Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ten reasons why first or business class is a waste of money.

With great interest I read an article penned by George Hobica over at Fox News on airlines and why first or business class is worth the extra money and though he lists reasons, his own reason is simple. He likes the soft seats.

Now before I go on, let me just say that I'm not trying to be sarcastic or ugly here. I have the greatest respect for any writer that writes for Fox News. I prefer to call this a friendly debate. For this reason, I respectfully put forth my dissenting view.

1. Yes, the seat is more comfortable but so what?

I'm not going to select, and pay for a more expensive, doctor because their waiting room has better seats. Seats are temporary. How many of us go to a football game, or any sports for that matter and sit painfully for hours just to see the game? Granted, we've all wished for more comfortable seating we still go and we still deal with it. Again, it's only temporary.

I'm getting older and my bones do ache at times but plane tickets (and sporting event tickets) are expensive enough. Playing extra for a little more foam simply isn't worth the empty pocket. Besides, when you step off that plane, what do you have to show for it?

2. There really isn't that much more leg room.

Mr. Hobica even admits that folks sitting by the window still end up having to climb over someone to get out. The more leg room option is still cramped. If you cannot put your feet up, then there isn't enough leg room. Period.

3. The meals are still left overs.

No, they aren't. Mr. Hobica informs us that Delta has hired a chef to try and better the meal situation. Delta should save their money instead.

When an airline makes a meal, the flight attendant doesn't make it. It's made well in advance by a kitchen staff who seals it and sets it aside. Then the flight attendant (sometimes hours later) reheats it and gives it to you. Oh boy.

What you're actually eating is microwaved left overs. That is, something that was cooked some time ago and then reheated. Yeah, upgrading for the food is just silliness.

4. The $90 drink would make my bartender love you.

Mr. Hobica informs us that alcohol dehydrates you in the air. Well it also dehydrates you period, so the air isn't an issue.

The problem here is cost. Let's use Mr. Hobica's example upgrade cost of $90. Unless you plan on getting totally smacked, $90 is an awful lot for booze. You're better off paying for a drink then spending $90 for one.

5. What privacy?

Apparently some people think it's more private. On my recent Delta round trip flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles, I sat right behind first class. Yes, on both flights. I observed first class carefully. The first thing was that I could hear everything being said right in front of me, and even in the row in front of that one.

I could see everything in the opposite row in front of me that the outer seat guy was doing. I could even read the book he was reading on his Kindle.

There's more, but it falls under the next one.

6. The first class lavatories are commandeered by us lowly lower class.

I had to wait for the bathroom and I went into first class to go. I was not about to walk to the back of the plane and several of us back there made their way forward to go. We lower class folks aren't stupid. We know there is a bathroom up there and we know that the flight attendant isn't going to say "NO, YOU CAN'T USE THAT ONE!!!"

Needless to say, the first class folks had to wait on us, so there's no benefit there either.

7. I take offense that flight attendants are nicer in first class than regular.

This shouldn't even be a reason, but Mr. Hobica says they are truly nicer up there. I don't know about you, but I'm having some Titanic flash backs here. Flight attendants would do well to treat ALL paying customers equally. Just because someone forks out more money doesn't mean that others have gotten on that flight for free.

Everyone is a paying customer and should be treated as such. As a nurse, how would you feel if I treated someone who has paid for a private room better than you in the semi-private? Can you imagine the hysteria if this happened?

8. Why would I want to board early then sit and wait? Then, what is 5 minutes?

Maybe it's the more comfortable chair part. Still, that doesn't make any sense either because now you have these people coming in staring at you, and even breathing on you, while they all fight to get to the back. Yeah, that's a lot better than patiently waiting in the waiting area, who by the way, isn't getting stared at or breathed upon.

I'll have to say that the TSA line thing is another situation entirely. I've flown a lot since 9/11 and I've never had to wait more than 5 minutes or so. Big deal.

9. Overhead bin space is a pain, but not worth $90!

I will say that this is a pain. It's the one I hate the most and the part I dread. However, it's just not worth the $90 and if you're lucky and wait until last to board, chances are you won't have to find a space. They'll check it for you. Now you don't have people staring at you and breathing on you either.

Also, compare $25 to $90. For $25 you can have the airline worry about the compartment and you won't have to wait for anything. I find it amusing that first class passengers want to squeeze their belongings into a small bag, just so they can save $25 but pay $90 so they can get to it faster.

10. Power outlets are expensive at $90.

I'll give him that older planes don't have outlets and if you cannot be flexible during your travel dates and times, you may be stuck without outlets, but charge everything in advance and use your juice wisely and chances are you'll be okay.

If you can be flexible, learn about the planes and pick the ones that have the better ones. This information is usually available when booking your flights and picking your seat.

Choose wisely.

In the end, you can avoid a lot of the problems by planning ahead. These are some tips that I can offer you, which I've learned through experience. They're not perfect answers, but anything is better than spending extra money on first class tickets with nothing to show for it in the end.

  • Everyone is so anxious to board right away, but wait until everyone is boarded. You'll likely not have to worry about overhead compartments. However, keep in mind that if there is one spot left you'll be forced to use it and it may be a thousand seats down from yours. This could be a problem on connections.
  • If you go to the bathroom frequently, pick seats that are either at the front of the plane (behind first class, of course) or the back of the plane. This way you can keep an eye on the bathroom and won't have to fight a line. Go when it's unoccupied, even if you don't think you need to. 
  • If you have a connecting flight, pick seats at the front of the plane. Also, I recommend checking your luggage. It's cheaper to add $25 then to buy a first class ticket.
  • There are massive flight times where a thousand people are trying to get through TSA. Pick mid-morning and mid-afternoon weekday flights. That's when it's the least busy. Business travelers go early and leave late and vacationers tend to fly Friday through Sunday. That in-between time is usually much less crowded. Your flight may be fully booked, but the airport isn't as busy.
  • Look to the left. There is some truth in this, believe me. I've noticed that in the TSA line, people try to stay in the middle and right lines. The left is usually shorter. 
  • Know what you have to do when you get there. Nothing is more annoying than waiting for someone who has no idea what to do in the TSA line or those who wait until they're there to do anything about it. Get your computer out, empty your pockets (put it in your bag), have your lotion stuff in a ziploc already, etc.
  • If you have a bunch of beads on your clothing, or any kind of removable decorations on them, be prepared for a pat down. Lesson learned. I suggest wearing bare clothing (not to be confused with sheer, please). 
  • When scheduling, make sure you have plenty of connection time. DFW is the worst airport in the country and I nearly always miss my connection there. I have to run quickly and I make it when it's boarding every single time I ever use that airport in my life. I fly only Delta now, so I don't have that hassle anymore.
  • Learn about the airport you'll be connecting in. I can't tell you how many people I see getting off a plane who has no idea where to go nor what to do. It'll only take 5 minutes to quickly Google the airport map and you'll have an idea of how it's laid out.
  • Despite what people say, I think Atlanta is the best, most organized, airport in the world. Maybe I'm biased, because I was born and bred in Atlanta, but I've lived and flown all over the country (Alaska, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, etc., you get the idea), and nothing beats Atlanta for its pace and ease. Nothing.
Enjoy your flight and use the money you saved, by not upgrading, to buy you something special!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sounds like an americant--dark and empty CULTure of hustling and opportunising.