Why waste money on a first class seat?

There are times when flying First Class is actually worth the ridiculous extra price. But it’s not always just about the money.

I’ve flown in the premium cabins on long-haul international flights and on short domestic flights. You’ve probably read about some of the airlines that offer really over-the-top service.

I recall one flight on Thai Airways from Melbourne, Australia, to Bangkok, Thailand. The First Class service included a half-dozen young, attractive flight attendants whose role, it seemed, was to ensure that my glass of Dom Perignon, or premium whiskey, was never below half-full. I also received a nice pair of cotton pajamas in case I wanted to get extra comfortable (I didn’t, but my wife wore them for many years!)

Of course, I’ve also had first class flights where the service was totally subpar for any class of service.

It was a flight from Denver to Boise, my hometown, and you can probably guess what airline that was (it’s still the main airline between those two cities). I was sitting in seat 2B, my favorite First Class seat, and the flight attendant took her sweet time in getting up from her seat significantly after the plane had reached cruising altitude. She finally got around to offering me a drink, which she brought with less than a smile on her face.

The two flight attendants in Economy quickly served their soft drinks, stowed their carts, and joined the First Class attendant for a gab-fest the rest of the flight. I guess I could have pushed the Call button to get some service, but I wasn’t that desperate for another drink. I won’t let that one experience deter me from booking future flights in First Class, but I will save them for longer flights.

Just like you, I’ve had my share of flights in the Economy section on all sorts of planes – from twin-prop 19-seaters all the way up to 747s and 777s. The seating arrangements in Coach have ranged from middle-seat “back of the bus” to spacious exit row leg room, and some of the flights were on those long, never-seeming-to-end trans-oceanic flights. It was clear that I chose the Economy section based on price; it certainly wasn’t based on comfort!

The dilemma, and the question on the minds of many airline passengers, seems to be, “Would I be smarter to fly in First Class or in Economy?” At first blush, most people would automatically answer, “First Class,” assuming that money was never a consideration. But let’s take look at the pros and cons of each, and then you decide.

Yes to First Class
· It’s generally much more comfortable
· Alcoholic drinks are free (and usually free-flowing)
· The cabin is typically quieter meaning you can work or relax with far fewer interruptions

· Usually costs a lot more (miles and/or dollars)
· Friends or co-workers might see you as snobbish or spending too much of the company’s money
· Is it really worth that much more for a short trip?

Yes to Economy
· Saves money and/or miles for longer, special trips
· You still land at the same time as those in First Class
· There are more people to converse with if you’re a “talker”

· It can get quite uncomfortable on cattle-class airlines
· You have to pay for food on most flights; that’s if it’s even available
· Overhead storage space can be hard to find when you’re in a later boarding group

As you can see, it’s not always a crystal-clear choice whether to book in First Class or in Economy. If money is no issue, certainly First Class would be the way to go. Most travelers, however, do factor in the costs when they’re traveling, and they’d rather use that extra amount once they arrive at their destination.

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