Food, Travel and Tech

I flew first class for the first time ever—here's why the upgrade from economy was worth it

Flying first class for the first time has convinced me that it's worth the money for longhaul flights.
Celia Fernandez

I've been flying my entire life — to the Dominican Republic, to Italy, to Morocco — but it's always been in economy class. That all changed in January when my partner and I were traveling to San Francisco and got upgraded to first class.

My partner has a Delta SkyMiles American Express card and had a companion ticket to use, so we decided to take advantage of the two-for-one deal and head to the furthest place from our home in New York, that we could manage for a long weekend. On our way to the airport, we got a notification that we'd be upgraded from economy to Delta's Comfort+.

While we were waiting to board our 7 a.m. flight, we checked our boarding passes and realized that I'd been upgraded again — this time to Delta One aka first class for this flight. But my partner was still in Comfort+.

I begged the gate agent to upgrade my partner too, and right before the plane doors closed, they let us know that he would also be seated with me in first class.

It's important to note that Delta One is not the same as Delta's official first class. The airline's first class is only available on shorter and domestic flights, while Delta One is usually available on international flights with a few exceptions, like the one I took to San Francisco.

Depending on the flight, Delta either offers first-class or the more elevated experience of Delta One but not both.

I got a free upgrade to fly in Delta's first class cabin on a recent flight to San Francisco, California.

What it's like up in Delta One

Sitting in Delta One was beyond anything I've experienced on a flight. When I got to my seat, there was already a bag with:

  • a pillow and duvet
  • a bottle of water
  • noise-canceling headphones
  • a pouch with a pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, and lip balm

And before we even took off, the flight attendant came around with a tray of champagne and orange juice.

I quickly settled into my seat and decided to start my experience by taking advantage of the flatbed feature in Delta One. Usually, in economy, I don't recline my seat much, out of respect for the person behind me. Not having to worry about that in first class was a welcome relief.

The seats in Delta One lie back 180 degrees into a flatbed that is easily adjustable using the well-lit buttons on the armrest.

I started a re-watch of "Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness" and then used the complimentary noise-canceling headphones and eye mask to take a nap.

I slept for over an hour, and when I woke up, my partner told me I'd missed the breakfast service.

I took full advantage of the seats reclining into flatbeds by taking several naps throughout the 6 hour flight.
Celia Fernandez

I went in search of the flight attendants to ask about breakfast. They informed me I had several options: a veggie frittata or a bagel with lox and a side of yogurt and fruit.

I picked the latter and enjoyed every minute of it. The greek yogurt was the highlight of my meal, for sure.

My favorite part of the breakfast in first class was the Greek yogurt spread.
Celia Fernandez

Although I didn't take advantage of the free alcohol that's included in Delta One, I loved the immediate access to water — it's usually delayed in economy class.

After eating breakfast, I took another nap and woke up to find out I had missed yet another service. This time it was snacks like vegan gummy bears, Sunchips, the classic Biscoff cookies, pistachios, and more.

Whenever I'm traveling, I always ask for extra snacks because I know they will always come in handy later.

Another perk of flying first class was that we were the first people to get off when the plane landed. Since my partner and I didn't check our bags, we were off the plane and waiting for our cab in under 10 minutes.

It was the smoothest travel experience I have ever had.

A first-class flight from JFK to SFO can cost upwards of $2,000. A free upgrade allowed me to experience life in first class this time, but I would consider paying the price for long-haul flights in the future.

For me, being able to nap comfortably, having a full meal plus snacks and the easy access to beverages made all the difference.

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