[Is it worth flying first class?]

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kelway
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by kelway »

I developed a DVT in my leg on a business trip and so they flew me back from Belgium to the US first class. I won't deny it was great, but I felt like a pig being treated like royalty. I don't like that feeling. It's similar to using fast passes at amusement parks and walking by all the plebs. It's just not my style.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by jabberwockOG »

Mr.BB wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 12:32 pm
jabberwockOG wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 6:33 am My guess is that 75% of the folks up in business class and first on most flights are consultants of various stripes (mostly IT and big 5) who have 85+% billable utilization targets and travel a 44+ weeks a year. What I used to call white collar migrant labor. They are Platinum, Diamond, Elite, Flying Colonel, etc., FF status, masters at points and flights, and rarely not upgraded for "free" - quotes on free because they definitely earn that status, as few folks understand unless they have spent some years traveling that hard.
Not as many as you think (for right now). There has been a huge drop off of business flyers. Many companies are now using online meetings, so for now many of the people are people going on vacation and other functions.
Agree - The easy often inefficient travel paradigm for business (and pleasure) has changed, perhaps semi-permanently.
sabhen
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by sabhen »

fishandgolf wrote: ↑Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:08 am
I just spotted this thread..........very interesting and somewhat timely.....will explain shortly.

Claustrophobia......I get it on flights or in tight quarters.....mostly if I don't get an aisle seat. Sometimes...if it's a smaller plane or very crowded....I'll get it even while in an aisle seat.

Here's our situation. DW and I have tentatively booked a 10 day European (Normandy/London/Paris) vacation for May 2022. My point of interest on this trip is a one-day side trip to "The Beaches of Normandy". The travel agency (golf friend of mine) has a reputation for "really taking care" of their travelers; folks that have been on their trips talk highly of their experience.

We have not seen an itinerary or final cost; we estimate the cost to be ~$15K (including flights) for the both of us. Seating is coach with no guarantee of an aisle seat. So, considering my claustrophobic condition, I want to go first class. The travel agency will credit us and allow us to book our own flights. DW did a cursory look at first class flights and it looks like it could add $5-6k each to the cost of the vacation.

To be totally candid......I hate travelling and don't really like airports.....BUT I have few motives that keep me interested in wanting to do this vacation.

1). We're both in our mid-to late 60's. I would like to spurge on one fun, enjoyable and yes....expensive trip.
2). My primary interest in this trip is "The Beaches of Normandy"....that's pretty much it. I have no real interest in Paris...... :?

So....I'm in a quandary as what to do. I'm not too concerned about the cost. What concerns me more is....because I have a limited interest in this trip, I might get on this trip and not really enjoy it........ :? :?
I visited the main beaches of Normandy pre-pandemic. I loved it. I was staying in Paris so did a day trip by train to Caen. I will not fly business class unless an employer pays for it or only as an upgrade using points. I am cheap Boglehead :happy. Once in Caen, I used the local bus to get to Omaha beach. The driver was a very nice lady who took me on a scenic detour that Tourists normally don't visit. I was the only passenger at the time. I speak French. She picked me up on the way back from Omaha Beach along with her daughter from School. Hope to visit again. I had a blast. Enjoy your Trip.
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Elsebet
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by Elsebet »

I have used a standing desk for many years both at work and home and rarely sit, so any length of time sitting for me is difficult. Even after a few hours drive I feel stiff. I have to get up and walk around during movies and in long work meetings I stand at the back of the room. I will always pay more for an aisle seat if the trip is over 2 hours, this way I can stand up anytime I want without bothering anyone. I often stand in front of my seat and read for a half-hour or more, then sit for 15-30 mins, and repeat. I wish the airplanes had a way to securely strap me in to stand instead of sit. In the movie "The Fifth Element" the passengers on the space plane lie in a little cubicle and get knocked out - I would love that option! Sitting for hours is just something I both mentally and physically hate but I tolerate it to travel to cool countries once a year.

The best trip I took was from Seattle, WA -> Portland, OR in a train. There's so much room and you can walk around without any issues anytime. It was lovely.

I have long considered starting my own airline with a variety of seat configurations (standing, sitting, lying, etc). There just has to be a better way to fly than what we are doing currently, just has to be.
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca
Californiastate
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by Californiastate »

kelway wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:35 pm I developed a DVT in my leg on a business trip and so they flew me back from Belgium to the US first class. I won't deny it was great, but I felt like a pig being treated like royalty. I don't like that feeling. It's similar to using fast passes at amusement parks and walking by all the plebs. It's just not my style.
There are downsides to too much empathy.
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kelway
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by kelway »

Californiastate wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 11:30 am
kelway wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:35 pm I developed a DVT in my leg on a business trip and so they flew me back from Belgium to the US first class. I won't deny it was great, but I felt like a pig being treated like royalty. I don't like that feeling. It's similar to using fast passes at amusement parks and walking by all the plebs. It's just not my style.
There are downsides to too much empathy.
Maybe... but spending way too much money on first class tickets isn't one of them.
alfaspider
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by alfaspider »

jabberwockOG wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 6:33 am My guess is that 75% of the folks up in business class and first on most flights are consultants of various stripes (mostly IT and big 5) who have 85+% billable utilization targets and travel a 44+ weeks a year. What I used to call white collar migrant labor. They are Platinum, Diamond, Elite, Flying Colonel, etc., FF status, masters at points and flights, and rarely not upgraded for "free" - quotes on free because they definitely earn that status, as few folks understand unless they have spent some years traveling that hard.
There's the easy way and the hard way to get status. The hard way is to be like the consultants who travel every week. The easy way is to take a few international trips in business class.

Free upgrades for people with status are a lot less common than they used to be. A lot of those first class seats are paid for, or at least upgraded from a paid ticket with miles.

Platinum status on United was good for being #16 on the upgrade list out of over 50 on my flight yesterday. For my outbound flight last Thursday, plantinum status coupled with "pluspoints" (used to be an upgrade voucher) still landed me #6 on the list. Even Global Service members (the double secret invite-only tier of United FF status that generally requires $40k+ annual spent to get) complain about not being upgraded if they book domestic economy.
iamlucky13
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by iamlucky13 »

River in Sight wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 3:13 pm For several years pre-COVID, it had become very hard to clear an upgrade (I was an AA Exec Plat and a United 1K before that). Airlines have gotten very good at selling first class seats and upgrade lists commonly have 20-30 people or more for a cabin with 8 seats that was likely sold out anyway. The only upgrades I could clear, even as a top tier elite, were at undesirable times like Tuesday midday or Saturday evening. Peak times you could forget about it.

As an example, I often travel DCA-LGA or DCA-BOS. Delta typically charges about $45 more than “main” for first DCA-LGA, and $80 more DCA-BOS. I buy it every time, it’s a no-brainer to me. Free checked bags (I have no status on Delta), first one off the plane, single seat in first class (typically 1-2 configuration on this route), a drink or two depending on the time of day. Most importantly, I have enough room to work… I’m an average sized person but in coach I simply can’t get comfortable working on my laptop. In first, I’m productive the whole time. Being self-employed, it’s important to me to maximize productive time. I find Alaska often does the same thing on the West Coast, often it’s a $50 increase on a short haul flight to be so much more comfortable.

I don’t splurge on much but the airlines have lowered the delta between economy and first by so much (not always, but in many cases) I almost always find it worthwhile. My personal benchmark is I’m willing to pay around $50-60 an hour, more for a transcontinental flight. I can almost always find flight options that meet that. For intercontinental, I just use Google Flights to help find a business class flight in my budget; I haven’t flown intercontinental in coach in around 12 years and don’t intend to ever do it again.
I never find these kinds of deals ($45-80 to upgrade from economy to first domestic). Looking at Delta now, for example since you mentioned them, a SEA-LAS trip I have planned would be $50 each way just to upgrade from basic to main: exact same seat, just a handful of minor perks like no change fees and earlier boarding.

1st class is 2-4 times the price of economy. I'd be looking at nearly $200 per hour

Are these deals you get offered at check-in if seats are available, due to having a premier frequent flier status? Or are you seeing these prices when initially booking flights?
River in Sight
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by River in Sight »

iamlucky13 wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:20 pm
I never find these kinds of deals ($45-80 to upgrade from economy to first domestic). Looking at Delta now, for example since you mentioned them, a SEA-LAS trip I have planned would be $50 each way just to upgrade from basic to main: exact same seat, just a handful of minor perks like no change fees and earlier boarding.

1st class is 2-4 times the price of economy. I'd be looking at nearly $200 per hour

Are these deals you get offered at check-in if seats are available, due to having a premier frequent flier status? Or are you seeing these prices when initially booking flights?
I never book Basic so that may be part of the issue as well. At a minimum I book main/regular economy. But, these are deals at the time of booking. Checkout Alaska as well as they offer very reasonable first class fares on many short haul routes. The only post-purchase cash upgrade I’ve ever done was American last summer, which offered $75 in the app to upgrade a short haul flight. I took it.
SQRT
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by SQRT »

Always first class (business in Canada). If we couldn’t fly first class for a long flight (over an ocean) we wouldn’t go. I’m 6’4” 71 years old with a bad back. Obviously it depends on how much money you have and your attitude towards spending it. We have quite a bit and aren’t shy about spending it if we get value. Lie down seats represent very good value for us. But. hey, everyone is different.

Generally speaking Asian and Persian Gulf airlines have the best flights, followed by European/Canadian. Sorry to say that US Airlines just about the worst in my view.
vinhodoporto
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Re: Never fly first class

Post by vinhodoporto »

zhiwiller wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 3:40 pm
vinhodoporto wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 11:23 am
vfinx wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 12:47 am Does anyone throw the kids in economy and buy business for the parents?
We’ve done that. Except we used points or certificates to upgrade the parents - much cheaper than buying business outright on an international long haul.
My last cross-Atlantic flight I was blessed to be near a brood of kids whose parents did just that. The parents peaced out to the front and left their kids to fight with each other, scream, kick the seat, and push their dirty sock feet inbetween our armrests the whole flight.

So thanks.
I can guarantee you ours didn’t do this but they were probably older than the ones you were seated with. Also we put them in aisle seats so they’re not touching each other and check on them multiple times.

I would totally have said something to a flight attendant and or walked up front and complained to the parents in the situation you were in. That’s just totally poor parenting.

:)
Caduceus
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by Caduceus »

The only time I've been bothered while flying was when someone quite overweight sat next to me. It felt like my personal space was constantly being invaded. Apart from that, normal seats are totally fine and I would not pay a premium for first class.
Valuethinker
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by Valuethinker »

Caduceus wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 1:00 am The only time I've been bothered while flying was when someone quite overweight sat next to me. It felt like my personal space was constantly being invaded. Apart from that, normal seats are totally fine and I would not pay a premium for first class.
I once sat next to a Middle Eastern man (60s) on a flight for 8 hours. It was obvious that he was not used to flying -- was going to see his daughter. He had elbows, and he'd shift position about every 30 seconds ... for 8 hours. (He then proceeded to get off the plane carrying someone else's laptop -- the other woman panicked, and I managed to reunite them with the right laptops - it was obvious it was his agitation, not anything deliberate).

It's a bit like needles & injections. A lot more people are afraid of flying than admit to it-- and they self medicate, or just are nervous the whole way. They tank up ... at 830 am, in the airport bar, then get on the plane. Twitch and shift the whole way.

On the other hand, in BA business class to Delhi, dinner served about 1230AM, 2 ladies decided to have a voluble after-dinner chat --- at 130AM. I wasn't sure whether they were highly experienced travellers (they had Blackberries, when that was still a sign of professional occupation or high income) or neophytes. But... hello... sleep when you can on international flights? Air host said they could do nothing. What I should have done was drop the privacy screen and made it clear I was paying attention (they were not talking in English).

I think the seats in economy have become narrower, and the people wider.
SQRT
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by SQRT »

Valuethinker wrote: Fri Sep 17, 2021 2:59 am

I think the seats in economy have become narrower, and the people wider.
Agree. This makes the cost of upgrading more worthwhile I suspect? :sharebeer
gubernaculum
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by gubernaculum »

McCharley wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 6:02 pm Dear Bogleheads,

I spent the first 50 years of my life looking smugly at those fools in First Class that were paying 2-3x my ticket price for a few hours in a bigger seat. :greedy

And then I flew to San Francisco for my 50th birthday -- only a few hours, but first class. And I was like, hmmm. Nice. Not worth it. :beer

But then I took a 14 hour flight business class. With full layback seats, hot towels, silverware... Dang. :o

Do you folks splurge on air travel? It really seems like the most wasteful thing to spend extra on, but I've almost convinced myself that it's worth it. 8-)

[original off-topic (not personal) title "Never fly first class" replaced by admin alex]
Yes, First class travel is worth it, especially international long haul travels. My tall frame is in aches and pains if I have to sit in proletariat class. That said, one thing I found that helps with long haul travels is a massage at the airport before take off or during layover. It speeds up recovery from a long trip.
homebuyer6426
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Re: [Is it worth flying first class?]

Post by homebuyer6426 »

Not only do I not fly first class, I buy a bag with the specific dimensions allowed as a personal item so I don't pay the luggage fee, as well as leaving my seat selection up to the airline. Basic economy as it's normally called.

Is it rough doing that on an overseas flight? Yes. But not as rough as sleeping overnight on airport benches, which I've unfortunately had to do on 3 occasions. Airlines have a habit of drastically altering the hours of their flights one month before departure, and there isn't always another same-day flight to pick from.

Would I fly first class if I had a net worth of $5 million plus? Maybe, but I think I would feel guilty of all the other things that same amount of money would buy.

Same with airport or stadium food/drinks. I feel spiteful when someone is charging me $10 for a 70 cent beer or $35 for a $5 hamburger. I know they're only able to do it because they've captured the market and made competition impossible. I don't like rewarding that behavior.

I'm happy that some people fly first class though, because they theoretically cause the tickets to be cheaper for the people in coach.
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