easier path with less risk for rolling an ankle.

During the winter months you might be able to spot whales off the coast but if the whales are not there, you’ll probably see some people practicing for canoeing competitions.

There were some seriously skilled canoers slicing through the swells during our visit!

As for the cave itself, it has a pretty small opening that you enter through.

I’m personally pretty claustrophobic but I was able to power through the cave because it is only confined for a short amount of time. Then it opens up to two separate windows that look out to the ocean.

Taking in the views from those lovely two windows was extraordinary.

I don’t know of many other places where you can do this so.

To make life easy for yourself wear a headlamp, especially if you want to do any kind of recording while you are going into the cave. You can also leave your backpack at the entrance of the cave to make it easier to get through the tight spots.

Ana Kakenga

Ana Te Pahu

Another very famous cave is Ana Te Pahu. We did not visit Ana Te Pahu proper but instead went into a “secret” cave that I believe is next to it or at least is very close to it.

The opening to the cave was wide and had a pretty large tree coming out of it which we had to use to help us climb down a pretty steep little path.

Once inside, this cave had a pretty confining crawl that we had to do to get to this little under water pond which was pretty interesting to see.

In retrospect, I wish our guide would have offered us to also see the main cave known as Ana Te Pahu, because it would’ve been cool to see both of them.

You can talk to your guide about seeing all of the caves in one trip which would also include Ana Te Pora and Ahu Tepeu — just make sure you have the time for them.

Anakena Beach

You won’t find many beaches on Easter island but the premier beach without a doubt is Anakena. It’s home to a pretty wide beach area (for small island standards) and it’s quite a beautiful beach.

It’s also the place where the original settlers came to shore according to legend.

Some people consider Easter Island to be the “final place” that mankind settled after spreading out from Africa, through Asia, and throughout Polynesia. So in a sense, it could be argued that this beach is where the first major wave of human exploration reached its furthest point.

Anakena Beach
Anakena Beach

There’s a small trail that takes you to the end of the beach where you can admire the views or even check out a shaded area where campers can take advantage of one of the most idyllic campsites.

Anakena Beach
Anakena Beach

If you visit in the afternoon, you’ll find a few different restaurants (all next to each other) serving up scrumptious ceviche and hearty fried potato dishes. Just make sure you have plenty of time because each time we ate at these restaurants, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to get our food even when the crowds were nonexistent.

A few other things to know about the beach:

  • Beautiful palm trees provide shade where you can rest and relax on picnic tables.
  • When the cruise ship was in town, Anakena became significantly more crowded!
  • They have bathrooms at the beach which makes it easy for you to spend more time here.

Ahu Nau Nau

Just next to Anakena is Ahu Nau Nau, one of the most picturesque ahus on the island with well-preserved moai.

If you like seeing moai with pukao (the red headdresses) this is the best place to catch them since most moai are not adorned with pukao.

It’s believed that construction of this ahu involved three stages spanning from 1100 AD to 1400 AD and that the site is connected to the earliest history known to the island.

Although Ahu Nau Nau is located just next to the beach, you are still required to be accompanied with a guide to visit it.

There is a hill that you’ll see in this area and if you want a higher vantage point, you can make the trek up the hill.

Ahu Nau Nau

You can also check out Ahu Ature Huki, which is another moai located right next to Ahu Nau Nau. I thought this one was interesting because it had a very “stretched out” appearance.

Ahu Ature Huki


The other main beach to visit is Ovahe, located just a couple of minutes away from Ahu Nau Nau.

Ovahe doesn’t have all of the restaurants and tourist facilities so it also has fewer crowds. You’ll need to walk along the trail to get down to the beach area but it’s pretty easy to do.

There actually are two different beaches here but you need to climb some rocks to get to the second one. You will surely be tempted by some of the caves in the cliffs but those are off-limits so be sure to respect the signs keeping you away.

The manmade bath

There’s a cool little spot located directly across from Pu o Hiro (near GPS coordinates -27.0933464396, -109.2803474044).

I didn’t see a name for it on any maps but it’s a cool spot with beautiful turquoise water and a little man-made bath placed right on the coast. You’ll take a short little dirt road to get to the edge of the coast and then you can simply walk down to check out the bath.

Playa poko poko

While its name may indicate a beach, this is more of a natural swimming pool sheltered from the waves.

The shallow waters makes it a fantastic spot for families and others who don’t want to venture too far from the coast. You can swim, snorkel, and just soak in the clear waters here.

Since Playa poko poko is located so close to the city, it’s one of the easiest spots to get to.

Playa poko poko
Playa poko poko

Pea swimming pool

About 1,000 feet away from Playa poko poko is the Pea swimming pool. This is another nice protected area to get into the water and go for a nice little swim.

There are two sides to this area with one being larger and more protected than the other.

Pea swimming pool
Pea swimming pool

One of the main reasons you come to this swimming area is for an encounter with beautiful sea turtles and we saw several!

Pea swimming pool

Petroglifos Papa Vaka

There are various places where you can find petroglyphs on Easter island but one popular place to find them is Papa Vaka — the largest petroglyph that has been found on Easter Island.

You’ll see recognizable shapes like fish hooks, a squid, shark and a large tuna etched into the rock. But the biggest design you’ll discover is a huge double cano.

Papa Vaka is located right off the road so it’s extremely easy to access. Consider planning a stop when you visit the beaches on the north side of the island since it is right on the way.

Petroglifos Papa Vaka

Pu o Hiro

Pu o Hiro is another one of the quick stops along the road — it’s found just across the road from the beautiful man-made bath mentioned above.

At first glance, this just looks like a strangely shaped rock. However, it’s said that this stone was actually used as a musical instrument.

Supposedly, you can blow through one of the holes and it will produce a loud sound similar to a trumpet that was used to summon the god of rain. Apparently making the sound is not easy and there are only a few locals who know how to do it.

If you look very closely you may be able to see some petroglyphs on the rock. Just keep in mind that you have to remain behind the barrier so you can’t come into contact with the rock or give it a blow.

Pu o Hiro

Ahu Akivi

Ahu Akivi has the special designation of being the one ahu that faces out to the ocean (and one of the few that exist inland). It’s believed the construction of Ahu Akivi initially began towards the end of the 15th century, with the moai being added about 150 years before Europeans arrived in 1722.

According to the local legend, King Hotu Matu’a initially sent scouts across the sea to locate Easter Island and to settle there. Seven of these scouts stayed on the island waiting for the king and the seven stone moai here represent those brave scouts.

This is hotly debated based on the late dates of construction though.

Still, this ahu is also significant for being the first to be restored which created the momentum needed to make widespread restorations throughout the island.

The modern day standing moai found on Easter island all started with this ahu!

Ahu Akivi

This site also has celestial significance. The moai, which are all of roughly equal size, face sunset during the Spring Equinox but have their backs to the sunrise during the Autumn Equinox.

It’s just a short walk to get to the moai from the entrance, so you can visit Ahu Akivi with relative quickness.

Note: if you want to visit during the special time of the sunrise during the spring equinox, you’ll probably have to get special permission since the kiosks do not open that early.

Something to think about is that the trailhead to the top of Mount Terevaka, the highest point on Easter island, is also found at this site.

Ahu Akivi

Rapa Nui Museum

Another absolute must visit is the Rapa Nui Museum.

We were extremely fortunate because the museum had just opened up a couple of days before we visited. It’s a pretty compact museum but it is full of fascinating information about the history of Rapa Nui.

A couple of the exhibits that you cannot miss include the coral eyes of a moai which I understand to be the only original coral eyes found. You can see exactly how they fit into the moai up close!

Rapa Nui Museum

And then there are the scripts of Rongo Rongo, the ancient language that has yet to be decoded. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not this was actually a written language but it’s still really cool to see an ancient, undeciphered script. It looks like something straight out of a movie.

Rapa Nui Museum rongo rongo

Best of all, this museum is free to visit, so make sure you make time for this because it’s absolutely worth it. (They also have English interpretations for the exhibit panels.) The days of operation and hours can be a little bit weird for this museum so be sure to do some research ahead of time.

Ana Kai Tangata

Ana Kai Tangata is a cave area with historic pictographs that have been preserved inside of the walls of a large cave.

The name “Ana Kai Tangata” is subject to a number of different interpretations including “cave where men are eaten.” Lots of artifacts have been found in the cave including stone tools, pottery, and even human bones.

Some suggest that this site is evidence of the ancient practice of cannibalism but the evidence is still very much debated from what I can tell.

Ana Kai Tangata

You can still see the historic pictographs on the inside of the cave’s walls but it seems that a lot of the art has fallen off the walls so you may not have much longer to check out these visuals.

Ana Kai Tangata rick art

You can venture inside the cave but you have to do so at your own risk. Not because of cannibals but because it’s pretty obvious while you are in there that rock slabs constantly fall from the ceiling so be careful if you choose to go in.

Ana Kai Tangata cave

Hanga Roa Beach

Just beyond Ana Kai Tangata, is Hanga Roa Beach. Although that’s the name you’ll find on Google Maps, it’s not much of a beach. Instead, it’s more of a dramatic cliffside with stunning lava rocks.

I’d recommend making some time to just wandering around these cliffs and check out the magnificent views.

Hanga Roa Beach
Hanga Roa Beach

Scuba diving

I was super fortunate to get one dive in at Easter Island considering that I arrived with a pretty bad cold (and diving with a cold is not recommended).

Luckily, it cleared up for me towards the end of the trip but the drawback was that I wasn’t able to go on the famous moai dive.

The reason is that some of the dive shops will require you to go on a refresher dive if you have not recently been diving. My last dive was about 12 months prior in Hawaii so that was not “fresh” enough to avoid the refresher course.

I believe the underwater moai is somewhere around 60 to 70 feet deep and your dive shop may want you to show that you are comfortable before letting you go down that deep.

I was bummed but I could live without it because the moai down there is not an actual moai created by the original inhabitants of the island hundreds of years ago. It’s a recent creation that was used on a movie and TV show so I didn’t quite feel like I was missing out on a piece of history.

With my moai dreams dashed, I felt like it would still be worth it to dive just to see what the terrain was like down there, especially because I had heard so many amazing things about the visibility.

I found the visibility to be great although it wasn’t exactly pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming clear down there and I would compare it to some of my prior dives.

From what I heard, the conditions were pretty great so I wouldn’t say I was disappointed but just not quite blown away like I thought I might be. We also did not encounter a ton of wildlife down there as the fish, while beautiful, were still not very abundant.

Also, something you should know about the refresher course.

Unlike some other places that allow you to refresh your skills in a pool or shallow water and then go on a dive, Mike Rapu gets you to perform the refresher skills during your dive. Had I known that, I would have really tried to get a second dive in because that eats up such a large chunk of your dive.

(A slight language barrier made it a little difficult to know exactly how things were going to happen.)

I would say to try to plan things out as best you can before you arrive but the dive shop failed to get back to me when I tried reaching out prior to arriving so it really made things difficult to plan anything out.

In the end, due to the cold I was dealing with, I doubt I was going to get a lot of diving action in on this trip so just getting one dive in was honestly a win for me.

Ahu Vinapu

When it comes to the ahu, Ahu Vinapu is probably the most interesting one on the island.

Located on the south coast of the island near the airport, the main ahu here is called Ahu Tahira and it faces the winter solstice at sunrise.

But the real reason it stands out is the ahu showcases a style of stonework found nowhere else on the island.

It’s a style that many believe is transplanted from the Inca and is evidence of the early contact between the continent of South America and inhabitants of Easter Island.

Ahu Vinapu

Specifically, the precisely cut basalt slabs resemble the techniques found at Saysachuaman and at the chullpas of Sillustani (near Lake Titicaca).

Some historians speculate that Inca Tupac Yupanqui may have arrived at Easter Island during an expedition to the Pacific around 1480, though there’s still a lot of mystery around these claims.

Another point of interest is the red column that stands alone, which represents a rare feminine moai. According to some, this may have possessed two heads.

Ahu Vinapu

The secret beach (27°10’09.5″S 109°23’52.9″W)

Nearby Ahu Vinapu, there’s a beautiful stretch of coastline worth checking out. At the very least, you can just pull over and check out the view for a few minutes. Find it near 27°10’09.5″S 109°23’52.9″W.

You can descend a few hundred feet and check out the little beach cove if you have the time and energy. It’s sort of like having your own private beach which is pretty cool but you may want to be careful during high tide. I’m not sure how powerful the waves get.

Puna Pau

Puna Pau is the red scoria quarry found on a small extinct volcano. It includes a reddish color due to the iron oxide it contains and was used to carve the hats or (hair) that went on top of the moai, known as pukao.

Puna Pau

This is a pretty small site so you don’t need to plan a lot of time but just be ready for a short but relatively steep walk. It’s beautiful to take in during the morning.

Puna Pau

I was surprised to find that some of them had designs in them along with notches presumably made them fit on the heads better.

Puna Pau

Ahu Huri A Urenga

Ahu Huri A Urenga is another spot that you can visit without a guide and it’s generally going to be a very quick visit, as it’s located right off the road.

This is yet another ahu found inland and consists of one lone moai standing tall on a platform 13 meters long by 4 meters wide.

The moai here is particularly interesting because it has two pairs of hands and nobody really knows why.

Ahu Huri A Urenga

Likely used for funeral rituals, this ahu and moai also has celestial importance.

Both the statue and platform line up with where the sun rises during the winter solstice. Also, at the entrance, you can find a water well and stone holes that were used to accumulate rainwater and these reportedly aligned with the stars during certain times. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Ahu Huri A Urenga

Ahu Akahanga

Ahu Akahanga is home to the remains of an ancient village where it is believed that the first king was buried.

You’ll find lots of ruins here including the old foundations of houses and stone ovens.

The main ahu here, spanning 18 meters in length, has several toppled moai. Interestingly, the face both down and up which is in contrast to most of the moai that were toppled face down.

Where exactly the body of the original king could be is anybody’s guess, as modern excavations haven’t been able to confirm if those remains were actually buried here.

Ahu Akahanga

One moai that lies on its back behind the ahu is thought to be one of the oldest carved moai. The older moai did not have as much detail and were shorter than the larger ones that later came out in a more uniform condition.

Ahu Akahanga

Another site worth checking out before leaving is the small cave which would have provided shelter to fisherman working along the coast.

Ahu Akahanga

Te Pito Kura

Te Pito Kura is one of the most visited moai spots, as it is home to two pretty remarkable things.

First, you’ll find Paro Moai, which represents the largest moai ever successfully raised at an ahu. The moai is astonishingly 10 meters in height with its ears alone measuring 2 m. They estimate that this thing must weigh 80 tons or more.

Te Pito Kura

Just beyond that oversized moai is a large ovoid shaped stone called the “navel of light” and some people call it the “navel of the world.” It’s a special stone because according to legend it was brought over by Hotu Matu’a, the founding king of the Rapanui people because of its special energy, or mana.

The stone has a high percentage of iron content which is activated by heat and will throw off a compass if it’s put too close.

Te Pito Kura rock

Hanga Te’e / Vaihu

Hanga Te’e/Vaihu is the very first place that we visited and could be the first spot your tour guide decides to take you to.

It’s home to a large ahu, 86 meters long and 12 meters wide, which made up the base for eight statues. The statues now lie on their face and give a good indication of what the sites looked like during the 18th century.

Something else cool about this spot are the models found at the Centro de Interpretacion that depict what the homes looked like along with other things like chicken coops, ovens, and orchards.

Other sites

As you explore the island you’ll find countless number of ahus and moais located all around the coast line.

Some of the sites that are less prominently featured on maps are okay to visit without a guide so you can explore these places when (and if) you decide to ditch the guide.

I’ll list some of the places below that I would try to check out but you are bound to stumble upon at least a couple of places.

Try to take some time to investigate these because sometimes you may only see a pile of unremarkable blocks from a distance but upon close examination you may discover a beautifully preserved moai.

Just make sure you are aware of what’s off-limits because at some of these lesser visited sites, it’s kind of difficult to know where are you permitted and where you’re not.

Ahu One Makihi

Ahu One Makihi

Ahu Riata

Ahu Riata

Random fallen moai (27°08’13.4″S 109°18’38.7″W)

Sunday morning mass

One thing that some travelers like to do is attend Sunday morning mass at the local church.

That really did not appeal to me but I had a dive scheduled for Sunday morning anyway which was the last available spot for me so this was not really an option. Still, for something different it might be worth checking out.

Horseback riding

You’ll find horses everywhere on Easter Island.

And if you enjoy riding horses or if you want to give it a try, this is probably one of the best places. Specifically, you can look into tours that will take you to places that you can’t access with a vehicle due to a lack of roads. So you can really explore more of the island and get away from crowds.

I kind of regret not looking into horseback riding more but our schedule was so full during the week we were there that I don’t think we would’ve had time anyway!

Visit the Sernatur

Back when we originally had a trip to Easter Island planned in 2016, I was stoked about getting my passport stamped. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the trip but the tradition still lives on today just in a different form.

You can head to the visitor information center, also known as the Sernatur, which is where you can ask for a passport stamp. It’s 100% free and you don’t even need to tip.

Just keep in mind that this is considered a “souvenir stamp” and there is always the small risk that it could cause problems down the line in some countries.

easter island passport stamp

This is also a great place to get a quality map because some of the maps that the rental car agencies hand out are not super helpful. They had two people in the office who spoke great English and were able to explain a lot of things. So if you have questions that is absolutely the best place to go.

Additional reading: To get more context around a lot of the sites mentioned in this article, check out this website that goes into great detail for a lot of the sites.

Final word

There’s obviously a ton of things to see and do on Easter island. Hopefully, this article has helped you to round up some ideas for things to do and given you some insight on what to expect!

American Airlines Domestic First Class Ultimate Guide [2023]

American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world and you might be wondering about what the first class experience is like on a domestic flight in the US.

Most of my domestic first class experiences have been on United but I have had a few on American and I thought it would be helpful to put together an article that covers everything you need to know about American Airlines domestic first class.

What is domestic first class on American Airlines?

Domestic first class on American Airlines is the top premium cabin offered on domestic flights within the US. It is also often the same product offered to other nearby international destinations, such as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Domestic first class on American Airlines typically comes in a two class cabin configuration (first class + economy) but there’s also something called “Flagship First,” which is a three cabin configuration (first class + business class + economy).

The most common type of domestic first class seating is the standard recliner seat, which you will be able to find from many destinations and on aircraft like the 737-800.

When flying domestically this is called “business/first” or just “first” but when flying on shorter international flights it is called “business.” When people refer to “domestic first class” this is typically what they mean.

But you can also fly on lie-flat seats when flying in first class on domestic routes.

First class cabins with lie flat seats are also usually only flown on select routes from hubs but these can be on many different types of aircraft (I will break down these in more detail below). In some cases, these will be known as “Flagship Business.”

Three class cabins with a first class and business class cabin are only flown on a couple of premium transcontinental routes in the US and on aircraft like the A321T or 777-300ER. This is known as “Flagship First.”

Don’t Miss out! Find out which American Airlines credit card can set you up with a big bonus, lounge access, free checked bags, and a short-cut to AAdvantage elite status! Read more here!

Pricing in miles

If you want to use miles to book a domestic first class flight on American Airlines, it’s going to cost you 25,000 miles one-way for a MileSAAver award.

Tip: It’s possible to find web special awards lower than 25,000 miles one way.

If the award includes travel on an aircraft that offers lie-flat seats in the U.S. and Canada, the Business/First levels will be 7,500 miles higher.

If you are redeeming on the three class cabin such as the Flagship First on the A321T, you will be shelling out 50,000 miles for a one-way flight.

For more information about how to maximize your American Airlines miles be sure to check out our top uses of AA miles.

Aircraft & Routes

There are quite a few different aircraft that you can fly on when it comes to American Airlines domestic first class.

And these aircraft have different seats so it’s a good idea to do some research to find what type of aircraft you would prefer to fly on. (Google Flights is an easy way to do this.)

The most common aircraft operated by American Airlines is the 737-800 so that is the most likely aircraft you will be flying on.

That aircraft has a standard reclining first class seat and will have four rows of first class.

Two first class seats
American Airlines first class seats on a 737.

The A321-200 and A319-100 are two other very common aircraft that American Airlines uses, and you will probably see them pop up in your searches. The seats will be pretty standard and you will likely encounter four or five rows of first class.

While narrow-body aircraft will be the most common you will encounter with American Airlines, due to different scheduling policies, you can also get wide-body planes on domestic routes sometimes.

If you are trying to fly on a lie-flat seat then consider booking a flight on one of the following aircraft:

  • 777-300ER
  • 777-200
  • 787-9
  • 787-8
  • A321T
  • A330-200
Lie flat on the 777-200.

In the past, you may have also looked for fully lie flat seats on the 757, 767, and A330–300. However, many/all of those aircraft have recently been retired, so I’m not sure it will be possible to fly first class on them in the future.

Typically, you will have your best luck finding these wide-body planes flying between premium routes or across the country from AA hub to AA hub.

Routes to consider include the following:

  • DFW — MIA
  • DFW — HNL
  • DFW — LAX
  • DFW — OGG
  • DFW — ORD
  • JFK — LAX
  • JFK — SFO
  • MIA — LAX

Some of these wide-body aircraft will feature some of the top business class seats like the 777-300ER which offers the Zodiac and the 787-9 which offers the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat.

The first class perks

If you choose to fly first class on a domestic flight with American Airlines, you can expect to receive a number of perks.

Priority check-in

When you show up to the airport, you’ll be able to check-in at a desk that is separate from the standard check-in desk.

Look for the sign that states “Priority” as shown below and that is where you will be able to check-in and check your baggage.

Passengers who can use this priority check-in area include:

  1. First, Business, and Premium Economy passengers
  2. AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, Platinum and Gold members
  3. AirPass travelers
  4. oneworld Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby members
  5. Citi AAdvantage Executive cardholders
  6. Eligible corporate travelers
Priority check-in area for first class passengers at airport
Priority check-in area for first class passengers.

Priority security

You will be allowed to enter the priority security line which will offer an expedited security waiting time in many cases.

Personally, I just choose to jump in to the TSA Pre-Check line and you might even want to jump ahead to CLEAR if you have it.

With TSA Pre-Check you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Shoes can stay on
  • Belt can stay on
  • Light jackets can stay on
  • Laptops allowed to stay in bag
  • Liquids (3-1-1 Rule) can stay in bag

Checked baggage benefits

When flying on first class domestically, you’ll be offered two free checked bags. What’s more, these bags can weigh up to 70 pounds.

The typical checked baggage fees for American Airlines are $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag so you’re looking at saving at least $70 whenever you check two bags.

Keep in mind that you can also get free checked baggage on domestic flights with the Citi Platinum Select Card.


American Airlines lounges are known as Admirals Clubs. These are pretty standard airport lounges that offer comfortable places to relax along with light snacks, free drinks, and free Wi-Fi. You can also choose to purchase certain meal items and premium alcoholic beverages.

Related: Admirals Club Houston IAH (Terminal A) Review

Many domestic first class passengers wonder whether or not they will have lounge access.

In most cases, you will not get airport lounge access when flying domestic first class with American Airlines. Typically, you will need to be flying internationally to get access.

If you are flying domestically, you can get lounge access if you are flying on certain premium routes like the following:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • JFK and San Francisco (SFO)

Note that if you are flying between other premium routes, you will only get lounge access if you are flying on the right type of aircraft.

  • LAX and Boston (BOS) – traveling on A321T aircraft only
  • LAX and Miami (MIA) – traveling on Boeing 777-300 aircraft only

Of course, if you want lounge access you can always purchase it by getting a day pass or by purchasing an annual membership.

Tip: The annual fee for the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard is only $450 so if you get approved for that card you can save a lot of money on your membership.

Sitting area at American Airlines Admirals Club Houston IAH
American Airlines Admirals Club Houston (IAH).

Priority boarding

When flying domestic first class, you will board with “Group One,” so you will be boarding directly after pre-boarding.

You will see a sign near your departure gate that clearly indicates where to line up. When it is time to board, you will line up on the left side which is designated for priority groups and consists of groups one through four.

Tip: If for some reason you show up late to boarding, you can bypass the line at any time by heading through the left side.

To find out more about how the American Airlines boarding process works, click here.

Boarding sign showing priority groups on left and main groups on right.
Boarding sign for American Airlines.

The flight experience

Below, I will walk you through some of the features of flying first class on an American Airlines 737 since that is such a common aircraft.


You will be among the first to board the plane so you will easily make your way to your seat at the front. You should have no issue with overhead storage bin space as there are compartments reserve specifically for first class passengers.

American Airlines first class overhead storage bin space.

Once you get settled in your seat, you may be offered a drink which includes complimentary alcoholic beverages.

You may also be brought out a hot towel at some point and your seat may already have a (very thin) blanket and headphones that may be sponsored by Avis.

Freshen up with a hot towel in first class.

The cabin

The first class cabin is located in the front of the plane and you will also have access to the first class lavatory.

The number of first class seats in the first class cabin and the configuration all depends on the type of aircraft you’re flying on.

A standard 737 or similar will have a 2-2 configuration and may have four or five rows of first class seats. A smaller aircraft may only have two rows of first class like the A319 or even a 1-2 configuration.

American Airlines first class on the Airbus A319.

The seat

The typical domestic first class seat is going to be a traditional reclining seat and not a lie flat seat.

You will have much more legroom than you would in economy.

You can expect the pitch to be around 40 inches to 42 inches compared to economy which is around 31 inches. (It’s worth noting that you can get some pretty decent legroom of around 34+ inches with Main Cabin Extra.)

American Airlines first class seat showing legroom.
Enjoy extra legroom on American Airlines first class.

The seat will also be wider and more comfortable. For the width, you’re looking at over 20 inches versus an economy seat which is closer to 17 inches.

There typically is a neck support that you can mold to your liking.

Folded neck support on first class seat
First class seat neck support.

Your main tray table will usually pop out of your armrest on an aircraft like a 737. It’s pretty spacious and can function as a workstation as well.

In addition to your main tray table, there will also be multiple cocktail trays that can be pulled out.

You may be able to pull out these cocktail trays from the front/side of your seat.

Bloody Mary on seat cocktail tray.
The drink trays are a great use of space.

There may also be a tray that folds down from in front of you.

Back of the seat drink tray.

Also, you may or may not have an in-flight entertainment screen built in the seat in front of you.

If you don’t have a screen right in front of you, there may be a larger screen at the front of the cabin or you may just be expected to stream entertainment via a mobile device/laptop.

You should be given instructions on how to set up your entertainment on your own device.

Instructions on how to connect in-flight entertainment.
Many aircraft require you to connect your own device for entertainment.
Back of American Airlines first class seat.
Not all first class seats have monitors in the back.

You should have access to power outlets but you may not on all aircraft. On a narrow body like a 737, look for the outlets in the middle between the seats.

It’s worth pointing out that there are new American Airlines first class seats for domestic flights. The cabin has more noticeable privacy partitions, better seat cushions, more underseat storage, 5-volt USB ports, and they even added phone/tablet holders.

Dining and drinks

Went flying first class domestically, you’ll be offered complimentary alcohol and food, depending on the length of the flight and the time of your flight.

Here is what you can generally expect:

  • Flights under 700 miles: Light snacks (fig bar, cookies, and/or pretzels)
  • Flights between 700 and 899 miles: Warm mixed nuts and a plated snack (fruit/cheese, pita/hummus, or spinach dip/pita). A small dessert may be offered.
  • Flights between 900 and 1,298 miles: Warm mixed nuts and a three course meal. A small dessert maybe offered.
  • Flights between 1,299 and 2,199 miles: An appetizer with your entree and dessert. You might receive cake for lunch desserts and ice-cream for dinner desserts.
  • Flights over 2,200 miles: The above plus you’ll receive a choice of dessert. You might receive made-to-order sundaes or a cheese plate for both lunch and dinner desserts.

Tip: No meals are offered between 1:30pm and 4pm on flights under 900 miles.

There are some flights under 900 miles that will receive a more extensive meal service. These include flights on the following routes:

  • Dallas (DFW) – BJX/ORD/MEX/QRO/SLP
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – PAP
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – DEN
  • Miami (MIA) – DCA/IAD/PAP
  • New York (LGA) – ATL
  • Phoenix (PHX) – MZT

When flying on premium transcontinental routes such as between JFK and LAX/SFO or MIA-LAX you can expect an upgraded dining experience.

For example, you might be offered three meal choices, better service, printed menus, tablecloth linens, etc.

If you are flying on a smaller regional jet you can expect the following meal offerings:

  • Up to 175 miles: A light snack mix along with beverage service
  • 176-899 miles: Snack basket
  • 900-2199 miles: Warm mixed nuts, two meal options, and dessert.

If your flight has scheduled meal service, you can pre-order your meals starting 30 days before your flight and up to 24 hours before departure.

H/T: Flyertalk

To give you a sense of what to expect on a shorter flight of around 2 hours I’ve broken down the meal experience below.

Initially, you may find a nice little refreshing mint waiting on your seat.

Packaged peppermint.
First class mint.

As things get closer towards meal service, you may be brought some warm mixed nuts to hold you over. Note that you may not get these for early morning flights.

Bowl of mixed nuts.
Warm mixed nuts.

On the handful of times that I have flown American Airlines, I did not think that the food was too bad.

I’ve enjoyed the dishes like ravioli, lasagna, salad, and some fantastic desserts. Typically, you will be offered a vegetarian dish and a meat dish.

Meal on tray table
American Airlines first class meal.
Plate with piece of bread
American Airlines first class bread.
Plate with a piece of cake.
American Airlines first class dessert.

Sometime after your meal service or just any time during the flight, you may be offered additional snacks. In some cases, they may bring around a basket of snacks and allow you to select whatever appeals to you.

Bag of chocolate chip cookies.
First class snacks on American Airlines.

American Airlines domestic first class FAQ

How many miles do I need to book American Airlines domestic first class?

For a standard domestic first class MileSAAver award, prices will begin at 25,000 miles.

If you are flying on a lie-flat seat you will have to pay an additional 7,500 miles.

If you are flying on Flagship First, prices start at 50,000 miles one way.

How can you get lie flat seats in American Airlines domestic first class?

You can get lie flat seats by selecting the right type of aircraft on a specific type of route.

These include the following aircraft:

  • 777-300ER
  • 777-200
  • 787-9
  • 787-8
  • A321T
  • A330-200

And these aircraft can sometimes be found on the following routes:

  • DFW — MIA
  • DFW — HNL
  • DFW — LAX
  • DFW — OGG
  • DFW — ORD
  • JFK — LAX
  • JFK — SFO
  • MIA — LAX

Do you get free checked baggage when flying American Airlines domestic first class?

Yes, you will receive two free checked bags.

Do you always get a meal on American Airlines domestic first class?

No, you will only receive a meal if your flight is a certain distance or route. If your flight is over 900 miles, you can expect a meal although some routes offer meals on flights shorter than that.

Do you get lounge access with American Airlines domestic first class?

No, you normally will not get lounge access. However, if you’re flying on a premium route such as from New York to Los Angeles, you will get access to a lounge.

Do you get priority boarding with American Airlines domestic first class?

Yes, you will be able to board with Group 1.

Do all first class seats have TV monitors?

No, unfortunately some first class seats will not have TV monitors installed for in-flight entertainment.

Can unaccompanied minors travel in first class?

Yes, unaccompanied minors may travel in first class.

Final word

As you can see, there are a lot of details regarding the American Airlines domestic first class experience. There are quite a few different products out there and they come with different features and special offerings.

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