In October 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning passengers about “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.” As a road warrior, this got me thinking…I spend a LOT of time in the air, fluctuating on average between Executive Platinum and Platinum levels. I’ve been an American girl for thirteen years, but as long as the travel advisory is in place, I will fly my happy behind on another airline.
Uncomfortable going with a different airline? Absolutely! It’s painful as heck being a nobody on somebody’s plane. But as Divas, if we are truly expected to use our consumer power for good—and we are; see the Diva Code of Ethics and Behaviors Handbook, section B—then sometimes we have to make uncomfortable alterations to our lifestyle in order to improve said lifestyle. But all of this re-evaluation made me take a second look at first-class flying.
None of us likes to be crammed into a row of three and given a cup of liquid to drink. (My two hundred dollars plus ticket doesn’t even warrant some airlines giving me the actual CAN! What is up with that?) First class and business class would seem to be the natural remedy for this unhappiness, but let’s hold our horses a bit ‘cause actually … they may not always be the best choice!
If you’re flying regionally or less than 1.5 hours on a domestic flight, first class really isn’t worth it in my opinion. Many don’t offer a full meal, but rather offer an upgraded snack. And sorry, but a bag of organic chips is NOT worth the extra moolah (even if your company is paying for it), and I can stand having my legs pressed into my chest for a mere 45-90 minutes. Some of those shorter flights don’t even offer first class, while others present themselves as first class with only a solitary curtain (not leg room) highlighting the difference. Save the money (around $200+) and spend it on lounge access, priority boarding, or perhaps valet parking, if you don’t already have those perks.
For your longer trips, and, FOR SURE, international trips, first class and/or business class is a must. The question remains, how do you get the biggest bang for your $2,000+ of flying bucks? I still try to stick with my loyalty programs to keep earning my frequent flier miles. But I also like to know what I’m in for before I switch airlines by looking at sites such as TravelPulse.com which ranks JetBlue at the top (who knew?!), and I’ve become a big fan of Delta Airline’s first class—although they’ve been in trouble in years past with their treatment of African-Americans, but not enough to warrant an NAACP travel advisory. Check out which airlines have the best food (or wine, if that’s your thing) , and if you’re still torn, look at things like how wide the seats are. Do they lie flat? I need room for my butt and my long legs. This Skylux Travel article gives some great measurements because yes, Divas, as we all know, size does matter! Many airlines have the recliners in business and first, but not all recliners are made equally, sister. British Airways, while nice, isn’t as comfortable as Delta. And on BA, the pods face another person, which can be fun when you’re traveling with your boo or even going on a girls’ trip, but a little awkward for traveling with your boss. Eeew! Take a read here and see why Singapore Air and Etihad Airways top the list for best airline cabins. (The suites, honey! The suites!) You will notice that only American Airlines has made this list of Top 15 for international airlines that do first class/business class well. And United rarely makes any of the lists out there. JS.
We get so hung up on the American brands we know when traveling, we are hesitant to give the others a try when flying internationally. But check out the safety ratings of any airline by going to AirlineRatings.com to be sure they’re reputable. For our honeymoon to the French Riviera, Al and I flew KLM, which has an alliance with Delta. Their crew’s service was impeccable, and the food was excellent. I am hooked for life, so check them out.
And for heaven’s sake, Divas, don’t forget the other perks that can come from flying first class.
For example, a limited number of airlines offer free chauffer service as is referenced in Air Travel Genius. And if, like me, you still haven’t signed up for Global Entry yet, make. the. time! For one hundred bucks, you’ll skirt through custom’s lines, and you can use your TSA PreCheck, as well as the NEXUS/SENTRI when coming back from Canada or Mexico. Book in advance and be diligent with looking for and asking for upgrades, and your flying life will be, well … fly!