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Will You Book First Class — Even if Some Frills Don’t Return?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Ah, the good old days of first class.

No, not the much-celebrated, Pan Am days of yore.

I’m talking about just several weeks ago. You know — cocktails, premium snacks, and meals on long domestic flights. Heck, you might’ve scored an amenity kit!

Because of airlines’ efforts to limit person-to-person contact, we can now expect something along these lines:

A Delta snack bag during a flight in April 2020 (Photo credit: Jeff in Michigan, special to RenesPoints.com)
A Delta snack bag during a flight in April 2020 (Photo credit: Jeff in Michigan, special to RenesPoints.com)

Will you purchase first class going forward — even if it means some of the more “traditional items” don’t return?

I’m not talking about buying coach and hoping for a complimentary, elite status upgrade. This is about using cash (or points) to pay for a first class fare. Or, heck, we’ll even consider upgrades with points in this scenario.

Meals and Glassware and Doting Service, Oh My!

I’ll preface this by saying I haven’t flown in about eight weeks. Those of you still in the skies, please feel free to add your data points in the below Comments section.

For me, first class features two main tangible benefits: comfortable seats (at least, better than coach) and (often) great service.

The first class cabin (seats 2D and 2F and 3D and 3F) are seen inside a Sun Country 737-800. © Chris Carley / PointsLounge.
Even Sun Country first class was worth a $40 buy up!

Frankly, I prefer beverages in glassware because plastic can affect their taste. But I won’t turn down soda, bourbon, or wine just because it’s served a plastic cup. 

A Delta Air Lines passenger enjoys a Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey as pre-departure beverage while reading Rene's Points travel blog.
Enjoying a pre-departure beverage after getting upgraded to first class!

But will glassware will ever return to first class — or domestic business class? When flight attendants serve refills — at least, in my experience — they reused the same glass. I wonder if that practice may worry some passengers. Will new, fresh plastic cups for each drink become the norm?

And that’s if anything other than water is served on flights. (I think it will but who knows these days.) But because person-to-person is being reduced, it might be easier (and safer?) to just hand out bottled water.

Two small bottles of Dasani Water are seen in the first class cabin of a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 jet in Seattle, Washington.
Two small bottles of Dasani Water are seen in the first class cabin of a Delta Air Lines Boeing 737 jet in Seattle, Washington.

Meals consist now of Flight Fuel boxes and snacks on Delta flights. (People who’ve flown any long haul international flights: what were you served?) I’m guessing we’ll return to meals like the ones pictured at the top of the post.

But I don’t know how long it’ll be until then.

Final Approach

If I’m taking a redeye or long domestic flight and the cost isn’t prohibitive, I’d purchase first class — just as I did in the pre-COVID word. The comfort and space are worth it. Drinks, snacks, and meals are great. But I can live without them.

At least, for a while. 😉

What Will You Do?

Will you spend your money or points buying first class? Do you think it’ll change much? Please share your thoughts below!

— Chris

 

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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13 Comments

  1. Berk Thompson Reply

    I’ll continue to purchase first class seats just for the comfort of the seats and the larger IFE screen. Worth it to me on coast to coast for sure. Drinks are nice but not necessary for me and I rarely eat the snacks anyway.

  2. BookGirl305 Reply

    Economy girl here. I would rather buy an aisle economy seat and use the extra $2500 or so for a massage upon arrival and pay for a good hotel for the entire stay instead of spending that kind of cash for 12 hours in the front.
    Upgrade me any day, but cash or points? Nope

  3. Economy has increased value now that middle seats will be vacant.
    This configuration provides better social distancing than first class.
    European airlines for years have blocked the middle seat of the first few rows and sold it as business class .
    I have a Delta flight coming up in June , and I’m not sure that I want to be upgraded.

  4. Tony Mckissick Reply

    I would not pay for first class but would be glad to have an upgrade. My joy of flying is all but eliminated by this turn of events however, I did write Delta and thank them for the 1.5 fantastic million miles I have flown on their airlines before this tragedy.

  5. I personally would not spend the extra money for upgrading. It’s the extra amenities that i love the most. The food, drinks and comfort. This has been drastically reduced and I’d much rather save the extra funds for future flights.

  6. If they are only offering more comfortable seating, I wouldn’t splurge for First Class. If they are offering premium drinks and full meals for sure I’ll buy it or use points. The meals and drinks make the flight seem so much shorter.

  7. For about the last 10 years I have flown first class 90% of the time domestic and 100% international. At first it was with certificate or miles upgrades, but these rarely work any more, so I just buy the tickets. Sometimes I am reimbursed but other times all I get is coach fare reimbursed. However, my reason is I am 6’3″, and 1/8th of a ton and my shoulders are 23″ across and coach seats are only 17-18 “. I used to change from one side of the aisle to the other at connections so I didnt walk off the plane crooked. However, I agree with the above statement that with middle row empty, the legroom in comfort + will work fine for me. Also I have about 20 free drink coupons if those ever become useful at some time. Hit 2 mill in miles last year. Keepup the good work guys!

  8. HuntingtonGuy Reply

    Cash will be king for me. I don’t see the value unless a ticket is priced well given the slow drift towards fewer up front benefits. I don’t drink so that isn’t a draw, plus I’ve got vouchers galore. Meals are meh, with rare exceptions. I’m a big’ish guy @ 6-1, 275 but with middle seats being left open for the time being, C+ seems a strong options now.
    Sadly, I suspect pricing and upgrades to C+ will go the way of pre-Covid first class.
    Domestic First is nice but nothing exceptional depending on flight duration. Coast to coast id before likey to buy up front but not much more.

  9. Barry Graham Reply

    I would continue to, if affordable. It’s mostly about the extra space for me.

  10. I doubt they will drop the prices for the upgraded seats even if you don’t get the previous amities. I expect they will hike the prices. I have had it with airlines nickel and diming us to death. All this serves them right and I am smiling ear to ear!

  11. Previously I only paid for first when treating my partner (who doesn’t really like flying) to a trip, while I’d usually buy Economy if traveling alone (although, the current inability to instant upgrade to C+ on a ticket bought for travel over 6 months out is strange). I don’t think I’d be paying for first until some of the benefits like a meal come back on longer flights. I haven’t traveled in a month and a half, and I’m only buying tickets for travel many months out, but I haven’t seen prices drop for the drop in level of service.

  12. First class is all about the comfort. Anyone over 6 foot and / or broad shoulders will attest to this. The amenities are nice, and eat into the upgrade cost, but it is all about the space!

  13. I’ll keep paying for domestic first class. I decided a while back to no longer fly economy on legacy carriers, and flying has been a happier experience for me since I made that decision. I only travel for leisure, and when I fly first the flights are almost like part of the vacation, rather than a torment to be endured in order to get there. The hassle factor is reduced. Checking in and checking bags is much easier when flying first class, for those of us who have no significant frequent flier status. When there is a cancellation or severe delay, it’s much easier to get rebooked. You get to board first and don’t have to worry about overhead bin space, not to mention that a couple of checked bags are included (and prioritized for prompt baggage handling). The seat is more comfortable and spacious, which helps as I have broad shoulders. Being pressed up against a stranger on a 2-3 hour flight is not my cup of tea. We usually travel as a party of two, so just having two seats together is ideal. The front of the plane is also quieter, and there is better service.

    I will miss meals until they bring them back. Average quality food, but I agree with a prior poster that they make the flight seem to go by faster. They also spare us from having to grab a meal at the airport. Here’s to the hope that flying will get back to normal soon!

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