How to Sneak Into First Class

Let’s be honest, flying on an airplane these days is a terrible experience. Some airlines are charging extra for everything from food to pillows while others have threatened to create a standing-room-only section. And of course, we can’t forget about the other passengers on the flight, our sympathetic but grouchy fellow travelers who are only growing more bitter and aggressive as these new rules make flying more stressful.

All of this has only made the prospect of flying first-class seem that much more alluring. Imagine sipping mimosas while reclining in a plush seat without having to bicker with the people around you for legroom. All you have to do is pop in a CD of waves falling on a beach and it’s like you’re in paradise. Unfortunately, as we all know, you have to pay through the roof for this privilege.

According to one estimate by ABC News, a first-class cross-country flight in the U.S. can cost more than $5,000 round-trip, whereas it costs less than a 10th of that to fly in coach. And that’s a domestic flight. Flying first-class internationally can cost you several thousand more.

ABC recently gave a few trips travelers can try to score a bargain-priced first-class upgrade. They may not always work but they are at least worth a shot. Our personal favorite is to do the unthinkable and show up to the airport a full 24 hours before your flight checks in to find out in person if there are any tickets left. “The reason airlines offer discounted upgrades at this point, is because if they haven't gotten rid of these pricey seats yet, they make nothing on them. So they'll take what they can get, even if it means a big discount,” ABC reports.

If this plan doesn’t suit you, LifeHacker recommends going to the other extreme. “Dress smart and arrive as late as possible… [then] tell the airline it is because of a terrible experience you had with their competitor. Sometimes if they think they have the potential to win the business of a frequent flyer from another carrier, they might put you in first class, space permitted, since you are in an emotional state.”

And if all else fails, your best bet might just to be to find a random attractive person on your flight and buy them a cheap engagement ring. Several travelers have found that couples claiming to be on their honeymoon are often given preferential treatment and offered a discounted upgrade to first class.

For those of you who would rather forego these antics for something more certain, certain airlines do offer moderately priced upgrades for passengers in coach. For example, AirTrain has an upgrade to business class that starts at just $49.

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