Save On First Class Seats By Booking With These Airlines

Lounge access, priority boarding, extra legroom, and often, a lie-flat bed that can help you sleep like a baby — these are just some of the perks passengers get when they opt to fly first class. Folks sitting on the other side of the curtain get the luxury of preserving much of their personal space without worrying about a fellow passenger sneezing right on their face or a finicky seatmate disturbing their nap. In short, folks in first class get to travel in comfort, but in exchange, they have to pay a price, quite literally, and the only way to save money is by being choosy with your airline.

First class or business class is the cushiest cabin class in a commercial aircraft, but needless to say, first-class tickets are costlier than flying coach. For instance, a Delta Airlines roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Miami costs $178 for an economy seat, but a first-class ticket for the same route costs a staggering $1,248. The discrepancy is even more significant for international flights. A person flying from Chicago to Rome, Italy, can expect to spend roughly $648 for a roundtrip economy ticket, but if flying business class, a roundtrip flight costs nearly $8,000.

The price you have to pay if you want luxury and convenience when you're thousands of feet up in the air is big, but if you still want to give it a go, it turns out that flying with United and American Airlines can help you save.

Fly United and American Airlines

Flying first or business class will always be more expensive than flying coach, but to score savings, you may want to try your luck with United Airlines and American Airlines. An analysis conducted by Upgraded Points on the price differences in economy and first-class tickets from four major U.S. airlines found that the two had the least price difference between the classes for domestic flights.

Culling through data from Google Flights, the analysis noted that the average price difference between an economy and a first-class one-way ticket with American Airlines is $235.85, while United comes at a close second with $250.23. Meanwhile, passengers flying Delta can expect to pay an extra $284.55 for a first-class upgrade, while those who wish to fly with Alaska Airlines should be ready to fork over $281.25 more. Still, the prices hinge on the route you want to take, but flying with United and American Airlines can save you the most money.

Flying international? A 2022 study by noted that Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways has the least difference in price between economy and first class at 185%, followed by Thai Airways at 313% and Korean Air at 409%. If you're shocked at these prices, the study revealed that Etihad Airways charges the most premium fee for a first-class seat, at a whopping 1,019% difference from a coach seat. For comparison's sake, Qantas Airways charges 813% more for a taste of luxury, while Emirates demands 777% more.

Other ways to score a first class seat without breaking the bank

If you really want to vie for a first-class seat without spending thousands of dollars, you have to be resourceful. For one, don't pay for a premium ticket outright, unless you miraculously come across a mistake fare with a significant price cut and the airline somehow honors the purchase. 

One of the best strategies is to take advantage of your points and miles and use them to upgrade your existing ticket. You can do this by obtaining a credit card with a bonus offer that promises thousands of points or miles upon approval and then charging most of your expenses using the card to rack up more points. You can also join frequent flyer programs, but this method typically requires you to fly more (and more often) to collect points. Bidding on an airline seat upgrade can work, but you must do some serious number crunching to determine whether the additional payment you'll be springing for is worth the trouble. Flexibility is also key, as some seats are found to be cheaper on certain days, regardless if they're in economy or first class.

Whatever method you end up going for, there's no denying that flying first class can upgrade your overall experience in the air. Even if you sometimes have to shell out a few hundred more, the expense may well be worth it if it means you'll get treated like royalty, if only for a few hours.