Five Ideas to Get You in Cheap First Class Seats

First class is expensive; it can cost literally ten times as much as coach fare (or even more), and business class is nearly as pricey. So what do you do if you want to travel in style but you want cheap flights, too?

Let FareCompare help you win the airfare game; we’ve been finding folks cheap plane tickets for years, and we can help find inexpensive ways to upgrade to first class, too.

Five Really Cheap Ways to Fly First or Business Class

Upgrades can be had for very little money; the trick is knowing how to find them. These tips will help.

1. Check-in Online at Earliest Opportunity

At exactly 24-hours before your flight leaves, jump online and check-in for your flight; that’s when cheap upgrades are sometimes available. If you see any, know that they won’t last long, so if you like the price you see, take advantage of it.

The reason airlines offer these at this stage of the game is simply because the seats are going begging, and they’d rather make a little something off them than nothing.

2. Stop at the Airline’s Kiosk in the Terminal

Even if you’ve already checked-in online, stop at the kiosk and do it again. Maybe upgrades weren’t available early, or maybe they were too expensive; by now, all that may have changed so take another look. And by this time, prices on upgrades may have dropped some more.

3. Watch for Anxious Gate Agents

You might see this next time you’re waiting at the gate for an international flight; it happened to a friend of mine as he was heading home from Europe.

An agent approached individual passengers and asked them if they’d like to upgrade; and the haggling was on! My friend joined in and came away with a trans-Atlantic business class seat for hundreds of dollars below the going rate.

Save even more by learning the five strategies for avoiding airline fees

4. Join an Airline Miles Program and Jumpstart Elite Status

Join your favorite airline’s miles program fly them exclusively; if you shop with FareCompare you can filter results of airfare searches by airline. Then, accelerate or jumpstart your way to elite status, with one of these methods:

  • Use airline-branded credit cards
  • Look for special “miles” offers from the airlines
  • Become a temporary mileage runner to rack up points
  • Look for “secret” miles acceleration programs, as seen on

Video: Learn more about how miles programs work and what the perks are

5. Try the Southwest Version of First Class

This is one of the cheapest ways to get a no-frills first class experience: for just ten bucks, Southwest allows you to be among the first to board which means you get your pick of seats and plenty of bin space. Sorry, no free cocktails, but you can’t have everything.

You can have cheap flights on FareCompare, though, every time you shop. Our motto is, don’t pay a penny more for airfare than you have to. FareCompare. And Buy Confident.


Published: March 21, 2012