“First Class” Is to United What “I Saw” Is to Bill O’Reilly

For the world to make any sense words must have meaning. Can we all agree on that?

If I tell you I’m holding a coffee mug in my hand you shouldn’t look down and see that I’m actually holding a stapler. And if you did see I was holding a stapler you would, rightfully, classify me as either crazy or a bald-faced liar and that would be that.

Well, it seems as a general rule we have lost our way with regard to the agreed upon meaning of the term “first class”.

SFO777 is in the process of sharing a report on his and his wife’s trip from the U.S. to South Africa. At the time of this writing they haven’t yet reached their destination … but what a trip report it is so far.

Photo heavy, the report dramatizes the extreme difference between U.S. domestic first class and the international first class product and service offered by the Middle Eastern airlines – both on the ground and in the air.

Now, to be fair, no one would honestly expect the two to be comparable. And they aren’t.

But OMG!

I didn’t even ask SFO777 if I could share some of the photos in this post because you really need to click through and look at them all.

Seriously, United has lost the plot and these photos prove it. I’ve seen more inviting chairs in Texas state penitentiaries. Ray Rice’s wife has fewer scuff marks than the furniture in the United Club lounge in Denver.

Looking at these photos – both the photos SFO777 takes of United and Emirates – it really makes you wonder how both services can be classified as “first class”. Shouldn’t there be some minimum standard that must be met before this term can be applied?

If you are prone to jealousy when you hear about fellow travelers who enjoy the Emirates first-class experience, this report isn’t going to sate that jealousy.

On the other hand, if you are mostly an economy flyer – maybe you work with people who frequently fly first class domestically in the U.S. and you sometimes wish you could do the same – after reading this report and seeing the photos you will be perfectly content with your economy-class tickets from now on.

Read the trip report in its entirety: Beautiful Cape Town and the Winelands via Emirates First Class

First Class” by atalou. CC BY-ND 2.0.


  1. “Ray Rice’s wife has fewer scuff marks”

    While I appreciate that you’re attempting humor here, domestic violence is not funny. Please don’t go there.

  2. So you say UA domestic First Class is not comparable to EK international First Class, but go on to essentially compare them anyway?

  3. @DS – recency, funnier (to me), flip of a coin – you pick.

    @Gene – not comparing the products, rather highlighting that, in my opinion, the term “first class” shouldn’t be used for both.

  4. What a terrible comparison and unfair slam on UA! Comparing UA domestic First with EK international F (since their entire fleet has no domestic F anyway) is ridiculous.

    I also just flew LAX-LHR on UA GF and LHR-JNB on SAA J to get to South Africa in Dec 2014, and flew CPT-DXB-LAX on EK F in Jan 2015 for our 4th trip to South Africa.

    Say what you want, but our UA F experience from LAX-LHR was fantastic–good food, great service, and still a comfortable F seat and amazing UA IFE. (IMO, CX and UA have the best IFE for international travel, especially in F.)

    To be fair, our EK F DXB-LAX flight was perhaps the best flight we’ve ever had–the shower being the highlight. But our EK F CPT-DXB was not as good. The suite was almost the same (slightly smaller screen on the 777 vs the A380), and the food was about the same quality/taste (and about as good as on UA GF LAX-LHR), but the service was not great–UA LAX-LHR in F had better service as it turned out. Who knew?

    Everyone loves to slam UA GF, but our LAX-LHR with UA GF was fantastic–with good food and great service. Is EK F better? Yes, it is. But not so much that I would ever be unwilling to fly UA GF when it’s available for the best route to where I need to go. EK is amazing, but I don’t always want to fly to DXB or through DXB to get where I’m going if a nonstop is available.

  5. Why the pointless dig on O’Reilly? Not too bright to drag politics into this hobby and needlessly alienating lots of potential readers. But not too surprised at it. Quickly running out of places I can avoid these types of narrow-minded aspersions being cast about these days.

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