Is First Class really worth it anymore?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by cptnkirk77, Apr 7, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. cptnkirk77
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    cptnkirk77 Silver Member

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    So I'm fairly new to the game, and I had my first award redemption flight 3 weeks ago when I went and visited some friends in England flying in AA business there and BA first back. For all intents and purposes, there weren't too many differences in my flying experiences for these two flights, other than the fact that I spent 25k more BA miles than I did AA. Don't get me wrong, I loved every second of the first class experience, I just didn't seem to notice enough of a difference between the two flights to warrant spending the substantial amount of miles upgrading to the next class in the future.

    I guess I do realize that these two are not necessarily the top tier airlines in the world when it comes to premium travel, but I feel like the best use of my hard earned miles would just be business class international trips from now on...Am I the only one who thinks this?
     
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  2. Aktchi
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    Aktchi Silver Member

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    I do, and tend to book in J even if I have sufficient miles for F.
     
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  3. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    I know you realize there is no one "right" answer. Each of us has different priorities and generates differing amounts of points/miles.

    I'm lucky and am able to use the cards in my dental practice and between labs and supplies, I get a bundle. Add all of the free miles in the last two years from credit card offers and I'm pretty flush. So again, my answer is only for me.

    I look at these miles as an opportunity to have the kind of experiences that will be a hoot and that I could not afford any other way. So I've done runs to get elite status with hotels so I could stay in suites that I NEVER would pay for but are an amazing experience. Would I ever spend $13,000 for First Class to Israel - no way in the world - but we're doing just than in May thanks to the BA Visa deals.

    So yes, First Class has been a lot of fun and we're glad we've been able to do it. I will not feel at all bad when we have to move down to Business - it's really fine and pretty much gives you all the stuff you "need"! But as I said, First is a hoot!
     
  4. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    To me it depends on what the airline is and how long the flight is. Also my answer might be different depending on the time of the day of the flight. Not a hassle to sit up all day in J on a day flight, but if it's overnight give me a bed anytime.

    Personally I love British Airways first class, I think it is streets above their J. However if I was doing a straight points booking I would probably go for the J seats only because we probably don't manufacture points quickly enough to do F all the time. When we redeem our companion tix it will be in F.
     
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  5. RedM3Pilot
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    RedM3Pilot Gold Member

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    This.

    And since I fly US and WN all the time, transpac business class on an Asian carrier is more than good enough for me.:D
     
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  6. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    I don't fly much for business, and when I did years ago it was always in coach (even IAD-LHR-BAH) so I'm not someone who is/was used to high end perks. My last three reward trips all happened to be in F, mainly due to availability. I will say I loved the FCT in FRA and won't forget that experience and wish I had the money to always do that however all I really need is some extra space and a good IFE (not much of a sleeper) and I'm more than happy. I'm not a high end food or drink person so the airline ends up saving some $$$ on me. It is nice receiving some extra perks/attention while flying F but you can easily get spoiled by up.

    Now that I am CP I spend too much time hoping I will get the free upgrade (on domestic flights) and am disappointed when I don't get it right away. If I book on another airline and get an extra row seat I don't have to worry about the upgrade or be disappointed that I didn't get it since it isn't expected.

    Kind of funny how your mind works.
     
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  7. RedM3Pilot
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    RedM3Pilot Gold Member

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    And that's the thing with the free domestic upgrades: we place a very high value on them and cherish them and never take them for granted...but we'll probably never pay for them (either cash or miles).
     
  8. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    To me, for many itineraries, the increment for first class over business isn't that many miles but the experience is worthwhile.

    It depends on the carrier and the route though. I'm on the East Coast, a short hop to London may not warrant the extra miles. But I'll always spring for F IAD-NRT-SIN for instance!
     
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  9. Mike1625
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    Mike1625 Silver Member

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    Part of what goes through my head is the diminishing returns of F over J when compared to J over Y. To me, getting out of Y on a long flight makes such a huge deal. Moving to F is nice, but getting to J was what really matters for my comfort.
     
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  10. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Depends, ultra long haul getting out of business and into first can be a pretty big jimp depending on carrier. AA/UA/BA/etc not so much. But CX J -> CX F is huge, and well work it for US - Hong Kong.
     
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  11. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    IMO, DL BE is better than a lot of long haul business class, but it depends dramatically on the aircraft (777-LR wonderful, 767-300 to be avoided if at all possible). On SQ, business class is frequently full, which is bad (sort of, SQ isn't really bad at all) with 2-3-2 seating on some aircraft.

    A lot of the difference between long-haul business class and IFC is in the quality of the champagne and wine, plus the addition of more courses and some luxury food items such as caviar. If you don't drink alcohol or don't appreciate fine wines and can't tell the difference between a bottle that sells for $30-50 retail versus $300 for instance, you miss some of what makes FC so special.

    Another element of the FC experience is dedicated IFC lounges, especially when owned and operated by top overseas carriers. Is the quiet, space, and lack of crowding worth it? Not by itself, but it's all part of the special pampering which can be an awful lot of fun.
     
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  12. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Don't minimize the importance of difference in seat. And I'm not just talking recliner vs lie flat. A real suite product for long haul, combined with a serene and uncrowded cabin (CX 777 has 6 pax when full) means that you get off on the other end relaxed and rested. And not "ambien and slept in business" rested either. :)

    I'd still agree the most important thing is to get out of Y if possible. But the best carriers with the best seats make a difference. And yes of course good ground service with escorts to your plane and immigration assistance, creating a seamless and stress free overall journey, are certainly worth a non-zero amount (and to me generally well worth the increment in miles).
     
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  13. deant
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    deant Milepoint Guide

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    There are numerous things you need to look at. Yes you spent 25K more on BA for a F seat vs a C seat on AA. However, you really need to compare F vs C on one airlines award chart because different airlines have different redemption requirements. For example, a C US to Europe saver ticket is 50,000 miles. The same flight in F is 62.500. So only a difference of 12,500 miles. You are also throwing a different carrier into the mix. Some carriers have better / worse C or F service than other airlines. There are also perks that come with one carrier vs another. For example, LH has a tremendous F lounge / terminal in MUC and FRA much better than anything any other carrier has. The service on LH is also significantly better than UA. However, both are part of *A and, if you use UA, CO or US miles, both carriers cost the same.

    That being said, my wife and I would prefer to fly F if at all possible. We believe it is worth the difference in miles / points. I am not saying that I would not fly C, I definitely would. But if given the opportunity, I would make sure I had enough miles to fly F.
     
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  14. CDKing
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    CDKing Gold Member

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    Especially when its a 30K difference in points needed :)
     
  15. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    I'm actually rather surprised that there is a thread questioning if First Class is really worth it on MP....
     
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  16. TennisPro
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    TennisPro Silver Member

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    To me, the "incremental cost" of F over J, is an important consideration, as well as the overall product, length of flight, and if it's sleepytime.

    For instance, if you're using AA miles round-trip, F might be 125K vs. 100K for J. That's 25% more, or at a valuation of 1.5 cents per mile, it's $375 more.

    If you're using BA miles round-trip, F might be 150K vs. 100K for J. That's 50% more, or at a valuation of 1.5 cents per mile, it's $750 more.

    So, if I'm using AA miles, I would be more inclined to splurge, then if using BA miles, all else being equal.

    To me, first is a treat, but not necessary.

    And probably no one will agree with me on this, but on one occassion, I enjoyed sitting next to my girlfriend in E+ on the way there, more than being in suites, but separated, on the way back. That's probably an anamoly, and that feeling may fade with time, but hopefully not.

    So, if you like your seat partner, J is good, or even E+. If you are solo on the flight, and don't know who your seat partner will be, and you have that bad feeling in the pit of your stomach that they will be really smelly, then F is worth it at any price.
     
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  17. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    While I must admit that Lufthansa first is a real treat, I am also perfectly happy in UA biz. I love the new entertainment centers.

    I lett you know how I feel about AA biz when we fly them next month.

    As dismal as domestic first is, I really will do most anything to stay out of coach.
     
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  18. travelgourmet
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    travelgourmet Silver Member

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    If one is talking about a redemption of some sort (upgrades from J, straight redemption, etc), then F over J can be worth it, depending upon the carrier and the route. If paying in cash, I would say that I would never pay the kind of premiums that one often sees. To my mind, the primary reason to even pay a mileage premium would be to go from recliner/lie-flat to a flat bed. I could also see paying the premium to upgrade from an average flat-bed J seat to a high-quality suite.

    I've seen this argument before and, frankly, don't agree. Even when talking mileage amounts, I don't think the math adds up. For starters, we are not talking $300 bottles of wine in F, at least not that I have ever heard of. For example, this link is about SQ's launch of 'rare' wines in their suites:

    http://biztravelguru.com/blogs/airl...ines-in-singapore-suites-and-first-class.aspx

    Don't get me wrong, these are not 2-Buck-Chuck, but 4 of them are sub-$100 wines, mostly in the mid-60s, and look to be readily available. The other 2 are above $100, but look to be in the $150-range, which would put them in the range of the Dom or Krug that they also serve. So, let's assume that one drinks a full bottle of their most expensive wine. That would provide value of $150.

    As for the food, let's compare it to a top restaurant. If one believes the San Pellegrino ratings, then noma is the best in the world. The tasting menu at noma, complete with top-notch service, and which lasts 4 hours is DKK 1095, or a bit over $200. Now, I haven't flown in an SQ suite, but I have eaten at noma. I'd be absolutely stunned to find that SQ can equal, in the air, the dining experience that you get at noma. So, I think we need to discount the dining cost by up to 50%. This gives us a value for the food on SQ in the $100 to $150 range.

    So, we have food and beverage that I struggle to see having a value over $300, each way. Now, if you are especially flush with miles or points, then spend away, but for even those that earn 100k or so miles in a year, I think one can find much better value for their miles than buying up for the food and wine in international F.
     
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  19. boxedlunch
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    boxedlunch Silver Member

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  20. Aktchi
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    Aktchi Silver Member

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    I actually like 3-buck-chucks (price in my area) quite a lot. Never tried against $100 bottles but I prefer them to many $25's. I guess I am simply not F material. :)
     
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  21. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Or in the case of LH F, you're still pretty cozy with your stranger seatmate! Of course on those 747s they're starting to assign empty seats next to each passenger solving that problem.

    Though I very much like my seatmate, when it's msgleff, we still enjoy F. In CX F she can come over and site next to me in my seat mid-flight. Which I guess, for that brief period, makes it closer to CX Y...
     
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  22. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    How sad: Your bride visits you in flight and this makes it temporarily seem like coach rather than FC to you.:p:eek:;):D
     
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  23. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Why? Every decision we make and debate here is about getting the most value for the miles we earn.

    I happen to agree with the OP that, for the flights I've experienced it on, the incremental upgrade to F just isn't worth it. Even at only 15-20K each way for the upgrade I don't think that the up-charge is worthwhile. With LH the FCL/FCT is nice enough but doesn't outweigh the fact that in-flight the product is sub-standard, arguably worse than the C product on some partners. I happily trade 2 hours in the nicer lounge for 10 hours in the nicer in-flight product.

    FWIW, I feel similarly about the VS UC product - it just doesn't live up to the hype.

    Everyone has their own priorities.
     
  24. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Oh I was saying that's when it was pretty great to have the space as in economy :D
     
  25. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    My thoughts are that today's J is often better than F in years gone by and I'm perfectly happy with the product regardless of the airline though as has been established and true, not all j or even f is created equal.

    In three class service, I don't think of any instance where I'd use miles or money to jump classes. Each has their own perspective, my three are: 1) I'd rather throttle miles out and enjoy more instances of J than to go all in and have fewer "better" experiences with F. 2) By using J as my standard redemption choice and since I believe that today's J is better than F of 10 years or more ago, it's my own mental way of thinking that I've evened up any mileage inflation for these types of international awards since J is less than F in your three-class award system. 3) With alliance choices and best planning, i can move redemption choices around to ensure a better selection of the product within the J inventory by multiple carriers ensuring that one carriers J might be better than another's F.
     
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