Well, this is subjective based on the person and perhaps their status and ability to afford it. Overall, I would not recommend paying full cash price just to fly first class on a regular basis. I think it can be a nice treat for those special occasions, but the first-class domestic experience is not what it used to be. Many of the people that acquire points and miles like me, use the points for a first-class experience but more international. The international first class and business class options can be amazing and an entirely separate discussion. I stick to using my points for domestic economy to try and maximize trips for the family and I. Sometimes an opportunity comes up for a low-cost chance to get into first class. So I gave it a try.
I have enjoyed my Delta airlines and Alaska airlines first class experiences in the past. Thus, when I was booking what would be a free trip, spending some out of pocket money seemed worth the chance for another shot at a first-class flight. I knew I was rolling the dice since I was booking with United but I had a $300 voucher to use so I would only be out of pocket about $200. I am horrible on flights when it comes to rest, relaxation, or sleep. In addition, I was working all day leading up to the flight so I went for it. Here are my thoughts regarding the experience.
The back story to the voucher since everyone always asks is this. I always volunteer to bump when traveling solo without the family. I originally had a $88 flight out of Phoenix last year. I took a bump which turned into a free hotel, free dinner, and the $300 voucher.
My first leg was Seattle(SEA) to Houston (IAH) and I was boarded first as part of the boarding process. This was the first time I have flown first class and never really been greeted after being seated. Yes, it was a red eye flight, but no water at your seat and no offer of anything to drink. In fact, it was at the same time as everyone else about 30 minutes into the flight. Nothing extra in seat except a wrapped-up blanket. The service wasn’t even friendly. Was I shocked? Not entirely mostly because it was United. Thankfully I used my free lounge access to get some drinks and food in me prior to boarding.
After a short layover in Houston I boarded my flight for Atlanta. This was one of those smaller flights where it’s actually a contracted company. I believe it was Sky West operating as United Express. I couldn’t have been more impressed. Friendly flight crew who was funny, yet professional. An immediate offer of a drink as soon as we were sat. The crew also had to deal with a seating issue which prolonged our departure but again it was handled well. The experience was first class and I only wish this had been my longer flight.
I did get pre-boarding, a drink or two, and the extra leg room which was nice, but when splurging out of pocket for first class you expect just a little more. I actually enjoyed the experience regardless because I knew I would get to share some of my thoughts. Many of my travel escapades revolve around being able to blog and post about it in addition that I just love to travel.
Being really impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the second flight crew, I decided to share that with United. I emailed them solely to compliment the crew, but I couldn’t not compare the second flight to the first one. I just told them if the second experience was like the first leg, it would give me more reasons to fly them. To my surprise they immediately emailed me a $100 voucher. I wasn’t expecting it and not emailing on one of my rants. So, it begins again as I will have to fly United…. again. Can I add a LOL in there? I was excited to use this last voucher just to try and separate myself from the United experience. In the end, this experience cost me $100 out of pocket which does seem to make it more worth it.
I will admit with some planning some bargains can be found on United. I used them for the Phoenix trip and used them for a Pittsburgh to Chicago leg last year, both were under a $100. I prefer to stick to my new friend Southwest and my old reliable friend, Alaska Airlines.