While you may not see many empty First Class cabins on any flight, regardless of how long or short it is, many people just don’t think paying for a First Class ticket is worth it on short domestic flights. This is especially true when the benefits of First Class domestic travel are not great enough to warrant the extra expense.
For instance, you know all those pictures you’ve seen of First Class cabins on long-haul flights where every seat has its own pod-like walls, the seat reclines to a fully flat position, and there are linen tablecloths on every tray? On many shorter domestic flights, those things just aren’t available. Those pictures you’re dreaming about come from flights spanning the globe, not spanning the distance from Memphis to Orlando.
Still, First Class on domestic flights definitely has its perks. The biggest one, of course, is more space – you’ll get oodles more legroom in First Class, not to mention wider seats. You can also expect better meals, free alcoholic beverages, real silverware (although this is increasingly not offered, especially with short domestic trips), and seats that recline further.
Of course, there are also the regular First Class travel perks, like boarding the plane before the mobs of coach passengers, having more overhead storage space, and enjoying a more favorable ratio of flight attendants to passengers. These are nice benefits, to be sure, but whether they are worth paying for a First Class ticket on such short flights is something you will have to decide for yourself.
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Because more and more passengers are deciding that paying First Class airfare for domestic travel is not worth the money, airlines are increasingly using upgrades to fill those First Class seats with paying customers. So, if you have paid full price for your coach ticket you may get to upgrade to an available First Class seat. This way, the airline is filling that First Class seat with someone who paid full price for a ticket (even if it is a coach fare) rather than someone who is using frequent flyer miles to get the seat for free.
If you are a frequent traveler and you have paid full price for your coach ticket, check to see if there are any available seats in First Class to which you can upgrade. Be extra-nice to the staff at the desk and the flight attendants as you’re boarding, and you may get a free upgrade. This works more often on flights at off-peak hours and off-peak travel seasons, so don’t try this the day before Thanksgiving. But really, it’s always worth asking, because you just never know whether someone with the power to give you an upgrade will be in the mood to do so when you ask. It never hurts to ask, right?
>> Learn more tips to finding cheap First Class airfare
photo by Alan Light