Flying first class can be affordable

Tom Parsons
The Dallas Morning News

If you want to get away this winter, you can fly in the front without breaking the bank. Just as we see coach fares drop during the slow season, we’ve found some bargain rates on winter flights in first class.

When you fly in the front cabin, you’ll get on and off the plane first, get free adult beverages and have a roomier seat with extra legroom.

Fares between big cities from Jan. 20-27 were often available for under $500.

Fares are typically cheapest for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Sometimes the cheapest fares were available other days of the week, but sometimes those other days were a lot more expensive. It doesn’t hurt to check your preferred dates and compare them to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

It’s also a good idea to check a flexible fare calendar when booking to see which dates offer the cheapest fares.

When flying in first class, you can get two free checked bags on Delta, United, Alaska and Virgin America and three free checked bags on American.

If you were flying in coach on American, you would typically be paying $25 for the first bag, $35 for the second and $150 for the third bag. Those fees are each way, so the total would be $420 for three bags round trip.

On the other carriers, you’d typically save $60 each way, or $120 round trip, on luggage fees with the two free bags allowance. Three free checked bags used to be the standard for first class, so in the coming months, we could see American lower its allowance to match the two free checked bags other carriers are now offering.

When you fly in coach class, the seats can be pretty close together, leaving you with little to no legroom.

In first class you’ll have up to 6 extra inches of legroom, plus you get a wider, roomier seat that will make your flight a lot more comfortable.

Another benefit of flying first class is skipping long lines at the airport. You’ll be able to bypass the lines full of coach-class travelers when you go in the special first-class lines for checking in, getting through airport security and boarding the plane. Your bags will get priority handling and they will be the first off the plane, so you won’t have to wait long at the luggage carousel.

If you’ve got a trip coming up, be sure to take a look at first-class fares. If the fare is good, you can get to and from your destination in comfort and style, without having to pay a lot of money for the privilege.