My First Time Ever Flying First Class on American Airlines

Nighttime in Chicago from my Aircraft

Nighttime in Chicago from my Aircraft

Flying first class seems like a far-flung concept that I’d never be able to reach (until I’m independently wealthy). However, due to my recent mistake airfare to Vietnam, I flew over 18,000 miles round-trip which in turn bumped me to American Airlines Gold Status. You apparently only need >25,000 miles in order to hit this threshold.

To be honest, I had no idea what the hell Gold status got me. I thought I would just get to board earlier, but there are a handful of nice ‘perks’ – like receiving a complimentary upgrade to first class if the cabin is empty. (You can read more about Status on American Airlines here.)

I showed up to my from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh (via Chicago O’Hare) decently early (in mid-December 2016 for reference). I went to check in my free bag and pay for my 2nd bag. (I’m usually against checking in bags, but I was bringing back more than 50 pounds of beer.) The Minneapolis to Chicago flight was pretty uneventful. Up and down with a quick flight time.

checked luggage beer

This is what 42 pounds of beer in checked luggage looks like.

While in Chicago, I hustled to my gate because I had a short time to make the connection. When I arrived at the gate, I saw that I was #4 on the upgrade list – which happens automatically if you are of status on the airline. I believe there were >15 people on the upgrade list, so I’m not really too sure how I was #4. Perhaps it was because I checked in really early for my flight.

Regardless, I boarded my flight and took my seat that I had originally picked – 12D – a window seat in a 2-person row. While sitting there listening to a podcast, I was approached by the gate agent. He looked at me wearing sweatpants rocking my rather homeless looking beard and asked if I was ‘Mr. Trimm’. To which I answered and he stated that some people didn’t show up for the flight that were in first-class.

To which I gladly took him up on the offer.

First Class on American Airlines (regional)

First Class on American Airlines (regional)

One of the first things to jump out at me while in First Class was the width of the seats. They’re definitely wider since the first class section is arranged in a 1-seat-on-the-left & 2-seat-on-the-right pattern. Second was the legroom. There is ample amount of leg space for people over 6′ tall and for everyone else to gladly stretch out.

Ample Legroom in American Airlines First Class

Ample Legroom in American Airlines First Class

Once we were airborne and close to cruising altitude (which would last for ~30 minutes or so). The flight attendant came around and offered drinks and then snacks to everyone. The water that I had was served in a glass and the snack of my choice was this awesome fig bar (below). Complimentary alcoholic drinks are also available, but for a quick 1-hour flight, I deemed it unnecessary. Other snacks were Boom-Chicka-Popcorn, various kettle style chips, and more. You definitely get more options than just peanuts, pretzels, or Biscoff cookies up in First.


Overall, the flight was <500 miles – which is why I received the complimentary upgrade from American Airlines. I think usually, you have to utilize 500-mile upgrades – which you can either purchase or earn thru the AAdvantage program. During the hour-long flight, we experienced some pretty heavy turbulence. But, overall, it was a quick up and down for my first ever experience in the First Class ‘cabin’. I’m looking forward to redeeming my points for a First-Class Ticket on an A380 with a private shower


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.