You may or may not already be aware of this, but when you look down the aisles of any given airplane you can rest assured that nearly everyone on the flight has paid a different price for their ticket. The same is true for those in the First Class cabin – when you are talking about the price of First Class airfare, the only thing you can be sure of is that it will generally cost you more than a coach ticket… But that does not mean you have to pay full price.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid paying full price for your First Class ticket is to use your frequent flyer points. Business travelers can collect points like rain drops in a downpour, just by using certain hotel reward programs, mileage credit cards or frequent flyer programs when they travel for work. So even if you get sent to Omaha all the time for work, enough of those trips back and forth to Nebraska will earn you enough points for First Class airline tickets to Tahiti eventually.
The things to keep in mind here are airline partnership programs – you need to make sure that all the airlines you fly on, hotels you stay in and credit cards you use help you collect points toward the same awards program. Otherwise you can end up with points scattered across several programs, none of which amount to a free First Class ticket.
Also, each airline’s frequent flyer program is different, so it can pay off handsomely if you take the time to find out which ones allow you to redeem fewer points for First Class airline tickets – you could end up “paying” roughly the same amount for a First Class ticket as someone else on another airline would “pay” for coach. And you know which cabin you would rather be in!
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Timing can be everything when you are thinking about purchasing First Class airfare. Just as with purchasing any travel-related item, there are seasons during which the price will go up dramatically, and others where the price will go down dramatically. Paying attention to a destination’s high and low seasons will help you avoid paying through the nose for a First Class ticket, even if you have to pay for it yourself.
There are all kinds of vague tips you can find online about getting First Class airfare without paying full price, but perhaps the most helpful (and successful) of these sites is at Flight Bliss (official site here), the blog associated with the subscription-based newsletter “First Class Flyer.” (The newsletter site can be found here.) You can read the blog entries for free (and subscribe to them with an RSS feeder), and they will give you tips on special time-sensitive deals. The newsletter requires payment after an initial free issue, but if you are a frequent business traveler whose company will not pay for routine upgrades to a First Class flight, it may be a good investment for you to get the newsletter.
Do your homework on frequent flyer programs and other ways to earn airline miles – and to learn from others there is also the valuable forum-based site FlyerTalk that is all about frequent flyer programs.
photo by kapil_b