First Class on Short Domestic Routes is a Ripoff — and Now Alaska is Using it to Rip us All Off

Jennifer R. Povey
3 min readMar 31, 2022
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

First of all, no, I don’t begrudge the lucky so-and-sos who get to fly first class on long haul routes. This isn’t about the guy with a 10am business meeting in London flying on the red eye and expensing a lie-flat bed.

This is about flying first class on short domestic routes.

First Class Perks on Short Domestic Flights

You absolutely do get benefits. You get alcohol, better snacks, more space and it’s often quieter.

Sometimes a first class upgrade isn’t very much and you might think it’s worth it. Other times it’s…a lot more. Business class might be in the middle, but a lot of smaller planes only have three classes…business or first, premium economy and economy.

So, here’s the thing.

Let’s take a 737 as an example just because I’ve flown on one regularly. The 737–800 I was on was configured 3–3 in economy and 2–2 in first. This means that a first class passenger is getting approximately 50% more space…and using approximately 50% more fuel…than an economy passenger.

But they are most likely paying more than 50% more if they bought a first class ticket directly. (If you want cheap first class, you can sometimes upgrade for a very affordable price from a coach ticket).

You might also get a predeparture drink and snack.

Domestic first class isn’t really that fantastic. The sort of first class I envy and will never be able to afford is something like Etihad Residence, which is on an A380 and you literally get a small suite. And the price is, ya know, astronomical. Or even just the lie flat beds with privacy screens.

On domestic, they get a larger seat and better food.

Photo by Praveen Thirumurugan on Unsplash

But How About Very Short Flights…and Where Does Alaska Fit In?

To start with, here’s my post about my recent Alaska Airlines flight on a Dash Q400. This post gets into a bit more detail, but…

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Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.