This wonderful meal is what people in economy would get in the "good 'ol days," now you can still find it in first class

This wonderful meal is what people in economy would get in the "good 'ol days," now you can still find it in first class. Yes, that is a real glass I was able to use in a recent flight in Delta first class.

Ah flying is not what it used to be right? Remember when you were treated like royalty, didn’t have to pay extra fees, seats were bigger and you got a real meal? Where did those days go? Well those days are not entirely gone. You can still find all that still up in the front of the plane…in first class.

Most people like to blame the airline for all these changes.  They will accuse the airlines for cramming in as many seats as possible, taking away the free food and adding a bunch of fees all in the name of profit. But while airlines were doing all these things, the price of tickets have greatly dropped and safety has increased.

Recently I had the opportunity to fly first class on Delta Air Lines from Seattle to Atlanta and I forgot how nice it can be. I love flying, even in economy with my peanuts, but you can’t beat the experience flying in the front of the plane.

Although domestic first class seats are better than domestic economy seats, neither of them compare international first class seats. But again, you are going to pay (a lot) to get a first class seat on an international flight (we are talking up to $25,000.00). No matter where you are flying first class, it provides you with two things you won’t find in the back of the bus: space and service.

The benefits of flying first class starts at the airport. If you didn’t check-in online, most airlines will have a special first class line, which is quicker. Then, many airports have a quick security line allowing you to fly through all the fun TSA security. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has this option, but I forgot about this perk and was stuck waiting 25 minutes to get through security (even though there was only a line of 10 people — figure that one out). Once you make it through security, depending on the airline and airport, you will have access to the airlines lounge. Again, I missed this benefit at Seattle.

One benefit I did not miss out on was boarding first. While everyone else stands around the gate waiting to board, Delta has the Sky Priority lane, guaranteeing you won’t have any problems finding room for your carry-on bags.  Right after I boarded, I was asked if I want something to drink. Feel like an adult beverage? Enjoy… it is on the house. Since my flight left at 7am, I opted to not enjoy an alcoholic beverage and stuck to just juice (my flight home was a different story). The drinks, by the way, are served in real glasses.

After take off, the flight attendants came around to me and my first class buddies and handed out a hot towel. You won’t see that in economy…you can’t even pay for that back there.

Then comes the meal. A real meal. We are talking omlet, ham, potatoes, fruit and a bagel (see photo on the blog). I got mighty full after all that, I don’t think I have ever gotten full from even the meals you can buy in the back of the plane. After the meal was completed, it was not that long before a basket of snacks was offered. I wasn’t hungry yet, but I stored up, since it was a five hour flight.

During the flight, I had a lot of options to keep distracted on Delta’s in-flight entertainment. The system is not any different from the system in the back of the plane, but everything is free. I got through two movies, even though I wasn’t fully paying attention since I was on my laptop and on the GoGo In-Flight Wi-Fi. Unfortunatly the internet is not free in first class (I wonder if that will ever change), but it only cost $12.95 for the five hour flight. Since I had an extra 10″ of seat pitch than the folks in the back, it was easy to have my laptop open, watching my movies and still have room to breath.

The part of flying I do not like is the waiting to get off. I am sort of impatient and sitting there waiting for people to get their stuff and off the plane is just annoying. Well, sitting up front you don’t have to deal with that. Once the door is open, you are off and on your way.

With most airlines, sitting up front gets you VIP service, just like the way it used to be. However, it also costs the way it used to be as well. With all the additional fees and in-flight add-ons, flying first class has never been a better value. If you check bags, eat on the plane or watch movies, getting them all for free in first class can be a good value. Next time you want to experience flying like it used to be, make sure to get that first class ticket! If you haven’t been able to fly first class before, you might want to try it out sometime. Many airlines offer a cheap upgrade at the airport option, since it really does give a whole new experience to flying.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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I must admit that I do love working First Class. I love how it keeps me from spending too much time back in Steerage! I like providing that second, or third, coffee in a ceramic mug. I like finding room for small leather bags for those seated in Row 1….and getting them back down for the passengers after takeoff. Seriously, I’ve (nearly always) enjoyed my passengers in First and prefer it over the back.

I think the people in the front of the plane will be in a better mood and on the most part, seem to know how to behave a bit better 🙂


Value? It’s a value if you’re able to use an upgrade of some kind, but to outright pay $$$ in order to get a “free” meal, checked bags and lounge access may only make sense if you were paying full-fare coach to start with…not something many do.

I think it’s relevant how you got there to determine value, otherwise it’s just a case of isn’t-it-nicer-up-here, which of course it is, whether it’s a “deluxe apartment in the sky” or a [$5.99 Denny’s] cheesy omelette. If you state the differential – it’s $139 vs $600 with advance purchase [thanks to AirTran] – then the value of your meal pales.

There’s also the idea of literal class – that we attach value based on comparisons to who’s beneath us, not on anything objective. And in that regard, feeling that you got something that [most] others don’t is worth a lot to some. The reality of legroom is that if you get an exit coach seat [available as a frequent flier – or sometimes a premium charge] you’ll have more extra inches than you will in First. Allowing you a lot more $$ to treat yourself to whatever meal you want on the ground, and have enough left for a real vacation.

Brent, value is in the eye of the beholder. If getting more room, better service, “like the way it used to be,” then first class is the way to go. My point of the blog is that the old style of service still exists, it will just cost you more to get it.


David Parker Brown said:
“flying first class has never been a better value.”
…the above is possibly the STUPIDEST statement I’ve ever heard anyone say about air travel. The average 1st class seat costs something like 4-10 times the average economy seat. While the 1st Class seat obviously does provide a better travel experience, the overall shaping of the air travel market over the past 20 years demonstrates unmistakably that the the average passenger values the lowest price ticket above all. …Thus the “race to the bottom” of service and amenities aboard most airlines today.

While there was a short-lived boom in 1st class seats during the boom years, all recent trends show airlines retrenching/eliminating 1st class and even BC seats. This trend will undoubtedly continue into the indefinite future. I predict 1st class is essentially a dying breed, and BC will eventually have to be scaled back to something like the ORIGINAL BC of 20 years ago to afford the airlines the opportunity to make money off these seats, rather than simply having them filled by free upgrades.

== Mark

Value is in the eyes of the beholder. On many domestic airlines you can updgrade to first class for as little as $50. That is pretty darn good value if you ask me. For some who won’t put up with the drudge of flying economy, they will only pay for first class, even if they are not wealthy — I know quite a few people who do this. They find great value in the first class seats.


Yes First Class is wonderful, the cost for what you are getting on that domestic ticket is the big question..value??
I am curious did you purchase your First Class Seat? How much?

The airlines have really not raised their prices in years, now they really just nickle and dime you to death!!

I know I was a Flight Attendant, and I am so glad to b retired.

Thanks for the memories.

You know, I don’t think I have ever paid for first class. Either used an upgrade or some issue happened where it was there. However, I know quite a few people that find great value in first class and are willing to pay more or use miles to upgrade.

The point in the blog is to go against your statement of being nickled and dimed to death. Airlines are not the way they used to be, because it cost so much less to fly now. Back 30-40years ago, you didn’t have fees, most space and better service, but you had to pay for it.



Seriously man?

First class is great and so is an apartment overlooking central park. Then again by that logic, why not take a lear or gulfstream. You don’t have to even check in at the airport main terminal, you pick the meal, you have a lazy boy for a chair, and you pick the destination. However it will cost you $5,000 an hour. Still though by your logic that would be optimum.

No offense but stating the obvious is a waste of time. The lounges are nice but think about the time you will spend in one. The seat is nice but you can bring on board whatever you want to eat. So that breakfast could have cost you 10 bucks instead of 45 to 50. Nonethless, enjoy first class as us regular folk enjoy the back of the bus, sit uncomfortably for 5 hours, eat peanuts, pay for entertainment, and put 1000 dollars in our pockets.

Hello Guillermo, I think you missed the point of the blog. You are right, many people are able to save a heck of a lot of money and fly in economy now-a-days. That didn’t used to be the case. Flying used to be very expensive, even in economy. As passenger space and services decreased, so did the cost. All these changes were done by the airlines based on passenger demand for lower tickets.

You talking about private jets even shows how lucky we all are we can fly around the world for so cheaply. You get what you pay for. A lot of people forget that. They want the cheapest tickets possible, but don’t want to have to pay for it. If you want to fly the cheapest way possible, then one shouldn’t complain about the lack of amenities. If you want to fly the way it used to be, then prepare to pay more. It is obvious, but most people don’t see it.


Nice article. Delta does offer some excellent first class accommodations. However not every airline has such great service especially for domestic travel. I suggest people choose wisely when booking or even upgrading to first. Save those miles/money for a future trip on a well known luxury airline. Book an overseas flight then go first class; that experience is where you truly get your monies worth.

2 years ago I flew economy class on China Southern (767) and also China Eastern (A330) on domestic services within China.

On China Southern everyone got an entree, followed a dish of crispy noodles, then a hot main meal of which the choices were beef, chicken or pork with a huge serving of steaming hot vegetables on the side and 2 warm bread rolls. Dessert followed, which was a type of custard with fresh fruit and ice cream. I was very very satisfied…..reminded me a little of meals that UTA French Airlines used to serve between Sydney and Papeete.

A week later, on China Eastern I was served a feast of equal proportions….and all in Y fare.

If you’re wondering how I remembered the meal on China Southern, I wrote it all down as I was so taken back by the feast provided. I didn’t do so for the China Eastern flight.

Kind regards,
Sydney, Australia

Having flown first class about 30% of the time I fly, it is a different culture. I’ve really never had a problem in F or in Y. On certain flights they sell meals in the back which are about the price of food in the airport but at least they don’t charge for drinks (non-alcoholic). The sad thing is sometimes I think the meals I’ve bought in coach are better than the free meals I’ve gotten in first. I think as the miles build up, first class becomes a better value.

William C. Bradshaw

Yes, most likely I would prefer being in First Class — as opposed to being in “Steerage,” as it was called. But, let me assure you that “class” and respectable behavior does not always exist in First Class. Quite often, some other person or entity is paying for their fare — not that they are a whit better than anyone else.

This is actually one of the reasons that I did not become a pilot some 10 years ago when this all got started after 9/11. I think it is really cheap of airlines not to provide crew meals. I don’t know what first class is like, since I have never flown with that, but I remember that on short haul flights they used to provide hot meals. Ofcourse now those good old days are gone. I would imagine that they do everything for First Class but not for anything else.


I enjoy the advantages of flying first class. I like having a seat that feels like a seat, not like a bus seat. I also enjoy not being booty to booty with some strange schmo with bad body odor and poor dental hygiene, who hogs the armrest and hits on me because I am flying alone.

As far as cost, plan ahead. I noted a marked increase in cost as the dates came closer to my departure days. So if your a frugal and smart shopper there is no reason to fly coach, unless of course you have kids. If your a whole family flying it is more convenient to fly coach and reserve a block of seats.

Lets just come out and say it shall we….all the people criticising and “naysaying” this very true and valid article with such incredible vehemence is (whispers) jealous. If they had the disposable income to fly first everytime they flew, they would. Id bet the farm on that. Whats not to love about flying first? Checking in with no wait, having all your bsgs fly free, bypassing the hour long tsa qeue, relaxing in a comfortable lounge, boarding first, gigantic reclining seats, fantastic service, free food and beverage, deplaning first, arriving at your destination refreshed and with nary a cramp in your body, and having your bag be first out of the gate? Which single one of those options is not worth its weight in gold? Guess what! You get it all when you fly first! Rather than denying how awesome it really is (aka beinga hater) why not strive to make I happen for yourself? Amazing article. Really.

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