Disappointing photos show what flying first class is really like

Singapore Airlines/Lisa I/YelpFor starters, don’t expect your domestic first-class flight to look anything like flying internationally.
  • Despite its reputation, flyingfirst class isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
  • Advertisements for first-class accommodations – and even our own imaginations – can look vastly different from the true experience.
  • Take a look at what the full experience of flying first-class – from check-in to the exclusive lounges to the seats and meals on the flights themselves – can really look like.

Flying first-class can sometimes feel like an unattainable luxury.

And if you’ve ever had to pass by those lucky few first-class passengers on your way to coach, you probably recognise those feelings of curiosity and pangs of jealousy you get seeing them already seated in their wide, plush seats with extra legroom and a 15-inch TV.

But first class isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Yes, first-class seats are larger than those on the rest of the aeroplane, but only by a few inches. And, at the end of the day, aeroplane food is still aeroplane food, and flying is still flying.

What’s more, while the first-class experience on international flights, with all of its amenities, will always hold an allure to travellers, flying domestic first class is an entirely different experience.

Here’s a look at what it’s really like to fly first class.


You might think check-in is all smiles for people who purchase first-class tickets.


But in reality, travel is always hectic, and there’s bound to be some confusion at some point.


Before arriving at your gate, your security screening may be seamless and easy.


But you could still get stuck in long lines.


Thankfully, the airline club lounges once you get through security look to be rather luxurious — a welcoming respite from the huge crowds.


That is, until they’re overcrowded with a ton of other passengers who paid for the same “luxury.”


Even if you think the lounge food spread looks appetizing …


… it may be just picked-over cheese.


If you’re flying international first class, you may expect to find your lounge to look like the halls of a palace.


But even for international flights, your lounge may very well just look like the lobby of a Holiday Inn.


On the surface, boarding the plane into first class should be an orderly process. You’re likely one of the first groups to board, after all.


But boarding can still be completely chaotic, even if you’re allowed to board first.


One-touch boarding would seem to solve this problem.


Unfortunately boarding a plane is usually much harder than it appears.


On the plane, those international first class seats are advertised as luxurious and spacious.

Singapore Airlines

Yet the reality of domestic first class is typically only a large leather chair.

Brian Pascus/Business Insider

On some international flights, first class accommodations are the size of a room, and they may come with various toiletries for your convenience.


Other first-class accommodations include seats that allow you to fully recline.


But on domestic first class, your seat may look more like this, with little space to spread out.


From the advertisements alone, the idea of fully reclining in your first-class seat looks so nice and roomy.


But take it from me, sitting in a first-class seat isn’t all it’s been cracked up to be.

Brian Pascus/Business Insider

These first-class seats look so clean, orderly, and luxurious in the advertisements.

QantasQantas First Class

But, in reality, you could get stuck with a disgusting stain on the armrest that won’t come out no matter how many times you try to clean it, like I did.

Brian Pascus/Business Insider

Aeroplanes are still aeroplanes after all — not the most cleanly environment.

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


A first-class seat is advertised to look truly impressive.


But in reality it’s essentially just another chair.


You might plan on getting some sleep in your luxurious first class pod…


… but you could still get stuck sitting near a crying baby.


In international first class, you might expect the cabin’s bathroom to include a shower, clean towels, hand towels, and a marble sink — and some do.


But, especially on domestic first-class flights, the bathrooms can still be rather tight spaces that make you feel claustrophobic.


You might also expect to have a large, high-definition TV screen with a multitude of entertainment options on your flight — and you could get this on some international first-class flights.


But, particularly in domestic first class, you might still have to make do with a small, low-definition TV screen.

Business Insider/Brian Pascus

In fact, even if you are excited to snuggle in and watch “Saturday Night Fever”…


…you might be disappointed at what it will cost you.


In first class, you might expect to be served lobster tail and rice pilaf — and some airlines do offer that on their international flights.


But in domestic first-class, you should be prepared for meals more akin to reheated tortellini and a dry salad.

Brian Pascus/Business Insider

Even a domestic first-class meal is sometimes advertised to be hot filet of beef with soup, salad, deviled eggs, and a glass of red wine.


But it could also be an egg sandwich, croissant, and a cookie wrapped in plastic.


International first class makes it look like you’ll be served a bottle of champagne upon boarding.


But on domestic first class, prior to takeoff there’s a possibility that all you’ll end up getting is a cup of water.

Brian Pascus/Business Insider

To go one step further, in international first class there is occasionally a bar with olives, crackers, cheese and fruit located at the front of the plane.


But, once again, in domestic first class there is usually only a few leather chairs and sometimes the TV monitor won’t even work.


Upon landing, you may go to baggage claim and have a pain-free process of retrieving your luggage.


Or you could find it stacked in a pile with no discernible plan or focus.


When you finally leave the airport to return home, you may be picked up by a driver who will take your bags for you.


Or you could arrive right in the middle of a blizzard — flying first class doesn’t exempt you from the weather, after all.


And even if you do choose to ride with one of the many taxis waiting outside the airport …


… chances are you’ll still be stuck in a horrible line with the rest of the travellers who want to get home …


… and then will endure even worse traffic trying to leave the airport.


Because at the end of the day, flying first class…


… is still flying.

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