It’s the dream of every frequent traveler, to fly first class. Admit it, don’t you wish you could sit up front at least once and have flying be part of the fun rather than a necessary evil? I know I do, and I know what works and what doesn’t.
Yes, Flying First Class is Worth It!
I am currently living in Vietnam and I was shopping for groceries one night. After I completed my purchase at the store I pulled out my phone to request a Grab (Uber).
The motorcycle would’ve cost me about $1usd while a Grab car would’ve cost me $5usd. I had my hands full of bags but I could’ve made it work on the motorbike as thousands of Vietnamese do every day.
However, I decided to pay 5x the price for the same trip and take the Grab car. Why did I pay more than double for an upgrade for the same trip? One word, convenience.
The Grab driver quickly arrived and took the bags off my hands with a smile, put them in the trunk, and I got to ride home during rush hour in a plush climate-controlled vehicle. On the bike, I would’ve been fumbling trying to prevent my food items from falling onto the street and breathing in exhaust fumes from the other cars in front of me.
Now to you and me, this sounds like a no brainer. Most Americans would spend the extra $4 for a more comfortable ride. But imagine if you’re a Vietnamese supporting a family of 5 on $400. You’d think twice before spending that extra $4. You might even think “OMG that’s so stupid why would anyone pay all that money when we both get to the same place at the same time?!”
Well for those who actually pay for their first-class seats (a large chunk of 1st seats are actually given to the business class as free upgrades) it’s a no brainer. Just as taking the Grab car for me is a no-brainer. They want comfort and convenience. They don’t want to deal with a screaming baby or some large person’s elbow digging into their side during the flight. They don’t want to worry about having enough space in the overhead bin for their carry on. They don’t have to worry about some bum next to them putting his/her feet on the food tray etc etc,
So yes first class is worth it!
What Do you Get in First Class?
Back in the days of the Titanic third-class passengers were referred to as ‘steerage’. While the wording is more polite when compared to first-class, economy, or coach passengers, really are like steerage to the airlines. Basically the economy class is there to fill up the plane. There are many perks to a first-class ticket that many of us don’t even see. First, you get priority check-in at the airport and you get to wait for your flight in the first-class lounge.
The First Class Lounge
In most lounges, you are welcomed by a flight attendant and served a 4-star meal. They also have a sleeping area so you can rest comfortably while waiting for your flight.
As most of us already know you board the plane first and get extremely comfortable seating.
Extremely Comfortable Seating
In Ethiad Airways you get your own private suite
The meals served on first are equivalent to any 2-star Michelin restaurant.
Your Bags Come Out First
This is something I didn’t know until I actually flew first class. When you fly upfront your bags come first on the carousel. No waiting for up to half an hour for your bags to finally appear through that hole in the wall.
How Much Does it Cost to Fly First Class Internationally?
There are so many factors that determine the cost of a plane ticket there are entire videos on youtube explaining how airlines price their seats. The simple answer is it depends on where you’re going, the distance traveled, and how much demand there is for that flight.
You’d think a flight from New York to London would be one of the most costly but high competition keeps those prices relatively low. For example, a search on Kiwi.com reveals that the first-class flight from New York’s JFK airport to London’s Heathrow will set you back about $5,300 while a first-class flight from San Francisco to Ho Chi Minh City will cost a whopping $8,100
|New York – London||$5,100|
|San Francisco – Ho Chi Minh City||$8,100|
|Los Angeles – Hong Kong||$8,800|
|Los Angeles – Rio de Janeiro||$11,500|
|New York – Barcelona||$6,100|
Big Myth: Credit Card Points Are The Best Way to Fly First Class
Part of me dies every time I read this in a traveler’s group or travel blog. The truth is credit cards are the worst way to fly first class! Why? Because credit cards make you spend more money. Studies show the average consumer spends 20% more when using a credit card as opposed to cash. McDonald’s reports the average bill is $4.50 when a person uses cash and $7.00 when they use a credit card.
I suspect that number is even higher when you have someone trying to get miles. People get so eager to get miles they end up going into debt just to get them. In addition, many of those travel cards have blackout dates and restrictions on when you can actually use your miles.
Unless you’re a highly disciplined spender I do not recommend using credit cards just get miles in order to fly first class. Then, if credit cards are so bad then why do so many travel sites push them? *whispers* because credit card companies pay high affiliate commissions.
How to Fly First Class
If you really want to fly first class the two best ways are frequent flier programs and to just save up for it. Frequent flier programs are only good if you…well..fly frequently. Otherwise, it’ll take years to build up the points you need to fly first class. But if you are a frequent flier it pays to be loyal. Sticking with one airline can help you get frequent flier miles faster. That being said frequent flier programs aren’t what they used to be. Most major airlines have scaled back their frequent flier programs.
So then what’s the best way to fly first class? To save and shop around. Nowadays with airfare comparison sites comparing prices has never been easier. CheapOair even offers a $100 coupon if you use them to buy a first-class ticket.
There’s also an innovative program with Points.com where you can combine your points from your frequent flyer programs, credit cards (in case you didn’t listen to me), and other programs to get cash to buy your own first-class tickets.