Inside access to premier lounges, shorter security lines, bigger seats, and hands-on service — this is the oh-so coveted experience of flying first class.

We walk past the seats every time we fly, and think to ourselves, is it really worth it?

On a short flight home from LAX to SFO this past month, a rare opportunity arrived upon us. A discounted upgrade to first class for only $55 per person. It was too hard to pass up. It had been a long time since flying first on United, and my husband and I thought, heck let’s go for the experience.

As we arrived to the security lines of Terminal 7 in the ever so hectic LAX, the $55 seemed immediately worth it. The single security gate had a line for as far as the eye could see. It was almost so daunting, that even with two hours before our flight at 10 pm, I though there could be a chance of missing our boarding. As we approached the security officer, we got ushered into the premier access lane and we didn’t have too wait at all. Straight into the security belt, and in five minutes we were through. I would of paid the money for that alone. 

Waiting as our airplane de-boarded and was doing pre-boarding checking, there was this calming feeling. I wasn’t going to have to push and shove to get a longed spot for my carry-on suitcase. Being one of the first 8 people to board, meant no rush for overhead space. But that was just the start. As you sit down, a stewardess kindly asks your drink of choice, and as you settle in, your drink is handed to you before the rest of the plane boards. 

The rest of the flight looked like complimentary cocktails, movies, snacks, legroom, and well, more cocktails. First on, first off. Cabin room. Private bathroom. Your own stewardess. Comfortable seats. 

So was first class worth it? I say no and yes. First class has its place in the “special” experiences. I can see why people will spill out thousands of dollars just to fly first. Though it’s not always financially affordable, I would say there is a time and place for the upgrade. I know many friends who have used their points on a special occasion to upgrade to first or business, or those who wait until getting to the airport in hopes of a more affordable upgrade (like ourselves). When it’s in price range, it definitely has its value. Longer flights, or trips in need of relaxation, an upgrade to first or business can completely change the tempo of a trip. I can honestly say the flying experience, though just a short ninety minute flight, was incredibly more relaxing.  

When the cost of the upgrade is a far cry away, there are definitely tricks of the trade when it comes to getting the coveted upgrade. I love this article from Skyscanner that talks about different ways to get bumped, like arriving early and dressing appropriately. Lifehacker shares the tact of just asking in this article and how it can be useful to just simply ask for the upgrade. Refinery 29 covers the importance of brand loyalty to get that occasional yet very rare bump into business. All of these posts give some great tips on how to get upgraded without the extra cost. 

Happy flying, and as always, travel well and travel often.

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