Flying first class, business, versus economy.

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Artsdoctor
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Artsdoctor » Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:36 pm

I tend to be more methodical in deciding, and it's based on my personal experience--as I get older.

If I'm flying to Asia or Europe, I'll fly business. The reasons why are because (1) I now have arthritis and it actually hurts to fly more than 6-7 hours in a small seat; and (2) if I'm able to sleep in a bed on a flight, I'm ready to go when landing and the whole day works better.

Also, from a medical point of view, the longer then flight, and the more you're all curled up, and the less you're walking around, the higher the chance of blood clot.

I've done economy when I was younger and it was fine. Now, my age shows.

When it comes to cost, I usually transfer over AMEX miles so I'm only paying tax. However, there are some incredible specials that are available so it's always worth sticking with it since the price you'll today may be very different than what you see tomorrow.

ResearchMed
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:08 pm

We have recently (and very belatedly) learned that one can purchase AAdvantage awards/points for less than 2 cents each (on sale frequently).
(No churning or other games needed, for those who prefer not to do that.)

We used accumulated points from a few years of saving them, but we'll replenish by purchasing them if needed.

We are in Japan, heading for Hong Kong in a few days.

We flew from East Coast USA to Tokyo (14+ hours non-stop) in JAL First.
AMAZING.
When that halfway point mentioned above arrived ("7 hours done, 'only' 7 hours more"), we each asked for another snack and a drink of choice, and went to the F bathroom, which is cleaned after each use (VERY different, ahem, from economy bathrooms).
When we returned to "bed", the mattress pad (we each selected "soft") and fluffy duvet had been made up again, and we each just curled up for some more sleep.

We (probably) won't splurge for F again, but for long haul, we will ALWAYS use at least Business class in the future.

You can do the math at less than 2 cent per point/award:

USA to Japan: Business class, one way pp: ~60k points; First, one way pp: ~85k points.

The F class tickets "would have cost" (IF we had paid cash, which would NEVER happen) about $11k-17k pp, one way.
Business class could be much, much less if non-refundable, and that's what we'd do if we *had* to pay cash.
But it is much less expensive to purchase the points/awards.

AAdvantage usually/often requires fewer points to travel on partner airlines premium classes, and the service and hardware is so much better, than to fly on AA metal for the same route.

As noted above by others, when younger, economy isn't so bad, and back then, it never occurred to us to pay extra for F class (there were often just two classes back in the day). It's only been in recent years that we had a miserable flight to/from Europe and vowed to take Premium Economy instead. On that next flight, we were seriously sorry that we hadn't gone for the Business class, as our older bodies were complaining vehemently, and those "complaints" continued for several days after the flight, making the vacation - and return days - much less pleasant.
Then Alitalia upgraded us at no cost ("equipment change") to Business class, with pods, "dining service on trolleys", and generally wonderful experience.
That did it.
We WOULD pay cash for that, albeit at the lowest non-refundable fare.
But using points/miles is very likely to be much less expensive than that.
For vacations, we are increasingly flexible on dates, so getting the Business (or First) tickets wasn't difficult (for this trip, or for next year's trip to a cruise in Norway).

RM
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Theseus
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Theseus » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:35 pm

I was a typical boglehead and never would fly business until two years ago when I was stranded in Nepal and the only way out immediately was a business class. After that experience it is hard to go back to economy if the flight is more than 8 hrs. I am so fresh when I get off the plane it makes a huge difference.

Between 6-8 hrs is a toss up for me based on the price, time of the day we are flying etc.

One thing I have noticed, is that business class tickets don't come on sale much. At the most I would see 20% discount - if that. So you end up paying pretty much a full price.

HIinvestor
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by HIinvestor » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:43 pm

We have been flying economy plus for several years now. We really like that it has enough room that you can pick up items you may accidentally drop during the flight because there is enough leg room. It's not nearly as posh as 1st class but meets our needs nicely. Most of our flights are 5-11+ hours, so having a bit more room is helpful, even though we are only 5'5" or so and slim. We especially like planes where there are just two seats and then the aisle when we can have the two seats. :D

We had a subscription for economy plus seating for a year for us and 7 people who were on my itinerary, shortly after subscriptions weee introduced. It was worth it, especially flying with my folks to be as comfortable as possible.

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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by lazydavid » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:00 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:For domestic American Airlines you might find "Main Cabin Extra" provides you with enough leg room (Seats and shoulder-space the same - but better leg room) or for International I think they call it "Premium Economy". Usually the upcost isn't that much - for United it is called "Economy Plus" - most airlines now offer some extra-legroom-seating. The cost for First Class can be 2X the price (or more) - only you can decide whether or not it is worth the extra cost.
It's getting more and more expensive. I just paid $127 roundtrip for MCE seats for my wife's upcoming business trip to Orlando. That's JUST the MCE upcharge, not the ticket price. If I can manage to upgrade her to First at checkin (current seating chart looks promising), it'll cost $90 each way, and the MCE charge will be refunded. And of course that will come with all the perks like priority check in/security/boarding, waived luggage charge, meal/drinks.

Net-net:
Incremental cost, steerage middle seat-->MCE aisle: $63 one way
Incremental cost, MCE aisle-->First Class: $27 one way

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snackdog
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by snackdog » Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:40 am

We fly several times per year, long haul, both for work and personal vacation. Work is always business class but when I'm paying it is always economy. Cost versus income or net worth is not a factor in this or any decision, only value. It's not that easy to sleep but for one night, but we're willing to sacrifice. The typical fare difference is about $5,000. Honestly, if someone from economy wanted to switch seats with me for five grand in cash, I would march right to the rear of the aircraft.

There are far more uncomfortable things I am willing to do for 12 hours for that kind of scratch. That is a reasonable used car. It is a new Rolex watch. It's a maid for better part of a year (in Latin America). Plus I feel like a sucker because I know >90% of business class is 1) people traveling on the company dime, 2) free or mileage upgrades and 3) crew.

Maya1234
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Maya1234 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:37 am

When I had a multi million dollar windfall inheritance last year ( after already building our assets to a comfortable 2 comma level) we decided that we would use it for two things. Giving more to charity and for things that really brought pleasure to our lives. Our house ( fully paid off and less than 10 percent of our Net Worth) is comfortable, we could afford an even nicer one but that would add little pleasure so we are staying put.


But air travel in coach has become for me so unpleasant from the attitude of airline personnel that makes you feel like you're being punished for some minor crime, to the awful cramped seats, that I pretty much didn't want to travel at all. So now First domestic, Business international is what we do. That adds true pleasure to my life. And no I would take 300/hr to sit in coach. If Id had that from the start as my only option I wouldn't go at all.

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midareff
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by midareff » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:55 am

cartman wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:50 pm
I recently returned from Italy and had a wonderful time, thanks to the many useful tips from fellow Bogleheads.

The only issue my wife and I had was the flight. We flew economy with American Airlines. Even though we are on the small side, the seats were, nevertheless, uncomfortable and short on leg room. The free wine that was served only helped to a point.

The question we are contemplating is whether it is worth it to upgrade our seating the next time we travel abroad.

Any thoughts from anyone that has experience with this issue would be appreciated.
AA is in the business of selling upgraded seats. The first time I was ever uncomfortable in an economy seat was on AA flying home from New Orleans October 28th. It only increases the amount extra I am willing to pay to fly with their competitors instead of them. For international ANYONE's Flag Carrier is better (IMHO) than AA.

jlcnuke
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by jlcnuke » Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:03 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:57 pm
6 hours and under I'll look to fly economy. Over 6 fly business or first.

Also something to consider is booking business or first for the leg you sleep on and economy for the leg you'd be awake on.
This is exactly what my "general" policy is right now. In addition, since I won't fly economy, I won't do a long flight unless I can also spend a "long" time in the destination (i.e. I'm not spending 30 hours getting to Australia, to be jetlagged for a day, have 5 days there, then spend 30 hours coming home to more jetlag) unless it is a work trip that requires me to do so. I'll just wait until I retire to go visit such places when I can take more than a week or two off at a time.

2015
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by 2015 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:21 am

Like everything, it's relative. It depends on the state of your health. I'm in outstanding health, have been weightlifting for over 40 years, and have no experience with "aches and pains". I'm also not one of the 40% of Americans that are obese, or the other 1/3 that are overweight; hence, the "shrinking" economy seats are no issue for me. I've flown Business, would do so again, but my last two trips in economy were painless for me. I even slept both ways during the the trip in economy last year. I'm over 60.

flyingaway
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by flyingaway » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:46 am

Agree that this is relative and a personal preference. If your annual retirement budget is $30K, I don't know how you can fly business class on international trips at least once a year.
For a frequent traveler like me on my own money, I always pay the least expensive seats. If I have achieved an elite frequent flyer member status, I might get upgraded to the economy plus class. I also got upgraded to the business class twice from China to US, for free.
For example, for United Airlines, if you are a silver level member, you can do upgrade one day before the flight. For gold member, I think you can do that at the booking (or 3 days in advance).
Since I buy the cheapest seats on my own money these days and with any airlines, I do not intentionally do anything to earn the elite status.
Anyway, most people on this forum are proud to be frugal. But if you have money and want to spend it, that is your business.

stan1
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by stan1 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:51 am

Premium economy might be a good compromise. The product is different on every airline. On United you just get more legroom with the same seat as economy. On Lufthansa or British Airways you get a completely different wider seat with a foot rest and more comfortable recline.

Dottie57
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:57 pm

ecotone wrote:
Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:19 am
I travel fairly often for work; 75,000 - 150,000 miles/year over the past 10 years. It can be a bear being away from friends/family while I travel, but it's nice cashing in points and/or certificates when the family travels.

I end up in first class on many domestic flights due to automatic upgrades and domestic first class is not worth paying up for in my opinion. International first/business is different and I don't hesitate bumping myself up via miles, dollars, or a combination of the two.

A general rule of thumb is that the United States airlines business/first product is far worse than most of the international airlines. An upgrade to first class on Singapore Airlines or Ethiad is far superior to ANYTHING available on United/Delta/American.

Wow. I thought Delta first class was good. First class was the best flight I had ever experienced you.

knowledge
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by knowledge » Fri Nov 10, 2017 2:25 pm

The class levels on a plane have bifurcated in recent years. A biz class+ transcon flight will get you a lie-flat seat, a 18" monitor, solid to good+ food, and amiable, if not great service. In the back of the plane, you get 17-18" wide seats with 31-33" pitch with no frills, albeit entertainment is much better.

Luckily, I've had the luck of flying biz class+ for work. In some ways, ignorance is bliss, as flying economy on personal flights can leave you feeling wanting. But then I remember the price difference, and the fact that with two small kids, I wouldn't even be enjoying myself up in the front of the plane anyway.

To the OP: look to optimize via travel rewards cards. Flyertalk and other sites are gold for these discussions.

Cruise
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Cruise » Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:40 pm

For those of you who don't mind economy or don't value premium cabins, you can probably skip this post...

My history includes somewhere over 1.5 million paid miles in the sky, split between 30 min flights and 10+ hour flights. During the accumulation phase of my life, we never paid for a business- or first-class seat, but regularly got free upgrades due to frequent flyer status, or else used miles and status to achieve flying in front.

The more I flew and experienced the relative space, peace, and service of the front cabin, the less I could tolerate being in the middle of 200+ travelers. My favorite seat in the plane is in Row 1 (or the equivalent in an upper-deck airplane), where I do not have to look back and realize that there are others aboard.

During the previous 35 years of our yearly vacation travel, we have never paid money for our seats. Good planning and a good frequent flyer programs allowed us to book 330 days in advance and we optimized by mostly flying F in three-class cabins. (unfortunately, F cabins are leaving fleets, and packed J cabins are the best available. A topic for another thread...)

Now, there are new life realities, which mean that we almost always fly in premium cabins:

1. We have left the "Accumulation Phase" and now are in the "Distribution Phase."
2. We can afford it and value it. (The most important parameter).
3. Finding airline customer service and personal space is hard to unless one pays for it. (Proved last week on an 11-hour flight: The FA kept on coming by on a super-regular basis to fill my glass. He also held my meal for when I wanted it, so I could sleep while others were eating).
4. If one is flying an airline on which one has no status, and one has a bunch of luggage, even short flights in F make sense when one gets 2 free bags pp for F flyers.
5. Flying in a premium class cabin (and using the space therein), is one of the best ways of preventing DVT.

Further complicating the quest for premium cabin flying: Airlines used to release award inventory 330 days in advance. Generally, this has come to an end, and if one wants to vacation plan and be assured a premium cabin, one may have to pay it with money, rather than miles. This January and February, and for the first time internationally, we will be paying an ungodly amount to secure these seats. (Fortunately, in September, I was able to find J award seats).

A tip for those who don't mind paying for premium seats: American Express has a new wrinkle to their Platinum Card members: Their Platinum Travel Services' International Airline Program. Booking with them can save between 10-20% off a published fare (I compared my efforts vs. theirs, and it is true!):

http://iap.americanexpress.com

Bon Voyage!

seatac
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by seatac » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:02 pm

It's all relative.
As stated before by others once you fly business or First class some people can't fly economy
any more.
For me, flying military transport makes flying economy not so bad after all.
Load up your ipad with movies or books and then you are set.

I remember flying on an ancient MD-80 into Kuwait. Showtime (pre-flight) was 8 hours prior to departure.
We LOADED our gear/luggage ourselves into the cargo bay of the Aircraft. After that, waited for another
few days in a sandy depot for a flight into theater. The flight was on palette seats which make economy seats
seem very spacious, very noisy and a big MRAP on board.

So, economy not so bad.

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Veiled
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Veiled » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:05 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:41 pm
You're in a chair! Flying through the sky! Watching 6 movies or surfing the internet!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8LaT5Iiwo4
+infinity. Economy all the way. SW for free peanuts and valuable points!
Pardon me as I read these one hundred and fifty-seven SP vs LLC vs Scorp threads...

flyingaway
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by flyingaway » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:31 pm

seatac wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:02 pm
It's all relative.
As stated before by others once you fly business or First class some people can't fly economy
any more.
For me, flying military transport makes flying economy not so bad after all.
Load up your ipad with movies or books and then you are set.

I remember flying on an ancient MD-80 into Kuwait. Showtime (pre-flight) was 8 hours prior to departure.
We LOADED our gear/luggage ourselves into the cargo bay of the Aircraft. After that, waited for another
few days in a sandy depot for a flight into theater. The flight was on palette seats which make economy seats
seem very spacious, very noisy and a big MRAP on board.

So, economy not so bad.
Where there flight attendants on the flight?

j0nnyg1984
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by j0nnyg1984 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:10 pm

I'm 6'8" and fly weekly for work. Luckily I'm EXP on AA, so I get upgraded on almost every flight.


Last week I had to fly delta; I bought (and expensed) first class.

I'm currently sitting at the airport waiting for my first of two flights home on United - again, booked first class.

Economy is brutal, and I can justify paying more for a comfortable seat.

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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by 6miths » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:30 pm

13 hour flight to Addis coming up in a couple of weeks. Will be booked economy but I'll be looking for an upgrade at the gate if the price is right. The price will have to be very good though as I find it hard to justify the cost.
'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so!' Mark Twain

stan1
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by stan1 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:34 pm

j0nnyg1984 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:10 pm
I'm 6'8" and fly weekly for work.
I'm 5'8" tall. Please continue to pay for upgrades, I don't want you sitting next to me in a coach middle seat.

:twisted:

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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:50 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:57 pm
6 hours and under I'll look to fly economy. Over 6 fly business or first.

Also something to consider is booking business or first for the leg you sleep on and economy for the leg you'd be awake on.
I fly Economy, but for the next summer flight to Europe I booked Business class. I am fine in Economy when I fly back to the U.S. But when I go to Europe, I want to sleep on the plane so that I would feel fresh upon arrival. Until recently, I was reserving an aisle seat in the penultimate row, and empty seats in the back were providing me with ample space to assume a horizontal position. But on my most recent flights, the planes were completely full.

Depending on my Business class experience, I may make it a rule. I will still be returning in Economy. It's a good thing that airlines do not penalize for booking each leg separately.

Victoria
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dbr
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by dbr » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:14 pm

In my experience business class does not help very much in feeling fresh on arrival. That would probably be quite different on a 15 hour flight from one in the 6-8 hour range. The formula in my company for business travel was not to try to rest in business class but to travel at least one full day before scheduled activities and recover in a hotel for a day. As leisure travelers we have continued to follow that plan. Also you can afford a pretty nice place to stay for the money saved on airfare. We do however look for economy plus whenever possible in order to get the extra legroom. Premium economy is more of wash as the price premium is a lot usually.

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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:44 pm

dbr wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:14 pm
In my experience business class does not help very much in feeling fresh on arrival.
Having a sleepless night is more of a problem for me than the jetlag. On a few occasions when I could sleep horizontally in the back row, I felt fine upon arrival. I am usually well organized: as soon as I get into my seat, I put on a sleep mask and ear plugs and try to sleep ignoring dinner and other activities.

For some trips, I do allow an extra day or two to catch up with sleep. But on visits to France in August I stay with friends and want to keep up with them from the start.

Victoria
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michaeljc70
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by michaeljc70 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:55 pm

I have flown both first class, business class and economy many times overseas. I have only flown non-economy if it was free or basically free (friend in the industry). I think many people fly business class for prestige more than comfort, though there is no doubt it is more comfortable. I don't care that they give me a better mediocre meal. As an example, when I fly to Argentina it is a 9+ hour flight. It is typically $900-$1300 economy. Business class is typically $5k+ and first class $10k+ (I've seen as high as $26k!!!). I just cannot justify spending 4-20x for 9 hours. I try to sleep on the flight (they are all overnight). I am taller, but manage to make it work and don't feel I am suffering. I can take a whole other trip (or multiple trips) for the difference in airfare.

If I had more money than I could ever spend or medical issues that made flying coach very uncomfortable, I would fly business or first class.

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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Shallowpockets » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 pm

I always fly economy. That's part of the travel. You know what I do when the economy seat gets tough. I think of crossing the Altantic in a boat, like the Pilgrims. I think of crossing the country in a wagon train. I think of all those who have gone before me in their travels in much tougher means than to sit in a plane in economy for 12 hours and be transported halfway around the world. A trip that would have taken weeks/months to accomplish in the past.
So I play these little mind games. I see those in business or first and think of them as weak. Unable to get through a journey without the big amenities that most of the world does not even have on the ground. I think of these people as the ones who will not survive a Black Swan event.
Often times the cost of business or first class is the same as what I spend on an entire one month vacation. Hard to justify that being a frugal and sensible BH.
So sometimes I suffer a bit. Sackcloth and ashes.

Maya1234
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Maya1234 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:29 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 pm
I always fly economy. That's part of the travel. You know what I do when the economy seat gets tough. I think of crossing the Altantic in a boat, like the Pilgrims. I think of crossing the country in a wagon train. I think of all those who have gone before me in their travels in much tougher means than to sit in a plane in economy for 12 hours and be transported halfway around the world. A trip that would have taken weeks/months to accomplish in the past.
So I play these little mind games. I see those in business or first and think of them as weak. Unable to get through a journey without the big amenities that most of the world does not even have on the ground. I think of these people as the ones who will not survive a Black Swan event.
Often times the cost of business or first class is the same as what I spend on an entire one month vacation. Hard to justify that being a frugal and sensible BH.
So sometimes I suffer a bit. Sackcloth and ashes.
The pilgrims etc weren’t traveling for fun. They were traveling for freedom or survival. However when the whole point of travel is fun, the equation is totally different. I’d rather not go at all then go coach.

And I believe those who think like you don’t understand for homebodies like me an “entire month vacation” no matter the degree of luxury sounds absolutely terrible. So do multiple vacations a year. About every other year is all I find enjoyable. And not for too long. Thus mt budget can be much higher.

Maya1234
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Maya1234 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:30 pm

Maya1234 wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:29 pm
Shallowpockets wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 pm
I always fly economy. That's part of the travel. You know what I do when the economy seat gets tough. I think of crossing the Altantic in a boat, like the Pilgrims. I think of crossing the country in a wagon train. I think of all those who have gone before me in their travels in much tougher means than to sit in a plane in economy for 12 hours and be transported halfway around the world. A trip that would have taken weeks/months to accomplish in the past.
So I play these little mind games. I see those in business or first and think of them as weak. Unable to get through a journey without the big amenities that most of the world does not even have on the ground. I think of these people as the ones who will not survive a Black Swan event.
Often times the cost of business or first class is the same as what I spend on an entire one month vacation. Hard to justify that being a frugal and sensible BH.
So sometimes I suffer a bit. Sackcloth and ashes.
The pilgrims etc weren’t traveling for fun. They were traveling for freedom or survival. However when the whole point of travel is fun, the equation is totally different. I’d rather not go at all then go coach.

And I believe those who think like you don’t understand for homebodies like me an “entire month vacation” no matter the degree of luxury sounds absolutely terrible. So do multiple vacations a year. About every other year is all I find enjoyable. And not for too long. Thus my budget can be much higher.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:39 pm

Business class tickets from LAX to London is about $4000 per ticket, thanks to my British Airways credit card, I paid $2600 for two tickets for summer travel. Not a bad trade off for spending $30k on BA credit card for one year. If I don’t have the extra miles, I would pay $4000 for two tickets. It beats flying Economy or Economy plus because I get on separate line at the other end, no need to wait in long line. I hope that has not changed.

sco
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by sco » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:11 pm

Look into gathering Miles for the upgrades too. Not always a sure thing, but often you can buy a economy ticket (perhaps not the cheapest) and upgrade to business. Great use in my opinion.

Or just spend the miles on a pure business or first ticket, you may need several thousand miles. Check out flyer talk and look into churning credit cards for the bonus.

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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by travellight » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:27 pm

HomerJ wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:07 pm
I really really hate economy on long flights.

But I really really hate the price of first-class and business.

This is a very difficult problem for me. My wife wants to go to Europe every couple of years, and I don't want to go, almost purely because the flight is pure torture for me. In fact, she and her sister and her father are flying to China this year, and I'm not going, because I can't stand the flight to Europe so there's no way I'm flying to China. (Plus we have a kid with no one to watch him at that time so I quickly volunteered to stay home).

I agree with Jags... 6 hour and under, I can stand economy... An overnight flight in economy? Uggh.

Yet I'll be doing it again next year for a Europe river cruise.

But I tell myself, one last time, then never again. First class, or I'm not going.

Our bucket list includes a trip to Australia and New Zealand. I talked my wife into waiting until we retire for that one and we're going to take a freaking BOAT to Australia (there's an awesome cruise that goes all that way)....

But we'll have to fly back... I may work an extra month before I retire JUST for 1st class tickets back from that trip.
I would work an extra year or longer to get the benefit of the business class seats in retirement that that year of income would provide.

ge1
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by ge1 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:00 pm

We are big spenders but this thread actually makes me feel better :happy . We travel a lot but I have never paid for business or first class tickets. I always get premium economy though, which adds the few inches which make all the difference. For overseas flights I was always amazed that the only options were economy tickets for $800 to business class for $3,000, the price difference is just ridiculous. It seems the airlines have finally figured out that a lot of people are happy to spend $100-200 more for a bit more legroom and have expanded their economy plus options.

For work I travel business for longer distances, which I thoroughly enjoy. The work trips also get me a good status with AA, so I get frequently upgraded now as well.

But as most people said: Flying in normal economy is just awful.

michaeljc70
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:42 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 pm
I always fly economy. That's part of the travel. You know what I do when the economy seat gets tough. I think of crossing the Altantic in a boat, like the Pilgrims. I think of crossing the country in a wagon train. I think of all those who have gone before me in their travels in much tougher means than to sit in a plane in economy for 12 hours and be transported halfway around the world. A trip that would have taken weeks/months to accomplish in the past.
So I play these little mind games. I see those in business or first and think of them as weak. Unable to get through a journey without the big amenities that most of the world does not even have on the ground. I think of these people as the ones who will not survive a Black Swan event.
Often times the cost of business or first class is the same as what I spend on an entire one month vacation. Hard to justify that being a frugal and sensible BH.
So sometimes I suffer a bit. Sackcloth and ashes.
I got a kick out of this. As I said above, I fly coach when I pay. I'm not that good at fooling myself though. It is more of a cost benefit analysis. I am curious if you use this technique for other things. Like eating at a cheap restaurant and thinking cavemen would be out in the freezing weather hunting down their food or something. I'm not criticizing-I think it is a good technique if it works for you.

kjvmartin
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by kjvmartin » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:51 pm

I'm 6'4 and in my 30s. Had never flown till this past year.

I couldn't fathom why people would pay extra for particular seats. Then I flew to my destination. The next day I was so stiff...

I paid $150 for extra legroom seats on the return trip.

Phineas Gage
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Phineas Gage » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:03 am

Coach isn’t that bad if you’re young and a Benadryl and glass of wine allow you to sleep. I’ve flown to Asia multiple times both in first/business and economy. Paid a few times for first and used miles but at deep discounts. Never paid anywhere near full price. I can’t stomach full price international business class. The $/hr in air just doesn’t add up if you have to pay full price. However, using points is totally worth it and buys you extra time as you arrive at your destination feeling refreshed.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:30 am

+1, everything about me says Business Class except my thriftiness and our propensity to take multiple international trips per year.
Australia was the worst, United economy class was like being a chicken in a cage. After surviving to Sydney we had to then take a three hour flight to Cairns. Africa was a close second.

After a day of constant complaining, the wonder of the trip made me forget the suffering (at least until it was time to check in for return). Planning a trip to Portugal for spring now and first move was to price business class. Two BC tix would be $6700 and two economy $1600. Looks like I will be shoehorned again.
sketchy9 wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:24 pm
I'm 6 feet tall so I feel the pain in economy. The way I look at it, every dollar I spend on the flight is one that won't be spent at my destination. Now, this isn't an issue of a fixed amount X bring available for the trip; it's more a question of where I would prefer the money to go: to the airline or to me and my experience at my destination. I can easily afford business or first class, but I hate giving my money to the airlines. So I suffer.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

randomguy
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by randomguy » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:00 am

Curious about how many of the people that are willing to spend thousands more on a seat would be willing to buy a 5k watch? :) Choosing to fly anything other than economy is going to show the split in bogleheads between the high earners for whom spending a couple thousand bucks is reasonable and the live as frugally as possible brigade who would never consider paying that much money for a seat.

In the end this is just like any other luxury purchase. it is really about what else you would do with that money and if it would make you happier.

michaeljc70
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by michaeljc70 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:27 am

randomguy wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:00 am
Curious about how many of the people that are willing to spend thousands more on a seat would be willing to buy a 5k watch? :) Choosing to fly anything other than economy is going to show the split in bogleheads between the high earners for whom spending a couple thousand bucks is reasonable and the live as frugally as possible brigade who would never consider paying that much money for a seat.

In the end this is just like any other luxury purchase. it is really about what else you would do with that money and if it would make you happier.
I disagree. A $5k purchase I can have for 25 years is different than a $5k purchase that lasts a few hours.

Afty
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Afty » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:32 pm

I get to travel premium economy or business for work, and it's nice. Really nice. But when I'm buying the tickets, I just can't justify the upcharge. For example, I'm taking my family to Thailand soon. Economy tickets for the 4 of us cost $4000, Premium Economy $8000, and Business Class $16,000. There's no way I can justify spending that much on even a 20 hour flight. Maybe I'll be singing a different tune after the trip.

FraggleRock
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Flying business

Post by FraggleRock » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:15 pm

Interesting comment about $5K for a watch.
I would never spend that kind of money on a watch. Especially as I no longer wear one and use my iPhone as a timepiece.

But, we do plan to spend (for the first time) the money to fly business class on our next trip to Europe.
Our most recent trip from Denver to Lisboa was in economy and it was painful and annoying.
We can afford the $5K delta per year so we are going to do it.
At age 69, your priorities do change.

But, you might consider spending the money on the Rolex.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ar-a-rolex
Last edited by FraggleRock on Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Herekittykitty
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Herekittykitty » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:46 pm

When I was younger I flew coach. The seats were large enough so that people could fit in them comfortably and there was adequate comfortable leg room. And the comfort amenities (such as being fed) were better. I recall a round trip to Hawaii from Texas in the 1970's. The seats in coach were large and comfortable. The food was good. I flew various places in the continental U.S. also, and a few times flew from New York to Germany via France, coach, in comfortable seats with good food. I did that a couple of times. Those were the days.

Now, as the years have gone by, if I can't fly first class, I don't fly. But it isn't due to my being older; the reason isn't that I have changed in some way as to not fit the same size seats. It is that the airplane seat size and leg room has shrunk while my personal seat (rear-end) width and leg length have stayed the same.

In addition, I do not recall ever in my younger days having to give up a third of my seat to the adjacent passenger, whereas now when one flies coach, one runs a risk of the adjacent passenger draping well over into one's seat, not out of rudeness but out of size, but the result is the same - one can get squashed by the adjacent passenger.

I did fly coach a few times a few years ago, and both during and for a day or so after each trip (to and fro), my back and legs hurt due to having to twist around to arrange myself in my seat and remain in an uncomfortable position. The worst was when an adjacent very large passenger occupied a big part of my seat as he could not fit into just one seat. That time, not only my back and legs but also my shoulder hurt. I wouldn't want to go through any of that again. It doesn't happen when I fly first class, or any other time, just when I fly coach.
Last edited by Herekittykitty on Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I don't know anything.

randomguy
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Re: Flying business

Post by randomguy » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:52 pm

FraggleRock wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:15 pm
Interesting comment about $5K for a watch.
I would never spend that kind of money on a watch. Especially as I no longer wear one and use my iPhone as a timepiece.

But, we do plan to spend (for the first time) the money to fly business class on our next trip to Europe.
Our most recent trip from Denver to Lisboa was in economy and it was painful and annoying.
We can afford the $5K delta per year so we are going to do it.
At age 69, your priorities do change.
There was a huge thread a while back about buying a 5k watch but in reality you can sub in any luxury item (i.e. car, fancy clothes, expensive wine,...) but there were tons of people that though spending 5k on an item that would last forever but was basically useless was crazy. In this thread we have people talking about spending thousands of dollars for a half dozen hours. And there are a lot more pro spending money for a seat than there were for buying a watch.

In the end it is all about how you value your money. Most of us can have a lot of things but not everything. You need to decide if a seat for a couple hours maximizes you happiness or not.

The next thread should be NetJets versus First classs. Is it worth it?:)

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:53 pm

Afty wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:32 pm
I get to travel premium economy or business for work, and it's nice. Really nice. But when I'm buying the tickets, I just can't justify the upcharge. For example, I'm taking my family to Thailand soon. Economy tickets for the 4 of us cost $4000, Premium Economy $8000, and Business Class $16,000. There's no way I can justify spending that much on even a 20 hour flight. Maybe I'll be singing a different tune after the trip.
When our kids were younger we flew coach with them. It’s expensive for 4. Now it’s only my husband and I, even if the kids are on the same flight, I’m afraid they may have to suffer coach on their own money. I did gift my daughter and her roommate 2 free coach tickets, but they pay the taxes which is about $450 per person. Much better than pay for the whole ticket, I believe it was about $1500 per ticket when I last looked.
I kid to my husband that we are spending their inheritance. Haha
Last edited by DrGoogle2017 on Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Herekittykitty
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Re: Flying business

Post by Herekittykitty » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:56 pm

randomguy wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:52 pm

.....In the end it is all about how you value your money. Most of us can have a lot of things but not everything. You need to decide if a seat for a couple hours maximizes you happiness or not......
Well put. However in my particular case, the physical pain can last a day or two. If it were just a couple of hours, then I wouldn't worry about it.
I don't know anything.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:00 pm

It’s not a couple hours, it’s 9-11 hours. I fly coach to Hawaii because it’s only 5 hours.

ResearchMed
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Re: Flying business

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:03 pm

Herekittykitty wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:56 pm
randomguy wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:52 pm

.....In the end it is all about how you value your money. Most of us can have a lot of things but not everything. You need to decide if a seat for a couple hours maximizes you happiness or not......
Well put. However in my particular case, the physical pain can last a day or two. If it were just a couple of hours, then I wouldn't worry about it.
Right. It can be hours of agony (and not just "a couple of hours", but 15+ hours for ONE leg of the flight trip), and then the first few days with debilitating aches and pains.

It certainly was not like this when we were younger. Also, as mentioned, in the past, "coach" was reasonably comfortable, with plenty of space (most important) plus better meals (less important; we can bring food aboard if that was the only "issue").

And of course, fortunately, when we were younger, that was the time that we didn't have the resources even to consider anything other than "least expensive" method of travel.
We had wonderful times, then too. But "that" wouldn't work now.

NetJets, eh? :happy
Just kidding. I doubt that they take airline awards points, which is how we now do the first class comfort, or business class, too.
(We can *purchase* points, if/when we run out of our stash, and that makes the premium cabins cost a fraction of the cash that would have been required.)

RM
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jerryk68
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by jerryk68 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:27 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 pm
I always fly economy. That's part of the travel. You know what I do when the economy seat gets tough. I think of crossing the Altantic in a boat, like the Pilgrims. I think of crossing the country in a wagon train. I think of all those who have gone before me in their travels in much tougher means than to sit in a plane in economy for 12 hours and be transported halfway around the world. A trip that would have taken weeks/months to accomplish in the past.
So I play these little mind games. I see those in business or first and think of them as weak. Unable to get through a journey without the big amenities that most of the world does not even have on the ground. I think of these people as the ones who will not survive a Black Swan event.
Often times the cost of business or first class is the same as what I spend on an entire one month vacation. Hard to justify that being a frugal and sensible BH.
So sometimes I suffer a bit. Sackcloth and ashes.
Also keep in mind that when landing the rear wheels of the plane hit the ground first so technically you arrived in the city before those people in the front of the plane arrived. The people in first class & business class just get off the plane first but their status changes immediately when getting bags. To me the extra cost is not justified.

Cruise
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by Cruise » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:39 pm

randomguy wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:00 am
Curious about how many of the people that are willing to spend thousands more on a seat would be willing to buy a 5k watch? :) Choosing to fly anything other than economy is going to show the split in bogleheads between the high earners for whom spending a couple thousand bucks is reasonable and the live as frugally as possible brigade who would never consider paying that much money for a seat.

In the end this is just like any other luxury purchase. it is really about what else you would do with that money and if it would make you happier.
$5K watch? Never. $5K seats-Yes.

It is all about priorities, and those change based upon where one is on their life-cycle and quest toward FI.

The distinction between "high earners" and those who "live as frugally as possible" is specious. Many can be described as frugal high earners, but have personal exceptions to their rules. Right now, my exceptions relate to travel and vacations.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:46 pm

I don’t go nuts about hotels either. I just priced 8 weeks in various countries in Europe, HCOL, LCOL, MCOL, I think at max, I will spend about $16k. All hotel prices including breakfast, no spending money yet. I just want to sleep in nice comfort King size bed, no views is ok. It’s definitely about priorities.

FlexibleSpender
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Re: Flying first class, business, versus economy.

Post by FlexibleSpender » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:07 pm

I am not sure at what salary point I would need to be at in order to pay 5-10 times the price of coach to fly first class.

When purchasing international plane tickets, I always saw any monetary savings as "I can have X more to spend on Y now". So if I was faced with the decision between a flight for $5,000 and a flight for $1,000 I would look at it as I can spend up to $4,000 more.

On flights that have lasted 11 hours or so, I just lived with the discomfort. Booking one around a sleep schedule often helps as I am not really a napper.

Interesting question about the $5k watch and the $5k seat upgrade. It does all come down to what one values in life. Surprisingly these values change frequently too.

I teeter all the time on what my spending limits are on certain items.

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