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Best Guide to Fly First Class as a Family

Best Guide to Fly First Class as a Family

Are you looking for a luxurious flying experience without breaking the bank or do not have a lot of money to burn? You’re in luck! The cheapest first class airlines give families the luxury experience for great deals on a regular basis.

We have researched the most affordable first-class airlines to make your next trip extra special without emptying your wallet. Flying first class for anyone in the United States, UK, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, and other countries doesn’t have to be exclusive to the rich and famous when you know where to look for the best deals.

In this article, we’ll explore various strategies to find the cheapest first-class tickets, options for major airlines’ first-class offerings, and how to maximize credit card rewards to your advantage. Keep reading to discover how you can enjoy the perks of premium seating comfortably on your long-haul flights even when traveling as a family.

Jump To:

Top Cheapest First Class Airlines

Finding the Best First Class Deals

Maximizing Credit Card Rewards

Traveling First Class as a Family

Exploring Major Airlines’ First Class Offerings

Premium Seating for Long Hauls

Strategies for Finding the Cheapest First Class Tickets

The Perks of Flying First Class

Understanding Airline Pricing

Planning Your First Class Trip

Key Takeaways

  • Discover the top affordable, first-class airlines for a luxurious flying experience on a budget.
  • Learn valuable strategies for finding the best prices on first-class tickets and maximizing credit card rewards.
  • Find out search strategies for families trying to purchase multiple first class ticket.s
  • Understand the benefits of flying first class and how airline pricing can work in your favor when planning your trip.
An image of a family about to use their first class boarding pass.

Understanding First Class Air Travel

International First Class

When you book a first class seat for an international flight, you’re investing in a premium experience. First class seats provide extra legroom, larger personal space, and unparalleled comfort. You’ll also enjoy access to exclusive lounges and priority boarding.

First class amenities often include gourmet meals, top-shelf beverages, and entertainment options to make your journey enjoyable. With the bonus of lie-flat seats or even private suites, long-haul flights become a luxurious retreat rather than an endurance test.

Research the cheapest first class airlines carefully before putting a particular flight on a pedestal in your mind. Experiences among first class cabins can vary wildly based on the airline and the specific plane.

Domestic Flights

In contrast to international travel, first class cabins on domestic flights offer a more modest upgrade from economy class. While you still get the added perks of priority boarding and more spacious seating, the overall experience may be less extravagant.

Domestic first class has larger seats, providing extra legroom and a more comfortable cabin, but the onboard services might be less comprehensive than their international counterparts. Factors like flight duration and airline policies can also play a part in determining the amenities offered during your trip.

Upgrade options, such as premium cabins, allow you to balance your budget and desire for comfort. Dipping your toes in the luxury lifestyle by scoring the cheapest first-class flights domestically can be fun.

You can find affordable first class flights by comparing prices and searching for deals. Remember, flying first class doesn’t have to break the bank. I’ve found great deals on first class one-way tickets as low as $250 for domestic flights.

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Top Cheapest First Class Airlines

Singapore Airlines

When searching for top-notch luxury without breaking the bank, consider Singapore Airlines. Known for its exceptional service, this airline offers some of the best deals on first-class flights. With its spacious suites and world-class amenities, you’ll feel right at home in the sky. Look for promotional fares and discounted tickets to help you travel in style while staying within budget.

Cathay Pacific

Next up is Cathay Pacific, which consistently ranks high for affordability in first-class travel. You can expect premium services and comfortable accommodations at a fraction of the cost compared to other airlines. To find the best deal, keep an eye on sales, promotions, and even their frequent flyer program for redeeming miles.

Qatar Airways

If luxury and comfort are your priorities, then Qatar Airways should be on your radar. Despite being more budget-friendly than some competitors, this airline doesn’t compromise on quality. Qatar Airways is a top choice with a luxurious first-class cabin featuring personal suites and exceptional in-flight dining. Don’t forget to search for promotional fares and special offers to maximize your savings.

Japan Airlines

Finally, Japan Airlines is another excellent option for affordable first-class travel. This airline is known for its attentive service, delicious cuisine, and comfortable seating. You’ll find competitive pricing for various routes, so be sure to explore different itineraries to find the best deal. Keep an eye on their website for sales and promotions, you could enjoy a premium experience without the hefty price tag.

Finding the Best First Class Deals

Travel Dates

When looking for the cheapest first class airlines timing is key as you search for great first class deals. Aim to book your flights during off-peak seasons, which is the best times to take a trip as airlines often lower their prices to fill up premium seats. You’ll find the best deals during fall and late winter, when there is less demand for air travel. If barely anyone is boarding Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi, you are sure this is where you can find the cheapest first class flights for that airline. 

Last Minute Bookings

Keep your eyes peeled for last-minute bookings since this is where you will find most first class flight deals. Although it’s not always a guarantee, airlines occasionally offer significant discounts on first class seats shortly before the flights’ departure if there are fewer seats booked. Be prepared to be flexible with your travel dates and destinations, as these deals can pop up unexpectedly.

Loyalty Programs

Don’t underestimate the power of loyalty programs. Signing up for a frequent flyer program or credit card that offers travel rewards can lead to major savings on first class tickets. Use your earned miles or points to upgrade from economy to first class at little to no extra cost. This strategy might require some patience, but it pays off in the long run, as you’ll enjoy first class comfort without breaking the bank if you have been earning points through frequent flyers programs.

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Maximizing Credit Card Rewards

Membership Rewards

If you’re looking to save on first class airline tickets, use your credit cards wisely. Many cards offer rewarding programs that can be redeemed for flights or upgrades. For instance, American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are popular options that let you transfer points to various airline partners. When booking flights, compare providers and hunt for the best deals.

Remember, earning points faster with bonus categories can maximize your rewards. Both programs offer competitive rates, like 3 points per dollar spent on travel with the American Express Gold Card. By keeping an eye on promotions and strategically using your card, you can accumulate points quickly to enjoy cheaper first class flights.

Co-Branded Cards

Alternatively, you can consider co-branded credit cards tied to specific airlines. These cards often provide additional perks, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, and even earning miles directly with the airline.

Some popular co-branded cards include:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Don’t forget to compare sign-up bonuses, annual fees, and earn rates to find a card that best fits your first class travel goals. By leveraging the right credit cards and maximizing rewards, you can score the most affordable first class flights and enjoy a luxurious travel experience.

Traveling First Class as a Family

Being able to give your kids a first class travel experience is such a point of pride for parents. For most American parents it feels like we’ve arrived when we get to sit in first-class after our childhood consisted of mostly family road trips. Our best kept travel secret is that we utilize the cheapest first class airlines along with points and miles to travel hack our way to luxury.

Finding Routes with Cheap First Class Tickets

The first thing you should do is visit Google Flights and use their search function to look for ‘anywhere.’ There is a similar search function on Skyscanner where you can set the destination to ‘everywhere.’ Your starting location should be the closest major airport. If you live close to multiple major airports than you’ll have to run different searches for each one.

I always start my searches looking for just two tickets, even tough ultimately I’m booking for a family of four. Once you find some inexpensive round trip flight options you can start to dig a little deeper. 

Decide on Cash or Miles

Usually there is one direction of a round trip ticket that costs more than the opposite direction. From the round trip options you found in the searches above, break those options up into one way flights and figure out if there is a big price discrepancy. Knowing this information allows you to check for tickets available with miles one-way and cash the other way.

You’ll want to pay for the more expensive direction with miles and the cheaper direction with cash.

Same Flight or Different Flights

There have been numerous trips where my family of four has traveled on separate flights either for the whole time or on partial legs in order to save money. Flights are priced on a supply and demand algorithm. Sometimes the cost per person for four tickets is dramatically more expensive than the cost on that same flight when you search for just two people.

In some instances we have taken different flights out of our home airport and met up at some connecting airport to finish the itinerary together. Other times we have left on the same flight but then deviated to random layovers separately but eventually ending up at the same destination.

Traveling with kids separately one on one is actually much easier than traveling as a family of four. Kids tend to be way more chill when there is nobody competing for attention and they always get the pick the restaurant.

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Exploring Major Airlines’ First Class Offerings

When you’re looking to book first class flights without breaking the bank, consider your options among major airlines. In this section, we’ll discuss Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and British Airways first class offerings. Let’s take a closer look at their prices and services, so you can make an informed choice for your next journey.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has a reputation for luxurious first class experiences. Their premium product, Delta One, offers passengers all the amenities needed for a comfortable flight. However, flying first class on Delta tends to be more expensive. With an average one-way first class ticket price of $419.62 and economy ticket price of $135.07, there’s a significant price gap worth considering between a one-way flight on first class fares and premium economy seats.

  • Amenities:Lie-flat seats, premium dining, personalized service
  • Price Range: $419.62 (one-way, domestic first class ticket)

United Airlines

United Airlines also offers a high-end first class experience with their United Polaris service. While their prices can vary depending on route and season, they are usually more affordable than Delta. United has a strong focus on providing a comfortable and luxurious experience.

  • Amenities: 180-degree flat-bed seats, inflight entertainment, access to Polaris Lounge
  • Price Range: Variable, generally more affordable than Delta
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British Airways

Last but not least, one of the cheapest first class airlines is British Airways. It’s an excellent option for those looking to fly first class without paying extremely high prices. First class passengers on British Airways enjoy spacious seats, exclusive lounges, and elegant dining options to make the journey as enjoyable as possible. Finding cheap first class flight tickets for these airlines is doable for those who puts in the effort. 

  • Amenities: Private suites, access to exclusive lounges, fine dining
  • Price Range: Varies based on route, generally more affordable than Delta and comparable to United

As you explore these first class offerings, consider your budget and the amenities most important to you. Weigh your options with Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and British Airways to find the perfect balance between luxury and affordability.

Premium Seating for Long Hauls

Lie-Flat Seats

When flying long haul, comfort is crucial. Lie-flat seats provide the ultimate relaxation as you can stretch out and get a good night’s sleep during international routes. Many affordable airlines offer this luxury, such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. So, on your next lengthy journey, consider these airlines for a comfortable experience on a long flight without breaking the bank.

Amenity Kits

Another essential feature of premium seating for longer flights is the amenity kit. These kits usually contain items like pajamas, slippers, eye masks, and toiletries to help you stay refreshed throughout the flight. You’ll find that even the more budget-friendly airlines, such as Alaska Airlines, offer amenity kits in their first-class cabins.

In-Flight Service

Lastly, let’s talk about in-flight service. When flying first class, you can expect an elevated level of customer care, including a higher cabin staff-to-passenger ratio. Even though you’re looking for the cheapest first-class airlines, you’ll still enjoy attentive service and a pleasant in-flight experience. So, don’t hesitate to treat yourself to lavish comfort on your next long-haul flight.

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Strategies for Finding the Cheapest First Class Tickets

Travel Agents

Sometimes, the classics never go out of style. When searching for cheap first class flights, consider reaching out to a trusted travel agent. They have access to special deals and can tailor options to your needs, making it worth the extra effort. As a bonus, their insider knowledge can help you find less mainstream options that match your budget.

Flight Search Engines

In this digital age, flight search engines are valuable tools when hunting for cheapest first class tickets rather than just a travel agency. Websites like Google Flights and Skyscanner offer multiple airlines and fare options, allowing you to compare and identify the best deals.

These websites often have filters to help you find the perfect balance of price and convenience, like targeting non-stop flights or specific layover durations. Exploit this feature to optimize your experience.

Free Upgrades

While it might require some luck, free upgrades should not be underestimated! Here are a few tips to boost your chances:

  1. Joining an airline’s loyalty program can improve the likelihood of receiving a free first class upgrade, especially if you have a high status.
  2. Dress the part: Look sharp and professional, as airlines might be more inclined to upgrade passengers who reflect the first class atmosphere.
  3. Arrive early or late for your flight. During these times, the check-in counter will likely have spare first class seats, increasing your odds of being upgraded.

Remember, patience and persistence often pay off. Keep these strategies in mind and you might find yourself enjoying luxurious first class flights without breaking the bank.

An image of a man asking a flight attendant for drinks.

The Perks of Flying First Class

Extra Space

When you fly first class, one of the main benefits is the extra space available. First-class seats offer more legroom and wider, more comfortable seats. This means you can stretch out and relax during your flight, making your trip more enjoyable.

Next-Level Service

Expect top-notch customer service when flying first class. Flight attendants are attentive and accommodating, ensuring your needs are met. From assistance with luggage to promptly attending to your requests, the better service in first class will make you feel pampered.

Culinary Delights

First class is also known for its delicious food offerings. Forget about the standard economy meal, as you’ll be served high-quality cuisine, often created by renowned chefs. You can indulge in gourmet meals, fine wines, and delectable desserts that will make your flight feel like a five-star experience.

Understanding Airline Pricing

Best Way to Purchase

When looking to fly first class for the lowest price, timing is crucial. Purchasing your tickets well in advance can save you a significant amount of money. Business travelers often buy last-minute fares, which tend to be more expensive, so plan ahead and enjoy leisure or vacation fares at a lower cost.

Extra Costs

Be aware that the listed ticket prices might not include additional fees, such as baggage, seat selection, or onboard amenities. These extra costs can add up, so it’s essential to consider them in your budget. By researching and being aware of all costs involved, you can make a more informed decision and find the best-priced first class experience.

Fare Trends

Keep an eye on fare trends for first class flights. Airline ticket prices can fluctuate due to various factors, such as demand, time of year, and economic conditions. By tracking fare trends and being flexible with your travel dates, you can snag first class tickets at more affordable prices. Here are some average one-way ticket prices for first class domestically in recent years:

  • Alaska Airlines: $250
  • American Airlines: $350
  • Delta Air Lines: $420
  • United Airlines: $480

Remember, the key to finding the best price for first class flights is being flexible with travel dates, timing your purchase wisely, and accounting for all the extra costs that may come with the luxurious experience. Airline tickets get released one year prior to travel dates. Some of the cheapest first class airlines release the best fares right at the beginning, while others wait until the very last minute.

Planning Your First Class Trip

Business Trips

When planning your first class trip for business, your priorities often include comfort, convenience, and productivity. As a business traveler, you might be a frequent flyer with limited time to spare between meeting-packed days. For your US trips, consider flying with American Airlines, offering both Flagship First Class and Flagship Business Class seats.

For example, if you need to travel between New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, keep in mind that good times and little money spent on a comfortable flying experience can make a lot of difference in your work performance. Business class tickets are worth investing in the additional charges just for the comfort.

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Leisure Travel

If you’re planning a leisure trip with first-class travel, it’s essential to find the right balance between luxury and cost-effectiveness. Flying first class doesn’t have to drain your wallet, especially when you select airlines strategically. Some of the cheapest first class airlines have secret sweet spots that give regular people an opportunity to sit in those coveted first rows.

For instance, the Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways boasts some of the smallest differences between economy and first-class ticket prices. For longer international flights, consider using Asia Miles awards, as they have a distance-based award chart, allowing you to pay less than $75 in taxes and fees on most tickets.

When flying first class, remember to take advantage of the unique amenities and extras available to you:

  • Access to exclusive airport lounges
  • Priority boarding
  • Personalized entertainment systems
  • Gourmet meals and beverages
  • Enhanced personal space and comfortable seating

By carefully planning your first class trip, whether for business or leisure, you can ensure you get the most value for your money while enjoying an unparalleled flying experience.

FAQ: Cheapest First Class Airlines for Families


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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