3/10/19. Today is a long, long travel day. I have been dreading the long 9 plus hours flight to Hawaii. This will be my longest flight so far in my travels. I don’t like to fly but it’s not usually a cause for anxiety. This time though, I felt very claustrophobic about being trapped in a tin box for a whole day. So anxious that I upgraded to first class, hoping the extra room would alleviate some worries.
Flying first class has been on my bucket list for some time. I hoped that I could splurge once in my lifetime to give it a try and find out for myself if the price of a first class ticket was really worth it. My trip on United Airlines from Chicago, Illinois, to Oahu, Hawaii, and back was my chance. The photo above I captured from my first class seat!
At the airport the first class customers have a special line. I was so used to checking my own luggage that I didn't even realize that someone else could do it for me. I printed out my own luggage tickets at the kiosk (2 free checked bags per person!) and headed to the special line for elite customers. No need, I did the work for them and just had to drop off my luggage. This was going to take some getting used to.
Another perk of having a first class ticket is you get to board first. After all the families with small kids, people in need of assistance, military personnel, and elite credit card holders, in reality you are hardly the first to board. Having the big number 1 for boarding didn't mean too much but I was going to that special cabin in the sky so boarding when the plane is already half full was a little irritating but I was more looking forward to the ride itself.
When I stepped into the first class cabin, I couldn’t believe how much space was available in our little cubicle. The rows were two seats on each side and 4 seats in the middle. Some of the seats were facing backward. I saw this when choosing my seat. This whole experience was new for me, I couldn't handle flying backward so I chose a seat facing forward. The first class cabin is in a world all it's own, windows are down, the noise was minimal. You don't even know your flying. Sitting backward would have been fine. My husband and I shared two seats by the window. There was at least 3 feet between the seat and the TV. I couldn’t even touch it with my toes. The chairs were comfortable and had so many options, including the ability to lay completely flat! Wow! I felt like we needed an instruction manual for the whole experience. We were provided a real pillow and full sized blanket, along with our own headphones. There’s even a community closet you can store your coat. The flight attendant asked if he could hang up my zip up sweatshirt. I felt so out of place.
Had I known what was provided it would have saved me a whole backpack. I packed my own pillow, blanket, a bag full of food and downloaded hours worth of Netflix to my iPad. I didn’t need any of it! Before we even took off we were given drinks and warm nuts. No need to stash your stuff under the seat in front of you, there was plenty of space in the overhead bins. We had 2 to ourselves!
You sure won’t starve in first class! I couldn’t believe all food! We were served lunch shortly after take off. At first I thought for a 9 hour flight that’s kinda soon but little did I know there was way more food coming. There was always a vegetarian selection which was nice. The food was good too! Eating on real plates with real silverware and a real glass of wine. Wow. We got desert too. I didn’t once think of economy class munching on peanuts. LOL. Alcoholic drinks are free! I'm not much of a drinker but I did have a glass of wine.
This photo was taken in a normal first class seat, not the lay down seats.
There was so much going on I didn’t want to sleep in the comfortable lay flat chair. I felt like I needed some instructions on how to operate it, so many buttons to push, and what free stuff was offered. I didn’t want to miss anything. I did snuggle up in my blanket and pillow, put down my seat in a comfortable position and perused all the free movies. I was able to watch 2 movies on this flight. Music, games and live tv was also offered. I did purchase the internet which cost $27, expensive, but for a 9 hour flight I thought it would be worth it for me to message my kids. Text messages on iPhone did work as did Facebook messenger. The connection was slow though so no video streaming or FaceTime but Facebook worked. The internet cut out as soon as we crossed California into the ocean. Had I known this I’m not sure I would have gotten it.
The seat is very comfortable in the laying down position, I slept about an hour going to Hawaii. Going home, after a free breakfast, I slept all the way from Oahu to San Francisco. Normally I cannot sleep on a plane. There are 2 bathrooms in first class. The bathrooms looked the same as economy but you never had to wait in line. Flight attendants were always at your beckon call and were very nice.
A little turbulence.
woULD I DO It AGAIN?
We landed in Oahu and I couldn’t believe how fast the time flew by. I’m sure that would not have been the case in economy. Since we were in first class we exited the plane quickly. Our luggage even had priority tags on them when we picked them up. No lost luggage!
From Chicago to Oahu we had a direct flight and were in lay down seats. Returning home from Oahu to San Francisco we flew in the same plane but from San Francisco to Chicago we were in normal First Class seats that did not lay down. I was glad I could experience both planes. The lay down seats are a game changer. There was so much room it was unbelievable. The trip was so comfortable. It didn't even feel like you were in an airplane. The regular first class seats were certainly comfortable and offered the same quality of food but there was not as much room, you couldn't lay the seat too far back, there was more air noise, and there was not a TV for entertainment. You had to use your own device to watch movies.
For a long flight I would definitely consider First Class again, especially the lay back seats. For a few hour flight, probably not. It depends on the cost. If the price difference is too great I would not book first class but you should take into consideration all that is included. Free meals and free checked luggage. That alone might make the upgrade worth it on a long flight.
For the price I paid to upgrade to first class on my trip to Hawaii, it was absolutely worth every penny. I hope that I can fly the friendly skies in style again.