Hawaiian Airlines First Class Guide [2023]

Hawaii is a bucket list destination but one way to make your trip even more memorable is to fly first class.

But is it really worth it to fly first class on Hawaiian Airlines and what can you expect?

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about flying Hawaiian Airlines First Class. I’ll break down the different aircraft you might fly on whether you are flying from the mainland or between Hawaiian islands.

In addition to showing you the product, I’ll also talk about both cash prices and award prices so that you’ll have a good idea of what to expect when it’s time to make your booking.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class Aircraft

When you’re flying Hawaiian Airlines first class, you can expect to be flying in one of the following aircraft:

  • Airbus A321neo
  • Airbus A330-200
  • Boeing 717-200

Beginning in 2023, you might also be able to fly on the Boeing 787-9. Those will have an entirely new seat including window seats with direct aisle access!

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

Mainland first class product

If you’re flying between the Hawaiian islands and the mainland you’ll be flying on an Airbus A321neo or Airbus A330-200. Let’s take a look at each of those aircraft to see what they have to offer.

Airbus A321neo

The Airbus A321neo is going to be found on some of the routes between Hawaii and the western continental United States. For example, the A321 might serve a flight from Oakland to Honolulu or from Las Vegas to Honolulu.

The A321 is the only cabin I have not personally flown (with Hawaiian Airlines) but it looks like a pretty aesthetically pleasing (yet basic) first class cabin.

They have some interesting touches like foot rests and a compartment for water bottles but for the most part it looks like a pretty standard domestic first class cabin.

The biggest thing to note about the Airbus A321neo is that you don’t get the lie flat seats. Instead, you get the standard recliner seats with 39 inches of pitch in a 2-2 cabin with 16 seats.

Also, you won’t find seatback TVs and will be issued a tablet which is smaller than the one given on the A330.

Airbus A330-200

The Airbus A330-200 is the main first class product that people actually get excited about. You’ll find this aircraft on all of the long-haul flights between Hawaii and states like Florida, Massachusetts, New York, etc.

But this aircraft will also serve some destinations on the West Coast including states like California and Washington.

You can check out my full review of my Hawaiian Airlines First Class experience flying between Honolulu and Phoenix.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class seats

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the flight especially the service.

But the hard product was not bad either.

The A330 has fully lie-flat seats which is very nice when crossing the Pacific but there are a couple of potential shortcomings.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class seats

First, the first class cabin is arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration with a total of 18 seats

This means that if you have a window seat you will not have direct aisle access. If you’re flying as a couple then this is not a big deal at all.

But if you are sharing a row with a stranger than it is more of an issue.

The other thing that might surprise you is that there are no TV screens in first class. It’s pretty rare to find fully lie-flat seats with no TV screens.

In place of screens, Hawaiian Airlines provides tablets for your entertainment.

The tablets are pretty big and there is a stand that pops out allowing you to easily stand up the tablet for viewing.

Initially, I was a little turned off by using a tablet but I found that it was a pretty decent in-flight experience.

The only real drawback is that you have to wait for it to be distributed to you and they take it prior to landing so it cuts down on your viewing time a little bit.

I also found the dining to be a fairly solid first class experience.

It did not blow me away like some international airlines would such as Singapore Airlines but I also did not expect it to be on par with the best of the best. Instead, it was more in line with a pretty solid domestic first class meal.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining
Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining
Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining

Inter-island first class product

When flying first class between islands, you’ll likely be on the Boeing 717-200.

The first class cabin is pretty small on this aircraft and you can read about our flight experience flying between Honolulu and Lihue.

The inter-island first class experience is going to be very similar to a domestic first class flight. You’ll have a standard recliner seat and the seats are arranged in a 2-2 configuration.

I did find the reclining feature to be a little bit different than most domestic first class seats. It’s hard to explain and it’s a pretty subtle difference but it’s almost as if the entire seat is shifting versus just the back of the seat.

Obviously, these flights are going to be very short usually ranging from about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. A lot of people question whether first class is worth it for such a short flight.

Personally, I thought it was well worth it to fly first class for a few reasons.

Most of all, whenever I factored in the baggage fees we would be paying with an economy seat, I realized that booking a first class ticket would essentially be a break even point since you get two free checked bags as a first class passenger.

That was more than enough reason to book first class since we’d also be getting things like priority boarding, lounge access, and free drinks.

Speaking of free drinks, I was surprised that they even served drinks on such a short flight. This goes back to the great service we experienced one flying first class with Hawaiian Airlines.

Read: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Review

One thing to keep in mind is that the economy cabin is arranged in a 3-2 configuration.

Therefore, if you’re just looking to have a row to yourself or with just you and your partner, you can still get that in economy by choosing a row with only two seats.

Just keep in mind that those seats tend to get selected first so if you want to choose a row with only two seats be sure to do that as far in advance as possible.

Related: Hawaiian Airlines Boarding Groups & Process Explained

Hawaiian Airlines First class lounges

If you love to spend time in airport lounges, you might be a little bit disappointed when flying out of Hawaii because your first class ticket will not provide you with access to any amazing airport lounge.

If you’re flying between Hawaii and North America (West Coast) or between Neighbor Islands in First Class, you’ll get access to the Premier Club, which is a very, very basic airport lounge.

If you’re flying between Hawaii and New York, Boston, or Orlando, you’ll get Plumeria Lounge Access. This is a much more equipped airport lounge but still on par with a standard Priority Pass lounge.

In fact, it actually is a Priority Pass lounge so if you are limited to access to the Premier Club but you have Priority Pass you definitely want to head to the the Plumeria Lounge.

Related: Which Lounge at HNL: Premier Club or Plumeria Lounge for Hawaiian Airlines?

Hawaiian Airlines mainland first class routes and prices

Now let’s talk about prices.

I think the first thing that I thought was notable was that the prices for the lie-flat A330 cabin can be just as expensive or cheaper than the A321 which has the standard recliner seats.

This is very different from when I was researching American Airlines first class prices since most of the time the standard recliner cabins are significantly cheaper than the wide-body cabins with life-flat seats.

Also, as you probably would imagine Hawaiian Airlines First Class prices get much more expensive when you are flying between Hawaii and the East Coast.

For example, when flying between the West Coast and Hawaii it’s not very difficult to find a first class ticket for around $1,000 and usually the most expensive tickets were still under $1,500 for the most part.

But when looking at prices to East Coast destinations such as Orlando and Boston, the first class prices went up quite a bit. For the most part I was seeing prices around $2,000 to $3,000.

Award tickets

If you’re looking to book an award ticket with Hawaiian Airlines miles, you’ll find different prices for different regions. They have different prices for the West Coast, Central US, and East Coast.

The cheapest first class awards go for 40,000 miles and that rate applies to all regions of the US. That award can offer you exceptional value especially when flying from the East Coast.

The problem is I really struggled to find awards for 40,000 miles. I searched for lots of routes and throughout different months and when I did find open awards it was only for one seat.

So while 40,000 miles can definitely be a bargain you might find it challenging to find a booking opportunity especially if you were looking for more than one seat.

On the other hand, the more expensive awards range from 80,000 miles to 130,000 miles. These prices are much less of a bargain but in my experience it was very easy to find open awards.

West Coast

First ClassAward Amount
First Class 140,000
First Class 280,000
Upgrade 125,000
Upgrade 250,000


First ClassAward Amount
First Class 140,000
First Class 2110,000
Upgrade 125,000
Upgrade 250,000

East Coast

First ClassAward Amount
First Class 140,000
First Class 2130,000
Upgrade 125,000
Upgrade 250,000

You can always refer to partners to book Hawaiian Airlines flights and those may offer better deals. For example, booking Hawaiian Airlines with Virgin Atlantic Miles could offer a sweeter deal.

However, when I called Virgin Atlantic to search for open awards that I found on Hawaiian Airlines they struggled to find those same open seats so you might run into some award inventory issues.

Now that you have an idea of the award prices, let’s take a look at the cash prices from various Hawaiian Airlines routes within the continental US.

Note that we searched for prices a couple of months out and picked a random day to get out quick view of what the prices might be like.

If there was more than one price, we listed the range of the prices for that day.


Phoenix (PHX) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,861


Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $845 to $1,314

Los Angeles (LAX) to Kahului (OGG) [A330]

  • $970

Oakland (OAK) to Honolulu (HNL) [A321]

  • $1,418

Oakland (OAK) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,442

Sacramento (SMF) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,713

Sacramento (SMF) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,413

San Diego (SAN) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,015

San Diego (SAN) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,851

San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $899

San Francisco (SFO) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,428

San Jose (SJC) to Honolulu (HNL) [A321]

  • $1,341

San Jose (SJC) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,318


Orlando (MCO) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $2,071


Boston (BOS) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $3,489

New York

New York City (JFK) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $3,489


Las Vegas (LAS) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,209 to $1,219

Las Vegas (LAS) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,536


Portland (PDX) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,021

Portland (PDX) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,850


Austin (AUS) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,608


Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,764

Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to Kahului (OGG) [A330]

  • $1,769

Hawaiian Airlines inter-island first class routes and prices

If you’re wanting to book an award flight for an inter-island route here are the prices for first class:

First ClassAward Amount
First Class 115,000
First Class 230,000
Upgrade 17,500
Upgrade 215,000

Paying 15,000 miles for an inter-island first class flight might be getting you somewhere around one cent per mile which is not too great. In some cases, the higher fares could get you closer to 1.5 or two cents per mile which is much better.

But personally, I would just be looking to pay cash for these flights because they can be so cheap.

Also, I would not consider 30,000 miles for an inter-island first class flight to be a good deal in the vast majority of cases.

Related: Flying Southwest Inter-island in Hawaii? Here’s What to Expect


Hilo (ITO) to Kahului (OGG) [Boeing 717]

  • $159

Hilo (ITO) to Honolulu (HNL) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Kona (KOA) to Kahului (OGG) [Boeing 717]

  • $137 to $210

Kona (KOA) to Honolulu (HNL) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Kona (KOA) to Lihue (LIH) [Boeing 717]

  • $159


Kahului (OGG) to Honolulu (HNL) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Kahului (OGG) to Lihue (LIH) [Boeing 717]

  • $159 to $294


Honolulu (HNL) to Lihue (LIH) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Final word

Personally, I’m a pretty big fan of flying first class on Hawaiian Airlines.

Above everything else, I was impressed by the level of service from the crew members during all of our first class flights. While the in-flight entertainment is non-traditional it’s still not a bad experience in my opinion.

I would just make a few notes about booking Hawaiian Airlines First Class:

It’s odd that the A321 can be just as expensive or even more expensive than the A330 considering that it only offers standard recliner seats versus the fully lie flat seats.

First class awards for 40,000 miles are an absolute bargain especially from the East Coast but can be extremely difficult to find.

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!

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.

When First Class and Business Class Are the Same: Explaining Google Flights

If you’ve spent some time shopping for first class or business class flights on Google Flights you may have been confused by the use of first class or business class.

It seems that sometimes first class actually means business class and other times there is a meaningful distinction.

On top of that, some airlines attach some branding to their premium products which can add to the confusion.

So let’s try to clear up some of this confusion by comparing what airlines use to describe their premium products with what you would find on Google Flights.

When is first class and business class the same?

Each airline has its own way of distinguishing between first class and business class and Google Flights does not always use the same language used by the airlines on their websites.

For that reason, it’s difficult to state a universal rule as to when these are the same but here are some of the trends you may find.

Google Flights may:

  • label a flight as first class if it is a shorter international business class flight with a domestic first class connecting flight.
  • label a flight as business class if it is a long flight domestic route made up of connecting first class flights.
  • classify a flight as business class if an airline is using a special branded term for its premium cabin, even if it sounds like first class such as “Delta One”
  • sometimes use business class and first class interchangeably

If you want to know the difference between a first class and business class experience check out this article. That article will highlight all of the different aspects such as check-in, boarding, dining, etc.

But this article is focused on when business class and first class might be used interchangeably to describe the flight.

For each of the airlines below, you’ll see a breakdown of how they use the terminology and how it compares with Google Flights.

On each chart, the left column shows how the flight is represented on the airline’s website. Then, in the adjacent columns, you will see how Google Flights classifies the flight along with the type of product and route the term is used on.

These data points don’t represent every single type of flight offered by the airline but will give you an idea of what to expect.

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

American Airlines

American Airlines has both a flagship first class and flagship business class and these are in line with what you will find in Google Flights. (It’s worth noting that American Airlines plans to do away with its true first class cabin.)

The situation where it gets a little bit confusing is whenever you are flying on a short-haul international flight and you have a connection within the US.

The international portion of your flight will be considered business class but if you have a premium cabin connecting flight then that will force Google Flights to label the entire flight as First Class.

This is not unique to American as it also applies to some other airlines.

Another thing that Google Flights will do is they will classify a long domestic route as business class if it is made up of first class connections.

But it seems like they respect the distinction when dealing with nonstop flights.

AmericanGoogle FlightsActual productRoutes
FirstFirst ClassLie-flat First Class (phasing out)Long haul (intl)
BusinessBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (intl)
BusinessBusiness ClassStandard recliner seatShort haul (intl)
BusinessFirst ClassStandard recliner seatShort haul (intl) [connecting]
FirstFirst ClassStandard recliner seatShort/med haul (domestic)
Flagship BusinessBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (domestic)
Flagship FirstFirst ClassLie-flat First Class (phasing out)Long haul (domestic)
First ClassBusiness ClassStandard recliner seatLong haul (domestic)[connecting]

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is one of the easier airlines to understand although there are still discrepancies.

For example, if you are flying Delta first on a short haul international flight Google Flights will label that as a business class flight.

But once again, if you find a premium domestic connecting flight then Google Flights will classify the entire flight as First Class.

That’s not the case with long-haul business class international flights with premium domestic connections as those will only show up in Google Flights when you search for business class.

Delta One sounds like it is a first class product but it is actually business class.

DeltaGoogle FlightsActual productRoutes
Delta OneBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (intl)
FirstBusiness ClassStandard recliner seatShort haul (intl)
FirstFirst ClassStandard recliner seatShort/med haul (domestic)
FirstFirst ClassLie-flat business classMainland/Island (domestic)
Delta OneBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (domestic)

United Airlines

Now let’s take a look at United.

United does not have a first class for international flights and instead the top class offered by United is Polaris.

United makes it pretty easy by labeling these flights Business Polaris and Google Flights aligns with that language.

For shorter international flights you’ll be looking for business class flights and for short to medium haul domestic flights, it will be first class. That’s the case even though these products could be the exact same that you’re flying on.

As for long domestic flights, if there is a connection you will likely be flying on a standard recliner seat and Google Flights would classify that as first class.

Meanwhile, if it’s a nonstop long domestic flight, Google will consider that business class which is funny because the business class product in that instance would actually be a lot better than the first class product because of the lie-flat seat.

UnitedGoogle FlightsActual productRoutes
Business PolarisBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (intl)
BusinessBusiness ClassStandard recliner seatShort haul (intl)
FirstFirst ClassStandard recliner seatShort/med haul (domestic)
Business/FirstBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (domestic)
Business/FirstFirst ClassStandard recliner seatLong haul (domestic)

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines will consider its lie-flat product first class when flying between the mainland and Hawaii but when you fly this between Hawaii and an international destination it’s considered business class.

Interestingly, Google Flights labels premium cabin tickets between the mainland and the islands as both first class and business class.

However, Google Flights does not use business class and first class interchangeably when searching for international flights with Hawaiian Airlines.

And finally, when flying between islands in Hawaii you’ll be flying first class (in standard recliner fashion), although Google Flights will also lump these business class and first class flights together.

HawaiianGoogle FlightsActual productRoutes
Business ClassBusiness ClassLie-flat business classLong haul (intl)
First ClassBusiness ClassStandard recliner seatInter-sland
First ClassFirst ClassStandard recliner seatInter-sland
First ClassBusiness ClassLie-flat business classMainland/Island (domestic)
First ClassFirst ClassLie-flat business classMainland/Island (domestic)
First ClassFirst ClassStandard recliner seatMainland/Island (domestic)
First ClassBusiness ClassStandard recliner seatMainland/Island (domestic)

Why should you care to distinguish between these?

Knowing how Google will classify a flight versus the airlines will help you search and find premium cabins more accurately.

It will be easier to tell if you are getting a lie-flat seat or standard recliner seat if you know how Google classifies these.

Like in the case of United, the labels can be deceiving because you wouldn’t typically think first class would offer a less comfortable seat than business class.

Final word

If you’re like me, you find these labels a little bit confusing since there is not consistency across the board.

I’m guessing that Google just works with the airlines and goes along with what they prefer but from a consumer point of view it’s not always clear what the differences between these when searching for flights.

Airline Overhead Storage Bin Etiquette Guide: Which Compartments Are Off-Limits?

Etiquette for using the overhead storage bin spaces on a flight is a combination of written and unwritten rules that all have somewhat mixed enforceability.

For those reasons, it’s not always clear what is the right or wrong move when placing your carry-on and other items in the overhead storage bin.

In this article, I’m going to clear up some of the confusion so that you can feel confident the next time you choose to place something in the overhead bin.

First class overhead storage bins

The basic travel etiquette is for only first class passengers to use the overhead storage bins in first class.

Airlines are pretty good about making this clear by putting up signs that say something like “reserved for first class passengers” or “business/1st passengers only.”

Overhead storage bin reserved for first class

I believe all non-first class passengers should follow this rule ~90% of the time.

The exception is when all of the first class passengers are already seated and there is still space in the first class overhead storage bin area.

At that point, one could assume that any of the overhead storage bin space truly needed by first class passengers has already been used.

So if you were among the last to board and you knew that the flight was full, you could place your bag in the overhead storage bin space in first class without violating “the spirit” of the rule.

If a flight attendant stopped you, you could just tell them that you noticed all of the first class passengers were already seated and you assumed that there was extra storage space in this part of the cabin.

If the storage space is virtually filled throughout the aircraft this shouldn’t be a problem.

However, in some cases it’s possible that a flight attendant could tell you to take your bag down in which case you should listen to avoid any confrontation but in my experience they will often let this fly.

The key to doing this is to make sure that the first class cabin is full.

Don’t assume that if there is one missing seat near the end of boarding that there will be no passenger sitting there.

Although first class passengers usually can board first, quite a few first class passengers wait until the last minute to board. That gives them more time to soak in a lounge and down more cocktails get more work done.

If you put your bag in the first class overhead bin space before the first class passengers are finished boarding, there’s a chance that a first class passenger could report your bag.

A flight attendant could then request for the owner of the bag to come get it which means you’ll have to get up out of your seat and go all the way to the front of the plane and then try to find a spot for your bag.

In that scenario, there’s a good chance that you may have to check your bag.

If you do not claim the bag that you put in the first class cabin, it’s possible that the airline could leave your bag at the airport because an unclaimed bag could be considered a security risk.

This is why you want to play it safe when using the first class storage bins.

Related: Can You Use the First Class Lavatory When in Economy?

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

Overhead storage bin reserved for first class

Bulkhead overhead storage bins

I believe that the storage bin space above the bulkhead seats should be off-limits as much as any other reserved overhead bin space.

The reason is that bulkhead passengers do not always have a seat in front of them where they can slide a personal item under and so they have to stow their personal item along with their carry-on.

Also, sometimes the overhead storage space above the bulkhead is a smaller compartment so one passenger can easily fill it up.

Delta CRJ900 first class seat 1A bulkhead wall.

Economy plus

Some airlines offer upgraded economy sections like economy plus or main cabin extra. These are just regular economy seats with usually about 3 to 4 inches of extra legroom.

Lots of times, you’ll also see overhead storage bins dedicated to these passengers and so you should try to respect those labels as well.

That’s because in addition to the extra legroom, these passengers are paying for additional benefits which could include reserved overhead storage bin space.

The crew probably will not enforce these reserved spaces as much as they will in first class but I would still recommend trying to avoid using these bins unless you have paid for that privilege.

Use the bin around your seat

Once you get past the economy plus section, it’s usually just a free-for-all at that point when it comes to overhead storage bin space.

You should definitely still try to use the space directly above your seat because that will allow for the most efficient on-loading and off-loading of passengers.

But that’s not always possible and sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

Generally, it would be better to find a spot between your seat and whatever exit door you’ll be using because it will be easier for you to deplane.

You may not always know what door you will be deplaning from so a lot of times you’ll just assume that the front door will be the exit.

If you only find space available many rows back then whenever it comes time to exit the plane, you may just need to sit in your seat and wait for things to clear out because otherwise it could be a major struggle to get your bag out.

Tip: If you can secure priority boarding via elite status, credit cards, or by purchasing it, you can alleviate a lot of the stress with finding overhead storage bin space.

Personal items

Personal items (such as your backpack) usually belong under the seat in front of you or on your person during your flight.

When boarding, you should not initially place your personal item in the overhead storage bin space because you are unnecessarily limiting the space for other people to store their carry-ons.

If you notice that the flight is not full and that there’s extra overhead storage bin space then at that point you can put your personal item up there but the default rule of etiquette is to not put it in the overhead bin.

Take out what you need from your carry-on bag for the flight

The best practice is to keep anything you will need during the flight on your person. This way, you can avoid getting up multiple times to access your carry-on bag.

There’s nothing wrong with doing that on occasion but if you are constantly getting up and down that can be very annoying to your fellow passengers.

This is especially true if you are having to climb over them or are slamming the bin shut every time.

Place your carry-on bag in the right orientation

When you go to put your bag up in the overhead storage bin, make sure that you are placing it in a way that utilizes the space in the best way possible.

Sometimes you can find little stickers in the bin showing you which direction to place your bag but other times you can just look around and see what others are doing.

If you see a flight attendant readjusting bags then make sure you follow his or her lead.

Finding a place for your coat

If you have a coat, you can ask if you can use the wardrobe closet assuming that the aircraft has one and that it is available to you.

If not, then consider waiting until all the other passengers have boarded and stored their belongings in the overhead storage bins.

If there is room up there for your coat, feel free to use it. (This type of policy is often announced by the crew during boarding.)

When it comes to coats and other similar items, some people utilize a different philosophy.

Basically, they feel that they are entitled to use their share of the overhead storage bin however they like.

For example, if there are three seats in the row then they can occupy 1/3 of the overhead storage bin above their seat with whatever object they would like, including something like a coat.

It’s a reasonable and defendable position but I tend to err on the side of trying to minimize the chances of someone having to check their bag while boarding.

So personally, I would not put my coat in the overhead storage bin space unless there is space left over.

And definitely don’t drape your coat over the back of your seat!

Help out other passengers

Helping out other passengers will do more than help prevent the plane from crashing (video).

It could also help the boarding process go smoother and prevent people from getting injured.

If you ever see someone struggling and you can easily help, try to “be a doll” and offer an extra hand.

Utilize pre-boarding if needed

People who need extra time to board can utilize pre-boarding.

For some people, that extra time is needed because they have physical difficulties with lifting heavy items which could be a carry-on bag.

If you doubt your ability to stow your bag without issues or think that dealing with it in a crowded setting could cause you to potentially injure yourself, I think it’s a really good idea to take advantage of pre-boarding.

Final word

Knowing how to utilize the overhead storage bin space is not quite as straightforward as you might think.

Generally, you should avoid using any bin not reserved for the fare or seat type on your boarding pass, but whenever there is limited space, exceptions can be made.

Also, always try to find overhead storage bin space that will not require you to backtrack when exiting the plane and avoid putting items in the bin that could be stored elsewhere.

11 Keys to First Class Etiquette

I have flown some of the top first-class products over the past few years, and I have to say that for 95% of people on first class flights, people already know how to act.

But there are some issues that have come up a few times that I’ve noticed. 

I’m not saying I’m the authority on all of these issues but these are just a few things that have bugged me at times and I wanted to spread the message so that others could think about these things when flying first class.

So here are 11 things to consider about first-class etiquette that can hopefully improve your experience and the experience for others. (I realize this is somewhat of a rant-post which I usually don’t do but I wasn’t sure how else to talk about these things.) 

Be considerate with your seat selection

If you are traveling as a single person I don’t think that you should select seats that are designed for couples if there are other seats available that are equally as appealing.

For example, some first-class products like the Singapore Suites have certain rows that can be combined together for couples, while other rows are always single suites. 

When we flew the new Singapore Suites, we initially were not able to combine our suites together because an individual had chosen one of those “combinable” suites.

I called Singapore Airlines to see if they could do anything about this (thinking that this would be a long shot) but they actually talked to the other passenger and they agreed to switch their seat!

I don’t think that “couple friendly” seats like this should be off limits to individuals but I do think it is very courteous to consider that you are potentially preventing a couple from sitting/sleeping together by selecting a seat that is probably just as good as another seat you could choose.

Singapore Suites double bed.

Avoid bad parenting in first class lounges

If you are traveling with kids be extra mindful of their behavior in first class lounges.

First class lounges are typically much more exclusive than business-class/general contract lounges. They are often more intimate, quieter, and have a more luxurious feel.

Those factors mean that any loud visitors will be extra disrupting in a first class lounge.

I will never forget when we visited the ANA first class lounge in Tokyo, which is a pretty small lounge.

During our visit, some parents allowed their kids to essentially run laps around the lounge with their shoes squeaking up the place like an NBA playoff game.

The parents even thought it was funny and joked, “Oh, look, now the kids are going to need a shower.”

Listening to this would have been annoying in just about any lounge but it was especially egregious in an otherwise quiet first class lounge.

Another time that sticks out is visiting the Korean Air first class lounge at ICN.

There, parents allowed their small child to run up to the buffet and start grabbing items with his bare hands with no regard about him touching/fumbling around with other food items.

As if the health hazard wasn’t enough, the parents then let him continuously shoot loud little race cars 30 feet across the lounge over and over again.

Maybe these things are okay to some people, and I’m acting like a grumpy old man but to me these things are not cool.

Of course all the blame lies on the parents and not the kids but sometimes I wonder am I the only one bothered by these things?

Korean Air first Class Lounge.

Don’t cut the line during boarding

I don’t know what it is about first-class passengers, maybe it is the type of person who often flies first class, but I have had people try to subtly cut me in line when waiting to board on a couple of occasions.

As many of you know, I try to be the first passenger to board the plane so that I can get photos of an empty cabin for the blog.

I stake out my boarding position very early to ensure this on almost every flight.

For some reason though, other first-class passengers have felt like they can just slyly work their way to the front of the line and challenge my spot without any explanation.

Maybe this has just been a coincidence but I feel like some first class passengers are just extra entitled or maybe overly competitive?

Unless you are specifically granted the right to be the first person boarding the plane and this is clearly conveyed by you, a sign, or airline agent’s call, do not try to cut other passengers.

First class dress code or nah?

I personally don’t feel like there should be any dress code for first-class.

As long as you don’t stink and do not appear repulsive (which usually involves stinking), I honestly don’t care how “unfashionable” you are. 

Others feel differently and feel like you should dress up a little bit. For men, this would be like wearing a collared shirt and avoiding shorts and flip-flops. 

But honestly, I think it is just all about wearing what makes you comfortable. Brad and I have worn shorts and t-shirts in first class before and thought nothing of it. 

I will say that bare feet are just gross regardless of which cabin you are flying in.

So if you do take your shoes and socks off, try to keep them hidden from the public view. And for the love of all humanity, do not put your bare feet up on the bulkhead.

AA first class, July 2019.

You don’t have to recline

When flying on a domestic first class product with limited legroom (a smaller aircraft), I don’t think you should recline your seat on short flights (at least not fully).

While the legroom is much better in first class, it still can be annoying when a passenger fully reclines their seat and makes your working/eating situation tricky on a small aircraft.

I am of the mindset that anything under 1.5 hours can be done without reclining or with limited reclining. Of course you are well within your rights to recline your seat as you wish but at the very least just do so responsibly.   

Changing in the cabin

A lot of first-class products offer a fully enclosed suite.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with changing in your suite as long as everything is closed off to everyone else and you do so discretely. 

In that case, the only way someone would get a glimpse of you is if they were peeking in your suite which would be a problem for them and not yourself.

A flight attendant could have reason to do that from time to time but if you change quickly, that risk should be negligible. 

And let’s be honest, some people do a lot more than changing in some of these suites…. 

Note: in case it’s not obvious, if your suite is not fully enclosed you should head off to the lavatory to change.  


Go easy on the snack baskets

It is common for first class cabins to offer snack baskets or sweets.

These come in different forms.

Sometimes a flight attendant walks around with a snack basket, other times you can find it sitting somewhere in the cabin, and in some cases it might actually be in your first class suite.

If the snack basket is offered to you or is in a common area in the cabin, try to be a little considerate and not indulge yourself like it is your kid’s Halloween stash.

I think that it is more than okay to grab yourself a few snacks/chocolates/whatever just don’t go overboard.

If you do plan on grabbing multiple quantities of whatever is offered, consider waiting until midway through the flight after other passengers have had their chance.

Lufthansa First Class chocolates.

Keep your window shades down

Unless you are taking off or landing, it is generally a good idea to keep your shades down if the cabin is dark and most passengers are trying to rest or sleep.

All it takes is one open window shade to cast an ultra bright light beam into the cabin and ruin the experience for a lot of other people.

I am someone who loves to look out the window and I’ve probably pissed a lot of people off opening up window shades in the past but I totally understand how annoying this could be and try to avoid doing it now.

Related: Window Seat Etiquette: (Who Controls the Window Shade?) 

Using the call button

Some people might disagree with me on this but in first class I think you should feel free to use the call button as you deem necessary.

In economy, I feel like the call button is really only for urgent needs.

In domestic first class, the call button is also usually not necessary because it is such a tiny cabin and a flight attendant is usually only a couple of steps away. (It could come in handy if for example a passenger was sleeping next to you and you did not want to wake them when you get up.)

But in international first class, it is my opinion that the call button can be used for pretty much anything: requesting snacks, drinks, turn down service, etc.

Don’t be afraid to ring a flight attendant.

As long as you are polite and reasonable with your request, they should have no problem with helping you out.


When flying first class, technically you can request as many drinks as you would like until the flight attendant feels like you are too intoxicated.

However, it is obviously not the best idea to push the limits.

Instead, try to limit yourself to a couple of drinks under what you normally would drink on the ground since you can get intoxicated faster at altitude.

In all of my first class flights, I don’t think I have seen many people who have gotten truly wasted but I have had a couple of close calls myself.

I once got a little bit too buzzed on Virgin Australia and almost woke up a random passenger from their slumber who I thought was Brad (Brad was actually in the next row).

Luckily, when I got very close to this stranger’s face (a few inches), I realized that this was in fact not my husband’s face and I quietly tip-toed out of the suite without the passenger ever noticing.

Kids in first class

And finally for the hot button issue of kids in first class….

I personally have no issues with kids flying in first class as a general rule. My only issue would be if you know you have a child that is very prone to throwing loud fits, long crying sprees, can’t sit still, etc.

That’s a different story.

I have met enough families to know that some kids are just quieter and calmer than others. I get it that most small kids will cry/be loud at some point during a long flight but some kids are much more problematic than others when it comes to being quiet and sitting still.

I once had a kid behind me in first class continuously mess with the tray connected to my seat which constantly shook my seat. It was a pretty short flight but it was still extremely annoying to deal with and led to me turning around for some awkward eye contact with the parent.

If you happen to have a loud child or a child that struggles to be still, I honestly don’t think first-class is the best place for them to fly, especially if we’re talking about international first class for tickets go for $10,000.

If you do choose to fly with your child that you know will likely have a lot of issues, I think that you owe the other first class passengers the courtesy to take extra care that your child is not disruptive.

Final word

Let me be clear, I am not trying to tell everybody how to act when flying first class. However, these are some things that I have experienced first-hand during my first class travels that I think are areas people should be mindful of. Let me know if you agree or disagree with any of these! 

Alaska Airlines First Class Guide: What to Expect on the Ground and in the Sky [2022]

Alaska Airlines First Class is an interesting product because while some aspects of it are exactly what you would expect for a standard domestic First Class product, they aren’t afraid to do some things a little bit different.

Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s a bad thing.

But either way you’re getting something a little different which will at least keep things interesting.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll show you what the experience is like and will cover everything including lounge access, boarding, dining, and much more!

Product overview

Unlike carriers like United, Delta, Hawaiian, and American, that each offer lie-flat seats in at least some First Class cabins, all First Class seats with Alaska Airlines are standard recliner seats.

Some of the seats might be more modern than others and you might notice slight differences between different aircraft but when you are booking a First Class flight with Alaska, you don’t have the option to shop around for lie-flat seats.

That’s a bummer but it does kind of make things easy because at least you pretty much always know exactly what to expect.

In terms of what type of aircraft you will be flying on, it will most likely be a narrowbody jet like a: Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-900ER, or Airbus A320-200. Or, on regional flights you can expect an Embraer 175.

However, they also fly the following aircraft:

  • Airbus A321neo
  • Boeing 737-700
  • Boeing 737-900
  • Boeing 737 MAX 9
  • Bombardier Q400 (no First Class cabin)
Alsaka window view

The First Class Perks

Dedicated check-in line

Your First Class experience begins whenever you arrive at the airport for check-in.

If you don’t have any bags to check then you can just check in on your mobile device and then head directly to security.

But if you have bags to check, you can take advantage of the special dedicated lines for First Class passengers and elite members.

On a recent visit to SEA, the baggage check-in area was a madhouse!

Unfortunately for me, I was flying Economy and just had to deal with the madness but when I took a look at the First Class check-in area, it was like this little island of tranquility (off limits to me).

So flying First Class is a good way to avoid the frenzy in some cases.

One interesting thing is that Alaska does not offer priority security lines for First Class passengers. That doesn’t bother me because I always use TSA Pre-Check/CLEAR but it is a departure from most other airlines.

Related: How Early Should You Get to the Airport?

first class Dedicated check-in line

Two free checked bags

As a First Class passenger, you will get your first two bags checked for free.

The weight limit is 50 pounds for each so they don’t increase your weight allowance like most other US airlines do for First Class.

Normally, your first checked bag would cost $30 and your second checked bag would cost $40. So First Class can offer you some decent savings on your luggage fees but there are other ways to save.

For example, Alaska provides some special free luggage perks for certain types of passengers like those flying within the state of Alaska.

Also, if you have a co-branded Alaska credit card you can get your first bag checked for free for yourself and others.

Read more about the different ways to avoiding Alaska baggage fees here.

Alaska baggage kiosks

Lounge access

Something unique about Alaska Airlines is that they offer First Class passengers access to Alaska lounges, even for domestic flights.

They don’t have any cut off time so you can show up to the lounge as early as you’d like as long as you have a First Class boarding pass for that day.

You cannot bring any guests with you for free — they would have to be flying Alaska First Class, purchasing a day pass, or have some other type of membership access.

(FYI – day passes are not available for every lounge.) Also, upgrades to First Class are not eligible for free lounge visits.

There are quite a few ways you can get into an Alaska Lounge if you don’t qualify with a First Class ticket and you can read about all of those different ways here.

In the Alaska Lounge, you’ll find complimentary food including free alcohol.

The offerings are pretty basic compared to something like a Centurion Lounge but they do offer certain specialties like their famous pancake maker.

Other free options include: oatmeal, soups, salads, and snacks like fruit, pretzels, chips, and cookies.

At some lounges like Sea-Tac’s North Satellite Terminal you can put in orders for hot food items like sandwiches and paninis for around $8 to $10.

At the bar, you’ll find free wine, beer (including local craft beers), and spirits although premium alcohol comes with an extra charge.

Alaska does not have a huge nationwide lounge network and for the most part you’re going to find these lounges clustered in the West Coast/PNW.

Below are all of the lounge locations:

Anchorage Airport (ANC)Concourse C, near Gate C-1
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)Terminal 7 on the Mezzanine level, just above security
Los Angeles Airport (LAX)Terminal 6 on the mezzanine level, near Gate 64
Portland Airport (PDX)Concourse B, near the entrance to Concourse B;
Concourse C, across from Gate C5
San Francisco Airport (SFO)Terminal 2, just beyond the D Security Checkpoint
Seattle/Tacoma Airport (SEA)Concourse C, on the mezzanine level next to Gate C-16;
Concourse D, just beyond Security Checkpoint 4;
North Satellite on the mezzanine level, above Gates N13-18

If you’re based in the Pacific Northwest, your First Class ticket might be getting more valuable because some of the lounges will be a lot more attractive to you in the next few years.

Alaska has a lot of big plans for re-doing the lounges in Seattle and Portland to provide 50% more capacity. There are also plans for a 20,000-square-foot lounge at Seattle airport for 2026. Stay tuned!

Alaska lounge seating area with views of tarmac
Alaska lounge at LAX. Photo by Evan Didier.

Boarding privileges

If you are First Class passenger you’ll be one of the first to board the plane because you can board before Group A.

The Alaska Airlines boarding groups include:

  • Pre-boarding (Military, disabilities, unaccompanied minors, etc.)
  • First Class
  • Group A (Million Milers, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K)
  • Group B (MVP members and guests in Premium Class seats)
  • Group C (Main Cabin in the back)
  • Group D (Main Cabin in the front)
  • Group E (Saver)

When it’s time for boarding you’ll see a sign at the gate indicating where First Class and elite members will line-up.

You can line up there before it is time to board but just make sure you leave enough space for people to easily get through.

As soon as pre-boarding is done they will announce the call for First Class passengers and you can make your way down the jet bridge.

You should be among the first to board because you get to board ahead of many of the MVP members.

That’s a noticeable difference between other airlines like United and American that allow some high-ranking elite members to board before First Class.

Related: Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX First Class Review (SEA-PHX)

The First Class Experience

Now that you have a sense of the perks, let’s take a look at what the actual First Class flying experience will be like.

The cabin

A typical First Class cabin will have 12 to 16 seats and will be arranged in a 2-2 configuration. On smaller, regional aircraft you can expect a 1-2 configuration with 12 seats.

Here’s a look at what you can expect when you stroll into your cabin.

Alaska Airlines first class cabin

Some of the aircraft feature a unique (carpeted) design on the bulkhead that I find frequent flyers either love or hate.

Personally, I really like the geometric design (not sure about the carpet) and always appreciate an airline that does something different with their cabin’s interior.

Some of the cabins ditch the design for something more simplistic, which looks clean but also more sterile and boring.

Alaska Airlines first class cabin

In the back of the cabin, there’s a semi-private partition that some flight attendants pull to shield you from the happenings in the Economy Cabin. They don’t always pull it closed in my experience.

Alaska Airlines first class cabin partition

First Class passengers have their own lavatory in the front of the plane which is supposed to be reserved for First Class only.

However, depending on the circumstance, sometimes they allow Economy passengers to use it.

Related: Can You Use the First Class Lavatory When in Economy?

The seat

Your First Class seat will offer you a lot more legroom than a standard Economy seat. In fact, it offers more legroom than most other similar First Class products.

Your seat width will be around 21 inches and you will have around 41 inches in pitch, which is a lot of legroom.

I’m not sure how big of a difference it is when you’re talking about 38 inches versus 41 inches since both are plenty but I do think it’s cool that Alaska is an industry leader with its First Class legroom.

I guess that makes up for not having lie flat seats.

Okay, it totally doesn’t but it’s a start, I guess.

The seats are significantly more roomy than Economy although if you upgraded to Premium Class, some of those seats offer a lot of legroom.

Overall, I found the seats to be pretty comfortable although at the end of the day they are still just standard recliner seats.

Alaska Airlines first class seat

A standard recliner seat can only be so “tricked out” but your seat may have a couple of helpful features.

Some of the seats will have a drink tray that pulls out from the middle.

Alaska Airlines first class tray

Others may have small storage compartments on the side of the seat.

Alaska Airlines first class seat storage

Some of the new First Class seats feature custom-designed Recaro leather seats, which looks a lot more sleek than the old standard look. Plus, they have tablet holders.

Alaska Airlines first class seat new

You’ll also find foot rests on these which I have mixed feelings about.

It is nice to have something to rest your legs on but if you have a personal item stored beneath the seat in front of you, you don’t have much room for the foot rest and it sort of blocks the room you need for larger personal items.

Alaska Airlines first class seat foot rest


Alaska very rarely provides true pre-departure beverages.

Instead, you’ll find Boxed Water at your seat whenever you arrive.

I like that they provide something a little different but I’m personally just not a fan of Boxed Water as there is something unappealing about drinking water out of a carton no matter how environmentally friendly it may or may not be.

Alaska Airlines first class boxed water

On flights over 350 miles, you’ll get the full drink service served to you in a glass.

Alcoholic options include:

  • Anchor Brewing West Coast IPA
  • Full Sail Brewing Sesión Cerveza Lager
  • Intrinsic Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Intrinsic Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • Domaine St. Vincent Sparkling Wine
  • Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
  • Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • Scotch Whisky
  • Cruzan Rum
  • Gin
  • Tito’s Vodka
  • Five Farms Irish Cream

Keep in mind that the exact menu can vary.

Alaska Airlines first class drinks

Of course, you can always go with non-alcoholic products.

Alaska Airlines first class drinks

Breakfast will be served on flights departing from 5 AM to 10 AM and lunch and dinner will be served on departures from 10 AM to 9 PM.

The type of meal that you can expect will depend on how long your flight is.

Flights 670+ miles

For flights just over 670 miles you can expect something on the lighter side like a Soy Meets World entrée salad.

Flights 1,100+ miles

For mid range flights the meal gets a little better with a hot entrée or the Signature Fruit & Cheese Plate (examples of both in the photos below).

Flights 2,140+ miles (Hawaii and coast-to-coast)

On the longest of journeys, you’ll get the most from their meal service including an appetizer, bread and butter, and choice of hot entrée like the a Southwest Strata baked with Ciabatta bread and Napoles cactus for breakfast or a Honey BBQ Flat Iron Steak for lunch or dinner.

Desserts can come in a few different forms like Butter Pecan cookies, chocolate bars, or vanilla ice cream.

So far, the vast majority of my First Class domestic dining has been on United Airlines and American Airlines, both of which have been pretty hit or miss.

But from the limited number of First Class flights on Alaska that I’ve experienced, I’ve been pretty impressed.

My advice would be to pre-order your meals so that you’ll know exactly what kind of meal to prepare for.

If you wait until dining is served, there is always the chance that your preferred menu option won’t be available.

And if you think you can just sit in the front row and order your food first, sometimes they take orders from the back first so that does not always work.

Learn more.

Alaska Airlines first class meal
Alaska Airlines first class meal

In-flight entertainment

One of the slight knocks against Alaska Airlines First Class is that they don’t offer seatback TVs.

Instead, you will just have to stream movies or TV shows by connecting to their in-flight entertainment via Wi-Fi, which you can do for free.

That cuts down on the First Class enjoyment in my opinion but a lot of people don’t care about having seatback monitors so it’s not a big deal for everyone.

The good news is that you will have a power outlet and USB port dedicated to your seat, making it very easy to keep all of your devices charged.

Related: What Airlines Have Seatback TV Screens?

Alaska Airlines first class power outlet



If you have elite status with Alaska Airlines you can take advantage of upgrades to First Class.

Depending on your status and the type of fare you purchase, you can get upgraded at the time of booking or whenever your upgrade window opens. I’d suggest you check out the upgrade policy here for more details.

If you want to use miles to upgrade to First Class you have to book an Economy fare that is eligible for upgrades. You can find these when searching for your flight by selecting “Mileage” from the Upgrade fare type selections, under Filter Results.

If you want to pay for an upgrade then that is something that will be available if First Class seats are open within 24 hours of departure. You can do this online, at a kiosk, or the check-in counter.


If you want to use Alaska miles to book a First Class flight, the price is going to depend on the distance.

They break up the award chart into different distance zones and the price for domestic First Class awards range from 15,000 miles all the way up to 30,000 miles.

Keep in mind that these are the starting prices so based on the type of fare you’re booking, the price can go up considerably.

DistanceAward Price
Less than 700 milesStarting at 15,000
Between 701 and 1,400 milesStarting at 25,000
Between 1,401 and 2,100 miles Starting at 25,000
Longer than 2,101 miles Starting at 30,000


When reviewing 30 different routes and comparing First Class vs others, we found that First Class was on average 166% more expensive than Main Cabin. That’s about 2.5 times the price on average.

Final word

Alaska Airlines First Class stands out in a few ways with universal lounge access and industry leading leg room. The lack of lie-flat seats is a bit of a bummer but just about everything else about the First Class experience is up to par with other major US airlines.

Can You Use the First Class Lavatory When in Economy? Flushing Out the Truth

Can you use the First Class lavatory when flying Economy?

It’s a question that has divided passengers for many years and led to a lot of crappy situations.

But what do airlines have to say about this question?

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about using the First Class restroom as an Economy passenger.

I’ll talk about the policies for the major US airlines and give you some insight into how those may or may not be enforced.

I’ll also provide some tips that you can use to avoid unnecessary confrontations when trying to relieve yourself.

Can you use the First Class lavatory when in Economy?

In general, you should strive to use the bathroom located within the cabin that you are ticketed in.

However, some airlines will allow Economy passengers to use the First Class bathrooms on domestic flights.

This is usually the case if:

  • 1) Aisle access to the rear (aft) bathroom is blocked by a food/drink cart
  • 2) You’re a passenger falling within a special group
  • 3) There is an emergency bathroom situation

Aisle access blocked

Beverage carts were seemingly designed to occupy 99.99% of the aisle making it impossible for some passengers to pass through.

For that reason, a lot of flight attendants will be understanding and allow you to use the lavatory upfront because you don’t have an alternative.

Special passengers (disabilities, elderly, etc.)

Passengers with disabilities, the elderly, and children such as unaccompanied minors (UMs), are usually given a pass when it comes to the front bathroom.

And this makes sense.

Making them go all the way to the back could be a big inconvenience and it would not be a very good look by the airlines if they pushed back on people falling into these groups and something happened.

If you qualify for preboarding there’s a high chance you could use the First Class lavatory without a problem.

Emergency bathroom situations

If you expressed that you’re dealing with an emergency bathroom situation whether number one or two (details not always necessary), any reasonable flight attendant should allow you to use a lavatory upfront if the one in the back is not a practical option.

For example, if you’re mid “pee dance” but there is someone standing outside the lavatory in the back while the First Class lavatory is open, that should be enough for you to get access.

Using the First Class lavatory for convenience

In some cases, the crew will let Economy passengers use the First Class lavatory just as a matter of convenience. No urgency needed.

The proper etiquette here is probably for only Economy passengers sitting near the First Class cabin to do this. Otherwise, there could be too much traffic in First Class. This is essentially the policy of JetBlue.

Just be sure to always give priority to First Class passengers (unless it’s an emergency).

Tip: Remember, some aircraft like the Boeing 737-800 may have two lavatories in the back.

First Class Lavatory
A first class lavatory with a urinal. On a standard domestic flight the First Class bathrooms are usually not upgraded like this and resemble a normal lavatory.

Practical advice to avoid starring in the next viral video

Some airlines have officially stated their policies on Economy passengers using the First Class restrooms but these stated policies can be a little vague or difficult/impossible to find.

And when you do find them they could be outdated or in contradiction to what you hear from airline representatives.

Plus, there doesn’t always seem to be uniform enforcement of these so-called policies, so you don’t always know how flight attendants will react.

So my advice would be the following:

Always try to use the lavatory in your specific cabin. Life will usually be easier for everyone involved if you do this.

If you want to use the First Class lavatory purely as a matter of convenience you may attempt to do so but you should probably only do this when seated close to First Class. Also, know that this is not in line with most airline policies.

However, as long as you’re sly and not crop dusting First Class passengers, it probably won’t be an issue.

If you are sitting in Economy and need to use the bathroom but don’t have access due to a cart in the aisle, feel free to head to the First Class lavatory.

If you fall into one of the special groups mentioned above (elderly, etc.), head to the First Class lavatory if it’s an issue heading to the aft.

In the event you come across a flight attendant, feel free to give them a brief explanation about what’s going on and stress the urgency of the situation (if needed).

Abide by what a flight attendant tells you unless you absolutely have no choice other than enduring severe discomfort/emptying your contents on yourself.

If you are still reprimanded for using the First Class bathroom under those circumstances, don’t react in any way that could be considered a threat or intimidation because that could land you in legal trouble.

Instead, take your story public later on and expose that airline for borderline inhumane treatment.

As passengers, we have to draw the line somewhere.

International flights

US airlines are much more strict about the bathroom policies when flying back into the US on an international flight.

On those flights, Economy passengers may be prevented from using First Class lavatories. This is apparently a TSA imposed rule so I would not test it.

Another thing about international flights is that it’s common to be kept out of nicer First Class cabins.

For example, an Economy passenger flying an international flight on Emirates is not going to be allowed anywhere near the First Class bathroom where you can find a shower and spa-like experience.

(Because there are so many aisles and other bathrooms located on these larger wide-body planes, accessing a lavatory is usually not a major problem.)

First Class Lavatory

Economy Plus, Premium Class, etc.

You might be wondering if things are a little bit different whenever you’re flying something like Economy Plus, Premium Class, etc.

These are those Economy seats with extra legroom that sometimes come with additional perks like free drinks or priority boarding.

A lot of times the seats are located directly behind First Class which makes using the First Class lavatory extremely convenient compared to walking all the way to the back of the plane.

Sitting here won’t automatically give you access to the front lavatories but….

In my experience, it’s easiest to get away with using the First Class lavatory when seated in these sections because you can slip right into the First Class cabin virtually unnoticed.

I wouldn’t attempt that on an international flight coming into the US but my gut tells me that flight attendants might be more forgiving for these passengers in other situations.

“Not Allowed To Congregate”

You’ve probably heard the flight attendants announce that you’re not allowed to congregate at the front of the plane.

This is a security issue and flight attendants are often pretty strict about not allowing lines to form at the front of the plane.

This is why some people will simply stand in the aisle as they wait for the bathroom to open.

Also, sometimes the pilots have to relieve themselves mid-flight (no, they don’t have their own personal bathroom in the cockpit).

When this happens, nobody is allowed at the lavatory and so if you’re trying to come in from Economy, you may be denied access to the First Class cabin area.

Arguments for and against

There are many opinions out there when it comes to this issue of potty rights.

Some people couldn’t care less while others are vehemently against Economy passengers encroaching into their sacred territory.

Some passengers state that flying is merely a method of public transportation and that no public bathroom should be off-limits, especially when you consider how many Economy passengers there are.

My stance on it is that First Class passengers are given certain privileges like extra legroom, priority boarding, free drinks, etc. One of these privileges is a smaller ratio of passengers-to-bathrooms and the quietness and convenience that comes from that.

So Economy passengers should normally not use the lavatories in First Class but if one of the special circumstances mentioned above applies then they should be given access (ideally with minimal dirty looks).

Airline policies on First Class lavatories

Now let’s get into what specific airlines have stated.

You won’t find a lot of published policies and so I checked with individual representatives to get confirmation on the official policy of each airline.


Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines to clearly publish their bathroom policy.

They state: “Guests should use the restroom in their assigned cabins, and are required to do so on inbound international flights; exceptions may be made for guests with special needs.”

American Airlines

American Airlines has a reputation for allowing Economy passengers to use the First Class lavatories. When I contacted a representative, they seemed to more or less confirm this.

They said that the First Class lavatories are reserved for First Class passengers but if the lavatory for Main Cabin is full, you can request to use the one upfront.

This is a pretty reasonable policy and probably what most airlines abide by.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is said to have a policy similar to Alaska.

When I inquired with an agent to confirm I was told that Delta Airlines does not have an official policy on this and to check with the flight attendant on my flight.

So when it comes to Delta, it might be best to request access from a crew member before heading in from Economy.


A JetBlue representative told me that they do not have designated First Class lavatories and that you can use the bathroom closest to your seat. This was the only major US airline that confirmed Economy passengers could use “First Class” lavatories.


Southwest Airlines does not have a First Class cabin so this is not an issue for passengers flying Southwest.

United Airlines

During the pandemic, United Airlines temporary allowed Economy passengers to use the First Class bathrooms and vice versa.

Many people wondered if this policy would last post-pandemic and so I contacted a United Airlines representative to clarify.

The United Airlines agent told me that Economy Class passengers are NOT allowed to use the First Class lavatory.

It’s worth remembering that these stated policies are not always enforced.

For example, I’ve seen Economy passengers head to the First Class bathroom on United flights without any questions asked. Same with Alaska.

In reality, whether or not an Economy passenger can use the First Class lavatory with no issues may just come down to the temperament of the crew on that particular flight.

That’s just yet another reason why being friendly and personable with flight attendants is a good idea.

The bathroom access also tends to become more of an issue when lots of economy passengers are accessing the First Class lavatory.

Accessible bathrooms?

Another issue with these bathrooms is them not being accessible but that might soon be changing.

A proposed rule would require airlines to make at least one lavatory large enough for passengers with disabilities to get inside and maneuver. This would only apply to new single-aisle aircraft with 125 or more passenger.

We will see how that proposal works out and how it affects policies for lavatories in the future.

Final Word

Airline lavatory policies can be hard to keep up with because they seem to change and the enforcement does not always seem to align with what is told to customers.

In the end, I say to use the bathroom in your ticketed cabin unless you have an urgent need. In those situations, try to express the urgency and I doubt you would have many issues.

Alaska Airlines 737-900ER First Class Review (SEA-PHX)

Alaska Airlines can be a very efficient way to get around the West Coast and Alaska.

But what can you expect if you fly first class with them? Is there anything that stands out or is it just yet another domestic first class experience?

Below, I’ll break down my recent first class flight with Alaska Airlines on the 737-9 MAX, flying between Seattle (SEA) and Phoenix (PHX).

Update: Apparently the flight details displayed in the Alaska Airlines app showed the wrong information and this aircraft is actually a 737-900ER.

Trip overview

This flight marked the end of a 10 day trip to Alaska where we explored Glacier Bay National Park and Juneau.

Despite less than ideal weather (cloudy and rainy), it was still an exciting trip where we encountered all kinds of wildlife like brown bears and got to experience what it was like to be in Alaska during the peak salmon run.

Some of the trip highlights were:


We booked this Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX First Class flight with cash for around $500. You can find this first class flight for around $340 so it can be a pretty cheap first class ticket.

This booking earned me a total of 1,659 Alaska miles since as a non-elite member I earn 1 mile per mile flown and got the first class bonus on top of it.

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


With this being a 6AM flight, we decided to stay at one of the nearby Sea-Tac airport hotels.

On our way getting to Alaska we stayed at the Hilton Doubletree but on the way out we decided to spend the night at the Seattle Airport Marriott Hotel, which I preferred much better especially with the access to the executive lounge.

We took the 24-hour shuttle over to the airport around 4AM and arrived at about 4:06AM. From the shuttle stop, you simply head up a level and then cross a skywalk to get over to the ticketing area.

Being so early in the morning, Sea-Tac was much quieter this go round compared to the madhouse we encountered when departing to Alaska.

Initially, we thought about utilizing our Priority Pass to grab a quick breakfast since Trail Head BBQ Bar opened up at 5AM but that would only give us about 20 minutes to get back over to the boarding area and so we decided against it.

There was pretty much nobody in line for first class check-in and only a few people in line to check in for economy when we arrived.

Related: Alaska Airlines First Class Guide: What to Expect on the Ground and in the Sky

Alaska airlines first class check-in area SEA


Boarding began at about 5:25AM and after a busy rush of passengers checking their carry-ons we were the first in first class to board.

It was nice to actually enjoy the first class boarding group because whenever we departed on our last Alaska first class flight from Gustavus they did not have a typical boarding process and it was pretty much first come, first serve.

That was totally understandable given the tiny airport terminal but nevertheless I was looking forward to trying out the first class boarding group.

Alaska airlines first class boarding area SEA

We made our way to our seat which was in the rear of the first class cabin.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

I actually really liked the cabin art in Alaska first class. I noticed that the designs in the rear of the first class cabin were fabric but in other first class cabins they are plastic which I thought was interesting.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

I’m a big fan of airlines offering some type of departure from the bland, sterile cabins that you often see in domestic first class (although I know some Alaska first class cabins don’t offer this design).

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin
Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

They had a mesh partition they pulled out to divide first class and economy.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

Anyway, we made it to our seat which is a standard domestic first class seat with 36 inches of pitch and 24 inches of width.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

The seats offered the standard level of comfort you would expect from a domestic first class product but looked a little bit worn and definitely not as fresh as some of the other flights we had been on that had been retrofitted.

The fuselage was a bit marked up and the windows were pretty dirty as well.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

The adjustable headrest would not stay for Brad and mine was not exactly robust either.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

Behind the seat, they had the standard storage space.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

Unlike other Alaska first class cabins I’ve seen, the 737-900 MAX did not have the little foot rests which I had mixed feelings about because I like the added support but don’t like that they interfere with the space below the seat for your personal item/carry-on.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin

The seats had two universal power outlets in the middle along with USB ports with easy access.

Related: Which Airlines Have Power Outlets & USB Ports?

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX cabin power outlets

If you want to recline you can do so with the push of a button.

To get the seat to go back I had to really push hard so I’m not sure if I just had an issue with my seat or if that’s how the seats tend to be.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX seat controls

There were no seatback TVs in the back of the first class seats as Alaska Airlines is one of the US airlines that do NOT provide seatback TVs in any aircraft.

Related: What Airlines Have Seatback TV Screens?

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX seat

Alaska provided the standard Boxed Water cartons at our seat which I honestly don’t care for. Something about the taste of the water out of those cartons just doesn’t feel right.

Alaska airlines first class 737-900 MAX boxed water

We ended up departing at around 6:25 AM after sitting stationary for quite some time.

I’m not sure exactly what the delay was but it seemed like there was just issue after issue with passengers coming out to the front and having to work stuff out. It even sounded like one person thought they were on the wrong flight or something.

Alaska airlines planes
Alaska airlines planes

This was my first time departing south from Seattle and I was absolutely in love with the PNW mountain views. We caught a nice view of what I believe was Mount Saint Helens along with a stunning morning view of Mount Adams. Definitely worth grabbing a window seat in this area of the country.

Mt St Helens


Something cool about the Seattle to Phoenix route is that it is 1,106 miles. This means it is just a few miles over the 1,100 mile threshold to get a true dining experience.

When it came time for dining the tray table easily came out of the armrest.

Alaska airlines first class tray table

If you only want to utilize the tray table for a drink it does have the fold over option which offers a little holder for your drink.

Alaska airlines first class tray table
Alaska airlines first class tray table

As usual, to help with the review, Brad and I mixed up our meals so that we can try something different.

Brad went with the Signature Fruit & Cheese Plate while I went with the strata, potatoes, and ham.

Alaska airlines first class meal cheese platter

The savory strata was pretty tasty although I did not care for some of the crusty cheesy exterior on it. I really enjoyed the juicy ham and it was by far the favorite piece of the dish. And the potatoes? They were okay but a slightly mushy for me (as you might expect with airline food).

Alaska airlines first class meal

One thing I did notice about the trays that they use is that they are tackified so that your plates are not gonna go slipping away.

At first, I honestly thought it was just sticky due to being dirty. Then I felt Brad’s tray and it felt the same and we realized that that is just how the trays come out (I’m assuming for anti-slip purposes).

As far as drinks go, Brad was able to put together his own Bloody Mary and screwdriver with a little bit of help from our friend Tito.

Alaska airlines first class bloody Mary drink
Alaska airlines first class screwdriver drink

I went with my usual sparkling water (seltzer) which fittingly was the Polar brand. I really liked the little lime packs that they served with the seltzer for a nice kick of lime and I may have to pick up some of those myself!

Alaska airlines first class sparkling water drink

The seats have a small drink tray that you can pull out from the middle of the seats if you need a little bit of extra real estate for your glasses.

Alaska airlines first class sparkling water drink tray

As we started to approach Phoenix, we had quite the spectacular view of the Grand Canyon from above. It’s one of my favorite aspects of living in Arizona.

View of Grand Canyon from plane
View of Grand Canyon from plane
View of Grand Canyon from plane

And then, before I knew it we were approaching Phoenix and our great Alaskan adventure had come to an end.

Final word

Alaska Airlines first class on the 737 delivered the standard domestic first class experience that I was expecting.

I would say that it was about one notch above the baseline experience because the food was pretty solid, the service was on point, and I liked that they did something a little different with the cabin accents.

The only drawback was that the seats/cabin felt a bit worn and the seats did not function optimally, so that brought it down a little bit.

Delta First Class Review (PHX-MSP) A321-200

Flying domestic first class is convenient but not terribly exciting, especially after you have flown domestic first class quite a few times.

With that said, trying a new airline is always exciting on some level and in this case we got to try Delta First Class for the first time.

In this review, I’ll walk you through the experience flying Delta First Class (PHX-MSP) on the A321-200 and also on the 737-900. I’ll touch on some of the lounges that we visited like the Sky Club at PHX and give you a sense of what the cabins are like on the two aircraft.

Trip overview

This flight kicked off a super busy trip to the Northeast where over about 10 days we hit up basically every state and got a good taste of what the region had to offer.

Here are some of the trip highlights:



We’ve done a lot of first class domestic trips on United and American but had never flown first class on Delta until this trip.

After looking for some different flight options from Phoenix to Baltimore, I found that Delta was consistently offering the cheapest first class routes and so it made sense to go with them.

In fact, I’ve often seen Delta First Class as the cheapest option for a lot of routes and it has me wondering if they consistently offer cheaper first class options.

Could be a coincidence but I might need to look into that for a future article….

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

Lounge at PHX

We decided to give a visit to the Delta Sky Club at Phoenix at Terminal 3.

Because we were both Platinum cardholders and flying Delta we were able to get in for free, which was really nice. Just remember that if only one person has the Platinum Card the guest does not get in for free to Delta Sky Clubs.

Overall, this was a very solid lounge experience.

I thought that the lounge was beautiful, clean, and not overcrowded. The breakfast was hearty and had some nice additional options like fresh berries. The Wi-Fi was fast and there were no issues with anything really. Just a great lounge visit.

Related: Delta Sky Club Guide: (Access & List of Locations)


As a Delta First Class passenger, you get priority boarding so we were among the very first to board. The entire boarding process went very smoothly with no issues whatsoever.

The cabin

I was really surprised whenever we entered the cabin at how nice the first class cabin looked. The A321 has five rows in a 2–2 configuration for a total of 20 seats in first class.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200
Delta First Class cabin A321-200

Both United and American have pretty boring looking domestic first class cabins in my opinion with very ordinary black or charcoal gray seats.

But the seats in Delta First had a little bit of color and personality to them with red branded accents which I really liked.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200

We took our seat and then I was pleasantly surprised once again to see that we had a seatback TV considering that on the last few first class flights on both American and United we did not have seatback TVs. (Delta is one of the best airlines for seatback entertainment.)

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the necessity of seatback TVs but I’m in the crowd that believes airlines should be trending towards adding them rather than taking them away.

Related: What Airlines Have Seatback TV Screens?

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 seatback TV

They also issued mini water bottles with Delta branding on them.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 seatback TV

The seat back TV had a headphone jack and USB port and there were two power outlets and two USB ports in the back of the two seats in front of us.

Related: Can You Use Bluetooth on A Plane? (Headphones & Accessories)

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 seatback TV
Delta First Class cabin A321-200 power outlets

Just like any other first class domestic product, the seat offered plenty of legroom.

In fact, you’ll have 36 inches of legroom along with 21 inches of width. You can get a good amount of recline if you would like although I typically don’t recline on short flights (unless the person in front of me forces me to).

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 leg room

I enjoyed the in-flight entertainment selection, which gave a good selection of movies and series. The screens were responsive and quality which is all you can really ask for.

You can always get a heads up on what will be playing by checking out the entertainment page for Delta.

During takeoff, we had some amazing views of the desert landscape around Phoenix. I can never get enough of these takeoffs at sunrise!

Phoenix airport view

The tray table comes out from the armrest and it’s pretty easy to pull out. You can fold it over to only utilize half of it to hold a drink if you’d like.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 tray table

Or you can just pull out the whole thing to get some work done or for a meal.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 tray table

Since this was during the pandemic, we still had to wear a mask and the food was provided via a snack box.

To get things started, Brad ordered a bloody Mary but I don’t think it was one of the better ones he has had in first class.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 drink

It was essentially a charcuterie board with a variety of cheeses including smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, and alpine style. We also had some olives, fig spread, and almonds. Overall, I thought it was a pretty solid “snack meal” but will be interested in trying out a hot meal from Delta in the future.

Delta First Class cabin A321-200 snacks

During the meal, we were treated to some amazing views of the southern Rockies. I really struggled to take my eyes off the window view.

Related: Window Seat Etiquette: (Who Controls the Window Shade?)

View of Rocky Mountains
View of Rocky Mountains

We also got a nice glimpse of a full rainbow.

I connected to the Wi-Fi during this flight and was pretty happy with the connection speed which was 34 Mbps for downloads.

I actually had a good enough connection to participate in a Google Meet conference call although I did not talk during the call because that is annoying/rude and technically against the flying rules.

Related: Can You Make A Phone Call From A Plane?

wifi icon

Eventually, we would touch down at MSP.

It was here that we got to visit the MSP Escape Lounge, which was yet another perk of the Amex Platinum. The service was pretty solid in there and they had some decent offerings which made it a worthwhile visit on the layover.

Related: Escape Lounges Guide: (Cost and Locations)

 MSP Escape Lounge

After the layover, it was time for our final leg to Baltimore which was also in first class but on a 737-900.

I really liked the mood lighting in the cabin.

737-900 first class cabin
737-900 first class cabin
737-900 first class cabin

Once again, I just thought Delta First Class was one of the sleeker domestic first class cabins, especially when compared to American and United.

737-900 first class cabin
737-900 first class cabin

I also liked being able to start the flight off with a new brand of sparkling water/club soda: Fever-Tree. Even though these are made for mixed drinks they mostly satisfy my sparkling water fix on flights.

If you don’t have headphones, you can get some issued to you.

Finally, we took off and made our way to Baltimore to kick off this crazy trip!

Final word

Domestic first class flights only get so exciting after you’ve done them a lot of times.

With that said, this was our first time flying Delta First Class so it was interesting to see how it would go.

I walked away pretty impressed by the cabin/experience and would probably say this is one of the best standard domestic first class products.

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