First class

From Academic Kids

First class is a particularly high quality travel class offered by passenger airlines, railways and shipping companies. The term also indicates premium service such as first class mail.

Typically, an airline's first class section is located in the front of the aircraft. The seats are larger and have substantially more legroom. First class passengers have special check-in and security lines and are able to board the aircraft before other passengers. If a first-class passenger arrives at the gate after the business and coach section has begun boarding, he or she has the right to politely cut in line. Furthermore, on three-class international and some premium transcontinental flights operated by larger planes, first-class passengers typically have their own separate gangway to board the aircraft.

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are free, and usually served in lead-crystal glassware immediately on boarding the aircraft instead of a half-hour after takeoff. Gourmet meals are usually served with a choice of wine, dessert, and aperitifs.

First class passengers have a lavatory reserved for their exclusive use. Recently, business and coach passengers were barred from visiting the first class cabin due to newly enforced security regulations. Movies and headphones are provided for free.

Historically, first class air travel has been very expensive. More recently, savvy passengers have been able to upgrade their coach tickets through membership in elite frequent flyer programs and through the policies of some airlines that allow coach passengers to purchase upgrades on an as-available basis. Many airlines, however, require that non-elite passengers purchase costly full-fare coach class tickets in order to have the opportunity to upgrade.

Many international and premium transcontinental flights offer three classes of service -- first class, business class, and coach. Business class passengers enjoy seating and service higher than domestic first class while international first class passengers receive the most lavish amenities available, which can even include private suites and cubicles. Recently, many airlines have even begun to install full-flat beds in business class.

Railroad first class service in the U.S. (Amtrak) can include sleeping car accommodations and dining car meals.

Some benefits of first class on modern cruise ships include larger cabins, priority check-in, priority embarkation and disembarkation, priority meal-sitting selection, and on premium lines, butler service. However, higher accommodation passengers are served the same food and receive the service as other passengers in the dining room and throughout the cruise ship, with Cunard Line being the only modern exception.

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