How Does First Class Differ From Coach?

First class differs significantly from coach, especially on international trips. While first-class travel is harder and harder to get for business travelers, it's well worth upgrading if you fly frequently and have miles to spare. And, if you're heading out on a trip for leisure, it's the most relaxing way to fly.

First class is more expensive than coach--both in terms of cash required and airline miles if you're upgrading or using miles for the entire journey. Actual costs vary, but first class is typically about 50 percent more expensive at its cheapest.


You can fully recline most first-class seats on international trips. Domestic first-class seats are smaller, but recline significantly farther than coach seats and include a foot rest as well as a head rest you can modify for the highest level of comfort. You have a wider seat and significantly more space between your seat and the seat in front than if traveling coach.


The flight attendants will greet you in first class as you enter the aircraft and often escort you to your seat. Once you arrive at your seat, they'll take any coats to be hung in the first -class closet and bring you a drink--typically champagne, though water and other cocktails are readily available.


In first class, a tray that magically appears from you arm rest will be covered with a snowy white linen prior to any food service. And the food will be significantly better, abundant--often a two- or three-course meal--and accompanied by alcohol free of charge. Coach service typically includes meals you can purchase or nothing at all.


Most first-class seats include a personal DVD player or a personal TV with 30 or so channels available so you can watch what you want. Your headsets are often upgraded as well, so the sound quality is significantly higher. Coach class provides a centralized TV for five or six rows to view together.

Carolyn Williams began writing for the software industry over 20 years ago. She now writes and edits for online content providers in addition to raising her family. An avid traveler and golf enthusiast, Carolyn delights in sharing her knowledge of destinations both far and near.

Other Travel Tips