Is Upgrading to First Class Worth It?

When we think of boarding an airplane these days, we tend to picture ourselves packed like sardines and limited to a single complimentary serving of juice in the course of a four-hour flight.

But that doesn’t have to be your experience. If you upgrade to first class, you can enjoy a whole different type of flight — one where you have ample leg room and are treated to an array of food and beverages while you’re in the air.

Of course, there’s one major drawback to flying first class: the extra cost. In some cases, a first-class flight can be double or triple the cost of an economy fare.

So is upgrading to first class worth it? Ask yourself these questions to find out.

1. How long is the flight?

If you’re taking an international flight that will keep you in the air for eight hours or longer, then booking a first-class ticket may be worth it. Not only will you be more comfortable during the flight itself, but you’ll be more likely to manage some sleep. That could help you avoid major jet lag issues as you adjust to being in a new time zone.

On the other hand, if you’re taking a four-hour flight or less, then first class may not be worth it. Sure, you’ll be more cramped in economy, but in exchange, you’ll free up a nice amount of money to spend at your destination.

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2. What’s the cost of the upgrade?

First-class flights can be prohibitively expensive — but not always. In some cases, you may be able to upgrade to first class for just a few hundred dollars. If that falls within your travel budget, it may be worth the money. That way, you can arrive at your destination in a better mood and without achy muscles.

3. Can you use credit card points or miles to upgrade?

If you’ve been banking credit card points or air miles, then you may be able to swing a first class flight without having to spend a dime. And in that case, it may be worth doing, especially if you don’t have any other major trips planned for a while and want to use your miles before they expire or lose redemption value.

4. Are you traveling with kids?

This one could actually go either way. On the one hand, you may not want to spend a small fortune on a first-class ticket because chances are your child won’t let you get much sleep anyway and won’t eat much of any of the free food being given out. On the other hand, traveling with young kids is difficult enough, so you might as well be comfortable. Plus, if you have roomy enough seats, your child might actually doze off for a nap — which could make your trip a lot easier.

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Some people travel their whole lives without ever experiencing first class. Others insist on it for any flight over a certain length of time. Ask yourself the above questions to see if paying a premium for first class is worth it or if you’re better off sticking to economy and spending your money elsewhere.

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