The Cost of First Class Flights: Is it worth it?

The Cost of First Class Flights: Is it worth it?

Fly first class

*Vacation Mode is a for-profit site. It contains paid banner advertisements that are generated and managed by a third-party network. This site also includes relevant affiliate links (both in the content and on the sidebar) all of which we do our best to clearly mark as such.

The benefits of flying first-class are obvious: more legroom, more comfortable seats, improved on-board service, and so on. All of these amenities, of course, aren't cheap. As a result, the age-old question of whether flying first class is worthwhile emerges. It is sometimes worthwhile to spend a higher fee for a better seat, and other times it is not. But, in any case, when you can pay for it with points and miles, that seat feels so much better!

How much does first-class cost?

The cost of first-class seats varies depending on the airline, location, and travel dates. Longer flights to larger airport hubs will often cost more in first class. Booking your ticket in advance will help you acquire cheaper tickets, and in some situations, you can receive a maximum upgrade with a small number of points and miles.

Here's an overview of what a first-class ticket on prominent U.S. airlines will cost, based on the prices of 10 round-trip flights on the same dates to the same places around the United States on each airline.

First class seat
First class seat


Alaska Airlines: based in Anchorage

For domestic flights, the typical first-class seat on Alaska Airlines costs between $650 and $1,050, depending on the date and destination, making it the most costly option on the list.

You may upgrade your seat to first class for 15,000 miles one way if you're a member of Alaska's rewards program or have a credit card that allows you to accrue points and miles for the airline. You can also pay to upgrade to first class for anywhere between $29 and $199 one way, depending on the length of your travel.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines


American Airlines is an airline based in the United States

American Airlines offers lower first-class pricing, ranging from $500 to $900 for domestic trips, depending on the date and destination.

You can get these rates for no money by using points and miles, and Citi ThankYou points will earn you the highest value per mile on American flights. A first-class upgrade will cost either 15,000 or 25,000 miles, depending on your destination and the class you originally booked. You'll also have to pay a fee ranging from $75 to $550 to upgrade from any class other than business, depending on your class and destination.

First Class
First Class


Delta Airlines is a commercial airline based in Atlanta

Delta's first-class airfares are the most volatile of any airline, ranging from $500 to over $1,700 for domestic trips, depending on the date and destination.

Delta likewise doesn't have a specific price for upgrading your seat, either in terms of dollars or points/miles. Upgrades from a lower class to first class are subject to the flight, destination, distance, and availability. While the unpredictability of Delta first-class costs can be annoying at first, if you do your research, keep check of prices, and remain devoted to finding the best tickets, you can get first-class seats for a fraction of the price.

First Class Seating
First Class Seating



JetBlue's first-class seats are in the "Mint" cabin, which has some of the most affordable first-class amenities. For domestic flights, these tickets cost an average of $300-$650 total, the lowest average on the list, depending on the date and destination. Only JetBlue flights to and from Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Aruba, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Maarten, Grenada, and Liberia offers the Mint cabin.

There is no standard amount to upgrade with points and miles or money due to the small number of flights Mint class is available on. If you're thinking about upgrading to Mint class or purchasing a ticket with points or miles, bear in mind that you can't use JetBlue's partner airline miles, such as Hawaiian or Emirates, to book Mint class.

Full lie down first class seating
Full lie down first class seating


Southwest Airlines:  low-cost carrier based

Southwest, like JetBlue, does not offer a first-class ticket; their most expensive cabin is dubbed "Business Select." Depending on the date and destination, a business select seat costs between $550 and $700. 

Upgrading to business select from a lesser cabin costs around $35-$55, which is the least expensive upgrade on the list. However, this is due to the fact that you are primarily purchasing early seat selection rather than better plane seats. Southwest does not reveal the value of points and miles upgrades, but they are likely to fluctuate from flight to flight.

United Airlines:  based in the United States

For domestic flights, United Airlines' first class will cost between $550 and $950, depending on the date and destination.

The cost of upgrading from economy to first class on United is $325, which is available in 500-mile increments. This price is reduced to $200 for 500 miles if you are a member of United's frequent flyer program. The cost of upgrading from all other classes and upgrading using points or miles varies every flight.

Cool first class
Cool first class


The advantages of flying first class

The advantages of flying first class vary by airline, but there are a few things you can always expect in a first-class cabin. First-class seats are always more comfortable than lower-class seats, with more legroom and the ability to lie down for the duration of your flight. First-class seats also feature superior eating options than lower-class seats, and several airlines have partnered with restaurants and chefs to provide premium dining experiences to their first-class guests. In addition, if you fly first class, you'll be among the first to board the plane.

Aside from the perks that come with being on board, many first-class tickets also include services that make your trip go more smoothly. United's first-class customers, for example, will receive two free checked baggage. Southwest's business select tickets give passengers access to a Fly By lane via security and at the ticket desk, reducing airport wait times. At baggage claim, Delta first-class guests will receive their bags first. To cut a long story short, owning a first-class ticket will make traveling easier and more comfortable no matter which airline you fly.

Is it worthwhile to fly first class?

If you only consider the monetary value of first-class, the answer to this issue is most likely no. Tickets in first class are significantly more expensive than tickets in any other class. While some benefits, like as free checked baggage and complimentary refreshments, can help offset the expense, they virtually never fully compensate.

The true worth of first-class is determined by how much you value the services and amenities it provides. When you fly first class, you will be able to travel more comfortably, be more productive on your flight, be pampered by flight attendants, and be less stressed overall. If you value all of these features when traveling, first class is a good investment. If all you want from your flight is to get to your destination, don't spend the extra money in first class. Spend the extra money on first-class if you want to make flying an experience and set the tone for the rest of your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the distinction between first and business class?

If first-class is the gold medal of flying, business class can be considered the silver medal. Business-class is the next best thing to first-class and offers lower, but still expensive, tickets. It includes some, but not all, of the pleasures and conveniences of first class.

First-class seats will almost certainly provide your own personal space on the plane, as well as possibly a seat that converts into a bed, whilst business class seats will only provide additional legroom. First-class passengers will be served restaurant-quality food, while business-class passengers will be served adequate but not exceptional meals. You get what you pay for on flights, which means that spending more money gets you more perks, conveniences, and services.

What is the distinction between first and economy class?

The distinctions between first and economy classes are the most noticeable and noticeable on the plane. Economy class tickets are the cheapest on the plane, but they come with almost no amenities. When flying economy, you will have little legroom and will most likely share an armrest with two strangers. For longer flights, the food will be standard airline fare, while shorter flights would include a complimentary snack such as pretzels or peanuts. While economy prices are less glamorous, they are less expensive and will get you to the same location at the end of the day.

What's the difference between traveling first class on a domestic airline versus flying first class internationally?

Wait until you hear about overseas first-class prices if you thought local first-class prices were excessive. These tickets can cost tens of thousands of dollars for a single trip, but your flight will be nothing short of magnificent. On an international flight, flying first-class means numerous restaurant-quality meals, plenty of complimentary wine, a comfy and spacious seat away from other passengers to sleep in, and more. International first-class tickets provide you with the same privileges as domestic first-class tickets, but for a longer period of time and at a higher level.

In conclusion

It is not for everyone to travel first class. Don't waste your money on first-class if you only want to go to your destination and don't care about the other amenities. First-class, on the other hand, is well worth the extra money if you value convenience, ease, quality, and personal space while flying. In some situations, you can get a first-class ticket for a fraction of the cost by using points and miles. If you ever make it to a first-class cabin, sit back, relax, and take it all in — you've earned it!

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • You can align images (data-align="center"), but also videos, blockquotes, and so on.
  • You can caption images (data-caption="Text"), but also videos, blockquotes, and so on.
CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
12 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Newsletter sign up

Join our mailing list and get a complementary stay in Mexico.  Get weekly emails with the latest travel deals you can't find anywhere else.
* indicates required