Flying might be one of the coolest, and scariest luxuries that we have in modern day society. Take a step back and look at what flying actually entails. (I recently saw a comedian speak about this. He was talking about the economy, go figure, but made mention to things that we take for granted. Name that comedian and you win a prize.) You are sitting in a chair. You are 30,000+ feet above the ground. And you can get from L.A. to New York City in just a few short hours. In that time you are served drinks, some alcoholic if you so choose, and potentially a couple of meals. You get pretzels (why did they ever stop serving peanuts) and your choice of sodas, juices, and bottled water. But did you hear what I just said? You are 30,000 feet above the air.
Anyway, all things aside the point of this post is to talk about the variations when it comes to flying. Most people think of flying as an adventure. At least the ones that have either never flown before or the ones that do not get the chance to fly that often feel this way. I on the other hand look at flying as a modern day convenience that allows me to travel anywhere and everywhere for very little money.
But when you fly you have options. You can fly in economy class, or as most of us know it coach. Coach class brings in the best of the best by offering the lowest fares, the nastiest food, and the smallest seats. Sure, you can fly from Indiana to Las Vegas for $99 but good luck enjoying the five-hour trip.
But if you have the ability to upgrade, if you can afford it, to first class, you are in for a real treat. Depending on the airline and the final destination (that was an awesome movie that went sour after they felt it a good idea to make two more) you can benefit greatly by spending only a few dollars more. Actually it is more like $100-$200 more per ticket, but you get the idea.
When you fly first class the big selling point is more legroom. You get two seats to a row as well which allows for less apologizing when you have to go to the bathroom. You are also given sleep masks (which are awesome. Especially pink ones.) and a higher quality meal. Instead of chicken or beef you get Filet or Salmon. Also, on top of all that you get your own personal bathroom as well as privacy from those folks sitting back in coach. And even in some of the larger flights you even get your own floor.
I have had the chance to fly first class numerous times to and from Europe as well as domestic flights. And from personal experience the trip is much more enjoyable from first class.
The way that I have always been able to fly first class is by upgrading once I get to the airport. I will show up, with my coach ticket in hand, and march right up to the question desk. And the best way to handle this is to act professional, even if you are not one, and just drop a hint of your plans for flying first class. At first they will tell you that all first class tickets have been sold, which they have. But, that doesn’t mean that all seats will be filled come time for take off. If they have seats still available you are able to upgrade for the price of the original ticket. Think of it as scalping tickets to last night’s Lakers game and having to pay face value for them. It is not that good of a deal.
I have also been able to get on the flight, sit down, and prior to take off see that there are empty seats once the door has been closed. The process at this point is asking the nearest stewardess if those seats are taken and if you can move forward. Nine time out of ten (this is based on a scale, I have not taken this exact approach ten times) they will allow you to move up and not charge you a thing. However, on a recent flight to Phoenix I was told that the fee was $100 before I could move forward.
Today I read an article that basically lays it all out on the line for you. It tells you have you can better your chances at getting that first class seats. And I have to agree with nearly everything that they said. But the one that stood out more than anything is when they stated to “dress the part.” And by dress the part they mean dressing like a professional, even if it is an early morning flight. That means wearing a nice shirt, dress slacks, and a tie even if you are going to visit grandma. That means you need to look like you have the money it takes, or the job that those people have, to fly first class. (This is actually something that I have been doing more and more lately. I am a web designer and I could show up to class in jeans and a hoodie sweatshirt, and for many months I did. But now it is a rare occasion if I do not wear a tie. I always wear dress shoes and slacks
Another key point that was brought up was using your airline miles to upgrade to that first class paradise. You can use those miles that your credit card has been collecting to cover the cost of that up charge. They will usually just take the cost per mile of that particular flight and then deduct that from your database of miles. This requires extra work for the employees so if it is a busy flight they very well might just ignore that request.
But the bottom line is that every time you fly there is going to be the chance to upgrade your ticket to the next best seat. The bathroom alone makes it worth it (they are much bigger as well) and your will feel that you honestly did get what you paid for. So the next time you get ready to jump on that plane, look into flying in style.