Whether they are willing to admit it or not, everyone is curious about how the other half lives. People's lives are almost entirely segregated by class; whether it is the restaurants we eat at, the places we go to school, or the neighborhoods that we live in, poorer people do not often travel in the same circles as the wealthy. This is especially pronounced during air travel, where first class passengers are physically and metaphorically cut off from the rest of the passengers. For decades, first class airplane accommodations have been a symbol of wealth. But should you consider flying first class? This obviously depends largely on your own preferences and financial situation but this article will try to provide a guide of the pros and cons of flying first class. This list will countdown 10 Reasons Everyone Should Try First Class At Least Once (And 10 Reasons It's Not Worth It). If you can think of any positives or negatives of flying first class that did not make this list, feel free to mention them in the comments. I am especially interested to hear from people who have flown first class all their lives as well as the people who have recently flown first class for the very first time.
20 Pro - You Get to Board First
I will never understand the people who feel the need to be the first ones to board the airplane. No matter what, the plane still will not depart until everyone is safely strapped into their seat. But if you are one of the people who feels the need to rush onto an airplane before everyone else, then first class flying might be for you. People who need assistance are the first ones allowed to board (accompanied by in-uniform service members) but first class flyers are usually right after them. At least you don't have to worry about an airline giving away your seat.
19 Con - Tickets Are More Expensive
The obvious downside to buying a first class plane ticket. Depending on the flight and the airline (and sometimes the perks - free drinks, free food) can almost compensate for this additional price but other times it does not come anywhere close. While I was researching for this article I discovered that first class tickets can cost 1200x as much as a traditional ticket. It would be hard for me to justify this extra cost but millions of people every year decide to do just that. I merely ask that our readers consider whether the additional amenities in first class are truly worth the extra cost of a first class ticket.
18 Pro - Free Food
If you asked someone to name a benefit of flying first class off of the top of their head they would probably reference the free food. There was a time when the only way to get complimentary meals on a short flight was to fly first class. Airlines have since relaxed this rule (especially on long, international flights) but flying first class is still the best way to get a decent meal. The meals that they give in non-first class are the kind of food that would get served in a middle school cafeteria but the ones served in first class are legitimate, consumable servings.
17 Con - Not Always Available For International Flights
There is a new trend where airlines are not offering first class accommodations on international flights. Instead, they are making their business class as big as possible in order to accommodate its most prevalent international customers. The problem with this is that international flights are the trips where you would most want to splurge on a first class ticket. International flights are almost always longer so they offer customers the most value on a first class ticket. This, in fact, might be why airlines are starting to reduce the number of first class tickets that are available for overseas travel.
16 Pro - There Is More Leg Room
There are times when certain industries reach a breaking point with their consumers. This is the point where the industry has gotten so greedy that they have exceeded the amount of b-s that the average consumer is willing to deal with. Airlines are quickly approaching that level. One way that they have tried to maximize their profits is by cramming as many seats as possible into every airplane. This earns them more revenue but it also makes flying more uncomfortable for every customer. Being in first class alleviates some of this pressure as there is almost twice as much leg room between each row of seats.
15 Con - There Are Less First Class Seats
If you have to buy a ticket last minute you might end up having to buy a coach seat. First class seats are more expensive not only because of all the perks that accompany them but also because there are actually less of them. I tried three different flights to three different destinations and on all three the first class tickets were all booked while there were still a handful of coach seats available. First class is not the class of necessity, so if you need tickets in a hurry you might have to settle for a less accommodating setting.
14 Pro - First Class Only Lounge Area
This next aspect of first class is not offered through every airline but a growing number of flights offer a special lobby for first class guests. Instead of waiting at a crowded terminal where you cannot even find a usable outlet, you can be in an exclusive lounge that offers you complimentary food and beverage. This lounge is only a short distance from where the other passengers sit, making you the envy of everyone else. The lounge itself does not especially appeal to me but the chance to eat without having to pay the costs of airport restaurants certainly does. Just another way that flying first class can actually save you money.
13 Con - Some Airlines Are Better Than Others
The issue with buying a first class ticket is that you never really know what you are getting. Even if you have flown first class before, different planes and airlines each offer different perks as part of their first class package. A good rule of thumb is that the more expensive the first class ticket is compared to a couch seat, the more advantages that come with a first class ticket. Following this rule, however, does not change the fact that you won't really know what you are getting for the extra money until you are already locked into that price.
12 Pro - Free Wi-Fi Access
I think that one of the biggest rip-offs associated with flying is the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is available on almost every flight but you can only access it if you are willing to pay an additional fee. Airlines claim that this is a way for them to lower the cost of tickets for people who will not be using the internet but really it is just a way for them to earn additional income. But if you fly first class you don't have to worry about this extra cost. A Wi-Fi code is given to all first-class flyers so you can enjoy internet access for virtually your entire flight.
11 Con - Older Planes Offer Less Advantages
There are a ton of factors that determine how much value you are getting in a first class ticket. Most people know that different airlines offer different first class packages and they plan their buying accordingly. One factor that people are largely unaware of is that the planes themselves can lead to different first class practices. For example, older planes do not offer many of the first class benefits that are available on newer flights. In addition, things like the seat size do now improve in first class on older planes because back then the seats in coach were not so outrageously tiny.
10 Pro - Wider Seats
In another entry we talked about how sitting in first-class offers passengers more leg room but that is not the only way that the first-class seats make for a more comfortable plane ride. In most airlines, even the seats that you physically sit in are bigger. A recent study found that first class seats can be up to 20% larger than the standard seats on the plane. Seats have gotten so small that an average sized person cannot help but spill into the aisle or the seat next to him. I believe that first-class seats are better suited to everyone but they are especially beneficially to larger passengers.
9 Con - Difference in Air Miles
For a long time, the reason that "regular" people would fly first class is because they would use their frequent flyer miles to buy those tickets. These people might not be able to afford a first class ticket if they were paying for the ticket in cash but there was a loophole where first class tickets purchased through air miles were only slightly more expensive than regular coach tickets. The problem is that they have closed this loophole, so you need vastly more airline miles to purchase a first class ticket. If you were planning to utilize this loophole, then flying first class is no longer for you.
8 Pro - More Menu Options
Everyone talks about how you can get free food and drinks while in first class but everyone forgets to mention that the choice of food (both paid and complimentary) is also much larger in first class. On those rare flights where they offer non-first-class passengers two meals, they usually get to choose between two options. In first class there is an entire menu and almost everything that is listed is complimentary. If you are a picky eater this is an aspect of flying first class that you will have to consider. Another entry on this list will talk more about the food in first class.
7 Con - The Stigma
It is a sad fact of society that people generally do not like people who are better off than them. Magazines like Forbes are constantly ridiculed for portraying the lives of the rich and famous while 99.9% of the population cannot possibly afford the things included in their publication. The disdain that people hold for first class is also a part of this. There is a weird distinction between first class and coach that leads people in both parties to think that "those other people are not like me." This rarely leads to anything other than a few sideward glances but it is just something to be aware of if you are considering a first class ticket.
6 Pro - Free Movies
A year ago, I flew internationally for the first time and I found it to be a very enjoyable experience. One of my favorite things about flying out of the country is the free movies that they have available. I usually bring a book or my computer on domestic flights but it was nice to have something available that you devote large swatches of time to. If you fly first class, you can watch complimentary movies on any flight. Most airlines have already bought the rights to these movies for their international flights, so why not offer them free of charge to their first-class customers?
5 Con - You Hate Flying
Elsewhere on this list you will read about how flying first class can be affected by what airline you fly as well as how long your flight is scheduled to last. Another important factor to consider when buying a first class ticket is your own disposition towards flying. If you enjoy flying and you would like some creature comfort while you do so, then first class might be for you. If you are so terrified of flying that you cannot possible enjoy the flight no matter how luxurious, however, then why waste the extra fare on a first class ticket?
4 Pro - Free Beverages
Airlines are willing to cut costs wherever they can. One specific way that they do this is by giving food and drink portions that are very small. If you have ever gotten a complimentary drink in coach, you have probably realized that they give you about half of a 12 ounce can. If you were to fly first-class, however, you get as many complimentary drinks as you want. On some fancier airlines, you can even get complimentary alcoholic drinks if you are over 21. This alone is not worth paying for the first class ticket but these are the kind of things that add up.
3 Con - The Other First Class Passengers
There are tons of stories and articles lamenting about the people you might be seated by in coach. People love to complain about the smelly guy next to them or the screaming toddler two seats behind them, but what about the people in first-class? The people in coach might be annoying but you develop a bond with them based on your mutual circumstances. If you have flown coach most of your life, you will be shocked and appalled by the way some people act in first class. The word 'entitlement' cannot even begin to describe the way some first class passengers treat the airline staff.
2 Pro - You Get to De-board First
I am not one of those people who feels the need to run out of the plane the second that I land but I must admit that it would be nice to be able to disembark before everyone else. Airlines cram as many seats as possible into a plane, so it can take a while before everyone makes it out into the airport. Because the first-class seats are in the front of the plane, these passengers have a much shorter distance to go, and way less people to wait for, to disembark. Just make sure that you are not the person who ends up making all the people behind you wait even longer.
1 Con - Flying First Class is More Dangerous
Of all the entries on this list, this is the one that might make me reluctant to buy a first class ticket. The reason that people shell out more money for first class is because they think that they are getting something extra (and in most instances they are). But you are also losing something when you sit in first class. Nearly every study has shown that sitting in first class substantially lowers your chance of surviving a plane crash. Planes tend to crash nose down, and the further back you sit in the plane, the more likely you are to survive the impact landing.