I’ll admit it, I get a little jealous walking through the first class cabin on the way to my cramped economy seat. Fortunately, if you’ve wanted to experience the roomy first class, you can do so for relatively cheap this winter.
Aside from a larger seat, first class passengers typically get many other perks like priority boarding, expedited security line, and free checked baggage.
Ballin’ on a budget
We are going to look at an example short-haul first class flight on Delta Airlines. If you are somebody that checks a bag, flying in first will save you money on baggage fees, something to keep in mind when comparing to economy. Delta first class passengers are allowed two FREE checked bags, each weighing up to 70lbs. When flying in Delta economy, your first checked bag will cost $25 and the second is $35, with a max weight of 50lbs each . And yes, that is the cost EACH-WAY.
I found FC seats for as little as $112 one-way on Delta between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. That is really cheap considering an economy ticket will cost you $50 or so. Is paying $62 more for a FC seat worth it for a 1h 22m flight, let’s do some math and see.
Let’s say you’re flying in economy and you are paying to check one bag, purchasing one alcoholic drink on-board, and purchasing a WiFi pass. Here is what your total would look like:
— $50 economy ticket
— $25 checked bag
— $6 drink
— $8 WiFi pass
Hold the fees
If flying Delta FC for $112, you would not have to pay for any of those ancillary fees. Not to mention, you are served as many premium drinks as you’d like, at no additional cost. In addition to those “fees” in economy, a FC seat offers much more room, priority boarding, and prompt service from a FC dedicated flight attendant.
If you find yourself paying for a bag, a drink, and WiFi, paying $23 more for FC would be a no brainer. Having those extras included and FC service, you’d be glad you shelled out the extra $23, even for a short flight. Another benefit to flying FC over basic economy is MQM earning with Delta. Medallion Qualification Miles help you earn status with Delta. First class tickets receive 200% MQM earning compared to just 100% in discounted economy.
Delta “discounted economy” no longer allows seats to be reserved for free until the day of check-in. With FC, you are able to pick your seat at the time of booking. That is just another one of the savings that makes the pricing difference very slight in this example.
Not all FC flights are $112 but you should still consider flying FC if it’s not considerably more expensive. The easiest way to shop for first class seats is on Google Flights. You can toggle between economy and FC to make the best decision based on the price differential.
Another thing to keep in mind, it is cheaper at times to buy an economy ticket and then pay to upgrade to FC. I flew United from ORD to PHX last week and was offered a FC upgrade for $129. At the time of booking my economy ticket, the FC seat was priced over $200 more. In this example, I would have saved $80 by waiting to purchase a FC upgrade.