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How to Get Into First Class

Find out how you can move to the head of the class--for less--on your next flight.

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Every business traveler wants to sit in a big seat at the front of the plane, but getting an these days is increasingly difficult. I caught up with Matthew Bennett, who runs upgrade advice site FirstClassFlyer.com, for tips on how you can sit in first or without breaking your budget.

  • Get What You Ask For. With so many new, low, domestic first-class fares in the marketplace, always ask for the lowest heavily discounted first-class fares before upgrading with miles. For example, if you call to use your miles to upgrade from to , they'll tell you the lowest upgradeable economy fare is $958 round trip, plus 30,000 hard-earned miles. But ask for the lowest heavily discounted first-class fare, and you'll be quoted $722 round trip--no miles required!
  • Combine Business and Pleasure. You can usually add a few vacation days in exotic places like Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean for little or no extra money. For instance, these days you can pay as little as $1,100 for a first-class trip between and Los Angeles. Book Boston to Los Angeles to Honolulu to Boston, and the cost is only about $200 more. In effect, this gives you an incredibly cheap first-class to Honolulu--and a nice mini-vacation to tack on to your business trip to Los Angeles.
  • Asian Sojourn? Check out Asiana and Malaysia , which offer free upgrades to those paying full-economy fares. There's nothing better than getting a deal on a business-class seat (for a good night's sleep) on those 12- to 15-hour slogs across the Pacific.
  • Get a Better Coach Seat. For about $500 more than a normal coach ticket, international long-haul carriers like ANA, British Airways, EVA, Singapore and offer premium economy seats, which are wider and spaced a bit farther apart than those in the standard coach section.

Chris McGinnis is author The Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.

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