Whether you have to frequently travel from coast to coast for work or personal reasons, every bicoastal person knows the woes of a regular NYC to L.A. commute: Early mornings, late nights, or even night flights can leave you feeling and looking exhausted. Regular five-hour red-eye flights do nothing for beauty sleep, and staying awake and alert through meetings after a night of travel can feel near impossible.
Luckily, some airlines in the U.S. offer first class service on coast to coast flights, so you can have a proper night's sleep on a flatbed, eat better, and get to destination better rested and awake. Wondering which airline loyalty program you should join to get that desired upgrade? We asked Emily McNutt, news editor at 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," she 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." That said, if your flight applies to these criteria, 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 have no neighbor, 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 offers a fantastic ground experience at its Flagship lounges in both New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX). Onboard, AAs specially configured Airbus A321T features just 10 lie-flat seats in the first class cabin in a one-to-one configuration, which provides a great amount of privacy on the long treks across the continent. Plus, new bedding from Casper makes the trip even more comfortable.
Delta offers its lie-flat Delta One business class product on a number of other domestic routes beyond flying between the coasts, 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, but not every seat has direct aisle access. Onboard, you'll find Delta's signature Westin Heavenly bedding, lie-flat seats and menus designed by local partners, such as L.A.'s Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.
American Airlines Flagship Business
American Airlines business class passengers get access to the same great Flagship Lounges that its first-class passengers do, plus the awesome Casper bedding and flatbeds on board. However, none of American's Flagship Business domestic 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 that operate these routes offer direct aisle access for everybody, and premium transcontinental passengers don't get access to United's excellent new Polaris lounges—one just recently opened in San Francisco (SFO) and another is set to open at Newark (EWR) in early June.
Pack These In-Flight Essentials
Next up: This is what a $24,000 "seat" looks like on a luxury airline.