United Domestic First Class Review (What to Expect) [2022]

A lot of people book domestic first class seats on United but don’t really know what to expect. Depending on the type of aircraft that you are flying on (737, 787, 777, etc.), the experience could be drastically different. In this article, I will give you a breakdown of what you can expect when flying first class with United Airlines on domestic routes when it comes to things like the seats and meals. 

Note: United first class on domestic routes is the same as “business class” for the most part. The terms are used interchangeably by many but for this article I’ll just used first class to describe this cabin.

Booking United Airlines first class

Before you book your United first class flight, you should know a few things about the aircraft and routes.

For the most part there are two different types of United Airlines first class experiences when flying domestically. There is the traditional first class seat that is basically a larger and more comfortable economy seat with more recline ability and leg room. You’ll find these on aircraft like the 737 while aircraft like the Embraer may have a slightly different type of seat.

Then there are the wide body aircraft that (mostly) have the lie flat seats. You can find these on various routes. Anytime I ever fly first class to the West Coast or to New York from Houston, I always use Google Flights to search through the different flight options to see which of the flights are served by a wide body aircraft.

Often on routes to/from IAH, I’ll find that 90% of the flights are on a 737 or similar aircraft and then there is one or two flights that are served by a wide body aircraft like a 787, 767, or 777.

Contrary to what you might expect, the cash price for flying in a small body versus flying in a wide body is not always different. For example, I looked up a first class flight from IAH to LAX and the cash price came out to $364 for both. One flight was on a 737 with a standard recliner and the other was on a 787 with a lie-flat seat, as shown below. So while the cash price was the same, the potential for comfort was definitely not the same.

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

If you want to book a first class award flight with miles, it will cost you 25,000 miles one way for a saver award. But keep in mind that United has been shifting to a dynamic award pricing so prices could be higher in the future.

Also, you may need to add 10,000 miles to that total for a premium transcontinental route. For example, it might cost you 35,000 miles one way to fly business class from New York to Los Angeles or New York/Boston to San Francisco.

I’ve struggled a lot to find open saver awards for first class flights on United so I would generally not expect to find a lot of open awards on premium transcontinental routes. However, with a lot of routes from Houston I have found availability to be at least decent at times.

Remember, United is a transfer partner of Chase so this could be one of the easiest first class redemptions to use your Chase points on.

United Premier Access

If you are flying first class with United, you will be given United Premier Access.

The biggest benefit of this is that you will have your own separate check-in area. I’ve never really seen the lines very long in the Premier Access area. So typically we are able to print out our boarding pass and check our bags in very efficiently.

When you enter this area, notice that some desks are designated for certain elite levels, such as 1K. If there are no passengers lined up at those desks, and you are currently waiting in line, feel free to head over to one of those desks and they should help you out.

United Premier Access check-in area.

You also will get access to a priority line through security in many cases. This line is usually very easy to locate because all you have to do is look for the “Premier Access” signs pictured below.

While this line is very convenient, I typically just go through the TSA Pre-Check/CLEAR line.

Premier Access line.

United domestic first class lounge access

One of the exciting parts about flying first class typically is that you get to enjoy airport lounge access. I have to admit that United Club lounges are nothing special. The newer lounges look great but the food and drink offerings are still pretty basic. I’d much prefer an American Express Centurion Lounge over a United Club Lounge, though those can have overcrowding issues.

When flying United first class domestically, you typically will NOT have access to the United Club Lounges.

The exception to this is whenever you are flying a premium transcontinental route. These are those long routes mentioned above that are between places like San Francisco and New York, LAX and New York, etc.

However, if you are flying internationally (even to a close destination like Mexico) you will be given United Club Access. This is true even if you are flying on a smaller aircraft like a 737 that does not have lie flat seats.

If you are interested in getting United Club access then you might want to look into cards like the United Explorer Card. With that card, you can get two annual lounge passes each year along with some nice benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding. You can read the full review of the card here.

To read more about the United Club Lounges and the access policy, click here.

United club lounge at Houston (IAH).


When you are flying first class, you will be able to board with Group 1. When you arrive at the gate, you should see a boarding group sign with a line designated for Group 1 (see the image below) and that is where you will line up.

You will still have to wait for the pre-boarding and for other groups, such as United Global Services and United 1K. However, you will still usually be among the first people to board the plane. 

When flying on a smaller aircraft, we typically arrive to the boarding area about five minutes prior to boarding and are usually about the second or third passengers in line (if not the first). But when flying on a larger aircraft like a 787, we like to arrive to boarding a little bit earlier just to get closer to the front of the line.

Of course, some people don’t like to sit on the plane any longer then they have to so they don’t prioritize arriving to the boarding area early.

United first class boarding Group 1.

The flight experience

The flight experience is going to vary dramatically between a wide body aircraft and a smaller aircraft like a 737. Since most people flying first class on a domestic route with United Airlines will be on a smaller aircraft, I’ll focus more on that.

The cabin

On a smaller aircraft like a 737, you usually will see about four rows of business class seats. On a 737-700, there could be as few as three rows and on a 737-900, there could be up to five rows. Either way, typically the first class cabin is going to be pretty compact. 

You’ll also have your own lavatory up front that should only be open to first class passengers though the occasional economy passenger finds their way in sometimes.

United Airlines 737-900.

The seats

First class seats on the 737 are definitely much more comfortable than economy seats. They are much wider (about 4 inches wider) and give you a lot more legroom (about 7 inches more) and they have a 2-2 configuration. Smaller aircraft like the Embraer will have a 1-2 configuration.

Related: What Airlines Have Seatback TV Screens? 

United first class seats on a 737.

Your seats should come equipped with power outlets, making it easy to keep your electronics charged up. This is really nice on some of the aircraft that do not have screens built into the seat in front of you. (While you might expect all first-class seats to have in-flight entertainment with screens that is not case.)

There is a mini tray you can pull out between the seats that is convenient for placing drinking glasses on and then a full tray table can be pulled out from your outside armrest. To recline your chair you simply hit the silver button on the side of your chair and if you want you can adjust the headrests to your liking.

United first class seats on an A320.

If you are able to fly on a wide body aircraft with lie-flat seats the experience will be much more comfortable. The cabin will feel bigger and more open but you will also have many more passengers in the cabin with you. The configurations can vary for wide body aircraft and you might see something like (2-2-2, 2-1-2, or even the dreaded 2-4-2).

You will be able to enjoy a fully lie flat seat which (while definitely not industry leading) is better than just a reclining seat in my opinion. That is because you can position this chair in many more different positions to find whatever is most comfortable for yourself.

United first class seats on a 787.

You will also have a larger TV screen and better options for in-flight entertainment.

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

United first class domestic meals

United first class dining is not going to be on par with some of the more renown airlines like Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc. But, at the risk of losing all my credibility, I will venture to say that some meals that I’ve eaten on United first-class domestic flights have not been that bad and actually quite satisfying.

Typically, you’ll get some warm nuts and then will be offered two options to choose from (assuming that both are available after the top-tier elites have chosen their meals). While I would not necessarily ever look forward to a meal with United with great anticipation, I’ve honestly enjoyed a few dishes over the past few years.

United first class meal on a 787.

My biggest strike against them would probably just be the presentation of the food sometimes. They seriously make the food look much grosser than it actually is (which I realize is not a problem unique to United).

United first class meal on a 737.
United first class meal on a 737.

I will say that on some other occasions the food has been flat out crap, so it really tends to be a hit or miss thing with United first-class dining. But when it comes to desserts, especially cookies, they usually have something very good so at least that is one consistent quality. 

United first class cookie.

United first class service

Another feature of United first class that can be hit or miss is the service. I’ve had some pretty disinterested and borderline rude flight attendants but for the most part I’ve been pretty satisfied with the quality of service onboard.

United first class priority luggage

Your luggage should be marked as priority whenever you are flying United first class. What this means in theory is that your bag should be one of the first bags available for pick up whenever you are at baggage claim. This does not always happen although I will say that the last few domestic first class flights I have had on United, I’ve received my bags very quickly.

Final word

Flying first class on a domestic flight with United can be a little underwhelming if you are expecting things like lounge access, lie flat seats, and gourmet meals. However there are ways to seek out lie-flat seats and and there are some perks that are always available like priority check-in and boarding that make the experience better.

Southwest vs JetBlue (Credit Cards, Policies, etc.) [2021]

Both Southwest and JetBlue are two of the most popular low cost carriers in United States. They both offer some low fares that you can take advantage of to various locations in the country (and abroad) but they also come with some additional features that set them apart from other airlines.

In this article I will take a look at different aspects of what these two airlines have to offer and compare them to each other. I’ll cover everything from credit cards and legroom to baggage fees and flight networks.

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

Credit cards

First, let’s take a look at the type of credit cards offered by these two airlines. We will start with Southwest.

Southwest credit cards

Southwest credit cards are issued by Chase and there are three different personal credit cards and two business credit cards. One way that Southwest immediately stands out with its credit cards is that they offer (mid-tier) premium cards (although JetBlue is rumored to be introducing some soon). 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 3,000 anniversary points
  • $69 annual fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6,000 anniversary points
  • Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points each calendar year
  • Business version also available
  • $99 annual fee 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

  • Bonus spending:
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on hotel and car rental partner purchases.
    • 1X Rapid Rewards on all other purchases
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status
  • $149 annual fee applied to your first billing statement

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • A-List credits 
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee Credit
  • Employee cards added at no additional cost
  • $199 Annual Fee

With Southwest, you can get both a personal and a business credit card and sometimes earn enough Rapid Rewards to earn the coveted Companion Pass.

The Companion Pass is special because it allows a companion to fly for free with you for up to two years. This applies even on award flights! It is one of the most valuable perks and should be considered by anybody who does a lot of flying domestically.

Related: Southwest devalues Rapid Rewards points by 6%

JetBlue credit cards

JetBlue has three credit cards issued by Barclays. The most popular airline card is probably the JetBlue Plus, which comes with the following features: 

  • 6X on JetBlue purchases
  • 2X on Restaurants and grocery stores
  • Free first checked bag
  • TrueBlue Mosaic benefits for one year after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases annually with your card
  • 5,000 points on account anniversary
  • 10% rebate on points redemptions
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases including cocktails and food
  • $99 annual fee

Something worth noting is that, unlike Southwest, JetBlue does have an option for a no annual fee credit card. Your earning rate on JetBlue gets cut in half at only 3X and you lose some other benefits like the free checked bag, but if you are not a fan of paying an annual fee, JetBlue might be more appealing to your wallet.

And finally, the JetBlue cards may offer 0% introductory APR on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening.

My pick

Overall, I am a bigger fan of the Southwest credit cards because of the opportunity to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. If you time your Southwest credit card offers, you can earn the Companion Pass without ever having to fly a single flight on Southwest!

Still, the JetBlue Plus card has a lot of value to offer. I like its 5,000 points every anniversary, 10% rebate on points (which adds value to the sign-up bonus), and the ability to spend into elite status.

And while JetBlue points have not been worth quite as much as Rapid Rewards in my experience, the JetBlue Plus card offers better earnings on airline (JetBlue) travel purchases with 6X.

As far as credit scores needed for these airline cards they both require good to excellent credit. If your credit score is below 700 you probably want to focus on increasing your score and then applying for these cards at a later time.

Each bank also has its own specific rules about credit card eligibility and I would suggest you to use WalletFlo to help you navigate those rules.

Transfer partners

Both Southwest and JetBlue are transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards. But JetBlue is also a transfer partner of the other programs including:

  • American Express (250 Amex points for every 200 points)
  • Capital One (2:1)
  • Citi (1:1).

Thus, there are more opportunities to transfer your points in to JetBlue and you could build up a JetBlue points balance up quicker.

Flight network

JetBlue serves a lot of flights out of New York, Boston, and Washington but in some other parts of the country, you’ll need to connect through one of those locations. For example, if I want to fly JetBlue out of Houston it is usually a very inefficient route to places outside of the East Coast.

Meanwhile, Southwest has many flights out of Chicago, Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, and other major cities. 

I have found Southwest to be much easier to get around the country because they offer more flight options to a lot of destinations out of major cities. JetBlue will offer you a lot of options when traveling to or from the East Coast, but you can find plenty of flights just about anywhere with Southwest. 

Keep this in mind, in 2017, Southwest transported 157,000,000 passengers compared to JetBlue’s 40,000,000. Thus, Southwest serves almost 4 times the amount of passengers as JetBlue, which isn’t surprising considering JetBlue’s fleet size is around 280 and Southwest’s is around 750.  

When it comes to international flights, JetBlue has more destinations though both serve some very popular international destinations and you can read about Southwest international destinations here. Also, Southwest just started to fly routes to Hawaii. 

JetBlue direct flights from DFW.


Southwest has better punctuality than JetBlue. They also have fewer cancellations. You have to attribute a lot of the delays and cancellations to geography but because you often have to route through the Northeast with JetBlue, that data is still relevant. 

Although delays and cancellations may be more common, I do like JetBlue’s no overbooking policy.

Baggage fees

Southwest will allow you to fly with two free checked bags on every flight. This is a significant potential savings for many people and should always be factored into the flight price.

With JetBlue, you will have to pay for your first checked bag and here are the prices you can expect: 

  • 1st checked bag: $35
  • 2nd checked bag: $45
  • 3rd+ checked bag: $150

You can read more about the JetBlue baggage fees here.

Change fees 

Southwest allows for free changes, which is a huge factor to consider when making a booking. Meanwhile, JetBlue will charge you fees depending on how expensive your fare was. 

For example, for changes in cancellations to Blue and Blue Plus fares under $100, you would have to pay $75 per person plus difference in fare and for fares between $100 and $149.99, you would have to pay $100 per person plus difference in fare. The price continues to go up the more expensive the fare.

Update: As of June 8, 2021, JetBlue eliminated change and cancel fees for most fares, except Blue Basic.

The lack of baggage fees and change fees is what really distinguishes Southwest from JetBlue in my opinion. It sort of solidifies Southwest as more of a budget airline.

Travel funds

JetBlue does have a more generous policy when it comes to its travel credits. With JetBlue you can use them for other people. So if you have three other people traveling with you, you could book their flights with funds from your Travel Bank. 

This is not the same as the travel credits for Southwest, which require you to use them for the passenger who received the credit. One workaround for those travel credits for Southwest is that you can convert them into LUV vouchers which can be used for other people although there is a fee associated with that conversion. You can read more about Southwest travel credits here.


JetBlue is known for having great legroom in its aircraft. Below, you can see just how much legroom JetBlue has:  

  • A320: 34″
  • A320: 32″
  • A321: 33″
  • A321: 32″
  • Embraer E-190: 32″

Now compare those results with Southwest. 

  • Boeing 737-700: 31″
  • Boeing 737-800: 32-33″
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8: 32-33″

So in some cases the legroom is actually the same. However, since JetBlue flies the A320 for most routes and Southwest flies these 737-700 on most routes, you’ll usually get an extra inch or two of legroom with JetBlue. An extra inch or two may not sound like a whole lot but it can actually go pretty far when it comes to comfort. This is especially true if you are on the taller side.


With Southwest there is an open boarding policy. This means that you do not have assigned seats and instead you find your seat as you board. It is not as chaotic as it sounds since you are given a boarding position at check-in and the process usually goes pretty smoothly in my experience. 

With JetBlue, they have more of a traditional boarding process where you can reserve your seat. Some people despise the open boarding policy with Southwest, while others like me don’t mind it all. It all depends on how much assurance you need about your seat. You can always look into Southwest EarlyBird for help with securing a better seat with Southwest, though.

Business class

Southwest has something called Business Select but this is not a “true” business-class. I say that because there are no special seats with extra leg room in Southwest planes. But that doesn’t mean that you will not get any additional perks. If you purchase a Business Select ticket you can get the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed A1-A15 boarding
  • Fly By lane access
  • Free premium drink
  • 12 Rapid Rewards per dollar spent
  • Fully refundable fare
  • Standby

However, JetBlue has a real business class. In fact, it is arguably one of the best products for flying around the US, especially from a value perspective. This product is known as Mint and gets fantastic reviews. There are two different versions of Mint seats and one of them includes a suite. So if you truly value luxury and comfort, Southwest can’t compete with this. (It should be noted that this type of cabin is only available on select routes.)

Image via JetBlue.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Elite status

Southwest A-List 

Southwest has two levels of elite status.You can earn A-List If you meet the following requirements in a calendar year:

  • 25 one-way qualifying flights OR
  • 35,000 tier qualifying points

Here are the Southwest A-List benefits.

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security and check-in lanes
  • 25% bonus earning (7.5X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares)
  • Free same day standby
  • Dedicated A-List phone number

You can earn A-List Preferred if you meet the following requirements in a calendar year:

  • 50 one-way qualifying flights OR
  • 70,000 tier qualifying points

The benefits for A-list Preferred are extremely similar to the benefits for A-List.

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security and check-in lanes
  • 100% bonus earning (12X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares)
  • Free same day standby
  • Dedicated A-List phone number
  • Free in-flight wifi

JetBlue Mosaic 

JetBlue only has one level of elite status and it is known as Mosaic. It can be earned by meeting the following requirements:

  • 15,000 base flight points within a calendar year OR
  • Fly 30 segments plus 12,000 base flight points within a calendar year.

You will normally earn 3 base flight points for every dollar spent, so spending $5,000 will get you Mosaic. Here are all of the Mosaic benefits.

  • First and second bag free
  • Change and cancellation fees waived
  • 15,000 bonus points upon qualifying for Mosaic
  • Expedited security line
  • Early boarding
  • Complimentary drinks
  • 6 points per dollar if you book a Blue fare on jetblue.com

Some of the key Mosaic benefits like free baggage and no change fees are already provided by Southwest to non-elites so they don’t feel as valuable in the context of this comparison. I really like the 15K bonus for achieving Mosaic status but 7.5X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares offers more value than 6X TrueBlue points on Blue fares.

It’s also nice that Southwest continues to reward frequent flyers with a second-tier of A-List, which allows for even higher earnings on flights of at least 12X. So to me, Southwest has the more rewarding program for frequent flyers.

In-flight entertainment

In-flight entertainment is going to be better on JetBlue. The reason is that they have built-in TV screens and planes more equipped with Wi-Fi (JetBlue is the only airline with free high-speed Wi-Fi at every seat). 

With Southwest, there aren’t any TV screens and you have to bring your own device in order to stream in-flight entertainment. The internet connections are not always so great so streaming can be a frustrating experience.


JetBlue is partnered up with a lot of well-known international carriers. This gives it a distinct advantage because you can earn miles with a lot of different airlines including:

  •  Aer Lingus
  •  Aeroflot
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Avianca Airlines
  • Azul
  • British Airways
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cape Air
  • Cathay Pacific

Southwest does not have a long list of partners so JetBlue easily wins this.

Southwest vs JetBlue FAQ

Who has the better credit cards?

Southwest has more credit card options than JetBlue and arguably better overall credit cards because of the opportunity to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

These cards include the:

– Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
– Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
– Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
– Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

Which is the bigger airline?

In 2017, Southwest transported 157,000,000 passengers compared to JetBlue’s 40,000,000. Thus, Southwest serves almost 4 times the amount of passengers as JetBlue, which isn’t surprising considering JetBlue’s fleet size is around 280 and Southwest’s is around 750.  

Which airline has cheaper baggage fees?

Southwest will allow you to fly with two free checked bags on every flight.

With JetBlue, you have to pay for your first checked bag and here are the prices: 

1st checked bag: $35
2nd checked bag: $45
3rd+ checked bag: $150

Which airline has more legroom?

JetBlue has more legroom than Southwest. You typically will have 1 to 3 inches more of leg room with JetBlue.

Who has the better business class?

JetBlue has a true business class known as “Mint.” It’s one of the best business class cabins for a US airline and is superior to the Business Select experience offered by Southwest.

Final word

Overall, each airline has its strengths and weaknesses. I personally feel like Southwest has more value to offer for those looking to travel on a budget. With the potential savings of the Companion Pass and the two free checked bags and no change fees, there is a lot of potential to save. It is also very nice to have a much more expansive flight network which makes finding cheaper (and more convenient) flights easier.

JetBlue also has a lot of value to offer but they also have more of a premium experience with more legroom, better in-flight entertainment, and of course a true business-class product. My only major complaint is the smaller flight network which makes flying JetBlue very inconvenient out of some major cities. 

Is Southwest a Good Airline? [2021]

Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular airlines in the US. But is that because of the cheaper fares or is Southwest actually a good airline? In this article, I’ll take a look at all of the major things people care about when evaluating an airline to give you a clear idea as to the benefit of flying Southwest.

Is Southwest a good airline?

Southwest is a “good airline” based on many of the factors travelers care about the most like on-time arrivals, service, baggage fees, etc. But every passenger is unique and values everything a little bit differently. Below, I’ll provide a breakdown of a lot of the reasons why Southwest would be considered a good airline by many and also some of the shortcomings. In the end, you will have to be the judge as to whether or not Southwest is a good airline in your eyes.

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

On time arrivals

One of the most important factors for determining whether or not an airline is “good” is: does it actually get you to where you want to be on time?

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), which compares all of the major US airlines, Southwest was #5 in 2020 for on-time arrival percentage. Their on time arrival percentage was 85.98% and the top position — occupied by Hawaiian Airlines — was 87.5%. That means Southwest was not too far off from #1.

So while their ranking is seemingly in the middle of the pack, Southwest actually did quite well compared to the top performers.

There have been issues with cancellations and delays here and there but a lot of airlines have had logistical issues ever since the pandemic hit. Personally, I have flown Southwest a lot over the past 12 years and I’ve never had consistent issues with arriving on time.

Airlines on-time statistics
Southwest arrived on time nearly 86% of the time.


Not everybody is into Skytrax ratings but they do offer a comprehensive breakdown of pretty much everything you would care about related to airlines. They consider things like baggage delivery times, boarding efficiency, seat comfort, attention to cabin safety, the list goes on and on.

When it comes to Skytrax ratings, Southwest is the only major US airline to receive four stars. All of the legacy carriers received three stars. While the highest Skytrax rating is five stars I think it still says a lot that Southwest is the highest rated US airline.


Southwest has consistently been voted as one of the top airlines for its customer service. This has held true in my personal experiences flying with Southwest.

Sure, if you fly with them enough you will run into some employees who aren’t the most friendly but that is going to happen with any large organization. But overall I have come to expect pleasant interactions with Southwest staff and flight attendants.

This is largely because Southwest is considered the best airline to work for. Flight attendants working for Southwest Airlines receive great pay and the company has built a great culture all around that is ultimately felt by passengers.


Southwest is known for its generous baggage policy and it’s one of the major ways that it stands out above the competition.

With Southwest, you can fly with two bags for free. Every other US airline is going to charge you for your baggage with prices usually starting at $30 for your first bag and then jumping up to $40 for your second bag. This means that if you were to check two bags on a traditional airline, you could be shelling out $140 for a round-trip just on baggage fees alone!

So taking advantage of the lack of baggage fees on Southwest is a great way to save money and it’s something you should always consider when comparing prices with other airlines.

Also, despite being known as a budget airline, Southwest never charges for carry-on or personal items either.


Southwest allows you to make free changes to your flights. Now, a lot of the major US airlines also allow you to make free changes. But I still think it says a lot about Southwest that they have allowed you to do this for a long time.

Companion Pass

Another major way that Southwest stands out is with its Companion Pass benefit.

This benefit allows you to choose a companion that can fly for free with you on every flight for up to two calendar years.

Whether you pay with cash or with points, your companion can ride along for free and only has to pay for the fees which are extremely minimal on domestic flights.

And if you get sick of your companion you can even switch them out for someone else a few times!

To earn the Southwest Companion Pass by flying you’ll need to:

  • Complete 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year
  • Earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in one calendar year

The 125,000 Rapid Rewards points can easily be earned with the right credit cards which I will talk about next.

Credit Cards

The Southwest cards are issued by Chase. While they don’t allow you to get multiple personal Southwest credit cards, they do allow you to acquire a personal and a business credit card. This means that if you get approved for these cards when they offer large welcome bonuses you could earn enough points to get the coveted Companion Pass.

Below, I’ll talk about some of the details of the best Southwest credit cards.

Southwest Premier credit card

The Southwest Premier credit card will also offer you the following benefits: 

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6,000 anniversary points

This is a decent airline card but it is not the card I would recommend if you are flying Southwest a lot. For frequent flyers I would recommend one of the cards below.

Southwest Priority card

The Southwest Priority card is the ultimate Southwest credit card. That is because it comes with some seriously valuable perks which include:

  • Bonus spending:
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on hotel and car rental partner purchases.
    • 1X Rapid Rewards on all other purchases
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $149 annual fee applied to your first billing statement

This is a great card for people who frequently fly with Southwest since the credits and benefits allow you to easily offset the annual fee each year. You can read my full review of this card here.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card is another beast of a card and comes with the following features: 

  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • A-List credits 
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee Credit
  • Employee cards added at no additional cost
  • $199 Annual Fee

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Cheap fares

Southwest is known for offering flash sales with super cheap fares that you can sign-up for here.

The catch is that sometimes the cheapest fares are limited to specific days in the week and sometimes to less popular routes/destinations. But if the routes and dates line up for you, these sales can save you some serious cash.

The other side to this coin is that last-minute flights on Southwest can be pretty expensive. Usually whenever I compare the price of a last-minute Southwest flight to a legacy carrier like United, Southwest is more expensive (sometimes by a wide margin).

Extensive network

When it comes to passengers getting around, Southwest is one of the busiest US airlines. Take a look at the enplanements for 2020 and you’ll see that Southwest was ranked number two with 67.7 million!

If you were trying to get around the US, Southwest makes it very easy with so many different routes available.

Chart via Wiki.

International and Hawaii flights

Southwest is much more than just an airline that can get you around the US. They also can help you hop over to paradise in Hawaii and also to a number of international destinations. The prices to Hawaii on Southwest can be very reasonable so it can make your Hawaii vacation very doable.

And there is a nice list of international destinations that they serve which include:

  1. Los Cabos/Cabo San Lucas (SJD)
  2. Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  3. Cancun (CUN)
  4. Cozumel (CZM)
  5. Belize City (BZE)
  6. Havana (HAV)
  7. Nassau Bahamas (NAS)
  8. Grand Cayman (GCM)
  9. Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
  10. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS)
  11. Punta Cana (PUJ)
  12. Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR)
  13. San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)
  14. Aruba (AUA)

Simple elite system

Some frequent fliers enjoy figuring out the intricacies and complexities that come from airline loyalty programs. From regional upgrades to airline alliance lounge access, the policies and procedures can get pretty confusing for a lot of people but many are okay with that because the payoff is worth it.

But others prefer simplicity.

Southwest Airlines makes it really simple when it comes to earning elite status and figuring out your elite benefits.

There are only two levels to Southwest elite status and the levels are: A-List & A-List Preferred.

Here’s a look at the benefits for A-List.

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security and check-in lanes
  • 25% bonus earning
  • Free same day standby
  • Dedicated A-List phone number

The benefits for A-list Preferred are extremely similar to the benefits for A-List but slightly upgraded.

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security and check-in lanes
  • 100% bonus earning
  • Free same day standby
  • Dedicated A-List phone number
  • Free in-flight wifi

No business class

One of the major knocks against Southwest Airlines is that they do not have a “true” first class or business class cabin. This means no special treatment or extra wide seats with only one seat next to you.

Essentially, everybody is on equal footing.

Southwest does have a type of fare called Business Select which offers the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed A1-A15 boarding
  • Fly By lane access
  • Free premium drink
  • 12 Rapid Rewards per dollar spent
  • Fully refundable fare
  • Standby

So you can get business class treatment (just mostly outside of the plane).

If you want extra legroom, there are some seats that have extra legroom and depending on the aircraft you may be able to find a row with only two seats so you can get a quasi-economy plus experience. But still, it is not the same as flying in a dedicated cabin at the front of the plane.

No assigned seats

Another drawback to Southwest is the boarding process. Personally, the boarding process does not bother me and we generally upgrade to Business Select so that we are at the front of it.

How the boarding process works is that you will be forced to check in 24 hours prior to your flight. At that time, you will be given a boarding position depending on when you check in.

Once you enter the plane it is first come, first serve so there are no assigned seats and you can claim anything you would like (unless you were not allowed in the emergency exit rows for some reason).

A lot of people don’t like that you have to check in 24 hours prior to takeoff because sometimes you might be busy during that time and not have access to a computer or Wi-Fi. The good news is that you can purchase Southwest EarlyBird which will check you in 36 hours prior to takeoff.

No seatback entertainment

Another knock which I have to agree with is that the Southwest is lacking in the in-flight entertainment department. You will not find a seatback TV on any Southwest flight. (Compare this to competitor JetBlue which has seatback screens on every flight.) You can still stream entertainment but not having the seatback screens in my opinion is a pretty big negative since the streaming is not always optimal.

Final word

By many measures, Southwest Airlines is objectively a good airline. They are timely, budget friendly in a few respects, offer an extensive network of flights with great service, and also have some amazing perks like the Companion Pass. They don’t offer the best experience to people seeking more premium in-flight amenities, though. So I think Southwest is good for many but definitely not perfect for everyone.

Emirates A380 First Class Review (MXP to JFK)

I wasn’t sure what to expect for the Emirates A380 first class experience. Emirates has a great reputation so I generally expected good things but I didn’t know how it would stack up to some of the best first class experiences like the Etihad Apartment and Singapore Suites. After trying it out myself, I have to admit that Emirates first class is a superb product that I believe can compete with any first class product.


We used 85,000 Emirates Skywards transferred over from Amex Membership Rewards to book our Emirates flights and paid close to $300 USD in total fees for each ticket (which isn’t that bad for Emirates).

Remember, Emirates is a transfer partner of Chase so this could be one of the most valuable redemptions for your Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Related: Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard Review

Emirates chauffeur service

We finished up our stay at the Park Hyatt Milan and were picked up in a Mercedes-Benz mini-van by the chauffeur service arranged by Emirates. He was running a little late but he did what he had to do to get us to the airport quickly even though we were still several hours from departure time.

Emirates chauffeur service.

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

The Lounge at Milan (MXP)

After arriving to the airport, we made our way to the Emirates Business/First Class Lounge in Milan. This was a very nice lounge with great food, good drink selections, and a unique boarding method. You get to board the plane directly from the lounge so you can kick back and fully relax and not worry about having to time your travel to the gate.

 Emirates Business/First Class Lounge in Milan.
Emirates Business/First Class Lounge in Milan.


We were among the first to board the the A380. The first class cabin on the A380 has 14 suites configured in rows of 1-2-1. With 14 suites, it’s one of the more crowded first class cabins especially since the upper deck on the A380 doesn’t have as much room as some wide body planes like the 777 (the new Emirates first class cabin only has six suites so it fixes this issue).

Emirates A380 First Class
Emirates A380 First Class cabin.

Upon entering, we were greeted by the flight attendants and shown to our suites. We chose to share interior suites 2E and 2F. I think the interior suites are well designed to be shared. It’s very easy to communicate with your travel companion when the middle partition is lowered and it still feels pretty private with the doors closed.

It’s easy to talk to your travel partner with these suites.

Although it was nice sharing the space, I think we both finally realized that we prefer window suites. The suites along the windows always just feel more private and I’m all about the views and aerial photos, so I think this might be our last flight in conjoined middle suites barring availability.

Emirates A380 First Class
My Emirates first class suite.
Emirates A380 First Class
Emirates first class window suite.

The Emirates first class suite on the A380 is tricked out with many features, some of which are very useful while others are really there just for show.

The seat is 23 inches wide which isn’t very wide compared to some other products but still plenty of space for me. I liked the look and feel of the grey leather seat and thought this was overall a very comfortable seat.

Emirates first class seat.

The suite is not nearly as spacious as some other first class suites like the Singapore Airlines Suites or the Etihad Apartment. In those suites you can actually get up and walk around inside your suite, but in these the suite walls pretty much just wrap around the seat and TV.

To me, the compactness of the Emirates suite made it feel a bit cozy, though it does come a little close to being confining and the walls did feel lower than other suites I’ve flown in.

I’d also probably prefer to have more counter space to work with but overall it isn’t a major issue since you can clear off the desk in front of you and you do have a bit of counter space on the side. Plus, you can always pull our your tray if you need to set up an actual work station.

Emirates A380 First Class
Emirates first class seat.

There’s a mini-bar in your suite which pops up via electronic controls. I have to admit this is a fun feature even though it’s usually more practical to request a cold beverage with a glass from the crew since these are not refrigerated (or at least mine wasn’t).

Emirates first class mini-bar.
Emirates first class mini-bar.

The suites have a 27 inch TV screen, mini-vanity mirror with amenities, snacks, writing kit, lamps, and a floral touch (not to mention a lot of shiny gold trimming and faux wood).

Emirates A380 First Class suites
Emirates A380 First Class suites.

The 27 inch TV screen (which is touch screen) is large but newer generations of first class suites have moved on to 32 inch screens, which is crazy but also 100% okay with me.

Emirates A380 First Class suites
Emirates A380 First Class suites TV monitor.

The mini-vanity mirror is quite small but still can be practical if you need it. I didn’t try any of the lotions but they have various types of Temple Spa products and even products for focus and aromatherapy.

Emirates A380 First Class suites mini-vanity mirror.

The bowl on the desk is full of delicious snacks including some very good chocolate.

Emirates A380 First Class suites snacks.
Emirates A380 First Class suites floral decor.

There’s a writing kit with a writing pad, envelopes, and a pen.

Emirates A380 First Class suites writing kit.

At first, it seemed like a bit much to have all of those items in the suite, but I really enjoyed the bowl of snacks. They can get you into trouble though because the crew will replace your snacks almost instantly. If it’s too tempting (probably just a personal problem for me) or you just don’t want them, you can always ask the flight attendants to remove them (which they do for take-off anyway).

Emirates A380 First Class suites.

The suites feel remarkably private.

Even though there are 14 suites on the A380, it’s still pretty easy to avoid eye contact with your neighbor even with the door open since the suites are staggered. As mentioned, the only slight issue is that the walls are bit short.

Emirates A380 First Class
Privacy is not an issue in Emirates first class.

I initially had some reservations about Emirates first class because I thought it was a bit too “blingy” for my liking. The cabin definitely is one of the most flashy products I’ve flown in and I could do without all the shiny stuff, but once I got settled in my suite, I didn’t really pay attention to any of it and didn’t feel like it detracted from the experience.


You can store your carry-ons underneath the TV where there is a lot of room. I easily fit my wide carry-on and my backpack under there. The only issue is that if you have a lot of luggage there you’ll probably have to move it when you pull out the bed. I was able to put my bags in an empty suite but I’m not sure where they would’ve gone if the suites were at capacity.

There’s also a wardrobe built into the front of the suite. It’s a big closet but it’s open to the area below the desk meaning that you need to be mindful of how far back you push your luggage since it could knock off or wrinkle your hanging garments.

As for storage compartments, there’s hardly any storage compartments and the ones they do have are quite small and shallow.

Emirates A380 First Class suites storage.
Emirates A380 First Class suites storage.

Air vents

Too many airlines keep their cabins way too warm and don’t offer a way for passengers to remain cool. While the vents on the A380 aren’t as advanced as the climate controls in the new suites, they are still practical and allowed me to stay cool and comfortable in my suite.

There are vents located above your shoulder near the suite door and also just under the tablet.

Emirates A380 First Class suites air vents.
Emirates A380 First Class suites air vents.

Power ports

There are two USB ports located just under the mini-bar.

Emirates first class USB ports.

There’s also a power outlet found right in front of you in the front of the desk, underneath a small flap.

Emirates first class power outlet.

Emirates first class amenities

The Emirates first class amenity kit is very high quality and comes stocked with Bvlgari products (pronounced BULL-gur-ee in case you were wondering). These products included lotion, lip balm, cologne, after shave, and also came with tissues, shaving products, and body spray. My packaging was a little roughed up which detracted from the presentation just a bit though.

Emirates first class Bvlgari amenities.

The headphones came in an Emirates branded case, which was slightly tattered.

Emirates first class headphones.

They aren’t Bose but they still felt high quality enough.

Emirates first class amenities.

Seat controls

The seat controls are found on the armrest and are very easy to adjust into the standard pre-set positions. You can also control the suite doors with a push of a button which is a very cool feature that other suites don’t have.

Emirates first class seat controls.

You can also use the tablet to adjust your seat position and control the middle partition and suites doors. If you select privacy, you’ll activate a do not disturb light on the outside of your suite.

Privacy lights.

The tablet has a lot of other functions, such as viewing the airshow flight cameras and controlling in-flight entertainment. One other function it has is to control the massage functions.

I’ve tried a number of premium seats with built-in massagers. Many of them are very weak and subtle to the point where you’re not even sure if its your seat moving or the plane’s natural vibrations. But the massager in this seat was very noticeable and I actually enjoyed it.

Emirates first class massage controls.

In-flight entertainment

The in-flight entertainment was pretty solid with plenty of choices and easy to navigate on the tablet. You can check here to see what’s on during your flight.

Emirates in-flight entertainment.

Emirates first class dining

Like many other first class products, you can request your meals at any time and you can check the menu ahead of time. Since this flight from Milan to New York was not super long, we got things started soon after we hit altitude.

We kicked off the dining experience with Dom Perignon 2009. Emirates changes up their champagnes from time to time, offering special vintage Dom but for this flight we had Dom Perignon 2009, which seems to be their standard on many flights.

Emirates first class Dom Perignon.

We were first brought out canapé starters. These consisted of grilled venison with cranberries, smoked Scottish salmon, and Bleu d’Auvergne on gingerbread.

Emirates first class canapé starters.

These were very tasty.

The crew member then came around to make my tray table, which was pretty wide.

Emirates first class tray table.

A fresh selection of very tasty breads was then brought out.

Tasty bread basket.

And then the entire table was set.

Emirates first class dining tray table set up.

Then it was caviar time.

Emirates first class caviar.

The dish below was excellent and probably one of my favorite dishes I’ve tried on a first class flight. It was Sheikh el mashi, which consisted of roasted aubergines filled with minced lamb and vermicelli rice. The tomato sauce and pine nuts packed a ton of flavor and it was just an excellent dish.

Roasted aubergines filled with minced lamb and vermicelli rice.

I wasn’t crazy about the dessert, which was a chocolate and orange croissant pudding since the orange flavor was bit overpowering and I’m also not crazy about bread pudding texture.

Emirates first class dessert.

Overall, I thought the dining ranked among my favorite and besides the dessert, all of the dishes were fantastic. Also, the service during the meal (and throughout the entire flight) was super attentive and on par with any other airline I’ve flown.

The menu for the main courses is below.

Emirates first class menu.
Emirates first class menu.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

The Emirates A380 Bar

While I think that Qatar Airways probably has the best bar on their A380, the Emirates bar is a still great on-board bar. The circular bar is compact but the bar area is pretty wide open with space for quite a few people to congregate, chill, shoot the s**t, etc.

Emirates A380 bar.

There’s a large TV screen at the bar where you can track the progress of your flight and grab some snacks.

Emirates A380 bar.

When the mood lighting kicks in, the bar looks really good. It should be noted that Emirates has a new bar design that’s being introduced on their A380s.

Emirates A380 bar.

Each side has a curved sofa with window views, which is a great place to sit down and enjoy your drink though many people enjoyed just standing around.

Emirates A380 bar seating.
Emirates A380 bar seating.

Like other in-flight bars, they supply you with a range of snacks you can pick up at the bar. Some sweet, some savory.

Emirates A380 bar snacks.
Emirates A380 bar snacks.

Something that’s really cool about Emirates bar is they serve Hennessy Paradis (in first class). You may not realize it but this bottle costs $800 and Emirates has brought in in a more premium version of this which runs for close to $3,000.

Emirates bar selection.

The bar tender asked us if we’d like to be served Dom (since that’s limited to first class passengers) and of course we obliged.

I will say that our bar experience was when I really saw how exceptional the crew was. They were a very diverse and well polished crew and were more personable than perhaps any airline I’ve flown.

Singapore Airlines sets the bar very high for service but Emirates is right there with them in my opinion and the diversity factor definitely distinguishes Emirates from Singapore. I had zero complaints regarding the service and couldn’t imagine them doing a better job on our flight. The service was definitely a highlight of the flight. 

Dom Perignon at the Emirates A380 bar.

The Emirates A380 first class bar

There’s actually a much smaller first class bar in the front of the upper deck which is exclusively for first class passengers. There’s a good selection of spirits and even some snacks. And it’s a pretty cool feeling to be able to get up and serve yourself a glass of Dom at any moment. However, this is not an area where people socialize like the main bar.

Emirates first class bar.


I think Emirates does a great job with their bedding. I found the mattress pad, pillows, and duvet/comforter to be very comfy. I really don’t like it when airlines give you paper thin pillows but these were high quality, soft pillows.

Emirates first class bedding.
Emirates first class bedding.

And once again, the air vents played a major role in the comfort. I’m usually way too hot to really enjoy getting comfortable under blankets in pajamas on planes but with the vents set at the right strength and position, I was as comfortable as could be.

Emirates first class bedding.

Speaking of pajamas, I was a big fan of the Emirates pajamas. They weren’t too heavy or baggy and I also liked the way they looked. I’m not sure if these had the Hydra Active Microcapsule Technology in them but they did feel very comfortable.

Emirates first class pajamas.

No complaints from me….

A little bubbly before bed.

I did feel like the TV was a little far when in bed but the monitor is still big enough so that this isn’t a major issue. Also, there’s not a lot of room between the bed and the desk.

With the suite doors shut and in the lie-flat positions, it feels very private in the suite though I think the window suites would have felt even more private.

Inside the closed first class suite.
Inside the closed first class suite.

Emirates first class A380 shower

The shower experience is special on Emirates. Before departure or right after take-off, the crew should come around and take your request for your shower time. There are a total of two showers on board the A380.

You’ll be allowed a total of 30 minutes in the shower room but you’ll only get five minutes of water time. You can turn the water off when you’re lathering your body though so that you can prolong your shower. Note that the water will cut-off with one minute remaining to remind you to quickly rinse off (simply hit the button to kick the water back on). Also, the water will not turn on until the door is shut.

Emirates first class shower.

The shower is different from Etihad since Emirates provides a removable shower head. Also, the Emirates A380 has a bench in it in case of turbulence. We were experiencing a lot of turbulence as we approached the US due to winter storms, so I almost wasn’t even able to take a shower. Luckily it wasn’t a major issue though I did bounce around for a short while.

Emirates first class shower.

The shower room is very bright and spacious and has beautiful Dubai artwork on the wall.

Emirates first class lavatory on the A380.

There’s a large sink area with vanity mirrors and plenty of towels. There’a also a wide bench area that also covers the toilet making it easy to sit down and change if you need to.

Emirates first class lavatory on the A380.

There’s an entire collection of amenities that you can use at any given time. You can find just about anything in their from a loofah to cotton pads.

Emirates first class lavatory on the A380.

Emirates has a crew member working on the lavatories seemingly nonstop so they are always fresh and clean. When you enter for your shower, you’ll notice that the shower room is set up with towels and a special floral touch.

Emirates first class shower.
Emirates first class shower.

I was surprised when I exited the shower room and was led to the spa-like relaxation area. This is the same area where the first class bar was set up but they transform it into a relaxing spa setting complete with trickling waterfall fountain, candles, and stones.

Emirates relaxation area.
Emirates relaxation area.

You can also request a refreshing beverage like tea or juice.

Emirates relaxation area.
Emirates relaxation area.

When I made my back to the seat, there were a few slices of fresh fruit waiting on me, which was very refreshing.

Emirates post-shower fresh fruit slices.

Final word on Emirates A380 First Class

The Emirates first class experience exceeded my expectations. Aside from the suites being on the smaller side (and having 14 suites in first class), I don’t have any real complaints. The service was flawless, the dining was great, and we had a fantastic time at the bar chatting it up with the crew. It’s also always fun to take a shower in the sky, too. Even though this is the “old” Emirates first class, it easily ranks among my favorite first class experiences.

Originally posted: on April 30, 2018

Lufthansa First Class Guide & Review [2021]

Lufthansa first class is one of the most coveted first class experiences. There are a few different ways that you can experience it though and below I will break down everything you need to know.

I’ll also give you a super detailed review of my experience on Lufthansa first class.

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

Lufthansa First Class Aircraft

When flying Lufthansa first class, you’ll be able to choose from three different types of aircraft:

  • 747-8i
  • A380-800
  • A340-600

Lufthansa First Class 747-8

The 747 is probably the fan favorite for Lufthansa first class.

It has eight seats just like the A380 but there’s just something special about flying in the nose of the 747. You also have an opportunity for optimal privacy if you can snag one of the seats in the front.

Just be aware that the 747-400 does not have a first class cabin as it only goes up to business class.

Lufthansa First Class 747-8 seat map. Image via Lufthansa.

Lufthansa First Class A380

The first class cabin on the A380 is located on the upper deck. It has eight seats and they are arranged directly across from each other unlike the 747.

Lufthansa First Class A380 seat map.
Lufthansa First Class A380 seat map. Image via Lufthansa.

Lufthansa First Class A340

The A340 has a different first class cabin. It also has eight seats but they are positioned directly across from each other rather than the slightly angled and staggered approach of the 747.

Lufthansa First Class A340 seat map. Image via Lufthansa.

Trip review briefing

Lufthansa First Class has been on my radar for the past few years. I’d almost pulled the trigger on it in 2018 but the routing did not have me departing Frankfurt and I really wanted that full First Class Terminal treatment. So when I had the chance to book Lufthansa first class on the A380 as part of a recent round the world trip, I didn’t hesitate. Below is my full review of the Lufthansa First Class experience on the A380.

Flight routes 

This particular segment to Houston was part of a mini round the world trip which included the following routes: IAH->TPE->BKK (layover)->FRA->IAH.

I love saving the best for last and Lufthansa First Class was definitely the crown jewel on this trip.

Round the world trip routing. Image via Gcmap.com.

Hotel stays 

  • W Taipei (4 nights on cash)
  • Hilton Frankfurt City Centre (3 nights: one on points and 2 with free night certificates)
  • Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport  (1 night on points + cash)

I used a combination of cash, points, and free night certificates for my hotel stays.

Hilton Frankfurt City Centre.

Flight details 

Here are the details for the flight:

  • Route: Frankfurt (FRA) -> Houston (IAH)
  • Flight No.: LH 440
  • Aircraft: A380
  • Class: First Class (O)
  • Seat: 1D
  • Date: June 18, 2019
  • Scheduled Departure Time: 10:00 am | Actual Departure Time: 10:08 am (+8 minutes)
  • Scheduled Arrival Time: 1:50 pm | Actual Arrival Time: 1:49 pm (-1 minute)
  • Flight Time: 10 hours,  41 minutes
Image via FlightAware.com.

Booking Lufthansa First Class (LH F) with United miles 

I booked the Lufthansa First Class ticket with 110,000 United miles and the fees for the flight were $112.13 (plus the $50 United close-in fee). This flight would have cost $8,945 so with all fees factored in, I got 8 cents in value per mile on this redemption, which is great (albeit aspirational). 

Remember, United is a transfer partner of Chase so this could be one of the most valuable first class redemptions for your Chase Ultimate Rewards.

I’d known for some time that Lufthansa First class awards generally open up a couple of weeks before departure. so when I went to book this trip a couple of days ahead of my first departure, I expected to find open awards. I initially booked a Lufthansa first class 747 flight from FRA to BOS with an economy connection to IAH on United.

The thought of going from Lufthansa First Class to United economy was nothing short of dreadful, but I went into the booking with the mindset that I’d be okay with paying to change it if something opened up and that’s what happened (twice). 

About three days into the round the world trip, an itinerary with a United first class connection at ORD opened up and I decided to book that so I’d get a little bit more time in LH F and of course avoid economy. I paid the $100 change fee (reduced due to United Silver status) and then proceeded to rejoice that I wouldn’t have to embrace my inner-peasant to get home. 

And then about 24 hours prior to departure I saw four first class tickets open up for LH F with a nonstop flight from FRA to IAH on the A380. I didn’t immediately book it though because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fly on the 747 or the A380.

747 vs A380

I went back and forth trying to quickly decide between the LH 747 and A380. I had a back row seat on the 747 so the increased privacy in the front row of the 747 didn’t factor in but it’s been a while since I have flown on the 747 and I really like flying in its nose. But the A380 from FRA was a nonstop to Houston which also meant more time in LH F and no time on United.

Ultimately, I preferred a nonstop flight and also liked the idea of starting and finishing the long-haul segments on this round the world trip from my home at IAH, since every other round the world trip I’ve done has been with connections at both LAX and JFK.

Change issues

I don’t want to get too in-depth here but there were many issues trying to make changes to my fight. First, a United agent erroneously changed my ticket from first class to economy (and then had the nerve to blame me). Then, other agents had issues trying to make the change because their system was asking them for more miles to change the flight.

One (very uninformed) agent even insisted I would need an additional 80,000 miles to make the change because “I was changing to a nonstop flight.” WTF.

Eventually, after many hours on the phone and dropped calls, a skilled United agent based in Germany made the changes with a manual override and said he would be reporting the issue to avoid it for others in the future. So hopefully you won’t have to go through that!

He also waived the change fee due to the wait, which was nice even though I had unknowingly been racking up some serious phone charges at the Hilton Frankfurt City Centre while speaking with United.

I spent a lot of time (and money) on this phone!

Getting to FRA

After spending three nights at the Hilton Frankfurt City Centre, I spent my last night at the Hilton Garden Inn at Frankfurt Airport. It’s a decent airport hotel and they put me up on the 10th floor so I had a pretty cool view of the Frankfurt skyline at sunrise (from a distance).

View from the Hilton Garden Inn at Frankfurt Airport.

I loved that this hotel was located inside the airport, so I didn’t have to take a shuttle or anything to get from the hotel to the airport.

Frankfurt airport terminal.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal

At Frankfurt, Lufthansa doesn’t just have a first class lounge — they have an entire first class terminal (read more in-depth about the my Lufthansa First Class Terminal experience here).

The experience started with me waking up ridiculously early and then walking over from the Hilton Garden Inn to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. It took me a little while to locate the terminal but after getting some guidance from an agent, I was able to find my way.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal.

The Lufthansa First Class Terminal has its own little private security area so you don’t have to deal with the long lines at the main airport terminal. I had to experience a pat down and remove my shoes because I was flying to the US but the process was otherwise very quick and harmless.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal security.

Once you make it through the security check-point there’s a duty free shop and a nice collection of Lufthansa first class terminal ducks on display you can check out before you enter the lounge. Don’t forget to collect your own rubber duck in the back of the lounge, near the showers.   

Lufthansa First Class Terminal rubber duck collection.

The Lufthansa First Class Terminal is home to one of the most impressive bars I’ve seen in a first class lounge. They serve up something like 100+ whiskies and it’s loaded with different types of liquor.  Plus, there are jars of endless gummy bears and a nice chess board to keep you occupied.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal bar.

The lounge also has a small dining room which feels pretty intimate.

I was only there for breakfast and I thought the breakfast options were solid. You can find plenty of hot food items from the buffet or you can put in an order à la carte off the menu. I’m sure lunch and dinner would be great, too.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal food.
Lufthansa First Class Terminal breakfast.

There are a lot of places to relax in the lounge and the lounge never got crowded during my stay. I liked the easy-chairs lining the windows which are great for solo travelers and there are plenty of seating areas for groups. However, I was just a tad disappointed there weren’t any areas to get real privacy besides the two day suites and there weren’t international power outlets or adapters to be found.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal lounge seating.

The lounge offers some special amenities like massage chairs, a cigar room, shower rooms (one comes with a tub), and the day suites I already mentioned.

Overall, the First Class Terminal was pretty impressive. This is definitely a lounge that deserves an earlier than usual arrival to the airport so that you can experience it. Again, if you want to find out more about the lounge then check out my full review. 

Lufthansa First Class limousine service

When it came time for boarding, an agent (my personal assistant) greeted me and then told me it was time for the limousine service to the A380.  

The Lufthansa first class experience is unique because they provide you with limousine service directly to the aircraft on the tarmac. You’ll be taken from the First Class Terminal down to a lobby area where you’ll wait on your ride as you get your passport back from passport control.

Once you get your passport back, you’ll be escorted to one of the vehicles and then make your way to the plane. In my case, the ride was just under two minutes so it wasn’t a very long journey at all.

If you want to board the plane first, I believe you can make that request when you enter the lounge but that could also be dependent on elite status.

Lufthansa First Class limousine service.

After arriving at the A380, we made our way up an elevator and across the jet bridge to the upper deck.

I got some great views of the A380 along the way.

It’s ridiculous how huge the wings are on this aircraft.

Lufthansa First Class cabin

Lufthansa First Class cabin has a total of eight seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and two very large lavatories. The cabin is on the upper deck of the A380, in front of business class which is in a 2-2-2 layout.

Lufthansa First Class seat map.

The cabin feels intimate with only eight seats which I guess fall under the “open suite” category.

Lufthansa First Class cabin.

It’s a pretty sleek cabin and I loved the “First Class” signage in the front and the elegant touch of the roses at each seat.

Lufthansa First Class cabin.

But I didn’t love everything about the cabin. One of the first things that I noticed was that there was limited privacy. The cabin reminded me a lot of the Qatar A380 first class cabin with eight open suites but Qatar had the partitions set up when we boarded so the cabin felt much more private. On Lufthansa, every seat is completely exposed at take-off and landing (I’ll say more about privacy below).

Lufthansa First Class cabin.

At the front of the cabin, there’s a small snack and beverage area.

This is where they kept the water and the premium bubbly.

On our flight they were serving Alexandra Grand Cuvee Rose 2004 Champagne Laurent-Perrier, which I’ve seen listed for around $200+ per bottle. 

Alexandra Grand Cuvee Rose 2004 Champagne Laurent-Perrier.

After meal service, they brought out a box of chocolates that they kept up at the front (which were amazing).

Premium chocolates.

At the front of the cabin there’s a little area where you can find some reading literature. This area is sometimes used as a bar or snack area on some A380s but that’s not the case with Lufthansa.

Lufthansa First Class seat

I initially picked a window seat but due to seat malfunctions was moved to an interior seat. In fact, two out of the eight seats were not functioning on this A380 which meant I was the only one in the cabin without a window seat.

This put a pretty big blemish on the experience since I really value window seats. For me, it’s not just about the added privacy and getting content (photos) but window seats just offer a different headspace due to the views. Still, I decided to remain open minded about the interior seat and look past the hiccup.

Design, comfort, and privacy

I loved the design of the wide seat that comes in at 31 inches. That’s not quite as wide as the ultra-wide Cathay Pacific first class seat but it’s much wider than the 23″ seat on Qatar First Class, so it felt very roomy (seat dimensions according to SeatGuru). I also just thought that the seat was very comfortable.

Lufthansa First Class seat.

Privacy is my only issue with this cabin. The privacy partitions are pretty big though and once those go up, the experience feels much more like a true first class experience, in my opinion. I know some like the open-cabin concept, but I much prefer (and expect) a private suite-like experience when in a top first class product.

Lufthansa First Class seat privacy.
Lufthansa First Class seat privacy.

Even though there is limited privacy in the cabin, I still liked the look of the seats, especially the window seats.

Seat features (controls, storage)

The Lufthansa A380 first class product has some of the best storage out of any first class product. First, when you board you can load up your belongings in your own private locker (designated with your seat number). I’m not sure if the 747 has the same set-up but these lockers on the A380 are very spacious and are located just behind the first class cabin.

Lufthansa A380 first class lockers.
Lufthansa A380 first class lockers.

You can see how much extra room I had after I put my backpack and carry-on bag in the locker.

Lufthansa A380 first class lockers.

There’s also a lot of storage space in the ottoman along with a net for storing items. This was a perfect place to put my DSLR and it was nice that’s it’s covered and not exposed like many other storage areas are.

Lufthansa A380 first class storage.
Lufthansa A380 first class storage.
Lufthansa A380 first class storage.

The seat controls are very practical and easy to use. You can find the quick controls on the arm rest and advanced controls underneath the panel cover on the armrest.

Lufthansa A380 first class seat controls.

I loved that there were buttons to control things like the length of the headrest and that you could scoot the ottoman up — those type of features made getting comfortable much easier than other products.

Lufthansa A380 first class seat controls.

The other arm rest has quick access buttons for media and for calling for service, which is very convenient.

Lufthansa A380 first class media controls.
Lufthansa A380 first class media controls.

There were also three storage compartments on the side of the seat, though one of them was designed to store your headphones.

Lufthansa A380 first class storage.
Lufthansa A380 first class storage.
Lufthansa A380 first class storage.
Lufthansa A380 first class storage.

Something that’s really cool about the Lufthansa first class seat is that it comes equipped with two USB ports and two international power outlets, right under the armrest. This makes it very easy and practical to keep your electronics powered.

Lufthansa A380 first class power outlets and USB.

Overall, I was a huge fan of the seat and I think it might be my #1 first class seat in terms of functionality and comfort. I also really enjoyed the convenient controls and being able to adjust the seat and ottoman to exactly where I wanted it and the seat controls just felt powerful.

Lufthansa First Class amenity kit

The first class amenity kit bags were made by Escada, a German luxury designer clothing company headquartered in Munich, so props for Lufthansa for sticking with home-grown luxury since so many airlines go with Italian or French designers.

Lufthansa First Class amenity kit.

I liked the first class branding on the inside of the bag.

Lufthansa First Class amenity kit.

The amenity kit came with La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe face lotion, eye-lift cream, and lip balm along with a dental kit, comb, eye mask, ear plugs, headphone covers, shoe horn, and socks. I loved the lotion products (quality scents) and even though the containers were very small, I still brought them home with me. By the way, La Prairie Skin Caviar is ridiculously expensive ($422 for a 1.7oz bottle) on Amazon! 

Lufthansa First Class amenity kit.

I was in love with the pajamas as soon as I saw them. They gave me a size large which actually felt like a real large versus the XXLs many other airlines issue. The pajamas are made by Van Laack — a German fashion company with its headquarters in Mönchengladbac — and they were stylish and comfortable (I took them home and still wear them on occasion though they shrink pretty good).

Lufthansa First Class pajamas.
Lufthansa First Class pajamas.

The slippers also come in specific sizes which is a nice departure since so many airlines issue one size slippers that are often much too small for any man with fully developed feet.

Lufthansa First Class slippers.

Overall, the Lufthansa amenity kit + pajama package was one of my favorites I’ve ever received in first class (I just wish the actual amenity kit bag was a little more iconic/memorable).

Lufthansa First Class headphones & IFE

Lufthansa supplied Bose headphones which came already plugged in and ready to go (within the side storage compartment).

Lufthansa First Class headphones.

The TV monitors are high quality with a 17-inch display. The screens do feel a little far away for their size compared to some other airlines and the screens are much smaller than those on top products like Singapore Airlines that have 32″ screens or now ANA with their monster 42″ 4K screens in first class.

17-inch display monitors.

You can choose from movies, TV shows, Live TV (sports), audio books, podcasts, meditation, games, and other things so the selection is extensive.

I found the movie selection to be very good. I was on a bit of a documentary kick and watched two of them: one on Drake and the other on Elon Musk (both were okay). So overall, I would rate the in-flight experience as very solid for Lufthansa First Class. 

Lufthansa First Class wifi

The FlyNet wifi was complimentary on the flight which was a nice surprise. All you have to do is follow the steps on the voucher to activate your internet and you should be able to get it working in a couple of minutes.

Lufthansa First Class wifi.
Lufthansa First Class wifi instructions.

I got a decent wifi connection and was able to keep tabs on some emails and social media but that’s all that I could do. I tried testing out the speed but it didn’t register.

Lufthansa First Class take-off experience

The take-off experience was smooth and as soon as I got into my seat I was offered a hot towel (with rose petal of course).

Lufthansa First Class hot towel.

I also opted for my standard glass of sparkling water.

Lufthansa First Class sparkling water.
Lufthansa First Class sparkling water.

Lufthansa First Class dining

The dining on Lufthansa first class was solid overall. It wasn’t the best I’ve had in the sky but I didn’t really have any complaints. The dining started out with some type of cheese dish for a starter. It had nice texture but I wasn’t fully into it and so I left it alone after a couple of curiosity bites.

Then the tray table was taken out and made. It’s a large tray table that slides all the way down to the end of the seat which means you can easily get up out of your seat when dining. This is one of my favorite features of the seat and it makes life so much easier when you need to get to the lavatory.

After getting served some garlic bread, the flight attendant raised the middle partition (there’s a button to do this on the side of the ottoman). I was delighted to finally have some real privacy as meal service began.

At that time the caviar service also began.

The caviar was excellent. I’d never eaten caviar with simple toast before but it was actually very good that way. I was slightly let down though. I’d seen many posts on Instagram recently of passengers getting very generous servings of caviar on Lufthansa and so I was really looking forward to the caviar extravaganza.

Instead, I received a single standard portion. It’s the ultimate first world problem (I know) but I’m wondering what routes get that special caviar treatment or if it’s a 747 vs A380 thing. Who knows?

I was also offered all of the appetizers but I decided to just stick with one: the smoked salmon and cucumber relish.

Next came the salad which was also enjoyable.

The asparagus cream soup with herb oil came next. I liked the asparagus flavor but it was a bit too oily for my liking.

Asparagus cream soup with herb oil.

And finally it was time for the main dish: beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, beluga lentils, and smoked potato mash. I enjoyed this dish, as the beef was cooked to my perfection (thorough) and the mash potatoes were very smooth (but in need of a good amount of salt and pepper). I wasn’t really feeling the lentils.

Beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, beluga lentils, and smoked potato mash.

After the main course, I decided to try out a cheese platter. I nibbled on a few pieces before I realized I wouldn’t have any room for dessert and aborted the cheeses (but they tasted high quality).

Cheese platter.

For dessert I went with the chocolate variation with praline ice cream quenelle. The praline and chocolate flavors blended together nicely and this really hit the spot and was just a great way to finish up everything.

Chocolate variation with praline ice cream quenelle.

After getting some sleep (more on that below), I was ready for round two. I decided to start things off with a soft pretzel and butter which was a great decision. I’d never buttered up a pretzel before but it went well together. I also went with the tagliatelle arrabbiata with parmesan, olives, and oregano, which I was mostly satisfied with but not overly impressed.

Tagliatelle arrabbiata with parmesan, olives, and oregano.

Finally, it was time to bring it home with “Grandma’s strawberry cake” which was just on a ridiculous level of tasty.

“Grandma’s strawberry cake.”

Overall, the dining experience was enjoyable but not quite as strong as I was anticipating. For the main dish, I would’ve preferred the lobster I had on EVA business class or the Deep-fried snapper fish I had on the Thai A350. But when you consider the entire dining package (premium champagne, caviar, amazing dessert, etc.), it was still a very memorable dining experience.

Lufthansa first class food menu.
Lufthansa first class food menu.
Lufthansa first class food menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.
Lufthansa first class drink menu.

Lufthansa First Class service

Service on this flight was top-notch. The crew was warm, polished, and very attentive — pretty much all you could ask for. They definitely added a lot of value to the experience and helped to capture that aura of luxury you want in first class. I can’t say enough nice things about them. 

Lufthansa First Class lavatory 

The Lufthansa First Class lavatory on the A380 is very spacious, much like other lavatories on A380s like Qatar, Singapore, etc.

Lufthansa First Class lavatory on the A380.
Lufthansa First Class lavatory on the A380.

I really loved the touch of the rose on the mirror.

Elegant touches to the lavatory.

By the sink area they had some La Prairie hand cream (worth $100+) and Evian facial mist spray. One of my new obsessions is freshening up on planes with facial mist sprays. I know these are mostly used for applying make-up but they’re also a great way to feel freshened up and I’ve now incorporated these into my life. The Evian bottles are high quality and around $20 for a full-sized bottle.

Lotion and face spray.

The drawers in the lavatory also came stocked with other items like combs, razors, and shaving cream.

Razors and shaving cream.
More amenities in the lavatory.
Mouth wash.

The A380 lavatory even has a urinal, which I thought was pretty cool (not to mention useful).

First class urinal.

Lufthansa First Class bedding 

Lufthansa First Class has one of the best beds in the sky in my opinion. It’s 81 inches long so even for someone tall, there’s plenty of room to extend your legs.

Lufthansa First Class bedding.

The mattress pad is nice and thick as are the pillows. In my case, I was given two pillows to get comftorable and I was pretty much in Heaven.

Lufthansa First Class bedding.

The duvet is also thick. Too often airlines only provide you with at best one thick item to sleep with, so you get a thick pad with a thin duvet or vice versa. But in this case, both were very soft and comfortable, which made the sleeping experience very comfortable.

Lufthansa First Class bedding.

The cabin was cool for a while which made it super cozy and comfortable in the bed but later on it started to get a little warm so it wasn’t too comfortable to bundle up.

Lufthansa First Class bedding.

Once the bed was made, it felt very private and much more suite-like, which was nice.

Lufthansa First Class bedding.

It also just felt good to look up from time to time and see that Lufthansa First Class sign at the front of the cabin.

The view from the bed.

As comfortable as this bed was, my big complaint would be that there was a pretty big gap between the seat cushions. I didn’t feel it when I was lying on my back but when I tried to get on my stomach, I could feel that sunken gap.

Landing at IAH

Because I was in an aisle seat I didn’t get photos of the approach. I was going to try with my zoom lens but the A380 windows are small and my neighbor was giving me weird looks when I’d look out “his” windows so I was not able to get any.

But here are a couple of A380 shots I got after we landed back at IAH.

Final word

Overall, this was a truly fantastic flight. If it hadn’t been for the mishap with me not getting a window seat, I think I would have been in love with Lufthansa but that sort of dampened the experience for me. Still, I enjoyed every second and felt like Lufthansa has an excellent product especially when it comes to the seat, bedding, and service.

What it’s like flying during coronavirus (United Airlines)

I just took a couple of flights on United Airlines for the first time since the global pandemic outbreak.

It was a unique and at times a little surreal experience but I thought I would share how the flights went and give you some pointers on things to avoid.


If your flight is going to be full or near full with United, you will receive a notification letting you know that ahead of time and offering you a chance to reschedule your flight or to take a travel voucher.

I did not really care that my flight was pretty full because I had booked a first class seat in an Embraer 175 which has a 1-2 configuration.

This allowed me to sit by myself on my flight out to Texas and on the way back, Brad and I flew together so we simply swapped seats with someone else so that we were sitting together.

Many times first class on domestic flights won’t be that much more expensive than economy so right now you might want to consider flying first class just to avoid sitting closer to other people.

First class on the Embraer 175.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!


There was no designated TSA Pre-Check line open at TUS and instead I was issued a card that allowed me to get Pre-Check benefits when going through the main security line (which was very short).

I made sure to put all of my small belongings into my backpack so that I did not have to use one of the little bowls for things like my wallet, phone, and sunglasses.

I brought a 12 ounce pack of hand sanitizer which is now allowed under the modified liquids rule just to see if I had any issues but they let it go through no problem.

On the way back, I had picked up some supplements which included some glutamine powder.

This triggered a close inspection of my bag along with a swab for explosives.

The TSA agent went through all my belongings and touched almost everything in my luggage which was not the best feeling.

So I would suggest not traveling with any substances like powders that could trigger a close inspection of your bags.

You might also ask the TSA agent to put on a fresh pair of gloves before your inspection as this is a new policy that should be allowed.

Immediately after security screening, I applied hand sanitizer and rubbed my hands thoroughly. (I currently plan on wiping down any hard items sitting in my luggage bag.)


Most of the stores and restaurants were closed, although I did spot a restaurant here and there open with a few occupants spaced out. If you are hoping to visit an airport lounge like a Centurion Lounge, those will likely all be closed for the time being.

Most of the small kiosk-like stores were closed and covered up but several of the news/convenience stores remained open. In those stores, you could find essentials you may need like hand sanitizer, masks, etc.

Most people were wearing masks when walking through the terminal areas. (Some airports like PHX require this.)

Personally, I chose to wear my mask in the terminal when going through it or when sitting in an area near others.

But initially, before light crowds developed, I would find a spot about 30 feet away from other people and relax there with my mask off while enjoying a snack before the flight.

For the most part, the terminals were pretty empty but when I arrived in Houston at around 5pm, there were a lot of other arrivals and the terminal looked almost like a normal airport would in the late afternoon.

One thing I will see about the terminal experience is that it does feel less “happy.” You can kind of sense that coronavirus is on the minds of many people.

The airport terminals were mostly empty.


Boarding is very different for airlines right now.

Airlines like United are boarding starting from the back of the plane.

Initially, they will still follow the normal United boarding order and call pre-boarding and allow folks like military members and those with disabilities to board first. They will also call up elite members like Global Services.

During the boarding process, social distancing was definitely not taking place although there were some signs calling for it.

Interestingly, United did not call boarding group one (first class) before they started to board from the back even though group one can board first if they want.

Once we entered the plane, we were given a small pack of sanitizing wipes. These wipes were very strong as far as the scent goes so I assume they are probably pretty good at sanitizing.

I wiped down my arm rest areas, seat belt handle, coaster, and also the handle to the window shade since those were really the only things I would be touching.

You may want to ask for a second wipe if you will be using the tray table later.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

First class meal service (covid)

On this short two hour and 15 minute flight, we were not given the usual first class meal service and instead were issued a snack pack.

There are three different types of snack packs United will offer with each one having a slightly different focus.

For example, you can get one with more sugary treats inside or go with something like the cheese spread and crackers like we did.

We were offered drinks at the time of meal service and at least once after that.

United first class snack pack.

I kept my mask on throughout the flight except for when I was eating and when I was finishing up my beverage.

At times, the mask felt warm and uncomfortable so it is not something I would want to wear for several hours or on a long-haul international flight. (I was wearing a surgical mask.)

Your flight attendants should be wearing masks the entire time. Sometimes they spoke through the mask but a couple of times I saw some pull their mask out to talk which was slightly disappointing.

What it felt like

The overall vibe of the flight is a bit weird.

On our first flight, I honestly felt like the flight attendant felt scared to be working just based on her facial expressions. On the flight back out to Tucson, things felt a bit more normal.

We avoided checked baggage as we often do but in the time of coronavirus it is just one less thing to have to worry about when it comes to exposure.

Final word

Overall, I did not feel super comfortable traveling during what looks like a second peak of coronavirus cases especially because I was flying between Arizona and Texas which are two states having massive surges.

But seeing so many people wearing masks felt slightly comforting because it made me feel like if they did have something, they would not be dispersing those germs as widely due to the mask coverings.

Also, once I sanitized the seat it felt a little bit better and with the constant hand sanitization, I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of helping to keep myself safe.

Etihad vs Emirates First Class on the A380

Both Emirates and Etihad offer some of the most highly regarded and reviewed first class experiences out there. I’ve had the privilege of flying these a few times and wanted to write up a comparison between the two. In this article, I’ll focus the comparison on the first class experience in the A380 for Etihad vs Emirates.



The first factor that I want to compare is the booking process.

The Emirates A380 serves over 50 routes so as you can imagine, this opens up many booking options. Meanwhile, the Etihad Apartment is found only on the A380 and Etihad only flies it on a handful of routes. So when it comes to finding a route that fits your itinerary, Emirates is going to be much easier.

I’ve always booked my first class flights with Emirates and Etihad very far out in advance and never really had a major issue with availability. If I had to guess though I would say that the Emirates availability is probably going to be better on any given day, though this is highly dependent on route selection.

Booking with points

Both programs have quite a few different ways to book them.

You can transfer points to Emirates from different programs like Chase, which is one of the best ways to use Chase points to fly first class.

When booking Emirates, you can also use several different partners

A lot of the partners will force you to pay some pretty substantial fees/taxes but you can avoid those sometimes. For example, you can use Alaska Airlines to book Emirates and avoid fees. Or you can choose to fly on a specific route that has minimal fees such as flying from Hong Kong.

  • To find out more about the different ways to book Emirates first-class click here

Fees flying Etihad can be very manageable. I have always chosen to use American Airlines miles to book my flights on Etihad and the fees have always been pretty minimal. American Airlines miles are also extremely easy to get with the different credit cards out there so I think that earning enough AA miles to book a first class flight on Etihad is pretty easy.

Related: Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard Review

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

Chauffeur service

Both of these airlines offer chauffeur service for first-class passengers. If you book your ticket with a partner you will likely lose the ability to take advantage of chauffeur service. We’ve experienced chauffeur service with both of the airlines and both airlines have had punctuality issues which was a bit surprising. So I’m just going to leave this one has a tie for now.

Hub lounges

Emirates has the more extravagant first class lounge located in Dubai, which is basically its own terminal. (The fact that the airline is based in Dubai also might be a factor in your consideration alone since there is just so much more to do in Dubai.)

But the Etihad lounge in Abu Dhabi is pretty solid, too. It has undergone some cuts over the past couple of years by losing out on its barber shop and also getting a downgrade in the dining department. But it’s still a pretty cool lounge with interesting features like a cigar and whiskey room and a small gym.

I’ve only experienced the Emirates lounge in Milan Italy so I don’t want to for sure say which hub lounge is better than the other but based on what I have heard and reviewed I think that I would give the nod to Emirates.


Both first class cabins are located at the front of the A380 upper deck.

The cabin on the Etihad A380 is much more intimate and appealing than the Emirates cabin. There are nine different suites plus the Residence. But with the single aisle layout, the cabin just feels more private and less crowded. It’s also just a beautifully designed cabin that has a certain mystique to it.

Meanwhile on the Emirates First class cabin, there are 14 suites. These are arranged in a two aisle 1-2-1 configuration and so the entire cabin just feels a lot more cramped. The walls to the suites are also much lower which initially looks a lot less private.

However, once you are inside, the suites still do feel very private since they are slightly offset to each other.

Overall, I prefer the Etihad cabin due to the layout and fewer number of suites.

The first class suite

When it comes to the actual suites, think that the Etihad A380 experience is superior because the suites are larger and just more elegantly designed. If you have never flown on a first class suite like the Apartment before you will be blown away by all of the space that you have.

It also has some other interesting features like a vanity mirror, separate pullout bed, mini-bar, and TV that swivels. It’s just a very impressive design. I once went from flying this suite to flying on Southwest and it was just brutal.

I also like that you can have the partial double bed experience whenever you lower the partition. It’s not quite the full double bed like Singapore suites allows you to have but it’s still a great way to share the experience with a partner and afford you more room to get comfortable.

Lowering the partition also opens up the space dramatically and creates a much more open feel in the suite. It really does blow away the Emirates A380 suite.

The enclosed suites on Emirates feel a tad bit claustrophobic. There is not any room outside of your seat other than a bit of storage space for pillows or luggage. The good news is you can lower your partition and spend time with your partner if you’d like.

The Emirates suites are also tricked out with a little mini-bar, mini-vanity mirror, lamp, automatic doors, etc. but there’s also a lot of bling and it feels more “Pimp My Ride-ish,” which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

I do like that they have air vents so that you can easily control the temperature inside your suite. That is a feature overlooked in many suites, but it can make the world of a difference when you’re trying to get to sleep comfortably.

Overall, the better suite has to be Etihad since it’s just on another level.

The first class seat

The seat on Etihad has limited comfort for a lot of people. It doesn’t recline all the way and if you want to get in the lie flat position you will have to get up out of your seat and make the bed. That’s an issue for some people and that’s why the seat is not necessarily ideal for everybody. But if you just want to kick back and relax your feet it’s not a bad option.

The layout of the seat also allows you to dine with a partner if you would like. That is significant because otherwise you are not really able to communicate with a partner if you’re flying with them since the suites are so private.

While the suite on Emirates might be a little bit more confining, the seat is actually very comfortable and for those people who like to recline immediately into a lie flat position the seat is probably better for them. Personally, I preferred the Emirates seat because I could relax into a perfectly reclined position while watching movies.

As for the actual sleep experience, I found them to be pretty equal. While I loved all of the additional space that the Apartment has to offer I gave the slight edge to Emirates because I could control the temperature and truly get comfortable.

Amenity kit

Etihad just released their new Acqua di Parma amenity kit so I have not had the opportunity to try it out. But I do know that the Emirates first class amenity kit is very high quality and comes stocked with Bvlgari products. These products included lotion, lip balm, cologne, after shave, and also came with tissues, shaving products, and body spray.

In addition to the amenity kit, I must say that I did prefer the Emirates pajamas to those offered by Etihad.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Dining and Drinks

The dining experience on Etihad has been pretty hit or miss for me. I know, I know, Etihad hires onboard chefs recruited from Michelin-starred restaurants and they can help you create your own custom dishes, but I have to say I’ve still been pretty underwhelmed in the past.

I really enjoyed the dining on my first Apartment experience but on my second time it was not as great (my best Etihad meal was on their other first class product). They also did not offer caviar on my previous Apartment flights; however, I believe that they do offer that now?

Another area where they lack is that they do not offer the same type of premium alcohol you can get on other airlines, such as Emirates.

Something that’s really cool about Emirates bar is they serve Hennessy Paradis (in first class). You may not realize it but this bottle costs $800 and Emirates has brought in in a more premium version of this which runs for close to $3,000. They also serve Dom Perignon (year varies).

I do think it is a little difficult to compare the dining experience when you only have a few personal data points but based on my limited personal experience I enjoyed Emirates dining more all thing considered.

Bar experience

Etihad has a bar area that is more of a lounge known as “The Lobby.” It is a cool little area to relax in and perhaps even get some work done or even have a little meeting. But the area is rather small and limited and is not a real bar area. It seems more fit for maybe enjoying a glass of wine or even some tea or something.

The bar on the Emirates A380 on the other hand is one of the best in the business. It’s a large and open area that attracts a lot of passengers and creates a nice scene for socializing. There are different places to relax and sit and they also have a flight attendant at the bar usually at all times serving up drinks and snacks. The energy definitely feels more upbeat there.

There also is a separate first class bar at the front of the cabin where you can find some of the premium drinks. This isn’t necessarily an area for socializing but you can go there to grab a few drinks/snacks. I think it’s really cool to be able to serve yourself up some premium drinks at your own leisure without having to hassle with the crowd.

So if I had to choose one bar experience over the other, the Emirates bar experience definitely would win by quite a large margin.

Shower experience

The shower experience is pretty solid on Etihad but it also is pretty basic. The shower experience on Emirates first class on the other hand is definitely an upgrade. For one the lavatory is just much larger and they have two showers operating meaning that it is much easier for you to schedule your shower.

The lavatories with the showers are set up likes spas and are very relaxing rooms with artwork on the walls and they have special attendants working the showers ensuring that you have everything you need. It’s a very over-the-top experience.

The shower also felt a little bit more spacious and there is a removable shower head and also a bench inside. And once you finish the shower experience, the first class bar is transformed into a spa relaxation area.

So overall I definitely would give the nod to Emirates on the shower experience.

Final word

Overall, I think I preferred the ease of the booking process (earning miles and avoiding fees) with Etihad and also like their hard product a lot more. The suites feel more elegant and are definitely more spacious and impressive. However, pretty much all other aspects of the first class experience are better on Emirates in my opinion (though in some cases not by much).

But in the end you can’t really go wrong with either of these and I would encourage everybody to try them both out since they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Japan Airlines First Class 777 Review (HND to JFK) [2021]

Japan Airlines (JAL) first class was on my bucket list for a while. Now, I have flown them, tasted their food and drinks, enjoyed their hospitality, relaxed for hours in their first class lazy-boy style seat, and even had two seats all to myself.

In this review,  I’ll cover my experience flying JAL first class from Tokyo (HND) to New York City (JFK) and why I would recommend JAL first class to anyone. From the ground experience of JAL first class to the onboard memory-foam mattress in first class, I will put you in my slippers of what makes JAL first class a great way to cross the Pacific.

Trip briefing

Flight routes

This was my third flight during my trip to the USA with a night in each Bangkok and Tokyo coming back from Kuantan, Malaysia. These flights spanned over three days and the routings were all on purpose to try the products I haven’t flown before. There was one flight change before my first flight, but it turned out alright resulting in only one night in Tokyo besides two.

  • Kuantan (KUA) -> Kuala Lumpur (KUL): Malaysia Airline 737-800 Economy Class
  • Kuala Lumpur (KUL) -> Bangkok (BKK): Royal Jordanian 787-8 Business Class
  • Bangkok (BKK) -> Tokyo (HND): Thai Airways 747-400 First Class
  • Tokyo (HND) -> New York (JFK): Japan Airlines 777-300ER First Class
  • New York (JFK) -> Detroit (DTW): Delta Airlines CRJ900 First Class (domestic product)

Hotel stays

  • Hyatt Regency Kuantan (5 nights on cash)
  • Le Méridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa (1 night points)
  • Hyatt Regency Tokyo (1 night points)

Flight details 

Here are the details for the flight: 

  • Route: Tokyo (HND) -> New York (JFK)
  • Flight No.: JL 6
  • Aircraft: 777-300ER
  • Registration: JA743J
  • Class: First Class 
  • Seat: 2K
  • Date: July 25, 2019
  • Scheduled Departure Time: 10:40 am | Actual Departure Time: 11:04 am (+24 minutes)
  • Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:45 am | Actual Arrival Time: 9:47 am (-58 minutes)
  • Flight Time: 11 hours,  44 minutes 
Image via flightradar24

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

How to book Japan Airlines First Class (JAL F) using miles

I booked my JAL first class ticket using 80,000 AA miles plus $49.83 taxes and fees. However, as I booked it a week before departure, I was charged by AA for a close-in booking fee of $75. If I was an AA elite, I would have had the close-in booking fee waived.

This has to be one of my favorite uses for AA miles as it’s not too expensive of a redemption cost, plus the taxes and fees are cheap.

You can now book JAL flights on AA website making it super easy to redeem AA miles for JAL flights. In the past, you would have had to call in to redeem AA miles for JAL. I just searched on AA’s website and was able to make the booking.

Getting to HND

From the Hyatt Regency Tokyo, which is located in Shinjuku, I took the taxi as the time I left the hotel didn’t have the airport limousine bus till an hour later leaving from the hotel. Plus, I kinda had a headache from drinking the night before with a friend.

The taxi took about 40 minutes from the hotel to the international terminal at Haneda and costed bout $75. I knew it would cost a good chunk of cash, but in this situation, I was happy to pay it.

Taxi to HND

Japan Airlines first class check-in at HND

HND is a lovely airport. It’s easy to get to from downtown Tokyo, easy to get around the terminal as it’s not too big, and has many food options. Plus, arriving at HND is always better with the shorter immigration queue when comparing to Narita (NRT).

The departures hall might be slightly crowded with people, but once you pass the crowds for the check-in counters, it’s smooth and easy with little to no queues for elites, business or first class passengers.

Departure hall at HND

Japan Airlines has a separate section for first class and Oneworld Emerald elites. In fact, there are six counters open, one being occupied, just for first class and Emerald elites. 

JAL first class check-in at HND

I walked right up to the counter without any hassle or wait. At the counter was a fabulously friendly check-in agent helping me. She explained where I had to go for first class security and lounge.

After check-in, I went straight to Japan Airlines first class security. After security was immigration. The whole process from check-in to getting airside took no longer than 10 minutes. Plus, I got a nice little first class tag for my carry-on bag and personal item.

JAL first class check-in counter at HND
JAL first class luggage tag

Japan Airlines first class lounge and Red Suites

I specifically wanted to fly out of Haneda (HND) instead of Narita (NRT) for Red Suites, which is located in Japan Airlines first class lounge at HND.

I walked a short distance from immigration to Japan Airlines first class lounge, called the Sakura Lounge. Notice the lounge is right outside of gate 112. Gate 112 is the gate JL 6 usually flies out of. So, this is a great placement for the lounge and one of Japan Airlines lucrative routes.

HND international terminal gate level

Entering the lounge is as simple as scanning your first class ticket issued by Japan Airlines or Oneworld airline. Emerald elites can also enter this lounge.

JAL First Class Sakura lounge at HND

I love the hallway entering the main part of the lounge.

JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at HND

Red Suites is almost like a tiny Japan Airlines AvGeek (aviation geek) museum, and comes with other features like an adult game room, shoe shining, and champagne sake room.

You will typically never find anyone in the Red Suites. Maybe one or two other passengers visiting, but it’s very private.

All over the Red Suites, you can find old aircraft parts, pictures, brochures, tickets, books, etc. It’s really made for AvGeeks.

In the game room, you can find a foosball table and multiple different chessboard designs having all the walls covered in aeronautical charts.

Then there is the champagne and sake room that doesn’t serve the most expensive champagne on the ground but does satisfy my taste for the bubbles. Plus, if you like sake, you can find a few options in that room along with other parts of the lounge.

JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND
JAL First Class Sakura lounge Red Suites at HND

Don’t worry, there are other sections in the First Class Sakura lounge like the buffet with a made to order section, massage chairs, showers, various seating, and tables. 

You might notice, the lounge isn’t so crowded, especially in the Red Suites. Comparing to JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at NRT, the HND lounge is far better in my opinion due to the factor of the Red Suites. 

The seating is standard, but comfy with great placement of outlets in the main section of the lounge. There is even a proper dining area.

Selection of food is alright. I did enjoy the made to order breakfast dish, JAL Original Rye Galette, but if you only care about food from first class lounges, then the offering from ANA will be better. Even JAL’s First Class Sakura Lounge at NRT offers a better selection of food. Nevertheless, I would rather eat in the air because JAL knows how to do proper inflight dining just like ANA.

JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at HND
JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at HND
JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at HND
JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at HND
JAL First Class Sakura Lounge at HND

Japan Airlines first class boarding

Within five minutes of boarding, I left the First Class Sakura Lounge and found myself in front of the gate. I love the fact that Japan Airlines has its HND to JFK flight right across from the lounge at gate 112.

When I arrived, lines were formed for both first and business class. As it’s a Oneworld airline, many Oneworld elite passengers are ready to board via the first class lane, making it feel less like first class. This has to be my biggest gripe with the Oneworld program, the fact that they give away first class benefits to elites. First class boarding and lounge access should be more exclusive, right? 

JAL first class boarding

At least boarding in Japan is always efficient. After scanning my boarding pass, I walked down the exclusive jetbridge for first class it was empty.

Arriving in first class, the experience changes from being crowded to calm and private.

JAL 777-300ER taking me to JFK
JAL first class jet bridge

When I walked up to the cabin door ready to step on the aircraft, the flight attendants were greeting me with big smiles. I was welcomed by name and escorted to my seat where I would be sitting for the next 12 hours. 

At that time I was offered a pre-departure drink of my choice. I chose champagne, at that time I didn’t know they had three different champagnes and they randomly selected one for me. They also gave me a scented hot towel.

Later in the boarding process, the flight attendants came to introduce themselves to me. There were three flight attendants working in first class named: Chinen (went by I), Osishi, and Maseda. I will explain more about them in the service section below, but a brief statement about service — they were great. They were excited as much as I was.

Chinen and I ended up having a conversation that went something like this:

Chinen: “Have you flown JAL first class before.”
Me: “No, but I have flown your competitors first class three times and loved it. I hope to compare yours to theirs for the ultimate showdown.”
Chinen: “Oh wow, well I guess we will have some fun this flight winning you over.”

We laughed a little and then talked more about how she lived in New York City before, how much she loves her job, and her husband. They also made sure my champagne was filled during the whole, but short, boarding process.

I would like to point out, the crew didn’t give me any special treatment. All the other passengers in first class were looked after as much as I was.

Waiting at my seat were the menus, amenity kits, headphones, and other little goodies like the wifi voucher and immigration card.

Japan Airlines first class cabin

Japan Airlines 777-300ER first class cabin has a total of eight seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are two lavatories, one larger than the other in the front of the cabin by the galley and flight deck. The smaller lavatory is used by the flight crew, but open to passengers as well.

Behind the first class cabin, you will find business class laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration. While it looks like a dense configuration each business class seat has direct aisle access as they are Apex Suites. In fact, they are one of my favorite seats for privacy and seat width in business class.

JAL first class seat map via SeatGuru

Japan Airlines first class suite is considered an open suite, but are private enough. They are designed better than ANA first class seats. Comparing directly with ANA first class suites, you will find them a little less private, but at least you can look out of the window easier along with less obstruction talking with your companion in the seats next to each other. 

Plus, JAL first class supports dual dining.

Before take-off, there isn’t much in terms of amenities around the cabin, unless you count the amenities at the seat. However, after take-off in the front galley by the lavatories is a display for whiskey, bottles of water, and snacks.

Japan Airlines first class seat

Since Japan Airlines uses an open suite seat, it has a roomy airy feeling. Like most Japan Airlines first class flights, not every seat is occupied. My seat was 2K and there was no one seated across from me.

The seat itself was basically a big lazy boy chair that went into the lie-flat position. There was plenty of counter and storage space for everything you might want to store, even enough storage to store a 15 inch Surface Book.

Design, comfort, and privacy

The seat offers a lazy boy style chair that is wide in upright, reclined, and lie-flat positions. It’s very comfortable and nicely padded with very little flaws.

There is minimal wear and tear making it shine over other foreign competition first class seats. It just shows how Japanese always try to keep premium seats well maintained, even on an older seat like this.

In comparison, the seat itself is somewhat similar to ANA first class seat called ANA First Square. The difference would be ANA first class seat is cloth instead of leather that JAL uses.

When it comes to privacy, you will find the open suite design slightly more airy and less like a cubical than ANA’s first class seat. It’s not the most private open suite design, but it does its job and it’s a nice change of pace compared to a more confide suite design that has bigger higher walls.

It’s still nothing like Emirates fully enclosed first class suite, but it’s still better than Lufthansa’s first class seat for privacy.

If you are seated in the middle aisle seats, you will find that there is a divider that is almost the length of the seat. It’s controllable by soft-touch physical buttons. JAL beats ANA for traveling with a companion as you can easily talk to your seatmate when you have the divider down.

Seat features (controls, storage)

JAL first class has more than enough storage for my needs. Even one compartment is big enough to fit my Surface Book 15 inch along with a few other things. 

There is the overhead bin over the window seats, but none in the middle of the cabin.

You then have the beautiful huge side console storage along the side of the seat. 

Then you have room under the ottoman to put a briefcase, backpack, or purse.

While it doesn’t have small little storage compartments as ANA has in their first class suite, this is by far better in terms of overall space given to you. 

Seat controls are easy to use being soft-touch physical buttons. There are three preset positions and individual adjustments for the seat.

Then you will find the touchscreen IFE remote in a super small storage compartment with a tiny mirror. There is another remote in the big storage compartment, but it isn’t operational.

In the most forward storage compartment, you can find the USB port and universal outlet. The USB port didn’t work, but neither did the other seat I used for my bed. I didn’t mention anything, but I think the USB ports were disabled. (Luckily I don’t need the USB port as I rather use my fast charger with the outlet.)

For a video of the seat tour, you can see here:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98RhOr4Fpuc[/embedyt]

Japan Airlines first class amenity kit

The beautiful first class amenity kit bags were made by ETRO, an Italian fashion house brand. The ETRO amenity kit mainly contains JAL branded item and with three ETRO branded items. You will find an eye mask, moisture mask (more airlines need to add this), a hairbrush, tissues, mouth wash, toothbrush, earplugs, ETRO lip balm, ETRO body lotion, and ETRO perfume.

Then you will find a Shiseido skincare kit that is gender-specific. I still use my skincare kit to this day as I found the cleanser great. Both the ETRO and Shiseido amenity kits were waiting at my seat before I boarded.

Then you will also find slippers (again, more airlines need to offer slippers on every one of their routes), a shoehorn, and wifi voucher. 

After takeoff and meal service, I asked for PJs. I find them soft and comfy. Not as good as Emirates, but still great. However, when I compare PJs service to ANA, I prefer the ANA PJs service better as when you board an FA gives you PJs and asks if you want to change or not. JAL doesn’t do it as proactively, but JAL will still fold and hang your clothes.

I forgot to take pictures of the PJs without me wearing them, so here is a selfie with my breakfast and some champagne. 😉

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Japan Airlines first class headphones & IFE

If you ever read any of my other reviews, which I highly recommend, you would know I never use the IFE for anything else besides the in-flight map. That results in me me never using headphones. But for your information, the new Bose headphones offered by JAL is certainly a great headwear for movie or TV watchers on a plane.

The Magic-V controlled IFE isn’t going to blow you away with many options for movies and TV shows, but you will be entertained by Eastern and Western options. For the inflight map lovers, JAL uses a decent inflight map, but again, not going to blow you away.

Japan Airlines first class wifi

JAL gives every first class passenger a complimentary first class voucher. It’s good for the whole flight and it’s unlimited. You can connect right away and not worry about any data or time limits.

I could easily watch YouTube and communicate over many different apps without any issues what so ever. Even uploading photos wasn’t time-consuming. 

Japan Airlines first take-off experience

Take-off was a beautiful and wonderful experience. I saw Thai Airways 747, which I flew the day before to Tokyo Haneda (HND). Then when we took off and rotated, an ANA flight on the other runway also took off. 

For about three minutes, our aircraft and the ANA aircraft were ascending at the same rate and at this moment, it reminded me how amazing flying is. 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq0wsDlgUYE[/embedyt]

Japan Airlines first class dining experience

My favorite time of any flight is the meal service as food is life and life is food. When an airline has good food, they should be proud of it. Well JAL is extremely proud of their food and they are right to be proud.

Compared to my outrageous meal in Singapore business class, this was night and day. I would say it’s on par with ANA first class taste and quality. It’s really hard to decide which one is better, but when food is great it shouldn’t matter, right?

JAL does have an edge over ANA as JAL first class supports dual dining, where you can dine together with another passenger. However, I wasn’t flying with anyone I knew, so I dined alone watching YouTube videos or talking to Chinen.

Maybe there is a winner, but that would be for the ultimate comparison between JAL and ANA first class. 

After take-off

Right after take-off, the flight attendants went into action pulling out the massive tray tables, setting up a table cloth, and getting our drink orders onto our tables. (I would like to note how easy it is to move the tray table. Plus, you can easily get out of your seat even when all the food is on the table.)

I started off with Salon 2007 champagne. A bottle of the Salon 2007 goes for $599 on wine.com making it one of the most expensive bottles of bubbles in the sky. It was good and my first time trying it but wasn’t my favorite out of the three. Nonetheless, I still had two glasses of Salon. 

Salon 2007

I found something strange though, JAL doesn’t have a proper champagne flute during the rest of the flight. I found this strange as they had proper champagne flutes during boarding for our pre-departure drinks. Although, I don’t mind and see no difference, but the change in glasses threw me off.

At the same time, we were served the canapés. 

The canapés consisted of three different bite-sized dishes. To be honest, the food items escaped my mind after they told me what they were. I did enjoy them, but as the canapés aren’t on the menu and change frequently, just know you can look forward to them. 


At this moment I ordered my meal. I decided to go with the western option. I was hungry and ready to eat enough to gain a few extra pounds… even though I already gained a few pounds over the past few months.

After the canapés were taken away, the flight attendants set table with dining wear and gave me more to drink. This time I chose Comtes de Champagne 2007. This has to be my favorite champagne out of the three and in actuality it’s a “cheaper” wine compared to the other two and at wine.com it goes for $135 bottle.

Comtes de Champagne 2007

For the amuse I had amatoro. (Amatoro is pork rillettes.)

This was my very first time trying amatoro. I was skeptical of how it would taste, but wow amatoro is good.

Chinen was even happy to offer me seconds if I wanted to eat it later on during the flight. From the pork to the crunchy bread, I was happy to eat every single crumb of the amatoro. If you like pork, you gotta try amatoro. (Don’t worry, next time I go to Japan, which is in November to fly Garuda Indonesia first class, I will eat more amatoro.)


For the hors-d’oeuvre, I got caviar.

The caviar presentation was on-point and came with a mother of pearl spoon and was served with egg yolk cream topped with white and green onions. The crispy rice wafers had a little Eiffel Tower on them.

I found the taste of the rice wafers and egg yolk cream complementing the tiny black pearls. Simple and small, but well done JAL.


For the main, I ordered wagyu beef fillet & eggplant with ginger sauce.

It was accompanied with potherb mustard and a Japanese ginger salad. I ordered it medium to medium-well and it was cooked as I requested. I wasn’t expecting much as the salad was on top of the wagyu, but wow it was so good.

In actuality, I am not a huge meat eater, I prefer vegetables, but I finished it all. It wasn’t overpowered by the ginger sauce and the salad created a light taste to the wagyu. Both complemented the wagyu. The wagyu itself was also very tinder and had no trouble cutting or chewing.

Wagyu beef fillet & eggplant with ginger sauce
Wagyu beef fillet & eggplant with ginger sauce
Wagyu beef fillet & eggplant with ginger sauce

I had two desserts, the first one was a sweet corn sorbet with coffee gelee.

The corn sorbet with coffee gelee was my first. In Japan, it was the season for corn and it tasted interesting. Having the bitter coffee gelee with each bite of the sorbet was actually good.

Sweet corn sorbet with coffee gelee
Sweet corn sorbet with coffee gelee

The second dessert was an item on request called dainagon adzuki bean fancier “S”.

No, I don’t understand the name, but for your information, Japan loves to use the words fancy and premium… to be honest, Japanese use those two adjectives a little bit too much, but this discussion is better left for another time.

The “S” dessert was delicious. It’s influenced by the French and found it a great way to end the meal. I loved how crunchy and soft it was while having a sweet buttery taste that wasn’t overpowering.

Dainagon adzuki bean fancier “S”

Overall, this meal was just too good. I would say this was the peak of my meals on JAL, but the rest was still delicious.

Mid-flight snack

I woke up after my nap, as the flight left at noon, and ordered some snacks. I also drank some Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 champagne. Louis Roederer Cristal 2009 goes for $250 a bottle at wine.com making it the second most expensive champagne on this flight. I didn’t care for Louis though making it my least favorite out of the three. I then had Hibiki Suntory Whisky Blender’s Choice on rocks with some little snacks. I’ve had Hibiki before and knew I wouldn’t get another glass, but as a bottle of Hibiki goes for $183 at Kabikui Whisky, it’s still worth it to have some.

Louis Roederer Cristal 2009
Hibiki Suntory Whisky, Blender’s Choice
Notice the numbers on the packaging? JAL creating products for the fans.

I first ordered the JAL original Japanese soba noodles tsuta ramen noodles in soy sauce soup infused with truffle oil.

Yes, a long name, but ramen with truffle oil is always wonderful. I was on a truffle kick and this hit the spot. While it’s just a hit of truffle, it still was a nice addition to the ramen that I really enjoyed.

AL original Japanese soba noodles tsuta ramen noodles in soy sauce soup infused with truffle oil
AL original Japanese soba noodles tsuta ramen noodles in soy sauce soup infused with truffle oil

Then I ordered JAL the curry… yes, the names are interesting with Japanese airlines.

I love curry, but this curry was just alright. It claims to be a one star Michelin curry, but I don’t think so. While it’s not bad, but compared to ANA’s curry offering, I prefer ANA’s curry as it’s slightly my rich in spice and presentation.

JAL the curry
JAL the curry

Overall, the mid-flight snack filled me up making me happy. After the meal, I fell right back to sleep.

Before landing 

The before landing meal, or also known as breakfast, was good. 

I started off with another glass of champagne, this time I went with Comites. I found Comites smooth and refreshing, even though it’s the cheapest one.

For the meal, I went with the Japanese breakfast option. Everything tasted good but I found that the roast beef rolls lacked flavor. Then the tofu curry flavor was also pretty bland. Nothing was bad, but I expected more comparing to the main meal.

Yet, for a meal before landing, this definitely hit the spot and filled me up even more.


To keep hydrated during the flight, you can refer to their beverage menu here:

JAL first class drink menu
JAL first class drink menu
JAL first class drink menu
JAL first class drink menu
JAL first class drink menu

And here is the food menu:

JAL first class food menu
JAL first class food menu
JAL first class food menu
JAL first class food menu

Japan Airlines first class service

JAL service shined on this flight. Like, wow. The flight attendants were near perfection when it comes to hospitality. It wasn’t only me that they were attentive with, but they watched over every first class passenger equally. 

Chinen, Osishi, and Maeda were wonderful. In fact, it was Osishi’s first time working in first class. She was super nervous and working the galley most of the time, but she was still excellent. Maeda was the senior officer and almost like a veteran for JAL. She was super warm and not like most senior flight attendants as she wasn’t jaded. Then, Chinen, we talked for almost hours. Such a lovely person and made the flight truly special as our talks were like we were best friends.

At the end of the flight, Chinen, Osishi, Maeda, and the purser visited every first class passenger.

At the time of their goodbye, they gave me and the rest of the first class passengers some Jean-Paul Hevin JAL macaroons, which I ate right away. 

The whole time, they were on top of their game making sure glasses were filled and empty plates were cleared. They always presented the bottles encouraging me to take pictures.

When I left the aircraft I was sad to leave, but I wished them a lovely time in New York City and hoped to see them on another flight.

It’s always nice to see great workers love their company. The crew on this flight were excited as much as I was. I do hope they continue and JAL rewards them for their amazing hard work.

Thank you to the whole flight crew for making this flight fun!

Japan Airlines first class lavatory

JAL has two first class lavatories and one is bigger than the other. While both can be used by the passengers and are well stocked, the smaller one is used by the cabin crew. 

Each one offers many different amenities like toothbrush, mouth wash, lotion, and perfume. And like every other Japanese airline, they had a bidet.

Japan Airlines first class bedding

JAL first class bed is wonderful. Would I say it’s as good as Emirates new fully enclosed first class suite bed? No. Would I say it’s better than many first class beds? Yes!!

First of all, JAL gave me another seat for my bed. It was, in fact, my very first time having two seats for myself. It’s not needed, I didn’t ask, but they offered and I was delighted to take them up on their offer. (Another passenger also got the privilege of having a second seat for a bed during this flight.)

The seat in lie-flat mode is fully lie-flat without noticeable differences between different cushions of the seat. It’s wide and long enough for me. When it’s fully in the lie-flat position, you won’t have differences between cushions and it’s comfortable without a mattress pad. Yet, JAL provides a mattress pad and it makes it even better.

The mattress pad adds a layer of comfort that creates a wonderful nights sleep. I slept a good total of eight hours on this flight on my stomach, as I usually do. Definitely a good slumber.

With the rest of the bedding you will find a decent duvet. Not too thick, but not too thin.

The pillows provided are memory foam. I got two pillows and found them to be one of my favorite pillows in the sky. 

Landing at JFK

Got some beautiful views of Manhattan during our descent and the Atlantic ocean. You can watch my video here:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKqXju2805M[/embedyt]

Final word

I don’t know why it took me this long to fly JAL first class. I have flown them in economy and business class numerous times, but never in first class. Now I can say I have flown them and would fly JAL first class again, even if it’s out of my way as their route network is tiny in comparison to ANA.

What makes JAL stand out on this flight has to be the cabin crew for their performance being so friendly and hospitable. It’s not ANA perfection, but JAL first class flight attendants on this flight weren’t robots and felt like I was at home.

I cannot wait for my next JAL first class flight and would definitely go out of my way for their food, service, and seat.

This article was originally published by Steve Smith.

Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Review (FCO to SIN) [2021]

Singapore Airlines is known for the best cabin crew in the world and I will not disagree. Yet, people are still somewhat polarized when it comes to Singapore business class. Can the rest of the Singapore business class experience live up to the prestige that Singapore Airlines has?

In this review, I will go into details about my experience flying Singapore Airlines business class on the A350, covering things like the seat, food, bed, and the service. Then I will go over why I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Singapore Airlines business class.

Trip briefing

Flight routes

This particular segment of my journey back to South East Asia was one of the reasons why I went to Europe. The other reason was to fly Garuda Indonesia Jakarta (CGK) London (LHR) route.

  • Jakarta (CGK) -> London (LHR): Garuda Indonesia 777-300 Business Class
  • London (LHR) -> Athens (ATH): Aegean Airlines A321 Euro Business Class
  • Athens (ATH) -> Rome (FCO): Aegean Airlines A320 Economy Class
  • Rome (FCO) -> Singapore (SIN): Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class
  • Singapore (SIN) -> Jakarta (CGK): Garuda Indonesia 737-800 Exit Row Economy Class

This FCO-SIN flight was a fun daytime flight, but not a great flight if you care about food or reclined seat. Not saying it was bad, as I enjoyed the flight and I was in bed-mode the whole time, but I will describe more about the food and seat below.

Hotel stays

  • Andronis Athens (3 nights on cash)
  • Le Méridien Visconti Rome (3 nights on cash)

As I went to Europe during the winter, the cash rates were very reasonable.

Le Méridien Visconti Rome one bedroom suite

Flight details

Here are the details for the flight:

  • Route: Rome (FCO) -> Singapore (SIN)
  • Flight No.: SQ 365
  • Aircraft: A350-900
  • Registration: 9V-SMH
  • Class: Business Class (J)
  • Seat: 21K
  • Date: March 5, 2019
  • Scheduled Departure Time: 10:55 am | Actual Departure Time: 11:08 am (+13 minutes)
  • Scheduled Arrival Time: 5:45 am | Actual Arrival Time: 5:55 am (+10 minute)
  • Actual flight Time: 11 hours,  47 minutes 
Image via flightradar24

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Booking Singapore Airlines Business Class (SQ J)

I booked this flight using Singapore Krisflyer miles, which is actually the only way to book premium cabin seats with Singapore Airlines.

As this flight was booked during KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes it was only 38,000 miles and 41.70 Euros ($46.30 USD).

The normal mileage cost would have been 92,000 miles. That means, during this redemption sale I got 41% of the regular business saver redemption price. For an 11-hour business class flight, I was happy with this redemption, especially as it costed the same as an economy saver flight using KrisFlyer miles.

Fun fact: Singapore doesn’t charge close-in booking fees. You can book however close you want to the departure date as long as there is availability. I had no problem booking 13 days in advance.

I transferred American Express Membership Rewards Points to Krisflyer, which took about 24 hours to transfer, and once they were in my account I went ahead with redeeming my miles. You can also transfer other currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.

Warning: When transferring points (Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and ThankYou Points) to KrisFlyer, it can take up to 48 working hours to complete the transfer. Weekends aren’t working hours, so you need to take into account the weekend delay.

As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I went to Europe was because of this flight. I wasn’t planning on visiting Italy so shortly after my last visit, but seeing how I never have flown Singapore business class before (I have only flown Singapore A380 suites and 777 first class) I thought it could be a good chance to try out a new product and get some Italian food.

One amazing course out of the many courses I had at Aqualunae Bistrot for my chef course meal.


Check-in at FCO is usually crowded as there is limited space throughout the whole departure hall at terminal 3. Once I found Singapore’s check-in counters, I was greeted with a pretty empty queue area. There was no one in the business class line making it a breeze through the check-in procedures. 

To be honest, I forgot to take photos of the check-in counters as I was surprised how empty it was compared to my last visit to FCO.

FCO terminal and lounge experience

This was not the first time I found myself at FCO. FCO is a decent airport; it even has a Star Alliance business class lounge for Schengen departures, but as I am not flying intra-Schengen I was stuck with a lounge provided by Singapore Airlines called Passenger Lounge.

Passenger Lounge offered no views as it was in the basement, offered hot food items that were cold, and the lounge also was freezing. Let’s just say I ended up leaving the lounge after getting some water and a bagel to roam around the terminal as I was stuck in E-Gates.

What are E-Gates? FCO satellite E-Gates are a satellite terminal accessible by train, Singapore Airlines uses E-Gates at FCO airport. Once you’re at the satellite terminal you cannot go back to the normal terminal. If you wanted to go back to the main terminal, you will have to go through security again. 

So, my suggestion is to wait to go to E-Gates and go stay at the main terminal until a few minutes before boarding. The main terminal at least has a decent Plaza Premium Lounge.

Singapore business class cabin

Singapore Airlines A350-900 business class cabin has 42 seats configured in 1-2-1 configuration. There are 3 lavatories, one in the forward cabin and then two more in the middle of the two business class cabins. Business class seats are spread across two cabins, the most forward cabin is the larger cabin with more seats making it feel more crowded. Then there is another cabin filled with business class seats forward of premium economy, which feels more intimate.

Singapore Airlines business class seat map via SeatGuru

I was seated in the mini business class cabin in front of premium economy, which was great as there were only 4 seats occupied in this cabin, all of which were occupied bulkhead seats.

Singapore bulkhead seats are actually much better than non-bulkhead seats. So, if you can grab a bulkhead seat on a Singapore business class flight, you will have a better and wider seat with much more legroom plus no restrictive footwell.

What is unique about Singapore business class is that each seat is exactly the same besides bulkhead seats. So, each window seat is a window seat, while the middle aisle seats are always the same length from each other.

Overall, the cabin is pretty standard with no fancy lounges or bars on-board like Virgin Atlantic 787. In the middle galley, you can find some snacks, but nothing to write home about.

Singapore A350 business class seat

I knew all the bulkhead seats were taken on this A350 flight, that’s what I get for booking last minute. However, in the lie-flat position, this seat isn’t too bad if you’re sleeping on your side.

Design, comfort, and privacy

These seats are wide and it’s amazing. When you’re in the upright position, the width is great and feels like you can easily seat 1 and a half people in this seat.

However, legroom is sad.

I am someone that never reclines the seat as I prefer it upright or in the lie-flat position, but this amount of legroom is annoying for me in the upright position. Plus, if you recline your seat, your legroom goes away as your seat moves forward reducing your legroom.

It feels like you are almost on top of the IFE and yes you can use the ottoman and footwell in the corner of the seat for more legroom.

Plus, on top of all of this, the footwell is to the side off in the corner making you sit at this kinda weird angle. (This is where bulkhead seats on Singapore Airlines shine. If I booked a bulkhead seat, it would have been a huge footwell, but with only 8 business class bulkhead seats on this plane none were available.)

Singapore Airlines footwell

The rest of the seat was pleasantly thought out. From the armrests to the width of the main seat making it feel very roomy for my upper body. Plus, counter space for the seat isn’t bad. 

The privacy is alright. It helped as I was seated behind the occupied bulkhead seats which were the only occupied seats in my cabin. These are the most private seats in the world and still no comparison to seats with a door or Apex Suites true window seat.

I especially enjoyed the little features throughout the seat.

Seat features (controls, storage, extras)

Singapore does think about what the passenger might want and need, plus a little extra. Storage for this seat might seem minimal until you realize the cubbies and compartments are situated in a convenient way with enough room.

First off we have the storage underneath the ottoman and footwell. I could store my briefcase underneath.

The cubby next to the IFE screen which offers more than enough room for even a DSLR with a small lens. I wasted the space with my iPhone SE, wallet, passport, and headphones. (Note, the mirror has a cover that slides down.)

Located near the armest there are a few other storage options, one of which has the universal outlet and two USB ports.

Next to the aisle are your seat controls and 3 different reading lights.

There is even a coat hook.

Here is a video I shot during the flight showing all the seat features along with the legroom problem I wrote about above.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh5r7DLWOVE[/embedyt]

Singapore business class not-so-amenity kit

Singapore Airlines doesn’t provide an amenity kit in business class. They instead give you the bare minimum at your seat like socks, eyeshades, and slippers, a huge departure from other airlines like EVA

You can find toothbrush and toothpaste along with a few other goodies stocked in the lavatories.

Singapore business class headphones and IFE

The IFE that Singapore provides on the aircraft is one of my favorites after Emirates ICE.

Singapore has a wonderful leave and resume feature, where you can continue the show or movie you were watching on your next flight if you didn’t finish it. I also like their in-flight map, one of my favorite channels on any airline.

You control the IFE by using the remote using the buttons or touchscreen as the IFE screen isn’t a touchscreen.

Movie and TV selection are really good, but I only cared about the in-flight map and content that I already had downloaded on my phone.

The provided headphones I didn’t use.

Singapore business class wifi

Wifi offered onboard my Singapore Airlines flight was priced without any data limits.

The wifi package I selected could last up to 24 hours and it only costed me $21.95. Speeds were alright, I could stream YouTube videos most of the time without a problem, but during certain times of the flight it would cut out, which is normal for long-haul flights.

Singapore business class boarding and take-off experience

When I boarded and got to my seat, I was offered a pre-departure drink. I ended up having champagne and guava juice. Plus a hot towel. 

With about a 10 minute delay, we were off to the skies for our 11-hour journey.

Southern mountains of Italy with snow caps

Singapore business class dining

Oh Singapore…

I love to eat when I travel, both on the ground and in the air I might indulge myself a little too much. Yes, I admit I have a problem and have cut back, but food is life.

To my disappointment, I had one of the worst meals offered by any airline on this flight. The taste was just terrible, even the dessert was terrible. No, I didn’t get sick or anything like that, just the taste and quality of the food served was bad.

What is the worst meal I had on a flight? Back in 2015, I flew Delta from Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG) on their 747 in economy comfort (now called Comfort+). I had non-meat pasta for the meal after take-off and I got sick. Yes, it’s economy, yes I got sick, and yes Singapore comes in second place to the worst meal I had on a plane (yet it’s a maybe distant second).

Yes, this is the first time flying Singapore business class, as I have only flown their suites and first class on routes with book the cook. Those meals offered in first class were alright, nothing special, but not JAL or ANA first class catering quality and taste. I expected this flight to offer just alright food as there was no book the cook service. Sadly, I was wrong…

Anyways, without further ado, here is my review of Singapore business class dining experience.

After take-off

Within minutes of reaching 10,000 feet in the sky, I was greeted by one of the attentive flight attendants asking for my drink order. I asked for champagne (Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve) and with my champagne was napkin and wet wipe.

Then another flight attendant came by asking if I wanted satay. I, of course, said yes as I love satay!

I was presented with lamb and chicken satay with cucumber and onions. The satay was cold, very chewy, and so hard to bite into both lamb and chicken that I thought I had a problem with eating. At least the peanut sauce was good.

After my attempt to finishing the hard as a rock yet chewy satay, the table was set. Business class catering without a tray is always amazing as it allows customizability with your meal that feels like a first class dining experience.

Yet, next up was definitely the worst dish out of all that was served on this flight.

Balik smoked salmon with balsamic vinegar pearls was by far the worst dish. The salmon was super chewy, a rubber-like texture. The potato cake was a cold ball of no taste that was chewy. And on top of all of that, the balsamic was nonexistent. Even without the salmon, which tasted terrible and was disgusting, how can rocket salad be so bad?

I enjoy eating salmon and have had it on many airlines, but this wasn’t salmon and after two bites of eating the salad I couldn’t keep on going.

After the appetizer, I was presented with a selection of bread and of course, I selected garlic bread. It was garlic bread and definitely the highlight of the meal. 🙂

At this point, I was worried about my main dish, which was the Thai style prawns with choo-chee curry sauce.

It tasted like uncooked curry powder that was left out with rice for a few days. The vegetables and the prawns were actually surprisingly not chewy. However, I couldn’t get rid of the boxed curry powder taste. (Yes, it felt like they mistakenly poured too much curry powder into the dish and didn’t bother to fix it.)

After all that food, which I didn’t actually finish, a cart came around with a selection of dessert and cheeses.

I selected the sbrisolona, an Italian almond cake, and a cheese plate.

The sbrisolona was cold and rock hard. It seems like a theme with most of their food to be hard to eat. The cheese, on the other hand, was cheese and I enjoyed eating it — I just wish I had more garlic bread to get rid of the powdered curry taste stuck in my mouth. (Yes, I drank a few glasses of water, but there was still pure powder in my mouth.)

Before touch down

Starting off the meal before landing was a selection of fruit. The fruit was sour.

After the fruit, I skipped the appetizer and went for the main course. I also got a selection of bread that came with the main course. I ended up grabbing two pieces of bread filled with fruit, which tasted great and not sour like the selection of cut fruit.

For the main, I got the fried rice vermicelli with chicken in XO sauce. This dish, without any surprise, wasn’t good. The noodles were very hard. It had a good flavor, but as the texture goes, it’s hard to eat. At least the mushrooms were fine.

I finished the meal with a good cup of cappuccino.

The before landing meal was fine. I would say it’s better than the meal after take-off but surprised how this meal also was plagued by weird flavors that were too sour and chewy hard food.

I didn’t enjoy any of these dishes on the flight. While the dishes were edible, I still cannot get over the fact that the salmon salad was so bad, chewy, and rubbery. Plus, the curry dish was so overpowering (I honestly wonder if a mistake happened during the cooking process and they accidentally poured the whole box of curry powder into this batch. Yes, I am repeating this because it baffles me how they could mess up curry like this).

Either way, most of the food errors presented on this flight were not at the fault of the crew, but at the catering company. Whoever caters their flights from FCO really needs to try again with these dishes.

And yes, I did comment about the quality and taste of the dishes to the crew when they asked how was my meal. They were very apologetic and I made sure they knew it wasn’t their fault, but this doesn’t give them and me much faith in their catering after this dining experience.


The food menu for my flight reads as followed:

Singapore does a good job with their selection of beverages. I like their choice of champagne and wine.

The beverage menu reads as followed:

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Singapore business class service

Singapore Airlines has some of the best cabin crew members in the world. In 2019 they won the best cabin crew in the world by Skytrax awards and I do agree that they have some of the best flight attendants in the world. Service is typically very warm, mostly attentive, and friendly while being professional. 

The cabin crew on my flight was wonderful, we ended up having an amazing conversation during the flight and they gave me a birthday present, even though my birthday was later that week. Along with the gifts, they gave me a personalized card. During the flight, they also made sure I always had a full glass and had enough to eat. They were always enthusiastic.

I would fly again with that cabin crew in a heartbeat. 🙂

Singapore business class lavatory

The lavatory was clean and remained clean the whole flight. 

You can find amenities like toothbrush and toothpaste along with other goodies like perfumes the whole flight.

Singapore business class bedding

Singapore Airlines business class beds are quite interesting. First of all, the beds have to be flipped manually by a flight attendant as the seat doesn’t reline into the lie-flat bed mode position. 

While you are in bed mode, you have to then ask the flight attendant to flip up the seat if you don’t want it in bed mode. For me, I don’t mind it as I always keep my seat in the lie-flat position, but to others that want to transition frequently you might find yourself somewhat annoyed by it.

Anyways, I found the bed alright. It was firm, which I like, but the footwell being off to the side made me have to lie at an angle. Plus, it’s not a long bed, even for me as I am 5’10”. I found it better to lie on my side for the bed.

The bedding itself was good and they gave me two pillows which make a huge difference.

Landing at SIN

We landed at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) about 10 minutes late. I said my farewells to the crew and thanked them so much for the small gifts.

Once I disembarked, I made my way to the transfer counter to check-in for my Garuda Indonesia flight to Jakarta (CGK). Once it came time for boarding I got this beautiful picture of a Singapore A350 from the ground before I boarded the elite ground bus to my Garuda aircraft.

Final word

Did I have a good flight? Yes.

Did I leave the flight hungry and unhappy about my meals? Yes.

Would I fly Singapore Airlines again and skip the meals or hope for book the cook? Yes

I wouldn’t fly Singapore Airlines for the food, but I would for the crew. (I’d eat in the lounge before). If you can get past the awkward seat as I did and fly during the day time where sleep isn’t needed, you will enjoy the flight along with the crew. If you can score a bulkhead seat, that is even better!

However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Singapore Airlines business class again for the food and the seat. I would much prefer flying another business class product between South East Asia and Europe.

This article was originally published by Steve Smith.

American Airlines Main Cabin Extra 737-800 Review

Main Cabin Extra is basically economy with some extra perks like more legroom, preferred boarding, and even free drinks (alcohol included). I’ve always wondered if American Airlines Main Cabin Extra was worth the extra cost and on a recent trip down to Mexico, I got to try it out two times to find out for myself.

So here’s my review of the experience and a look at things like fees, upgrade prices, boarding groups, leg room, and overhead storage space.

Trip briefing

We recently went on a little four day getaway down to Cabo to hang out with some friends at the Hyatt Ziva Cabo — a quality all-inclusive resort. We decided to fly Main Cabin Extra on the way down and business class/first class on the way back, since I always prefer the best cabin for the latter part of a trip.

Flight routes 

  • Houston (IAH) -> Dallas (DFW): American Airlines Main Cabin Extra
  • Dallas (DFW) -> Cabo (SJD): American Airlines Main Cabin Extra
  • Cabo (SJD) -> Dallas (DFW): American Airlines business class (domestic first class)
  • Dallas (DFW) -> Houston (IAH): American Airlines first class

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

Flight details 

Flight #1

  • Route: Houston (IAH) -> Dallas/Ft.Worth (DFW)
  • Flight No.: AA 2551
  • Aircraft: 737-800
  • Class: Main Cabin Extra (Economy)
  • Seat: 9E
  • Date: July 1, 2019
  • Scheduled Departure Time: 6:16am | Actual Departure Time: 6:16 am
  • Scheduled Arrival Time: 7:32am | Actual Arrival Time: 7:41am
  • Flight Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Flight #2

  • Route: Dallas/Ft.Worth (DFW) -> Los Cabos (SJD)
  • Flight No.: AA 1225
  • Aircraft: 737-800
  • Class: Main Cabin Extra (Economy)
  • Seat: 7E
  • Date: July 1, 2019
  • Scheduled Departure Time: 9:18 am CDT | Actual Departure Time: 9:38 am CDT
  • Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:05 MDT | Actual Arrival Time: 11:07 MDT
  • Flight Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes


When it comes to domestic flights, I have flown almost exclusively with United Airlines and Southwest over the past several years. In fact, I had never flown American Airlines until this past month when we decided to book the trip from Houston to Cabo.

Award availability was surprisingly very good about 1.5 months out. We ended up booking Main Cabin flights for the flights to Cabo and business class for the flights coming back, and the tickets cost 15,000 miles plus $34.94 in fees per person. That was not bad at all considering that cash prices for this route can be $500+ per person. 

Main Cabin Extra prices

Main Cabin Extra upgrade prices vary based on your route and specific seat chosen but you might be paying anywhere from $23 to $118+. Also, certain AA and oneworld elite members get upgraded to these seats for free.

We paid for the upgrade to Main Cabin Extra on both flights (IAH->DFW and DFW->SJD). The total fees for the Main Cabin Extra upgrade were $210 ($23 per person for IAH->DFW and $82 per person for DFW->SJD).

Normally, I may not have purchased Main Cabin Extra for the short flight to Dallas but I really wanted to try out two different types of Main Cabin Extra seats for the review.

We originally booked a flight departing at 5am but AA cancelled our flight the night before. Luckily, I was able to easily find the early departure we booked but that wasn’t a good start to my first ever AA experience.

Lounge experience

We usually prefer the Centurion Lounge at IAH but since this was very early it wasn’t open. Since we were in Terminal A and flying American, we figured it was time to try our first Admirals Club.

Because we were flying Main Cabin Extra we were not given lounge access. In fact, even if we were flying business class out of Houston we would still not be given lounge access since Cabo is not an international destination that provides Admirals Club access.

Instead, I decided to use the $100 airline credit with my American Express Gold Card to purchase lounge access for the day. Day passes cost $59 per person and when you purchase a day pass you are given access for the entire day even if you are connecting at other airports.

So in this case we were essentially given lounge access at Houston and Dallas for only about $9 per person which I thought was pretty good. 

The Admirals Club in Houston is a pretty small lounge but I was a big fan of the interior design. It felt very modern and fresh.

There wasn’t a whole lot to choose from for the breakfast buffet. They had a selection of fruits, hard-boiled eggs, cereals, bagels, and juices but what was about it but they do also offer hot items you can purchase.

You can read more in depth about the lounge experience here.


Boarding wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Since we were flying Main Cabin Extra, we were given what’s known as “Preferred Boarding” which is Group 5 Boarding. This is also where you’re allowed to board if you have Citi credit cards like the Platinum Select.

We simply waited for them to call up the different boarding groups and once they called for Group 5 boarding we made our way to the jet bridge. There was not any major rush to boarding so it was a pretty smooth process overall.

Main Cabin Extra cabin

The flights from IAH to DFW and DFW to SJD were both on a 737-800, so I’ll just show you one seat map below. You can also see the prices for the upgrades. The Main Cabin Extra prices are in orange while the “preferred” seats are in green. Preferred doesn’t offer better boarding groups or free alcohol — you’re just paying to not be in the back of the plane.

As you can see, there are three rows of Main Cabin Extra at the front and then another two rows of Main Cabin Extra at the emergency exit rows. Different aircraft will have different set-ups for Main Cabin Extra (more rows, etc.).

Main Cabin Extra seat map.
Main Cabin Extra seat map.

Main Cabin Extra vs premium economy

Tip: Don’t get premium economy mixed up with Main Cabin Extra. Premium economy is a different type of seat from economy/Main Cabin Extra. The seat is a little wider and offers more legroom. You also get free checked bags and priority security/boarding. You will often find premium economy on long-haul routes.

Main Cabin Extra seat

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of legroom. Depending on where you are sitting, you can get anywhere from 34 inches to 40 inches of pitch. Standard economy will have 31 inches of pitch. So that is a pretty big difference that could make a major difference on a long flight.

American Airlines Main Cabin Extra.
American Airlines Main Cabin Extra.

I am a little tall at 6’1″ and so I really appreciate having those extra few inches of leg room. You can check the photo below to see just how much legroom I had at my seat.

American Airlines Main Cabin Extra.

While you do have extra leg room the seat is still pretty much a Standard economy seat. It has a small tray table that you can put down and a pocket for literature/menus.

On the flight to Dallas, there were not any TV monitors built into the seats. Instead, there were only overhanging screens playing TV shows like the Ellen Game of Games show.

The seats come with a controller so that you can listen to the TV by switching to the right channel (they should tell you which one to use at the beginning of the flight).

Main Cabin menu availability varies based on departure time and flight length. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Snacks – 5 a.m. – 8 p.m. on flights over 700 miles (about 2+ hours)
  • Breakfast – 5 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. on flights over 1,100 miles (about 3+ hours)
  • Light meals – 9:45 a.m. – 8 p.m. on flights over 1,100 miles (about 3+ hours)

Because this was such a short flight we were not offered much other than a bottle of water, but I still did check out the menu.

American Airlines menu in Main Cabin Extra.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.
American Airlines Main Cabin menu.

It felt like as soon as we got up in the air it was time to come back down and before I knew it we were preparing for the approach to DFW.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!


Once we arrived at DFW it was time to find our connecting flight. We arrived at Terminal D and though my original itinerary had Terminal C has our connecting terminal, our flight to Cabo would be out of Terminal D, which was great since it would mean more time to relax in the Admirals Club.

So after arriving, we quickly made our way to the Admirals Club to hangout for about 40 minutes.

The Admirals Club at Terminal D is right next door to Montblanc and it was much larger than the one back in Houston as you would expect since this is an AA hub. It had tons more seating and beautiful open floor-to-ceiling windows with great views.

The bar area was also much longer.

But even though it was much larger it didn’t really offer that much more in terms of food, although they did have a small station for avocado toast with salmon which was actually very good. After hanging out for about 40 minutes we then were off to our gate at D18.

Once again, boarding went pretty smoothly and after a bit of a delay due to a broken seat we were soon off to Cabo.

This time however we had the bulkhead seats in Main Cabin Extra. These felt like they had less legroom and felt a little bit more cramped. Another issue was the overhead storage.

Main Cabin Extra Bulkhead
Main Cabin Extra bulkhead legroom.

Since there are no seats to put your bags under the overhead storage bins tend to fill up quickly so we almost did not have room for our bags in an overhead storage bin near us which defeats the purpose of Preferred Boarding. For the reasons above, I wouldn’t ever pick the bulkhead Main Cabin Extra seats again. 

Main Cabin Extra bulkhead overhead storage bin (Group 5).
Main Cabin Extra bulkhead overhead storage bin (Group 5).

On this flight they brought out the Biscoff cookies which I believe are complimentary for all passengers.

Main Cabin Extra snack.

Brad was also able to order a Bloody Mary, which was complimentary for Main Cabin Extra. It’s served with a “do it yourself” kit unlike first class on AA, which serves it mixed up in glasses.

Main Cabin Extra drink.

This flight would be much more enjoyable than the flight to DFW because this aircraft actually had TV monitors. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find such a good movie selection (all for free). This made the flight much more bearable even though this was a very short flight.

American will issue some ear buds that are branded with Avis. They’re not the highest quality but they did the trick considering I didn’t have any non-iPhone headphones with me.

I had never flown over this region of Mexico before and so it was pretty cool to check out the stunning scenery below, especially on such a clear day.

It was also a beautiful sight flying over the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez. It is a very blue body of water and as we approached Baja California the contrast between the arid terrain and blue water was striking.

The approach into Cabo (SJD) is a very beautiful one. I will say that it was a little bit nerve-racking as we came in for landing due to the hill that the airport sits on but overall it’s definitely an approach that you want the windows open for. Here are some shots I got from the approach with the ole iPhone.

Once we landed, we quickly made our way to immigration not knowing what to expect given this was the week of July 4th. However, to my surprise, there were no other people waiting in immigration!

I’ve had some bad experiences with immigration in Mexico so this was amazing. Within a couple of minutes we were out of the airport and on our way to the Hyatt Ziva Cabo!

Final word

Overall, I enjoyed Main Cabin Extra. The additional leg room felt great and I liked that it came with other perks like Preferred Boarding and free drinks.

Yes, it can get a little pricey especially when you’re working with connections and you probably don’t really need it on short flights like these, but I like to be as comfortable as possible at all times and would gladly pay for Main Cabin Extra again (but would avoid the bulkhead).

1 2 3