My Real First-Class Airplane Experiences

By Adele Sharman

27 April 2022
We would all love to turn left into the first-class cabin when boarding a plane, but who has ever flown there?

We would all love to turn left into the first-class cabin when boarding a plane, but who has ever flown there?

I am addicted to travelling with comfort, especially when it comes to anticipating new adventures on an airplane. There is definitely something exciting about getting on a plane, meeting your pilot, stewards and stewardesses for the first time, while enjoying your view in the window seat. Add a first-class service to this already created travel zest, the best gourmet dishes, and (if you are lucky) a little party going on in the bar area. Do you want to know how to create such an experience for yourself? Let me talk you through it.

Some of the best times I had the most amazing first-class flight experiences were when I had purchased them on sale. Yes, I can vouch for that, I have bagged myself some good deals. I have used my air miles and points, and also had a few free upgrades. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. When I first started travelling many moons ago, I used to board a flight, thinking “One day I want to turn left and when they make you walk through business class first before you get to your seat. I want to be that person with my feet up sipping on champagne”. Then I got to my seat where my knees were touching my chin. Unfortunately, at that time my budget couldn’t stretch to it but I knew that one day I would fly first-class.

How was I introduced to fine travelling for the first time? Well, that’s a funny story. Many years ago, I was booking flights to Florida and just out of curiosity I typed in “first-class” and my first reaction was “Wow, this price is shockingly amazing!” I thought they had made a mistake, so I got straight on the phone to double-check. No, it was correct. I didn’t waste a second on doubting and before I finished the call, the flights had been booked. Within a few hours I looked at the website again and the price was up. I was very happy back then that I had bagged myself a great deal. In the end, my girls just loved their first first-class experience and I liked it so much I thought I would never be flying that standard again. This was the start of it for me, I blame Virgin Atlantic for my love of flying first-class! If only they had deals like that now…

‘I don’t do queues’ might sound a bit snobbish, but when you are paying to fly premium, business or first-class, that’s exactly what you want. I can be the first or the last on the plane and I am not stressing about having extra space in the overhead locker for my bag. The lounge is usually a bonus with food and drinks flowing. Every time I enjoy spending time in the lounge I ask myself “Why do we feel we have to consume our entire body weight in food and drink before we board a flight, and take a few packs of biscuits in our hand luggage? Just in case the plane runs out of food?” I guess I’ll never know.

Okay, I got on the plane, now it’s time for enjoying my seat…or bed. Many years ago I flew to Australia with two toddlers in economy class. Yeah, don’t be shocked I do fly in cheap seats too. Jokes aside, I didn’t have the money to fly first-class when I was young but I was happy to be able to travel with my babies. Although, to be honest with you, the thought of doing that flight now would bring me out in a cold sweat.

People often ask me “Do you get free flights?” or “Do you get upgraded all the time?”. The answer is NO. I just look out for good deals, sometimes it is cheaper to book a return flight even if you don’t use one. Make use of your points or just ask managers nicely when you are checking in. I am not into making my husband wear a blazer or full suit just so we could bag a free upgrade. My advice is “casual outfit is always good to go” and if you try too hard they can see it a mile off. Just be polite and ask. It never hurts to try.

So, let’s talk about airlines! I have had good and bad flights, but each experience was valuable, so I can gladly share it with you.

Virgin Atlantic

My favourite one is Virgin Atlantic. I have been on economy, premium and first-class flights. I have also flown Delta One, which was an outstanding experience for me. I simply love their service. I did prefer the older fleet from Virgin, I feel they have packed more seats into one space and I miss the bar and the little seat your partner could sit on while eating a meal with you. I recently flew on the Airbus A350 with the loft, they had a lovely social area and my seat had a retractable privacy screen.

Your seat turns into a fully flat bed with lovely crisp sheets, a pillow and a duvet, which they kindly make up for you. The food is usually of a very good standard and who doesn’t love the little salt and pepper pots in the shape of an airplane (that we all take home)? I love that you can get snacks in-between from mini burgers to afternoon tea depending on your destination. If you are on an evening flight, you are given super comfortable loungewear, socks to keep your feet warm, an eye mask and earplugs, and add a great amenity pack as well. Also, spending time in the Virgin lounge is an added bonus. They have great food, drinks and a dedicated check-in at Heathrow.


My second favourite is Emirates. I have flown economy and business classes there, so I can safely say: I just love their lounge zones. The first time I entered one of the lounges in Dubai I thought I was in a food hall in a shopping centre. The service and staff are outstanding. The food lets it down a little bit for me on the flight. I do find it quite bland, although I never thought I would be flying that standard again. Their champagne never disappoints too. The seat reclines into a fully flat bed with a mattress and cosy blanket, and the onboard lounge is a great social space. If you fancy a shower on board (when you are seated in the first-class), Emirates is the airline for you, if you are ready for that hefty price tag. By the way, the amenity kit they provide you with is Bvlgari. Yep.

Turkish Airlines

I have only flown with this airline once and it was in business class. Unfortunately, I didn’t get time to use the lounge, it was a connecting flight during the pandemic. The first thing I’d love to do is to fly with the airline again in a post-pandemic world. The service wasn’t so great and the lack of food and drink (due to Covid-19) was very disappointing. Although, the seat (fully flatbed), blankets and sheets and unforgettable Versace amenity kit were all of the high standard and very comfortable.

Thai Airways And China Airlines Dynasty Class

Thai Airways Royal Silk Class and China Airlines Dynasty Class were incredible experiences for me. I flew with China airlines the first time I went to Thailand and the service was outstanding. The choice of food was so amazing, I still keep warm memories of it. My seat didn’t turn into a bed back then but I do recall the seat having a great recline. I had to get up out of my seat to go and speak to my dad without tapping him on his head for him to turn round and speak to me. I recently flew with Thai Airways and I have received nothing less than outstanding service. I felt super comfortable in my section with the feel of a small living room and an oversized sofa.

TUI Airways, American Airlines, British Airways, Jet2

I just love Tui Premium. I have never had a bad flight, the staff makes this airline super friendly. You can upgrade your flight for a small premium to get that extra space. extra legroom seats or be seated in the Premium section with fast track through security in the UK, airport lounge access in the UK and priority boardingThe food can be hit or miss but drinks usually flow, and is well worth it.

Moving to American Airlines business class, I love their lounge, priority boarding, extra luggage allowance and depending on the flight time (I have only done short flights). They still serve you a drink and snack. They have very friendly staff as well, along with some nice pilots!

Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with British Airways many years ago, so I have stayed away from the airline. I know I should give them another chance. I price up with them but they come out expensive. Hopefully one day I will use them again.

I also use low-cost airlines: Jet2, EasyJet, Ryanair and JetBlue. My favourite is Jet2. They have friendly staff at check-in and onboard. I do try to book extra legroom seats but remember they are a budget airline. Drinks and food services can be hit or miss, too. During the pandemic, I gave Jet2 10/10 for customer service. A big high five to them. My flight to Antalya with eight passengers was like flying on a private plane.

I have flown with other airlines over the years but these made my list and stayed in my memories. I would also like to say a big thank you to all the pilots and air stewards and stewardesses. You all do an amazing job and you have allowed me to follow my dreams and see the world.

Until the next blog post.


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