Booking a first class flight ticket not only means comfort aboard the flight but also comfort from the time you reach the airport. Valet parking service to make your arrival at the airport as comfortable as possible to getting a personal assistant to give you individual support as soon as you enter the airport and finally the added benefit of priority boarding without having to wait in line is what makes you feel like a first class guest even before boarding the flight that awaits you with more exquisite and specialized services.
Why you want to fly it: Cathay Pacific’s excellent first-class cabins offer the full package experience, with everything from pre-flight spa treatments to Champagne and caviar service on board. The seats are extra-wide (at 36 inches) and extra-long (the bed stretches almost seven feet), and can be found on some of the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ERs—including many of the planes it flies from its Hong Kong hub to such major U.S. airports as Boston Logan, Chicago O’Hare, LAX, and JFK.
2. Remain Loyal. Airline loyalty programs aren't what they used to be. Even if you’re a frequent traveler, the perks you receive aren't nearly what they once were. All the same, those miles will add up and eventually you can use them for a free upgrade. But watch the expiration dates and make sure to read all e-mails that come from the airline. Don’t let points expire.
With millions of people taking flights every year, it’s noticeable how few travellers give airline staff even the most common courtesy of a smile. In a busy, often crowded environment, being the stand-out passenger who smiles can prove the make-or-break difference when it comes to securing an upgrade. Manners cost nothing, so even if you fail to leave the economy class section behind, you’ll still have brightened someone’s day by being pleasant and offering them a smile. Remember, you are about to fly to another destination, which is merely a dream to some people. Enjoy the romance of being above the clouds. It’s a pretty special thing.
The fares are subject to seat availability in the corresponding booking inventory. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights and dates. The fares are non-refundable, non-exchangeable, and non-transferable. The fares and their governing rules are subject to change without prior notice. Other restrictions may apply. Airline-imposed baggage fees are not included and may apply.
What’s ensued is a golden age of flying … for those who can afford it. In November, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Emirates Airline both unveiled all-new first-class suites, tricked-out with such extravagant amenities as in-suite minibars and Mercedes Benz-inspired interiors. A round-trip ticket from Dubai to Geneva in Emirates’ new suites can cost upward of $8,000—and that’s on the affordable end of the spectrum. These airlines aren’t alone: Quieter, gradual enhancements on such airlines as Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Société Air France SA have resulted in truly premium experiences, with improvements ranging from more personal storage space to latest-generation entertainment screens and touchscreen seat controls.
Another benefit of flying First Class is access to exclusive airline lounges. Most major airlines have a collection of lounges throughout the world, and most also have a network of partner airline lounges you can access if flying First Class. Common features of airline lounges include WiFi, restaurant quality meal and beverages, televisions, reading material, showers and computers. Refer to your airline for more information on the lounges offered.
Another way to join is to get a BA American Express card, which automatically lets you in. It's also one of the best-paying reward schemes on the market, paying points for normal spending on the card, and if you hit a certain amount, giving a free 'companion flight' on top. Always set up a direct debit to pay it off in full each month – otherwise it's 22.9% representative APR. See the Airline Credit Cards guide for more details.
Ask your travel agent. My own travel agent has a relationship with certain airlines that let her book her customers into preferred seats that are not released to everyone (usually toward the front of the plane, in exit rows and the like). She can also see upgrade availability fairly quickly, and many agents can add comments to your reservation that increase your chances of being chosen for an upgrade. Ask about these the next time you talk to your travel agent.
Not always airlines spread the word about first class ticket sales. Sometimes, upgrades are available to customers who only book their tickets on the website. They offer you discounted first class seats after you’ve already reserved one in coach class. Offers might pop up as you book a flight or check in for it so remember to constantly monitor your reservation online.
Complimentary black car chauffeur transfers, exclusive airline lounges, priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling, free checked luggage and extra frequent flyer points are all just a tip of the iceberg. Redefine your travel experience with comfort fit for royalty; succulent made-to-order meals designed by Michelin-starred chefs, hand-picked wines from the world's top wineries and decadent desserts to die for - all ready when you are. Unwind with a sky-high massage, an in-flight shower or a signature cocktail at the bar or simply recline in your seat with countless hours of five-star seat-back entertainment.