Traveling First Class internationally, is it worth it?
I got a lot of questions from friends and through Instagram & Facebook regarding this so, I decided to detail our last experience a little more.
Before starting, I wanted to emphasize that this is not a braggy post to show off, the goal is for you to see firsthand what you get when traveling First Class so you can decide for yourself if it's something you might want to experience.
It goes without saying that this totally depends on everyone's budget and spending preferences.
If you're a hardcore believer in the coach/economy section and save or get more money to invest in experiences while at your destination, I totally get it! That's smart. Go you!
So, does it worth it? The short answer is: Usually, for us, it is.
This specific trip was from Phoenix to Brussels with a layover in DC on the way there and in Chicago on the way back.
We traveled with United and chose the Polaris, 1st class (they all have a different name, depending on the airlines).
First off, you don't have to take first-class on both flights (Most domestic flights don't offer 1st class but more Economy +/Premium+ seating). Meaning that you might be seated at the front of the plane with more legroom, free alcohol, access to more movies & entertainment, and priority baggage on the flight from Phoenix to DC but most likely won't be offering anything more than that.
If you have the budget to only upgrade one leg of your trip, I would always go with the longest flight.
When you have first-class tickets, at the departing airport and on your layover, you will have access to the Diamond lounges. Follow the signs within the airport and just show your boarding pass at the front desk of the lounge when you arrive.
There, you can expect complimentary food (usual buffet with a large variety of food), beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), free wifi, televisions, lounge areas, showers, and even sometimes beds to rest for a few hours. Not all lounges are made the same though... Some even offer massages and facials. The most luxurious being in the Middle East/Asia.
Picture was taken at the Brussels - Zaventem Diamond Lounge (beers are my husband lol)
You also get priority boarding. On our flight back to the US we literally had seats 1A & 1B, right behind the cockpit!
The Polaris section is small (around 24 flatbed seats) and usually quiet.
After a few minutes, the flight attendant dedicated to your section will come to say hi and ask your choice of dinner (usually you'll be offered one fish option, one meat option, and one vegetarian option).
All the meals are served in proper dishes (no plastic) and a cloth napkin.
You'll also be offered a backpack full of goodies, including : earplugs, lip balm, socks, high-end moisturizer and hand cream, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, etc..
Along with 2 Saks 5Th Avenue pillows, a cozy blanket, and a headset.
You will have access to a vast catalog of new movies, tv-shows, podcasts, TV, and games.
Snacks and beverages will be offered during the whole flight. During the quiet time (sleeping hours), the flight attendants will most likely place a few baskets at the front of the plane with chips, nuts, chocolate bars, along with soda cans, and bottles of water for you. Alcoolohl is available the whole flight on demand.
You'll always get a hot full breakfast before landing too.
The windows are electronically tinted and you can choose with the little button below how dark you want your window to be. Everything is super intuitive and easy to use.
The middle console has all the buttons to half recline or fully recline (flatbed) your seat.
The position I'm in, here above, is semi-reclined as I was watching a movie.
After a few seconds, your seat becomes a bed and you're ready for a long, nice snooze!
This is definitely one of my musts if you take a red-eye and wish to be fully functional when you land.
When you exit the aircraft, your items of baggage will only take a few minutes to arrive at the carrousel. First-class also gives you access to check 2 bags each for free.
One question that I get a lot too is: What do you wear?!
Well, the exact same thing that I would wear if I was flying coach!
My go-to is usually a button-down shirt with a comfortable pair of trousers and a cashmere sweater or cardigan with (clean) sneakers or loafers.
While I would always advise anyone to not wear flip-flops, sweat pants, and athletic wear when traveling regardless of where you're going and how, you don't need to go over the top either.
No need for a ballgown or a showy outfit (think tacky Gucci/LV monogram head to toes either.)
Go timeless, classic, discreet, and comfortable. Remember "Money Shouts, Wealth Whispers"
Finally, remember that you can buy coach tickets for a trip and decide to upgrade them at any point! If you use the seat map of the aircraft of the airlines you are traveling with, the prices will show every time you point to a seat.
The fees might also go down as you get closer to your departure. Even sometimes drop in the last 48h.
Anywho! So far, from all of them, my favorite first-class experience was with OpenSky/British Airways from NYC to Brussels and my favorite lounge was in Oman on my way to Thailand.
Hope this was helpful!