Sitting in first class always beats business class or coach, but not all first class seats are the same. Older or smaller planes have first class sections that are not as luxurious or spacious as larger planes. Newer and larger planes also have first class sections with more amenities offering the best seats for travelers seeking a luxury experience.
Row One in first class is the best option in most planes because you are at the very front of the plane. You have the most leg room and no one in front of you. You are also the first person to get off the plane, unless the door is behind the first class section, but even then you are one of the first people off. Whether the aisle or window seat in row one is better depends on your personal preference.
Long-Haul First Class
On long or international flights, many airlines offer long-haul first class, which provides more luxury and comfort than regular first class seats. There are four primary seat types for long-haul first class. Recliner seats do not lie flat but do offer a lot of room and comfort. Lie-flat seats do not actually lie fully flat, but recline significantly to a slight angle, just above the fully flat position. Flat bed seats fully recline into a horizontal bed position so you can get a good night's sleep if you choose. Finally, first class suites provide the best first class experience: your own private cabin with a work station, entertainment station and a fully reclined bed.
Latest First Class Amenities
As of 2010, several first class amenities exist that were not found on older planes. Features include laptop power ports, up to 30 inches of extra leg room, wider seats, comfortable armrests, electric seat controls, seats with built-in massage capability, large personal TV screens, noise-canceling headphones, travel kits that include slippers and pajamas and gourmet food and wine. These amenities come at no extra cost, though a first class ticket is obviously more expensive than a coach ticket. Standard first class amenities still exist as well, such as boarding and exiting the plane first and extra care and attention from flight attendants.
Best Airline First Class Cabins
First class passengers deserve an experience with perks and inflight amenities above that of the premium economy class or business class seats. Delta travelers can earn points via American Express credit card purchases to go towards the luxury Delta One experience aboard several Boeing aircraft options. Notable for their suite style seating options are first class flights aboard Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air France, or Lufthansa. Cathay Pacific offers a private 1-1-1 seat configuration aboard their Boeing 777 with Cantonese luxuries including caviar available to passengers. Etihad is known for their Residence option which gives guests access to a private lavatory, amenity kits, and even a living room, if willing to pay the price the aircraft has a route out of New York (JFK).
Travelers who may be booking last minute, or trying to avoid the dreaded middle seat, may ask to upgrade at check in or check SeatGuru for seat maps and information for carriers including United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, and British Airways.