First-class amenities suffer as airlines look to slash costs.
The price of an unrestricted first-class seat remains sky-high--often thousands of dollars more than a comparable seat in coach. But first class isn't what it used to be.
On domestic flights, many airlines have done away with the cushier first-class amenities in efforts to cut costs. United Airlines further blurred the line between domestic economy and first class when it recently introduced its "Economy Plus," a new section between its first and economy classes.
And for frequent fliers who land an upgrade, expect several extra inches of legroom, but no more width. TWA's Trans World First seats, for one, aren't any larger than those in the main cabin of Midwest Express Airlines.
One airline is resisting the trend. Aloha Airlines, an intra-island Hawaiian carrier, recently reconfigured the premium sections on its Boeing 737 aircraft. But the redesign didn't just add four more first-class seats. Aloha also removed a row of seats from coach to expand legroom for all passengers.
Insider tip: If you can't land an upgrade, don't bother with the "in between" classes-head for the gate and ask for an exit-row seat. These seats typically have more legroom and no children, so they're quiet, spacious places where you can get a lot of work done.
Choice Hotels International Inc., (301) 592-5000, www.choicehotels.com.
Guerilla Linguistics, fax: (612)525-0659, firstname.lastname@example.org.
United Airlines/Buy Travel, www.buytravel.com