First class service returns to ILM

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Flying in and out of Wilmington International Airport just got a little more comfortable. US Airways is now offering first class seating on its flights to Charlotte.

Mike Dugan lives in Virginia, but he regularly flies into Wilmington on business. On his connecting flight from Charlotte to ILM this week, for the first time he flew first class.

“I’m a frequent flyer, and although my company does not allow us to fly first class or pay for those tickets, it is a perk of being a frequent flyer, so when those first class seats are available and we get upgraded at no additional cost, it’s important to the business flyer,” Dugan said.

Business travelers make up more than 70 percent of the traffic at Wilmington International. Getting first class service has been something many of those travelers have asked for. At least, that’s what focus groups have told ilm leaders.

“We basically have the business leaders in to see what we’re doing, what we can do better, what they would like to see, what their wish lists are, and that gives us something to work on with the airlines,” ILM Operations Director Gary Broughton said.

And now, their wish has come true. US Airways flies out of ILM about 15 times a day, and now half of those flights have first class seats.

In the fall, US Airways began pulling their regional jets out of ILM to retrofit them with first class seats. They started reappearing at ILM in mid-December.

“It’s always nice to have a little extra room, and also just to have a bit more space, meals provided, always adds a bit to the quality of your flight,” business traveler Mike Clay said. “Also, just being closer to the front of the plane, it’s easier to get off and make your next connection.”

Right now, US Airways only offers first class seats on the route between Wilmington and Charlotte. We’re told first class seats on the other routes could be offered in the future.

The price of first class seats will vary according to when you travel, but on one random date we searched, a first class seat cost about three times the amount of coach.

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