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How To Maximize International First Class Travel

Singapore-Airlines-Suites-ClassI’ve flown well over a hundred segments in international first class, so I figured I’d share some general tips for maximizing the enjoyment of longhaul premium cabin travel. These thoughts are totally scattered and perhaps mostly quite obvious, so take them with a grain of salt. I’d certainly love to hear what thoughts you guys have in the comments section below.

Know what you want to get out of the flight — sleep or fun? So in theory the greatest thing about premium cabin travel is being able to arrive at your destination well rested. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I find that when I fly business class I actually arrive more well rested than when flying first class. And that’s despite first class having more personal space, much better bedding, and more privacy.

That’s because in first class you sometimes feel like you don’t want to “miss out” on the service and experience, while a great business class flight is simply one where you arrive well rested, in my opinion.

So decide beforehand what you want to get out of the flight. Do you want to have a blast and have a memorable flight, or arrive so well rested that you won’t even remember the flight happened?

Cathay_Pacific_Hong_Kong_Wing21
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Neither approach is wrong, and it obviously varies based on what you have going on at the destination and the type of flight. For example, on a transpacific flight there’s usually plenty of time to do both. However, on a flight from New York to London you really don’t have that luxury. Either you can go straight to sleep and get at least some rest, or you can stay up and enjoy the flight.

From New York to London I don’t have a problem enjoying the flight and then napping for a couple of hours upon landing, which for me is more effective than a few hours of airplane sleep.

Know what amenities your airline offers first class passengers. This comes in two parts.

There are the obvious amenities you should know about, like:

Cathay Pacific “Wing” First Class Lounge Cabana

Qatar-Premium-Terminal-Hot-TubAnd then there are the less obvious amenities available, which you may or may not value:

Qatar Airways Premium Terminal Doha hot tub

Ultimately the best way to know about these is to read trip reports/reviews of the products you’re flying, so you know what you can expect.

Trust me, it’s easy to forget to take advantage of some of these amenities — even I do it. When I recently flew Korean Air A380 First Class from Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles, I forgot to have a luggage tag made in the Korean Air First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon.

Don’t eat in the lounge… most of the time. This is something I struggle with when flying. Say you’re flying Cathay Pacific First Class from Chicago to Hong Kong. You don’t eat during the day since you’re anticipating the great meal service on the flight. But then you’re sitting in the SAS Lounge Chicago before boarding and realize you’re actually really hungry, because you’ve been saving your appetite for aboard. And then you realize even if boarding is about to start, it’s going to be another 90 minutes or so before you’re actually eating.

SAS_Lounge_Chicago_ORD13 Air-France-First-Lounge-Paris-53 Lufthansa-A330-New-First-08 Inflight-Reading

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