Saddled with a long flight across the country for a mid-week business meeting or tired of dealing with all the cramped space of coach? Flights between New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle are finally getting the same facelift that transatlantic flights enjoyed. Fully flat bed seats are making their way slowly onto the scene to provide an upscale experience with top notch dining, entertainment, and amenities. Typically items that you would only receive on first class flights overseas are now available on domestic first and business class.
Each airline has their own twist and some are more luxurious experiences than others. Birchbox and Tumi amenities kits are available on jetBlue’s Mint Class and Delta’s BusinessElite class, private cabins on American Airlines, and mood lighting on Virgin America to give each passenger their own experience. Traveling across 3,000 miles shouldn’t be a headache any longer when you can rest your head in a nap, enjoy Bose headphones with great tunes, or browse through hundreds of movies and TV shows to keep you away from working.
This was the flagship first class for jetBlue that premiered recently where they upped their game and entered the traditional airline market. Their planes used to be all one class with no separation, but if the new Mint class succeeds, they may end up offering it on many more flights. Right now Mint is only available from JFK to LAX, but come October 26, 2014, service between JFK and SFO will begin.
Mint class on the A321 includes a bunch of firsts that make a good impression even on some of the most seasoned travelers. They are the first airline to offer a closing door cabin on a domestic flight; a true privacy escape. They are one of the first airlines to offer this generous first class experience for a reasonable price; many flights start at $599 one-way and are around 60,800 TrueBlue points. A massage feature and adjustable firmness on the lie-flat seats, preferred baggage claim where Mint passenger cargo reaches the carousel first, and a complementary Birchbox to help you freshen up after the flight are all firsts for this airline and some are firsts for first class in general.
Fresh offerings from top New York restaurants including Saxon and Parole allow the jetBlue menu to shine and snacks from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery and Blue Marble Ice Cream can fix your sweet tooth cravings. Full-bottle wine service in addition to complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is also available in Mint class. Free Fly-Fi, AC and USB power adapters, 15” interactive screens with 100 DirecTV channels, and Sirius XM radio, as well as the widest and longest flat bed seats in the domestic market place jetBlue Mint class near the top of the charts. Although they only have 4 private cabins, Mint class does offer 12 other flat bed seats for the ultimate comfort and plushness.
For a lower price and top perks that aren’t offered by other domestic airlines, jetBlue Mint class is a one-of-a-kind experience that truly lets you customize your seat and flight.
2. American Airlines A321T LAX/SFO-JFK
Out of all the flights that travel from NYC to SFO/LAX, the American Airlines A321T from San Francisco to NYC is the ultimate first class experience. These aircraft have 10 first class, 20 business class, 36 premium economy, and 30 economy seats for a total of 96 seats. Since the trip from NYC to San Francisco or Los Angeles is right around 3,000 miles, American Airlines is banking on the fact that passengers don’t want to squish elbow to elbow for several hours and will upgrade to the pricier seats. However, the cost of those upgrades can be quite expensive.
For coach on this flight, you pay about $400-$500; for business class, $4,000-$5,000; for first class, almost $6,000…for a round-trip ticket. Those who can easily part with the miles or the dollars for these seats can enjoy fully flat bed seats in both business and first class. What doesn’t make sense is why you would pay over $1,000 or a lot more points for almost the same seat. If you can enjoy a fully flat bed seat in business class with all the perks of first class without the cost, why wouldn’t you choose that?
Apparently the only differences between first and business class are first class enjoys espressos and cappuccinos while business class does not. There is slightly more space in first class than in business class due to the slight privacy wall in first and the double seats in business. First class enjoys a side of the plane all to themselves but business class sits two people next to each other. However, the flat bed seats are the same and just as comfortable in business as they are in first class. The entertainment options, menu, and access to the Admirals Club are all the same. Both business and first class can pre-order their meals as well and choose from grilled filet of beef, grilled chicken tapenade, ice cream sundaes, and cookies.
These flights also features universal AC power outlets and USB jacks to help you work while you enjoy flying over 3,000 miles of America. Keeping your laptop and tablet charged or allowing one to charge while you work on the other is great in today’s world when most people are lugging around more than one device.
Movies and television show are available for free, in addition to Gogo Wi-Fi, on large flat screens for both first class and business passengers. American Airlines claims that you would have to travel around the world 14 times before watching the same entertainment. Premium cabin passengers can also enjoy complementary Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones to block out extra sound or hear a movie or TV show with great quality. Additional overhead storage space is available on the A321T aircraft to accommodate today’s large carry-on bags…you know since nobody wants to pay the $25 bag fees anymore or wait patiently at the carousel for their things.
Lastly, the American Airlines flights from NYC to LAX/SFO offer 5 different flight times, which gives you more options to fly from coast to coast. There will be a bunch of available times for those who need to get to early meetings or those who want to get home from traveling in time for dinner. Since the new aircraft are smaller than the 767s, American Airlines had to up the flights anyways to make enough revenue; a benefit though for travelers.
Those who have loved the new cross-country American Airlines A321T flights mention that the service is wonderful along with the comfort of the seats in both business and first class. First class passengers said there is a small privacy advantage over business class, but not much. And as always, first class passengers loved having all the extra space on a long flight.
3. Virgin America A320 JFK-LAX/SFO
With nine daily flights, Virgin America’s A320 aircraft sport 8 First Class seats, 12 Main Cabin Select seats, and 129 Main Cabin seats for a total of 149 seats; the second largest behind jetBlue at 159. Similar to the other domestic flights, Virgin America features mood lighting, Gogo Wi-Fi, almost flat bed seats with plush padding, touchscreen TVs, and personal AC and USB power adapters. The entertainment, food, and drinks are all included within the price if the ticket as well as two free checked bags. However, access to the lounge costs $35 and access to the Clubhouse is $75. Same day upgrades are available for this flight, which is a definite perk, and allows passengers to boost to the first class experience on the day of departure.
The seats are designed to give top comfort for those traveling on long flights and the white leather stands out among the typical blues and blacks. There’s only 165 degrees of recline in the seats though, which means they don’t qualify as fully flat. No privacy glass or doors exist on this plane either and the first class seats sit two in a row instead of 1-1 like a lot of other aircraft. Armrests are thick and the seat does provide a lot of space for each passenger. Food aboard Virgin America’s A320 is excellent and there are personal remotes for each first class seat for TV, radio, and movies. Overall the Virgin America flight isn’t quite as flashy as some of the others when it comes to amenities and privacy, but still a great choice for those who want to take a nap between JFK and LAX or SFO.
4. United 757 P.S. LAX/SFO-JFK
You can fly in one of United’s 757 P.S. that includes 28 United BusinessFirst seats with 180-degree flat beds, 48 Economy plus seats, and 66 Economy seats from LAX/SFO to JFK. With the largest number of first class flat bed seats, United’s aircraft supports a hefty amount of miles-rich or wealthy customers. Each first class seat includes a 15.4” TV, a slight bit of privacy plastic between the two seats, comfortable seats, complementary music, TV, and GoGo Wi-Fi, and the standard first class AC and USB power outlets.
Unlike Mint class on jetBlue and First Class on American Airlines, there is a lack of privacy on this plane. The seats are close together and there are two in a row instead of 1-1. This is a great flight to pick if you just want to relax and enjoy a great seat on a transcontinental flight. If you want to be in a quiet atmosphere with expensive headphones and more privacy, I’d suggest picking another airline.
If you fly first class on the upgraded 757s, you gain complementary access to the lounge without any extra fees like Virgin America. Although this domestic flight doesn’t exactly stack up to the luxury experience of the Miami to Frankfurt flight, it does allow passengers to lie down completely flat and enjoy upgraded food and entertainment on a long flight.
5. Delta 767 LAX/SFO/SEA-JFK
There’s a little more flight wiggle room when it comes to Delta. Delta operates their lie-flat BusinessElite seats between Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. With 12 daily flights between these locations, you can fly across the U.S. in a flat, comfortable bed seat. The 767s fall in line with the Mint class of jetBlue as they offer both single seats for extra privacy and seats next to each other in the center row. You can choose from a cabin-like feel single seat or if you’re traveling as a couple, sleeper seats next to each other. Westin Heavenly bedding is supplied to all BusinessElite customers and includes a large white comforter and hypoallergenic pillows.
The typical upgraded complementary entertainment experience is available on this Delta flight as well as USB and AC electrical outlets. Similar again to Mint class, Delta hands out a Tumi amenity kit with a variety of upscale treats. Meals on Delta are complementary, designed by celebrity chefs, and offer seventeen different special meals including gluten-free, Kosher, and diabetic. Gogo Wi-Fi is available for those who need to work on the flight but overall the Delta experience for domestic flights isn’t as lux or spacious as some of the others.
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