Is First Class Really Worth It?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by giocatoredoro, Nov 7, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. giocatoredoro

    giocatoredoro Silver Member

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    Unlike most people on here, and most bloggers, I feel First/Business Class is absolutely not worth it. Sometimes I'll get upgraded to First, and it's a nice treat, but I think redeeming miles (and especially paying $$) for First/Business an absolute waste.

    This is why: Let's take a common example - a trip to South Asia region (common trip where people say it's "absolutely worth it") utilizing United or AA miles. I'm assuiming a 1.8 cents per mile valuation (reasonable).

    On United it's 65k round trip saver, or 120k in Business. The "value" of redeeming miles for this award is $1,170 and $2,160, respectively.This is a difference of $990, or roughly $495 each way.

    Is it worth an extra grand to fly in a slightly bigger chair (potentially lie-flat)? I don't think so, but some people do, and this is often debated. However what if someone told you, you will get a free iPad ($495 value) and a $500 gift card if you sit in coach instead of Business for the trip. When I present this example to people, without fail, they choose the coach option. For good measure, everytime I redeem miles in coach, I buy myself a decent gift and I still come out ahead on a valuation basis.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    I think it is all well and good to value the difference the way you do, to each their own, but realize there are differences between people.

    I don't travel but rarely for my work so the large marjority of my travel is pleasure, for me my vacation time is a valuable, limited commodity. I save my miles/points for those valuable redemptions because frankly I don't have the vacation time to justify saving it for another trip. I would rather pay for coach(which is affordable for me most of the time) and save for the special trips up front( which I wouldn't contemplate purchasing outright) If am going to spend 2+ days out of my vacation traveling I want make the travel part of it not just a ride.
     
  3. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint! :) . As long as the flight is not extremely long, economy class can make a great deal of sense.
    As you point out the money saved over business class can be applied to other things. On a trip the extra cash can be used for dining, lodging, day trips or even great souvenirs. There are a few airlines that do the premium cabins so well it can be a real experience, however most airlines do not.
    Unless the airline has a truly outstanding premium class product and you have the means for the experience, your knees may be better off protruding into the seat in front of you. :D
     
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  4. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Depends on the airline and equipment. I'm less likely to redeem miles for an all-United Biz/First itinerary. If it's Cathay, Swiss, Singapore, etc. Biz/First then different story.
     
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  5. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    ...and Emirates!
     
  6. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    An important factor is scarcity of resources. If you have more miles (or dollars) than you know what to do with, then by all means, sit in front.
     
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  7. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I think when most people assign a value, it's more of an accounting measure. I already traveled. I already earned the miles. I just want to make sure I get a good reward when I redeem the miles. I don't want to waste them on some incredibly cheap flight when I could use them for something more expensive.

    If you offered me a free iPad or cash for them instead, sure, I'd take it. But the airline is not giving me an option to cash out at 2 CPM or whatever. So I opt for a more comfortable seat instead.
     
  8. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    I've only flown LH and TK F (when it was still flying) so I may be biased but F is worth every mile it takes to fly.
     
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  9. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I would probably not redeem for domestic F. I'll get a coach seat and hope for an upgrade since I have a UA CC. But if it's an international itinerary, yes, C or F. No Y.
     
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  10. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Exactly! when redeeming miles for J/F its not like the airline will cash you out.

    The reason why i prefer coach > prem is more trips down the road. I'm still youngish. Once I'm older and hopefully richer, then I can enjoy the prem cabins.
     
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  11. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I definitely pay for coach. I don't have that kind of money to buy a business class seat.
     
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  12. giocatoredoro

    giocatoredoro Silver Member

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    Hey all, thanks for the warm welcome, and all of your comments! To answer the redemption comment, redeeming for something premium may give you a mental sense of "worth" but would you actually value that as twice as valuable as international coach travel?

    Yes the airline is NOT giving you an opportunity to cash out at 2CPM, but they are allowing you the opportunity to go on two trips instead of one, as most Business redemptions are 2x the price.

    Finally the one point I do agree with is the scarcity of resources point. I mean if you only have one week of vacation per year and earn 200,000+miles/yr, then yes it makes sense to redeem for F/B, but it STILL does not mean it is a good value.

    Interesting comments, thanks!
     
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  13. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    I did the math a few weeks ago when I did my first UA redemption. 7 J vs 12 Y :)
     
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  14. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think you'll find that it depends on your situation... if you have millions of miles, and tons upon tons of miles coming in somehow, then you find that burning them on F redemptions is not that bad. Granted, you're not gonna go crazy and spend a million miles on a Delta flight, but it's not that big of a deal.

    It's just like the people that actually pay $20k for a revenue seat in F. Either someone else is footing the bill or they have the resources and really don't care about the cost.

    And it also depends on the redemption itself. A lot of people think that a flight to Europe from the East Coast or a transcon is absolutely fine in Y, since you're probably not going to enjoy the flight anyway if you're in front. But if you're doing Europe from LAX or a 14 hour flight to Asia, all of the sudden a nice meal service and an extra nice seat / flat bed is really, really appealing.
     
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  15. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    There are a few other factors which affect my decision. My flights have all been on miles in recent years (I fly a few times a year and acquiring miles is fairly easy for me).
    If I'm on a long flight (coast to coast in my case), a first class seat is more comfortable. I'm 6'2", 200+ pounds, so size of seat and leg room make a difference for me. Flying first class means no baggage fees, so there's money saved.
    And many times I can find better connections and timing of my flights if I'm willing to spend the extra miles. Then you add in quicker lines thru security, quicker boarding, better food (or any food), etc. Putting it all together, it's worth spending some extra miles. YMMV
     
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  16. giocatoredoro

    giocatoredoro Silver Member

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    That's a valid point. I'd like to add the first class lounges can be great also! To your other points: priority access / boarding can be acquired with the Airlines' credit card, or usually with any type of elite status, so that negates that point. I'm assuming if you have enough miles for a first class redemption, you probably can get priority boarding. How much do you really value better food? $25 bucks a flight, if that?

    My personal reasoning for why people THINK it is worth it, is the same reason I used to pay $60 for a Hugo Boss undershirt-even though the price tag doesn't justify the product, it makes you FEEL GOOD. There's something about sitting in First class and seeing everyone just walk past you that is immediately gratifying, despite how wrong that sounds!
     
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  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Agreed, but there is also a middle ground, also based on knowing what one wants and available resources...

    I have a simple rule: for a trip of less than 5 hours, I could not care less whether or not I fly in the premium cabins. For longer trips, it becomes important to me because, let's face it, it is simply uncomfortable to just sit there like a sardine in a can for hours, requiring one to waste time at destination recovering! Every year, I do 4-6 trips with a long segment of more than 5 hr each way (trying going to MEL!) so that sitting in Y, even Y+, could be taxing. Fortunately and thanks to sites like MP where one can learn the tricks, I have found the following to be an economical way to fly upfront as often as possible...for my pattern of travel:

    1. Achieve top elite status and then depend on upgrades.
    2. Use miles to fly in premium cabins.

    The above works great for me and it is even self-sustaining. Doing 4-6 long-haul trips a year (mostly for 'business') guarantees that I will achieve top elite status, while also accumulating loads of miles (counting in the 100% top elite bonus), which will improve my chances for upgrades and my ability to easily redeem for premium cabins. Recycle as necessary...
     
  18. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint!

    I frequently pay for C or F, and almost never fly Y. Why? Almost everywhere i go is 10 hours or more nonstop, and usually followed by a connection. I often must immediately work on arrival. Serious comfort and a lie-flat bed are cheaper for me than losing a day or more of billable hours. I regularly pay for F on EK, LH and JJ. I also regularly pay for C or use SWU's or miles to upgrade on AA, US and DL, although lately it has been mostly SWU's with the odd milage upgrade thrown in. When I am forced to fly BA:( I try to use useless Avios but usually must pay, but I luckily can avoid them more than about once per year.

    However, domestic US I always by Y and then upgrade, which works almost always for me on AA, US and DL (status helps!). I also fly Y domestic Brazil, where there mostly is no C/F and intra-Europe where I'm generally upgraded but would not usually pay for it.

    There is a reason why there are larger Y cabins than C or F. Most people with the money or not, do not see those classes as a good value proposition. That is well and good. Luxury goods usually represent a poor value proposition for people who do not want the particular item in question. To make an analogy, I'd never buy a Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini nor a Rolex. Some people do. Even the air charter business is part fo this equation with LH and DL both running fleets of private jets. It is easy to make a case for those too, for some people, while for most people that is insanity.

    Viva la difference!
     
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  19. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    well put, I've done too much time in the back of military cargo jets/props doing long haul (anytime aerial refueling and C130 go in the same sentence, comfort is not a descriptor) trying to get comfortable on pallets etc. to not appreciate a chance to fly in a bed. The old Freedom Bird L-1011 from SEA to Iwakuni, Japan was enough to convince me to hate flying long haul in coach.
     
  20. drewbles
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    drewbles Gold Member

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    I can redeem 96000 miles and a few hundred dollars to fly MEL-LAX in business class. That's 15 hours and a fare worth around $5k. For the same miles and few hundred dollars I could get around $2000 in other redeemable value. Being 6'4" I'll use my points for premium long haul travel (the joys of living down under).
     
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  21. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    For US Airways, Y to HKG is 60K, C is 90K, F is 120K.

    I often get US miles at around a cent a mile, sometimes less. Is going from Y to C worth $300 to me, for the time equivalent of two nights in a hotel (figuring 10+ hours of flying)? Yes.

    FWIW, you could argue that you could save money on a trip by spending nights in a hostel instead of a Hilton- and lots of people travel inexpensively that way.

    What it boils down to is that I realistically can take one trip a year longhaul outside the USA, when I boil off the broth of time off of work, etc. I generate more than enough miles to have that trip be in C or F. And I can't take the miles with me, so I might as well use them. I have in the past traveled international Y and lived to tell the tale, but now that I generate enough miles to do it in C or F...

    Completely agree. WN is fine for my short to midhaul trips.
     
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  22. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    The last two times I fly in first cross country I had no status with the airline and no credit card that gave me any perks. Again, YMMV
     
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  23. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

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    You must flirt a lot.

    It really does boil down to personal wants. The OPs offer of ipad and money would very much depend on length of flight and the metal. If i were being offered that over first class singapore airlines...I would laugh in your face, respectfully!
    Using the analogy of hostel v. Hilton rings true to me. In my 20's I hostelled a lot. Now in my mid 40'S i want more comfort. I want more comfort now period! :)
     
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  24. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    Are you hiring? :cool:

     
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  25. Minnesota Bruin
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    Minnesota Bruin Silver Member

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    For my longhaul flights I'm usually upgrading with a SWU/GPU. Mrs. Bruin does not look kindly if I book her a Y award on those flights...
     
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