The price of traveling in luxury

Ah, first class — bigger seats, priority boarding and complimentary refreshments to make long flights a little more comfortable. First class often brings a lot more to the table than an economy or business class seat. A first class flight can make you feel like you are traveling royalty; but of course, this luxury comes at a price.

First Class Average Price

The price of a first-class plane ticket varies depending on airline, flight destination and the time of ticket purchase.

For example, on a first class ticket to Omaha, Nebraska, the First Class ticket had minimal amenities because of the small plane and felt like a business class ticket. On a first class ticket from Los Angeles to Miami, Florida, the lie flat and amenities with JetBlue Mint make the five hour flight a good option to save a night at a hotel.

On average, first class tickets for domestic flights in the United States cost at least $1,300 – but travelers are looking at even higher prices to fly first-class internationally.

International round-trip flights from the United States (in first class seats) average as follows:

  • Europe: $3,500
  • Asia: $3,800
  • South America: $3,500
  • India: $5,000
  • Australia: $5,800
  • Africa: $5,800
  • Hawaii: $2,200

While first class is a nice accommodation for international flights, you may want to consider if the extra legroom and reclining seats are worth it for the high ticket prices; consider if your credit card can take the hit before you purchase first-class airline tickets.

First Class Flight by Airline

Most major U.S. airlines offer their own versions of first class. Many of the amenities are similar: more spacious seats, first-priority boarding and free food and drinks — but the specifics vary between airlines.

In addition to diligent service from the flight attendants and the other basic first-class perks, here's what each airline offers its customers who invest in a first class ticket:

  • Alaska Airlines:‌ First Class tickets come with free Alaska Lounge access, free bag check for two pieces of luggage, expedited check-in and security and 75 percent more Mileage Plus bonus miles.
  • American Airlines:‌ Flagship First tickets expedite check-in and security and offer access to International First Class lounges and Admirals Club lounges, spa showers, breakfast and lunch at London Heathrow Airport, and lie-flat seats for overnight flights.
  • Delta Airlines:‌ First Class offers built-in outlets to charge electronics and complimentary headphones and blankets.
  • Hawaiian Airlines:‌ First Class offers two complimentary checked bags with priority baggage handling, expedited check-in, access to its Premier Clubs and free access to TV and movies.
  • JetBlue:‌ The Mint Experience comes with expedited security and check-in, free Wi-Fi and priority checked baggage,
  • Southwest Airlines:‌ Business Select allows travelers to skip the lines at check-in and security and to earn more rewards points for Southwest flights.
  • United Airlines:‌ United First gives premier access to airport travel services, complimentary baggage check for two bags and free access to TV and movies in-flight.
  • Virgin America:‌ First Class offers lie-flat seats for overnight flights and expedited security and check-in.
  • Emirates:‌ Aside from a special first class airport lounge to keep you comfortable before your flight, Emirates has a highly luxurious first class experience. This experience includes closing cabin doors for privacy, soft leather seats that can turn into a bed, skincare items, wide screen tvs for entertainment, free drinks and so much more.
  • Etihad Airways:‌ First Class with Etihad makes you want more long haul flight time. The Sydney Australia to Abu Dhabi flight is over 14 hours. However, the luxury experience in the first class cabin is your own apartment in the sky. Check out the Emirates video below:

First class as a better deal

Once in a blue moon, a first-class plane ticket will be offered up for a cheaper price than economy or business class. A lot goes into determining airfare prices – how far in advance the booking is made, when the trip is scheduled, whether the ticket is round-trip or one-way, which days the trip includes and which booking classes are published for the particular flight.

A lot has to do with demand. For example, if most of the passengers on a flight are traveling on business, they might be required by their companies to book economy tickets, which can hike the price of that booking class to the point where economy flights are more expensive than first class.

Sometimes, the airfare formula gets so complicated that first class ends up being the best price. This is most common on flights in which economy is filling up quickly, but first class is wide open. For this reason, travelers who notice only a few available economy seats on the flight they want should check economy tickets as well — just in case. If you are lucky, you might just be one of the unexpected first class passengers on your next flight!

Is First Class worth the cost‌? Our opinion, when it comes to comfort, always. Seats have narrowed in economy class and even premium economy is becoming more uncomfortable. If you are celebrating a special once-in-a-lifetime event, choose First Class.