Perhaps you are a veteran of the first-class experience. Or you are one who is constantly wondering about the activities that go on behind the closed and exclusive first-class cabins, once the elite passengers board the aircraft ahead of all the other passengers. Either way, and with this article, we shall delve into the splendor and mystique that is the first-class cabin and we will help you improve your knowledge of it all; explaining the high cost of the ticket and why business executives and frequent flyers prefer to buy first-class tickets.
First-class is really all about exclusivity and luxury. The first-class cabin is the best seating on an aircraft and is usually the most expensive too. There are several reasons why these tickets cost so much. Let’s talk about the space taken up by your first-class cabin. One first-class seat takes up the equivalent of four to six economy class seats. A first-class ticket will, therefore, cost four to six times more than an economy ticket and, once you add all the other additives and the privacy that it offers, then you realize that the ticket cost is worth its value. For example, if departing tomorrow on an economy class ticket booked on Emirates from Nairobi to Los Angeles, your ticket will likely cost you approximately $1,250. On the same aircraft, a first-class ticket holder will likely have bought her ticket at approximately $8,500. This is nearly six times more than an economy class ticket.
When it comes to buying your first-class ticket, you will want to pay attention to the restrictions given by the airlines. This includes the season of the year, the flight date and even the position of the seat. The revenue management of an airline controls the fares or prices of these tickets, and as we have previously advised, the fares are based on the demand for the tickets at the time of booking. An important rule when it comes to booking of any flights is that one should read and understand the restrictions given by the airline on each fare. For example, a flight to New York will cost approximately $2,900 for a flier who selected the first-class Saver option (discounted) with Emirates while their neighbor, who may have chosen the Flex-plus first-class ticket fare will have paid a higher fare at approximately $5,030. The difference is due to an extra restriction on the former's booking; they will have to pay a penalty to change anything on their ticket and the refundability of the ticket is also restricted. Therefore, restrictions play a big role in the price of a ticket; the higher the fare, the less the restrictions.
It all does sound a little complicated but as your travel agent, we will try and demystify it for you. When it comes to booking your ticket, every airline has a system of codes for each ticket purchased. A code usually has letters and numbers. Each letter or number on the code has a different meaning and helps travel agents and the staff of the airline to advise the customer on the rules and restrictions that apply to your fare. First-class tickets usually have the letters ‘F’ or ‘A’. If your ticket has the letter ‘F’, then it means that you have a full-fare first-class ticket. If it has the letter ‘A’, then it means that you have a discounted first-class ticket. You need to know your fare code because with it, you can check whether your ticket is upgradeable, refundable and the number of frequent flier miles you will earn on your trip. If using a travel agent to book your ticket, then your travel agent will inform you of the type of ticket that you have purchased and the restrictions, if any, on your fare.
When you are paying that much money for a first-class ticket, then your expectations for convenience are that much higher. For premium (full fare) first-class tickets, any sort of changes made to your travel, whether it is a change of travel dates or the name on the ticket, will cost you zero. Premium First-class tickets are also fully refundable. However, different airlines have different rules on the duration of time after which you cannot get a full refund. For Emirates, for example, you can get a full refund if cancellation is executed at least seven days before the flight. If you cancel your flight seven days or less before the date of the flight, you will have to pay a certain percentage of the price of the ticket as a penalty to get a refund. The closer it is to the day of the flight, the more you will have to pay. This, however, is still much better than the option of not getting any refund at all. Therefore, for those executives who have busy schedules that can change at any moment, then the first-class ticket is the best option for their travel.
Probably one of the best things about traveling first class is the space provided to stretch, walk, work and provide much-needed rest. This is great news for your health! For passengers with conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and rheumatoid arthritis, flying first-class reduces the possibility of getting swollen legs, locked knees or a blood-clot when the passenger has the space to move about during their flight.
Believe it or not, there are value savings associated with flying first class! Imagine a flight from Nairobi to Sydney. If flying with Qatar Airways via Doha, the duration of the flight is approximately 21 hours. If you choose to fly in economy class, you will need some hours (or days) to recover from the journey before your meeting. That means that you would need to spend at least two days on the journey to Sydney and two more days on your return journey back to Nairobi. You would then need to spend some extra money on expenses that include hotels, transport and food. On the other hand, a first-class passenger will arrive in Sydney well-rested and fresh and has the option to drive straight into a meeting, without the need of checking into a hotel. We have had some clients who have done exactly that, and once the meeting was concluded, they went straight back to the airport and into the next departing flight.
From the red-carpet reception to the shuttle in a Mercedes, Porsche or Limousine during your connections, the luxury that one experiences as a first-class passenger is top-notch. Many of the airlines will provide you with champagne and spa treatments from some of the world’s top luxury brands. Expect to find amenity kits from lines like Bulgari, Bric, Lalique and Aqua di Parma, as well as noise-canceling headphones from brands like Bowers and Wilkins. If you are celebrating a milestone, then you will want to make your holiday truly memorable, by flying first-class. Whether it is a honeymoon or an anniversary, treat yourself and your spouse to a first-class cabin experience. The heavenly treatment and experience will make your celebration a memorable one for a lifetime!
The Author is the Founder and CEO of Saffara Ltd
This article was published in the East African Newspaper on the week of Saturday the 1st of February, 2020, titled, "How to travel first class on your next international flight".....Click here to read the article