The Playbook For The Modern Man

Why Flying First Class Is Actually More Stressful Than Flying Business Class

Trial by luxury.

First-class is an adult playpen of delight. But while everyone knows getting upgraded from Economy to Business is a get-out-of-hell-free card, most are unaware that getting upgraded from Business to First takes you into another one of Lucifer’s realms.

How so? This excerpt from “Class Struggles” – an article in The Economist’s sister publication 1843 – shows why.

“On another from Dubai to Vienna I was not just upgraded to first class, but granted my own mini-cabin complete with personal valet. I sat there in a state of delirium: eight hours in hell had been transformed into a paradise of houris and sherbet – or at least perfectly mixed Virgin Marys and an infinite supply of nuts.”

So far so bourgeois.

But flying first-class is not all caviar and cake:

“After a while my valet’s attentions began to pall: every few minutes he knocked on my door to ask if I needed anything. He brought hot towels and sacks of nuts and gallons of Virgin Mary refills. It was overwhelming: rather than relaxing over my meal and a film, I had to constantly fend off my valet’s unwanted attentions. But since he was such a charming fellow, I didn’t have the nerve to tell him to leave me alone. As we landed I entertained myself by studying the elaborate handset on my seat. It was only then that I noticed that the button marked ‘immediate service required’ had been left in the ‘on’ position.”

Alas, The Economist’s Mr Wooldridge is not the only one to impale himself on the Pointy End of the plane. In fact, Luc Wiesman, our Editor-in-Chief here at D’Marge has had a number of interesting experiences of his own.


On one first-class journey from Doha to Sydney, he recalls being mildly bemused that first-class passengers pay more than double the money for what is essentially a business class cabin with slightly fewer people and slightly bigger seats.


Plus – even if you ensure a layout difference from business class by booking one of Emirates’ or Singapore Airlines’ fully private first-class suites – it still seems a strange decision to shell out more than 200% more (for reference, a return Emirates business-class ticket from Sydney to Dubai costs about $7,000, while a first-class one costs about $20,000) for amenities which are only luxurious relative to the other sections of the plane (think about it: you wouldn’t consider a four by three metre room – no matter how private – extravagant back on the ground, would you).

Anyway – getting back on route – another first-class stress point Luc points out is food. How so? Well, although first-class has a few stand out pieces (hello, caviar), unless you’re Matt Preston, you’re not going to find a difference in quality between the staple menu items of First and Business, which leaves you wondering if you will ever get to grips with this world of opulence.

The staff are also much the same (if more attentive, which – as Mr Wooldridge’s tale reveals – is not always a good thing) and – even more insidiously – your experience (if you’re not a first-class ‘regular’ with endless greenbacks to burn) will likely put the rest of your holiday to shame.

RELATED: How My First Ever Business Class Flight Ruined Me For Life

But that all pales to one final faux pas: greed. Knowing this is the only chance they will get to luxuriate at such heights, it is common for business-class transplants to overindulge in first-class’ culinary, alcoholic and entertainment delights and – if travelling for business – arrive at their destination in need of a digestive tea and a nap more so than a high powered meeting.


The takeaway? Eat (and book) wisely.

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  • peternt

    Someone actually gets paid to write this crap ?

  • Matt M

    What a waste of my time

  • Luke Rom

    This was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

  • McMug_Pun

    Can’t get more first world problem than this

  • aaronajp

    I’m creating an account just to post the fact that this may be the most pointless article I have read all year

  • unflattering

    A majority of people who fly First aren’t paying for it themselves. They either cash in points and miles or their company pays for it and gives them upgrades from busines for very frequent high tier fliers. Sometimes it’s celebrities on international flights and typically that’s included in their contract if they’re flying for work.

    Case in point: my father in law is an oil company executive and both him and my mother in law were often upgraded to Emirates first for international flights. He’s never paid $20k for a plane ticket.

    Next time get someone who actually knows what they’re talking about to write on this topic. It reads like what a rube thinks flying first class would be after watching one Casey Neistadt YouTube video.

  • wurven

    Holly cow. This is nuts. I fly first class all the time with the exception of SWA and have done so for maybe 10 years. South America, Europe and in the states. Mostly for leisure. I find it the complete opposite of this article.

  • Brian Sidi

    Is this some kind of failed attempt to shame people for treating themselves to an arguably once-in-a-lifetime experience after countless hours of putting in BSTs (Blood Sweat and Tears) at their jobs? If so, D’MARGE did just that….FAILED!!!

  • P***y Grabbber in Chief

    Mr. Booth, what you’ve just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent article were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Wastrel Way

    This sounds like propaganda to get people to expect less, or accept less when they think they have paid for more.

  • Jim Trebowski

    Thank you, but for those of us that work for a living, it’s not exactly “once-in-a lifetime”. Guess we know who you vote or.

  • Scott May

    They should expect less. First Class is complete bullshit when it comes value for your dollar. Go Biz or Econ and nap the whole way. All the same when you disembark. Save the money and slurge on the eats at your destination. The Airlines need to change or die. BA is in love with themselves. They’re not all that.

  • lymis

    If you can’t politely tell someone that you don’t need their attention – at which point they’d point out that your “I need service immediately” button is on – you probably shouldn’t be out in public, much less in first class.

  • Sisboombah

    This is by far the most braindead article I have seen this week.

  • Sorcerer

    For some reason Google recommended this article to me. Of course it’s complete crap and a waste of time.

    If you’re not capable of telling your flight attendant that you would not like to be disturbed then to be honest I’m seriously wondering what you’re doing flying business or first. Same goes for asking people to please be quiet if you’re trying to sleep.

    I fly a mix of business and economy and seriously, if people are talking about “8 hours of hell” and all that crap, you seriously need to get a grip because you’re totally out of touch with reality and probably yourself. Yes, business is more comfortable than economy, but you have some serious mental issues if you actually consider it hell. Like bonafide anxiety issues. I do not mean for this to be an insult but to maybe recognize it in yourself and try some things like therapy or meditation to better cope with the situation.

    The vast majority of airline passengers fly economy class and most are really happy that they are able to do so and that it gets them to their family, loved ones or vacation destination.

    And yes, I prefer flying business, but tbh with the amount of miles that I fly non-business for me it’s not affordable to use business all the time, so I see it as an extra whenever I can, which makes it all the more special and nicer, instead of it being the new expensive norm for me.

    Hope some of you find this comment useful. Cheers 😉

  • Sorcerer

    Tbh this feels like hobby stuff to me, like so much of the websites writing airline reviews or stuff about points. Or business class reviewers that spend 50% of the time on describing the amenity kit contents and that lack the vocabulary to properly describe even their meal.

    Google recommended this article to me, but I’m going to be teaching their algorithm not to include this website anymore.

  • Erasmo Freitas

    What a crack of……

  • Sorcerer

    Well, Delta First Class is more like Business Class to be fair. Not that they’re not a good airline, but the type of First Class described in this article is a different type. Don’t think any US airline carries it. Delta One Suites comes closest.

  • JoJo

    Yeah, no.

  • Brian Sidi


  • HonestyandRealityGuy

    Boo hoo!

  • Andrianna Athas

    Me too

  • Carol Hallman

    I appreciate your response.

  • Goran Blažić

    1. The best first class food is still either reheated from a ground prepared meal, or made by (albeit trained) airline crew. So really, how good can it be in absolute terms? Why would you over-indulge on it? 1st class lounge food is also limited to above average, if you are a foodie. Nothing compared to starred/hatted restaurants.

    2. Don’t get into a fight, walk around shirtless, get high on drugs in cabin or piss drunk….. why would any business class passenger have no idea about not doing any of this? Are you aiming this “article” at adolescents?

    3. Kids in first class that scream and cry are unfortunate for the rest of the passengers. Their rich parents feel the right the indulge their kids. The rest of the cabin feel an undervaluation of the ticket price as a result. Both are valid points of view. Conflict is the way of the world. This is not limited to first class.

    4. Don’t break wind in 1st class? I am sorry. Everybody farts. Especially when flying, due to pressure changes. It cannot be helped. This includes the queen, or Princess Diana, or anyone with a gentle classy image. They all fart mid air. It’s part of human physiology. Some 1st class products might have a separate bedroom and shower. None has a separate pressure chamber, as far as any business class passenger knows.

    5. Propositioning attendants for sex – unacceptable midair whether in business class or 1st. Charmingly optimistic, if in economy. But what happens after the flight in private isn’t anyone’s business.


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