July 18, 2024
Different Styles of Air Travel / Photo:B W Bean
Different Styles of Air Travel / Photo:B W Bean


There are many different styles of travel.  Some are fast while some are slow.  Some are basic and some, what shall we say – are somewhat beyond basic. And there is clearly a differential in cost between levels of travel style.  Nowhere is this more clear than in airfares.  Have you ever taken a look at the cost of First Class vs Economy Class Air Travel?   You should.  There is a significant difference in cost – is it worth it?

Out of curiosity I thought it would be interesting to compare the cost of First Class vs Economy Class Air Travel.  For no particular reason I decided to compare costs for non-stop round trip First Class vs Economy Air Travel between New York and Los Angeles on a randomly selected airline for dates also selected at random.  No, it’s not scientific.  But it is interesting.  Here’s what I found.

Economy Class Round Trip Ticket:  $376

First Class Round Trip Ticket: $6277

So first class tickets cost roughly $5901 more than economy class tickets in this example.   That means that first class travel in this case will run you roughly fifteen times more economy travel.  Let me repeat – that is $5901 more for first class tickets!

I will be the first to admit, there are advantages to “Flying in First.”  More leg room, sometimes lay flat seats, perhaps even a nice little private alcove-like sleeping arrangement.

One first class seating configurartion - internet photo
One first class seating configurartion – internet photo

And then there is the greatly upgraded food and drink service as well as the special attention from the cabin crew.  First Class also affords more of a sense of privacy and a more quiet, less “robust” travel environment.  I’m sure there are other advantages as well.

So the real question becomes, are the advantages of First Class Air Travel “worth” the considerably higher cost of the ticket?  In this case – are the advantages worth an additional $5901?

Apparently they are for some folks.  But I do wonder who is riding up there (that is not me).  I imagine that some people just have considerable financial resources and the differential in cost is not even a consideration (that is not me).  And then there are likely those who riding on their company’s credit card (that is not me), meaning that in most cases the cost ultimately filters down to the consumer public in some way. There would also be government officials up there perhaps, hopefully very high ranking (that is not me). Other First Class seats are likely occupied by premium flyers with the airline – using frequent flyer miles they have acquired through multiple flights – flights which are usually funded, again, by the company credit card (that is not me).  Beyond this I imagine there are a few other flyers who desire and / or need to fly First Class for some reason (that is not me).  There may even be a few travel writers who are getting “comped” for services (that is not me).

Bottom Line?  It appears to me that flying First Class is related to a combination of personal preference, financial means, and access to various “perks.”  Is flying round trip New York / Los Angeles in First Class “worth” an additional $5901.00?  That is up to you to decide.  For me – I’m going to shove my 6′ 4″ body into that economy seat, plug in my head phones, and survive the trip.  But when I’m done I’m going to feel $5901 richer than the people who sat 30 rows ahead of me in First Class.  I paid for transportation and am happy with value received. They paid for transportation “plus”.  I can only hope they are also happy with the value they received.

Try it for yourself – go to Orbitz or Travelocity and compare costs of First Class v Economy Class air travel to a destination of your choice.  It’s interesting.

How do you travel? What value do you place on First Class?  I’d like to hear from you.

Six Foot Four Inches in Coach ……… Enjoy the Adventure!

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker

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