How to Get First Class Tickets Cheap: 11 Proven Ways [2024 Guide]

by Global Viewpoint
First class flight tips to save money featured image
This post may have affiliate links, where I may receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Ever dreamed of flying first class but thought it was too expensive? Think again. You don’t have to be a millionaire to experience the luxury of first class travel. There are many ways to find fantastic deals and snag a seat in the front of the plane without breaking the bank. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get first class tickets cheap.

Pinterest image showing expert hacks to save money on first class tickets
Don’t have time to read this guide? Pin it for later!

How to Get First Class Tickets Cheap

First class travel is an experience like no other. From the moment you step onboard, you’re treated to top-notch service, gourmet meals, and luxurious amenities. 

An effective way to get cheap first class airfare is to look at the best sites to find deals and use points and miles from loyalty programs or credit card rewards. Additionally, getting a co-branded credit card with your favorite airline can often provide generous sign-up bonuses and perks.

Anyone can find great deals on first class flights. I’ve seen cheap 1st class flights for 60-90% off. By knowing when to book, which airlines to choose, and how to use reward programs, you can save big on your next trip.

So, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, don’t let the price tag scare you from traveling in style. With proper planning, you’ll enjoy a comfortable and unforgettable journey on the cheap.

1. Sign up for Going Elite (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights)

Sign up for Going’s free email alerts. From there, the team scours the web for the best deals and sends cheap deals directly to your inbox. The team is constantly monitoring airline sales and deals, and will alert you once discounts become available. And the best part? It’s 100% free!

In addition to the free version, there are two other membership options. The Premium version is $49 per month (though I have a 20% discount code that you can use: JON20). The Elite version is $199 per year, and it gives you the best of the best features and functionalities. With Going Elite, you can find first class tickets at a fraction of the normal price.

Elegant private jet cabin with a stylish bar setup, ideal for exclusive flights
Once you learn how to get first class tickets cheap, there’s no going back!

2. Fly During Weekends

Did you know that flying first class on the weekends can actually save you money? You don’t have to be a business traveler to score a great deal on premium seats. Most business travelers fly on weekdays for work, so airline carriers often have more empty seats on the weekends. So, they typically offer them up at discounted prices!

Next time you plan a weekend getaway, check out first class fares for Saturday or Sunday departures. You might be surprised at the savings you’ll find. 

Sunset over clouds from airplane window
Flying on weekends will up your chances of getting a cheap first class ticket

3. Use Points and Miles to Upgrade Your Seat

Are you a part of any frequent flier or loyalty programs? One strategy is to look for upgrades using points. For example, with Delta, you can use your SkyMiles to upgrade from economy class for a fraction of the cost of booking first or business class tickets outright.

Another strategy is to book using the cash and points option. For instance, with British Airways, you can use a combination of Avios points and cash to book a trip, which can save you thousands of dollars.

Finally, making the most of your loyalty program status is important. Many airlines offer elite status to frequent flyers, which can come with perks such as free upgrades to first class. By maximizing your loyalty program status, you’ll increase your chances of getting upgraded to first class without having to use your points and miles.

Amex Business Delta SkyMiles credit card
Delta SkyMiles is a great way to fly cheap first class

4. Get a Co-Branded Credit Card With Your Favorite Airline

I recommend getting an elite, co-branded credit card if you want to fly first class cheaply. Many of these cards offer generous sign-up bonuses. This will get you at least 50% of the way there to buying a first class ticket.

Some of my favorite co-branded airline credit cards include the Delta Skymiles Gold American Express Card and the United Explorer card.

A man sitting in an airplane, gazing out the window at the clouds below
Getting a co-branded credit card will help you find cheap flights with first class

5. Book Roundtrip Fares Instead of One-Ways

Choosing roundtrip fares can save you a lot of money compared to one-way tickets. Airlines offer lower fares for roundtrip tickets, letting you take advantage of these lower fares and save money in the process. This is especially true when traveling for business during peak travel periods, such as holidays or summer vacation.

That said, there are some situations where booking one-way first class tickets may make more sense. This includes when you have flexible travel dates or are only traveling one-way.

Luxurious private jet interior with leather couches and a bar
Discount first class tickets on a plane will give you access to these amenities.

6. Seek an Upgrade When You Check in at the Airport

While it’s not guaranteed that this strategy for finding cheap tickets will work, here are some tips that will increase your chances:

  • Be polite and friendly to the check-in agent
  • Dress appropriately
  • Ask about the possibility of an upgrade
  • Consider joining the airline’s loyalty program
  • Be flexible with your travel plans
An airport terminal bustling with people walking around
The check in area at airport is a great place to get upgrades

7. Ask For an Upgrade When You Get on the Plane

Once the cabin doors are closed, check to see if there is an open first class seat on the plane. From there, don’t be afraid to ask a cabin crew member if you can sit there. 

The worst thing they can do is say no, and every once in a while, you could score a free or discounted upgrade.

8. Don’t Book Business Class With the Intention of Upgrading to First Class

Some people do this thinking that they’ll get a cheap first class upgrade. Sadly, this is not the case. A business class ticket costs up to five times more than economy tickets, and more often than not, you’ll still end up paying a fortune for a first class trip. Instead, buy a coach or premium economy fare and upgrade from there.

The luxurious interior of a private jet, complete with plush leather seats and elegant decor
Cheap first class flights to anywhere in 2024 are not out of reach

9. Get an Upgrade From Overbooked Flights

When domestic or international flights are overbooked, most airline carriers are often willing to give passengers an incentive to move to a later flight time or date. This is a great opportunity to find a first class deal.

If you’re not in a rush and you’re looking to score cheap first class tickets on a flight, consider volunteering to give up your seat. Not only will they give you a flight voucher and a free hotel stay with meals, but they also may be willing to upgrade your new ticket to first class. Is this one of the best ways to find cheap flights for first class? You bet!

10. Know the Best Time to Book First Class Flights

Knowing when to book your ticket can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Here are some tips on the best time to book the cheapest first class flights:

  1. Aim to book flights at least four to six weeks in advance. 
  2. Consider traveling during off-peak periods to find cheaper flights.
  3. Book on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, as airlines often release new sales and deals mid-week.
  4. If you have flexibility with your travel dates, use this to your advantage. Tools like Google Flights and Hopper will show you prices surrounding your ideal flight date, allowing you to see if there are cheaper days to book.
  5. Keep an eye on the price of your 1st class flight after you’ve booked it. If the price drops, you may be able to get a refund or credit for the difference. Some airlines offer a “price match” guarantee that will match the price if it drops within a certain period after booking.
A luxurious private jet with comfy leather furniture and a stylish coffee table
First class flights for cheap don’t skimp on the amenities

11. Search for the Cheapest First Class Airlines

When looking for a luxurious flying experience without breaking the bank, several airlines offer first class seats at affordable prices.

  • AirAsia X
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific Airways

Whether you’re flying for business or leisure, you will have a comfortable and enjoyable flight with any of these airlines.

AirAsia X

Picture this: you’re soaring through the skies, reclining in a luxurious first-class seat, sipping on a chilled glass of champagne, and living your best life – all without breaking the bank. Well, it’s not just a dream – it’s the reality offered by AirAsia X. 

This low-cost airline based in Malaysia is making waves by providing a premium experience with their “Premium Flatbed” seats, starting at just $500 USD one-way on select routes. So, buckle up and get ready to fly high without emptying your wallet.

A man in a suit and sunglasses sitting on an airplane
Discount first class tickets with AirAsia X

Emirates Airlines

Emirates Airlines is one of the world’s leading airlines. They also offer some of the most affordable first-class seats in the industry. Their first-class cabins feature private suites with fully flat beds, personal mini-bars, and on-demand entertainment. Emirates is also known for their exceptional service, which includes a personal flight attendant for each first-class passenger.

An Emirate Airline with their flight attendant serving exquisite cuisine to passengers
Emirates offers some of the best flights with first class

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and is known for its luxurious first-class cabins. Their cabins feature private suites with a fully flat bed, a personal mini-bar, and on-demand entertainment. Etihad Airways also offers a luxurious lounge experience for first-class passengers. It includes a spa, a cigar lounge, and a gourmet dining experience.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is consistently ranked as one of the best airlines in the world. And their first-class cabins are no exception. Their first-class suites feature a fully enclosed private space, with a separate bed and a leather recliner. They are also equipped with personal entertainment systems and noise-cancelling headphones. Singapore Airlines also offers an exceptional in-flight dining experience, with a menu designed by world-renowned chefs.

Airplane bedroom with cozy bed and chair
Singapore Airlines has cheap first class tickets throughout the year

Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay Pacific Airways is a Hong Kong-based airline that offers affordable first-class seats. Their first-class cabins feature private suites with a fully flat bed, a personal mini-bar, and on-demand entertainment. Cathay Pacific is also known for their exceptional service. This includes a personal flight attendant for each first-class passenger and a wide selection of gourmet meals.

Here are some popular questions and answers about getting first class flights for cheap:

How Do I Not Pay Full Price for a First Class or a Business Class Ticket?

To get cheap business or first class tickets, look for sales or use points and miles to book discounted fares. Subscribing to deal sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights can also help you find deeply discounted fares.

What Is the Cheapest Day to Fly First Class or Business Class?

For the cheapest fares to fly business class or first class, aim to book flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays when demand is lower. You’re more likely to find discounted ticket prices on these less popular travel days.

Who Offers First Class Flights?

Most major airlines offer first class flights, including American Airlines, Delta, United, Emirates, Singapore, and Lufthansa. As you’re booking your flight, you’ll see if a first class option is available. 

How Much Does It Usually Cost to Fly First Class?

The cost of flying first-class can vary greatly depending on various factors. This includes the airline, route, time of year, and demand.

First class airfare can cost several times more than economy tickets for the same flight. Some tickets can cost thousands of dollars. Others may be obtained through the use of airline miles or other loyalty program benefits.

What Is the Cheapest First Class Seat?

AirAsia X, a low-cost airline based in Malaysia, offers a first class experience with its “Premium Flatbed” seats. You get a lie-flat seat, personal TV, and priority boarding for as little as $500 USD one-way on shorter routes.

While the experience may not be as luxurious as high-end airlines, it is still a great way to fly first-class without breaking the bank.

Businessman in suit seated on airplane looking through the window
Fly first class for cheap and you’ll never want to go back

Is It Worth Paying for First Class?

The plush seats, gourmet meals, and premium drinks in first class may be worth the extra money if you’re someone who craves the finer things in life. Plus, there’s the added benefit of more legroom, extra space to stretch out, and priority boarding and baggage handling.

However, if you don’t care about the bells and whistles and just want to get from point A to point B without breaking the bank, then first class may not be worth it. After all, you’ll still arrive at your destination without spending a small fortune.

Inside an airplane: comfy seats, a window with a view
Cheapest first class airlines are hard to come by these days

Is it Cheaper to Fly First Class or Private?

If you’re looking to travel with a group of friends or family, a private jet can be a great option. It allows the cost to be shared among everyone. However, if you’re traveling solo, flying first class may actually be the more affordable option, as the cost of chartering a private jet can be quite steep.

Another thing to consider is the distance you’ll be traveling. For shorter flights, first-class tickets may be cheaper than a private jet. However, for longer journeys, the price difference can be smaller or even reversed. Note that private jets offer more flexibility and can avoid layovers and connection fees.

Can You Sit in First Class if it’s Empty?

While it may be tempting to try, sitting in an empty first-class seat without permission is generally not allowed and could result in being asked to move back to your assigned seat.

However, there are a few scenarios where you may be able to sit in an empty first-class seat. If you have a medical condition or disability that requires additional space, or if there’s an equipment change that results in more first-class seats than passengers, you may be allowed to sit in an empty first-class seat.

Is Business Class the Same as First Class?

Business class and first class may both offer a more luxurious and comfortable flying experience than economy class, but they are not the same thing.

First class is generally considered to be the most luxurious class of service. It’s known to have larger seats that recline into a fully flat bed, more privacy, higher quality meals, and more personalized service.

Business class, on the other hand, offers many of the same perks as first class,. However, they come with slightly less space and amenities. You’ll still enjoy comfortable seats that recline, priority boarding, and enhanced meals and entertainment options. But, you may not have access to the same level of luxury and personalized service as in first class.

Of course, every airline is different, and the differences between business class and first class can vary. It will generally depend on the airline, route, and aircraft type. Some airlines may offer a hybrid class between business and first, while others may have a larger gap between the two classes.

Conclusion

From utilizing the best deal sites to maximizing points and miles, you now know how to book tickets and snag affordable first class tickets. With a little planning and strategy, you can have a luxurious travel experience and arrive at your destination refreshed and relaxed.

For more ideas to save money on flights, read next: The Best Travel Websites in 2024

Happy Travels! -Jon

A view of an airport from an airplane window
Enjoyed reading these tips on flying first class for cheap? Pin it!

You may also like

Leave a Comment