Picture this: You’re waiting to take off on your next flight, lounging comfortably with tons of extra leg-room while you sip complimentary champagne. Sound too good to be true? Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. While normally you prefer to save as much as you can for your vacays, maybe you’re looking to splurge for your best friend’s destination bachelorette party, or you want to make your next anniversary trip extra special.
Believe it or not, there are ways to get that first-class ticket without breaking the bank. Although booking first-class tickets will never be the cheapest option (we’re sad about it too), here’s how to fly first class without burning a hole in your wallet.
Take Advantage of Airline Credit Cards
This one’s best for people who travel a lot for business, or travel frequently. If you have an airline you love, check out their co-branded card or special offers the next time you want to book cheap round trip flights. Many of these cards offer big discounts to those who are spending a certain amount in a short amount of time anyway. Most cards have annual fees, but certain ones also include rewards that more than make up for it. There’s no shortage of ways to earn points, from paying your mortgage, eating at restaurants, or even doctor visits. This way, you could use the money you’re already spending toward your next big vacation!
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Know When to Go
Booking your trip at the right date and time is paramount to getting the best deal on first-class tickets. For example, business travelers usually fly during the week, so getting a first-class ticket for the weekend (think early Sunday morning) may be the way to go. If you’re looking to fly first class at bargain prices, you’ll want to avoid weekday travel. Also, the earlier in the day you fly, the better off you’ll be. You’re also more likely to get cheap first class tickets if you’re flying domestically during September or October when there aren’t as many holidays or vacations booked – just make sure it’s a holiday-free month for the country you’re traveling to if you’re flying internationally.
Grab “Easy-Fare Tickets”
Otherwise known as Y-Up fares, these handy little tickets are among some of the best-kept secrets when it comes to buying airline tickets. Many times, airlines can’t sell all of their first-class tickets. So, rather than having empty seats, they sell them for a discounted price. These are great for special occasions, business travel, or last-minute emergency travel. “Why have I never heard of this?” you may ask. Well, most of us aren’t looking for first-class tickets when initially booking, so we rarely see them, but they’re out there! Essentially, you’re getting first-class tickets for a coach ticket price. They’re not always the cheapest option available; they’re more like full-fare coach seats, or regular, last-minute tickets. However, you’re still going to score a solid deal on first-class ticket prices. Normally, these tickets are exchangeable and can be refunded if needed; they’re also usually one-way tickets. What’s the catch? Well, you may have to dig around a bit and do some research to find them – but they can be well worth it.
Join Airline Loyalty Programs
Join your airline’s loyalty program! Eventually, you’ll be able to add up your miles or points, and maybe even get to first class for free with them. You can also receive cool perks like private airport lounge access or upgraded seats. Just make sure that you check that the dates and prices haven’t expired. Whether you’re constantly on the go or are more of a once-a-year traveler, flying with your favorite airline consistently will pay off in the long run.
When you first get to the airport, do a quick check online to see if there are any discounted first-class upgrades available, or ask the desk attendant how much it would cost to upgrade. Normally, upgrades will be much cheaper at the last minute. Even if you’ve already boarded the plane, you may spot a few empty seats; you could always ask the flight attendant if you could move – it wouldn’t hurt!
Got any more tips on how to fly first class on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!