Airline: US Airways
Aircraft: Embraer 170
Seat: Row 1 (Bulkhead)
The Seat: The bite-sized first class section of this US Airways Express Embraer 170 (operated by Republic Airlines) is very similar to what you’d find on the same aircraft operated by other US domestic airlines. Seat width naturally suffers compared to mainline aircraft (as does elbow space). The good news if you’re flying solo: One side of this cabin is fitted with just a single seat (no neighbor) so you’ve got some extra space and the benefit of being on both the aisle and by the window. On the side of row 1 with 2 seats there’s a little extra legroom due to the bulkhead being a little further away. If you’re tall, it may benefit you to be in rows 2 or 3 where you can stretch your legs underneath the seat in front of you.
Size and width are the only real seat-related benefits you get here. There are no video, audio or power options for regional aircraft, although this isn’t normally a deal-breaker for the often short routes these planes fly. Everyone benefits from a well balanced, lighter airplane…unless your iPod is dead.
Service:I was the only passenger in first class on this flight. For that reason, I guess I expected the flight attendant to just leave me the entire snack basket and provide seemingly endless super-interesting conversation for 2 hours. While I did have my choice unlimited snacks, the smiles and visits were minimal and created more of an opportunity for her to help the flight attendant in Economy…I didn’t mind at all, of course. Very typical service for US domestic first class.
Food:Snack basket had a pretty decent selection of carb-heavy snacks and sweets. I stuck with simple cheesy-crackers.
Summary:. Good but not extrahordinary. If the price is right, this isn’t a bad value. Easier boarding, first off the airplane and a slightly more comfortable flight than the best seats in economy.
Rating: 3 hops (of 5).
Strategy:If space is available, upgrades are offered by US Airways at check-in (either online or at the kiosk). Preferred (elite) members are upgraded in the days before, in order by level of status. If you’re not a preferred member it’s wise to check in early (up to 24 hours before your flight) online to see if upgrades are available (and at what cost).