Whether you jet frequently from coast to coast for work or personal reasons, every bicoastal traveler knows the woes of a standing Atlantic to Pacific commute: Early mornings, late nights, or red-eye flights can leave you depleted. Shifting time zones constantly do nothing for beauty sleep, and staying awake and alert through meetings after a night of travel can feel near impossible.
Luckily, many U.S. airlines offer first class service on coast to coast flights, so you can have a proper night's sleep on a lie-flat bed, eat better, and arrive well-rested. Wondering which best domestic first class airline you should spring for? We asked Emily McNutt, news editor at travel website The Points Guy, to give us the lowdown on the best first class airlines in the U.S.
"In order to sample the best first and business class seats U.S. airlines have to offer and still stay within the U.S., you're likely going to have to fly from one end of the country to the other," McNutt explains. "That's because the major U.S. carriers put their best domestic products on their busiest and most lucrative routes, which are generally transcontinental flights." Below, the travel expert ranks the best first class airlines in the U.S., ranked from best to worst.
While JetBlue doesn't offer any fancy lounges at the airport, it does offer a tremendous in-flight business class experience. Some seats onboard do not have a neighboring seat, so they offer a true "suite" experience, complete with a small door to your personal space. In addition to the comfy lie-flat seats, JetBlue serves seasonal menus by New York restaurant Saxon + Parole and expert-curated wines.
American Airlines Flagship First
American Airlines (AA) offers a fantastic ground experience at its Flagship lounges in both New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX). Onboard, AA's specially configured Airbus A321T features just 10 lie-flat seats in the first class cabin in a one-to-one configuration, which provides a considerable amount of privacy on long treks across the continent. Plus, new bedding from Casper make the trip even more comfortable.
In addition to coast to coast service, Delta offers its lie-flat Delta One business class product on a number of other domestic routes, which gives it a distinct advantage. Plus, it offers some flights on internationally configured Boeing 767 wide-body aircraft, meaning every passenger gets direct aisle access. Its other domestic Delta One flights are operated by Boeing 757 aircraft which feature a modern design, although your seat may not have direct aisle access. Onboard, you'll find Delta's signature Westin Heavenly bedding, lie-flat seats and menus designed by local partners, such as chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.
American Airlines Flagship Business
American Airlines business class passengers have access to the same great Flagship Lounges that its first class passengers do, plus the awesome Casper bedding and flatbeds onboard. However, none of American's domestic Flagship Business flights offer direct aisle access for all passengers—you'll have to be seated in first for that perk.
United Premium Transcontinental Service
United's premium transcontinental service features bedding by Saks Fifth Avenue and lie-flat seats, but none of the aircrafts operating these routes offers direct aisle access for everybody, and premium transcontinental passengers don't get access to United's excellent Polaris lounges—there is one located in San Francisco (SFO) and another opened at Newark (EWR) in June 2018.