Can you afford to fly first class?
It happens every time. Every single time we’re sitting in first class, someone that’s sitting in coach class will walk by, look at the seats, look at us, and say something along the lines of “Ooh, look at these fancy seats. I bet we could never afford first class.” Another common one is “so lucky, all the business flyers getting the comfy seats paid for…”
Anyone flying first class has heard that before. Sometimes you don’t even hear them talk, you just see the glares and the stares, silently judging you as they walk back to their virtual seat coffins for the next 3-6 hours.
We don’t fly coach if we don’t have to. It’s not because our businesses pay for our first class cabin (they require coach), it’s not because we’re rich (we’re not…) Truly the reason that we can afford to fly first class is because we’re smart about how we book our flights and look for the best deals. I’m here to tell you that you can fly first class too without selling the farm.
Free or Cheap Upgrades
We wrote a post about a month or so ago about how to score upgrades for free on Alaska Airlines. It cost us, literally, $0 to upgrade to first class from economy. Free. No dollars. No cents. Sometimes just a little bit of searching and preparation can get you sitting up front.
Often times if you get to the airport with some extra time and use the self check in machines, you’ll be offered an upgrade for a fraction of the cost. Just recently a friend of ours was flying from Seattle to Denver and when he went to check in at the gate, a message came up “would you like to pay to upgrade to first class?” It was a pretty inexpensive option and then he got to enjoy his flight in the big comfy seats!
Pay for it outright
Depending on the airline, when you’re flying domestic you’ll often find that the price to upgrade to first class is marginal in comparison to the cost of flying in coach
Here’s an example of a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles, where the cost is only $219 to sit up front vs $119 in the back.
Check out this longer flight to Chicago where the flight is only 50% more expensive than coach. Because this is a paid first class ticket, you’ll earn double the qualifying miles than coach, so if you’re looking.to rack up some miles to get your status, buying first class is the name of the game!
You can get really lucky and find amazing deals overseas. This past weekend we ran into a fare from Vancouver, Canada to Sydney, Australia for only $600. SERIOUSLY. $600 in business class to Australia. You can barely fly to Florida in economy class for that price over a holiday weekend.
Using the AARP discount with British Airways you can also save $200 per ticket. If you’re not a member of AARP, why not? We’re in our thirties and are proud card carrying members. It’s not just for retired people anymore, and saving $200 per ticket, per person, it a hell of a deal for only $12 a year! ☺
We’re flying to Portugal on a paid business class ticket with British Airways. Coach class fares were $1100, and business class fares, with the discount, were only $1600. That’s $250 each way as a premium to have a flat bed seats, priority everything, lounge access, decent meals, and a huge earning potential for airline miles.
Use your Miles to fly up front
We all know that airline miles are the best way to fly for free, but most people redeem them as soon as they’ve got enough miles to go see grandma in Wichita. Those 25,000 miles you’re gonna burn to fly to Kansas could be banked and saved to fly in a big comfy cabin on your next vacation to Europe, Asia, or elsewhere. Business class to Asia and Europe on many carriers starts at 50,000 miles one way, a small price to pay for the comfort of a bed. We flew from London to Abu Dhabi for only 45,000 one way in a product called the “apartment.” Etihad flies their premium product which includes a sofa, vanity, onboard chef, shower, etc, and for only that small amount of miles, insane!
Not enough? Buy them!
Many airlines will run sales on their airline miles where you can top off your account to get enough miles. Often you’ll be able to buy them for around 2 cents a piece. Think that those 45,000 miles we just used to fly in the Apartment would have only cost $900 if you bought them. Now consider that the flight retails for over $7000 and you can see the savings are HUGE!
Lots of options
There are lots of options to get to sit up front. Whether you use miles, pay for it outright, buy the miles, or upgrade at the gate, you can absolutely get in the big fancy seats.
If it seems all too confusing still, we do offer a travel booking service to take care of it for you. Just send us an email and we’re happy to help!