I want to write today to talk about the idea of flying first/business class vs. economy. Most people automatically assume that first/business class is out of range and reserved for a certain bracket of person. This is absolutely not true. It really comes down to doing your research.
The first rule of first class (or Fight Club) is you cannot be loyal to any one airline. You’ve must be open to all options. Once you’ve adjusted to all airlines, it gets easier to get up front.
About a year ago, I decided to start using Google Flights to compare/watch the costs of flights I was booking. I was doing a fly-date tour that was basically 3-4 nights a week. We’d go back home to Los Angeles each week. I noticed that I was about to pay $267 per person for a one-way economy flight from LAX to MCO and when I checked the seats they were a middle seats. I would need to pay $65 to upgrade to a window or aisle and I would need to pay $60 total for my 2 bags.
Each person was checking 2 bags, so I decided to do the math. I clicked on that “economy” button in the top right corner of Google Flights and it showed me the cost of the other levels. Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class. First class just happened to be $406 per person.
Economy = $392 per person. $267 + bag fees. ($35 for the 1st bag and $25 for the 2nd= $60), plus $65 for a window seat.
First = $406 per person. You get 2 bags free (up to 70 lbs!), and a ton of perks.
It was a no-brainer! $14 more per person and we were flying First, using a less crowded check in line, offered a different security line, and first onto the plane, getting a meal. Also, our bags were the first to come off the baggage claim.
We ended up flying first/business class on most flights for the rest of the year. We had finally cracked first class.
As a bonus I decided to start looking around for some good deals. Let’s look back at SXSW from March and leaving on the last Sunday like I always do. I search Google flights for AUS to LAX on 3/19. Some great deals on economy but the connections are long and I didn’t want to wait until evening. I’ll choose the 6:10 AM American flight for $304 because I want to get home and I don’t mind stopping in PHX for 26 mins, (and I’m really just looking for a good first class option).
Unfortunately, when I follow it to AA.com there are only middle seats. I can settle with $354 including the bag fees or pay upwards of $120 to get aisle/window on these two flights home. Basically, $470 or more to be comfortable.
But I don’t want to deal with the wait to get on the plane, sit next to the bathroom, wait till everyone is off the plane, then wait for my bag. So I look at the first class option. In Google Flights, you can head up to that little “economy” box in the upper right corner and change it to First.
Whoa! Yes, there are $446 options but look at the connections. I chose the United First Class for $490 before it was gone.
Want some more? We have a show in Asbury Park on Aug 9th. I almost booked us a killer deal on LAX > EWR for $552 per person on American first class. Then, I realized the United’s seats from LAX > EWR are LIE-FLAT for $662! Guess which one I bought?
I would love to hear if you’ve tried this method and I would love to know if it’s working for you. And please send me any other hacks you know. You can email me at: email@example.com
Scott Ellis is a seasoned touring pro. His road life has included being the long time drummer for She Wants Revenge as well as Tour Manager for She Wants Revenge, Mumiy Troll (from Russia), Fitz & The Tantrums, Asst Tour Manager for Jane’s Addiction, and current Tour Manager for Everclear’s summer tour. He’s also a former roadie for Elvis Costello and Beck. Scott ran the touring and day to day operations at Cast mgmt in LA (Dropkick Murphys, KT Tunstall) for 3 years before joining Eventric. He specializes in budget tours. Scott has spent considerable time and research documenting some fantastic touring tricks for the budget conscious touring professional, at any level. While still spending some time on the road drumming for She Wants Revenge, Scott runs the Eventric Los Angeles office and is available and ready to meet with anyone passing through or that calls the West Coast home.