How to Save for a First Class Flight

Travel Tips How to Save for a First Class Flight

You’ve backpacked your way through Europe, you’ve stayed at nice hotels and even eaten at Michelin star restaurants. You’ve crossed a lot off of your travel bucket list but there’s still one thing that needs to be done: fly first class.

Flying first class is crazy expensive, but we still need to try it at least once in our lives. If flying first class is something you’re dying to experience, try these five tips to make it happen short of saving the actual full price!

Stay Loyal

As I previously mentioned in a few posts, collecting airline miles is the best way to save money on flights of all economic status. However if you’re looking to fly first class, I recommend you pick an airline co-branded credit card. The sign up bonuses offer you tens of thousands of points just for signing up and spending a certain amount of money within a particular time frame. These sign up points (and any additional points earned after the signup period) will equate at least one round trip flight to Europe in first class.

The key with sticking to a particular airline and remaining loyal is that it will be a lot easier to gain elite status over time. There are a lot more hacks for gaining points quickly all of which I listed in this post here. Here’s an example of some co-branded cards that might be worth checking out:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • United MileagePlus Explorer Card
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Please note that I am definitely not suggesting you spend a bunch of money you don’t have just to obtain points (that’s where the credit card companies try to get you). Use these credit cards for business expenses, home expenses you would eventually be using with your debit card, or for large purchases like we did with our wedding. This way, you’ll be able to hit the minimum points without going into debt.

Don’t Book Last Minute

Booking last minute can be a crapshoot. Sometimes you might find that you’ll save as much as 30% off by waiting last minute. With flights however, most of the time you’ll pay as much as 40% more than you would if you had booked ahead of time. This is because they know business fliers will have last minute flights for work and their companies are forced to pay the price in the name of business.

If you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible, book at least seven days before your departure date. As I stated in my post about saving for your flights, 3-4 months before departure is the current optimal time to buy flights. Please note that this may change in a few months time as airline companies always want to keep you on your toes (and keep you spending more).

Book Weekends

Most individuals who fly first class/business class are professionals traveling for work during the week. So contrary to popular opinion, it’s best to book a first class flight during the weekend. You’ll find better savings since there are less individuals vying for the same seats. After all, these business fliers aren’t up for another trip during the weekend!

Upgrade at Check-In or At the Gate

Perhaps you didn’t have the miles when you purchased your flight. Or maybe you didn’t have the money at the time, but you do now. Instead of taking your chances for a free upgrade at the gate (which yes, that can actually happen), purchase an upgrade when you check-in for your flight. If there are seats available this close to take off, they’d rather get some money from you than none at all and will provide you with a discount.

If you want to take a chance at the last moment possible, you could always see if there are free upgrades at the gate. I’ve heard of people on their honeymoon getting free upgrades, but it didn’t work for us. Sad emoji. Worse comes to worst, you can still pay the same amount you might be willing to pay at check-in.

Bribe the Flight Attendant

Okay, so I don’t actually mean a real bribe here. I simply mean you should be nice, friendly and give them chocolates from the local duty-free shop (seriously do it, it’s a thing). Once the cabin doors shut, ask the flight attendant if you can move to an open first class seat before take off. With your sweet smile and their pockets full of chocolate, they might let you up front. If not, they might just offer you some free cocktails.


Sebrin Elms is a twenty-something newlywed with two kitties and a serious obsession with travel. She started her blog, The Clumsy Traveler, in anticipation of a 3-month long honeymoon around the world. When she came back, she wasn’t ready to stop writing and traveling! You can learn more about her story on her blog or follow her on Instagram @theclumsytraveler.

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