Choose this First Class over the other one

George Hobica, February 10, 2012
Fares from Washington DC:

    Airlines are notorious for having multiple types of seating products on their aircraft. This happens most often in business class since many airlines have eliminated a first class cabin altogether. But, there are still several airlines with first class seating on international aircraft that are in the transition process to new cabins resulting in a variety of first class seats available in the market. Airlines are not trying to be sneaky, but it typically results when an airline starts updating their seats aircraft by aircraft or they merge with another carrier. They are quick to advertise one premium offering, but the availability and deliverability of that offering varies based on the type of aircraft you are flying. This chart is not meant to be comprehensive, rather it should serve as a guide to help you choose your next flight. Some aircraft within a fleet type have multiple configurations so be sure to ask when making the reservation.

     Airline 

     Preferred  First Class Version

      Why Choose?          Beware First Class Version   Why Beware? 

    Air France             

    A380 These first class seats are fully flat and much wider than the standard first class seat on Air France. This is the newest incarnation of the airline's first class product. B777 While these seats are certainly spacious and lie completely flat, they are not as wide as those on the A380. Still, these are excellent seats; just not the newest of AF's fleet.

         American        

    B777 These first class seats are fully flat and in a 1-2-1 configuration. The window seats are more private and feature a large table with work space. B767-200  These feature the airline's more restrictive recliner seats wtih limited foot rest. Luckily, these are used mostly on transcontinental flights between New York-SFO/LAX.
      British Airways B777-300 These first class seats are brand new and the widest and most spacious in the airline's fleet. Soon all first class seats on BA will be lke these, but this aircraft is the first to be equipped with them. They feature small closets for storage and electric window blinds.

    B747-400

    B777-200

    The airline is updating its first class product, but not all aircraft have been outfitted with it. At present, 70% of these planes have it. Those without the updates still have fully lie-flat and extremely spacious seats, but they are not as fancy as the latest incarnation.
    Continental/United

    B747-400

    B767-300

    United has a new first class suite that goes completely flat and has plenty of storage space. United was one of the first domestic airlines to have lie-flat seating in first, and these planes feature its second incarnation of this comfortable seat. United B777 Only half of the 777s in the pre-merger United fleet feature the upgraded first class seat. The other half has the original, lie-flat version, which is comfortable but basic. It has worn fabric and smaller entertainment screens.
    Emirates A380/B777-200LR/B777-300 These are Emirates' famous first class suites with doors that fully close to give them ultimate privacy. As some of the most exclusive first class seats on the market, these are the cream of the crop. B777-200/A330 The B777-200s are used on short to medium-haul routes and feature older recliner style seats while the A330 has lie-flat seats, but they are much closer together than other aircraft. The airline will not install these suites on all aircraft. The airline will not install these suites on all aircraft, but eventually all flights to the USA will have the new suites.
    Korean Air A380/B777-200 These are Korean Air's newest first class suites that feature the most personal space and a lie-flat seat. They are also available on some, but not all B747-400s so it is best to check in advance if traveling on that aircraft. A330 These planes have angled recliners that are not as comfortable as other first class products. Luckily, they are only used on short to medium-haul routes or those that are heavily leisure focused like flights to Hawaii.
    Lufthansa A380 Like most other airlines that fly this Airbus behemoth, the first class product is the newest around. The seat width on this aircraft is a time and a half bigger than other first class seats on Lufthansa. A330/A340 First class on these Airbus planes has a slightly shorter distance between seats than the B747-400 and Airbus A380, but is not noticeable enough to avoid completely. The seats are the airline's older version and lie flat, but are not as comfortable.
    Qantas A380 This aircraft features the airline's new first class suite with large privacy dividers and plentiful storage space and a fold-out seat for a guest to join for a meal. B747-400 These seats are very comfortable and lie completely flat. However, the lack of privacy walls around the seat removes the sense of privacy and personal space that the suite on the A380 offers.
    Singapore A380/8777-300ER The A380 has the airline's first class suite with walls that ensconce passengers in total privacy in the widest seat in the air. The B777-300ER also features the same incredible wide, lie-flat seat (or shall we call it a sofa), but it is not the same suite product that the A380 has. B777-200 This is the airline's angled, lie-flat seat. It is very comfortable, but not as spacious as the A380 or B777-300 models.
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