My first experience traveling in first-class on a commercial airline occurred in the mid-1980s. I was an impressionable tween, who lucked out during a flight from Chicago to Honolulu, and was offered seat 2A in the first-class cabin. Back then I was more impressed by the free chocolate ice cream sundae pierced with Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouette Cookies than the extra legroom and leather seat.
I can count on two fingers the amount of times I’ve flown first-class since that fateful flight nearly 20 years ago.
If you have never experienced the thrill of getting to dine on real plates with actual silverware post 9/11, then you must follow these simple tips on how to potentially secure a spot in first-class without breaking the bank:
Get help from experts: Travel agents can be your best friends when you are looking for a first-class upgrade. Some agents work with certain airlines on an ongoing basis and get to the point where they are allowed to book customers into preferred seats that are not released to everyone. Some agents also have access to upgrade availability and can add comments to your reservation that may increase your chances of being selected for a move to first-class.
Research: Instead of limiting your searches for economy fares, expand your hunt to include seats in business or first-class. In some cases you’ll find fares in the upgraded cabins to be less than $100 more than economy seats on the same flight. With savings like that it is well worth the few seconds of your time to filter for business- and first-class fares when you search.
Dress well: If you are angling hard for an upgrade, it’s best to look as neat as possible. Dressing well is not a free ticket to first-class; however, it may get you escorted to the front of the plane faster than the guy wearing slippers, shorts and a tank top.