Please sign in to post.

Airline Seats

My husband and I are traveling to Europe (Nice > Rome > Florence > Salzburg > Munich) in May 2017 and I have a couple airline questions.

  1. Should we book Economy or upgrade for our longest flight (~8 hours) which is a red-eye? We are 5'6" and 6", thin in body size and I've heard upgrading is often worth it for longer travel and the leg space; your thoughts?
  2. Along those same lines, I've been looking through Skyscanner and Kayak for tickets and I'm not seeing an option to upgrade only one flight. It seems you can either search in Economy, Business, or First class for all your flights. Any suggestions on only upgrading our longest flight using these search engines?
  3. We're flying one-way so we can fly home (Minneapolis, MN) through Munich. Right now, November 2016, one-way tickets for May 2017 are about $900 from Minneapolis to Nice. Tickets from Munich to Minneapolis are around $600. Are these prices reasonable or should I hold off and wait for prices to drop?

I haven't flow international to Europe since 2003 and my husband hasn't been out of the country, he's very excited! I realize international travel has likely changed a lot in the past 10+ years, so any other suggestions on airline travel is appreciated! Thanks!

Posted by
16883 posts

Use the "multiple city" search feature of any airline site to fly into Nice and out from Munich on one ticket. This will almost always be cheaper than two one-way tickets. You're basically buying a roundtrip price but splitting the difference (if any) in the price for each city.

I would not pay for business class (assuming it's quite expensive). It would much cheaper to buy an "extra" night at a hotel and sleep all day. If you're looking for just the $100-ish upgrade to something like "Economy Comfort", then that is offered later in the booking process and is sold per leg.

Posted by
21709 posts

Use various search engines (Orbitz, Kayak, etc.) to get a feel for the prices. Use multi-city for your searches. Once you id flights and schedule go to the airline itself and price the tickets. Often the tickets via the airline will be the same as the third party tickets but sometimes cheaper. If the same or cheaper buy through the airline site so that you are dealing with the airline directly should something go wrong with the flights. On the airline sites it is easy to see the upgrade options. Personally if you can afford business class it is more than worth it on the overnight flight. The big difference with international flight between 03 and now is the substantial reduction in personal space (very tight seats in economy) and service level. The additional space in econ plus is worth the cost difference even for skinny people.

Right now for a mid May trip into Nice and home from Munich I see tickets at $1000 - $1100/person. Personally I think that is a good rate with good flight options. You might watch it for awhile but doubt if you will see it significantly lower. Might drop into $900 - $1000. And it could go up also.

Posted by
13058 posts

You aren't flying all those cities,,are you? Rome to Florence, for example, is faster and easier by train. And Florence to Salzburg is not likely to be a direct flight. If you have to connect somewhere and flights do not line up well, you could end up with 8 hours of travel by the time you factor in getting to the airport and security clearance wait time.

Also, your Intra-Europe flights are best done as one-ways booked with the budget carriers like EasyJet, not tacked on as segments of your international flight.

So---you want to fly Minneapolis to Nice ( you will have to stop and connect somewhere on the way as there are no direct flights) and Munich to Minneapolis, again likely with a connection. Whether you can book the long-haul in Economy Comfort and the short hop within Europe in Economy depends on the airline chosen. To get to Nice, you can use Air France and British Airways, and maybe others. I know that on BA, Economy Comfort is a separate class which you must choose at the outset--- not a seating choice which you could be offered later in the booking process. But the short-haul,planes do not have Comfort, just two classes. So you are not forced into a higher-priced class for the short flight.

Delta used to offer Comfort seats as a choice in the booking process (or added later) for about $80 on their long-haul flights but I don't know if they still do.

Short answer---it varies by airline and you will just have to check around. BTW, those prices for one-way trips look fine to me, but you should compare to booking multi-city, into Nice and back from Munich.

Posted by
95 posts

We always get the Economy comfort seats from Delta for the long segment. The seats are the exact same size but you have about 6 inches of extra legroom. I'm 5'6 so it really doesn't matter but my DH is 6'6 and that makes a difference with him being able to sit with his legs straight in front of him rather than spread-eagle on either side of the seat in front of him. Whether you should book Business or higher is only something you can decide, based on how much you have to spend and whether you think it's worth it.

I second what the previous poster said about looking up your flights but then buying them directly from the airline. And yes, more than likely you want an open jaw rather than two one way tickets. So choose the multi-city option.

have fun!

Posted by
1804 posts

We flew to Europe twice last year. The first time we flew nonstop from Atlanta to Rome. With our accumulated SkyMiles, we paid $480 each for first class. The jet had fully reclining seats, so we slept most of the way over. On our second trip, we flew nonstop Atlanta to Amsterdam. It was part of a package so we flew Economy. Needless to say, it was not nearly as comfortable.

I suggest booking at least Economy Comfort. I recently flew to Alaska for business. I flew Economy Comfort, which was an acceptable compromise.

I did a quick check of Delta. Prices around your time frame went from $1100 Economy --> $1700 Delta Comfort + --> $3000 First Class per person round trip. You need to look at the difference between buying two one way tickets each compared to open jaw where you fly into one city and fly out of another.

Is this a once in a lifetime trip? How long will you have? Don't underestimate the value of arriving more refreshed and ready to go. It might be worth the extra amount to bump up to Economy Comfort.

Finally, how firm is your itinerary? You'll have to fly into Paris, then to Nice. You might get a better rate if you can fly into a larger city then take. For instance, you can take the train from Paris to Nice for as little as 25 Euros if you book in advance. If you buy the day of the trip, the rate goes to 129 Euros for second class.

Posted by
2560 posts

I'm pretty short (5'6") and my wife is shorter. Having said that, flying economy across the pond is terrible for us. I have an arthritic knee and can't find a comfortable spot. The recline is not enough to get into a deep sleep. The economy plus, or whatever name each airline has it, has been great for us. We just booked British Airways for next summer, a direct flight from the west coast, where, in addition to a seperate cabin, the food is what they are serving in business class- they call it World Traveler Plus. I don't know of other airlines who do that. Not that we'd expect a Michelin star, but hopefully better than coach. We now fly economy plus for anything over 5 hours. Our flight back from Spain this summer was changed at the last minute and we were upgraded to business/first on a two cabin plane. That was fabulous! But buying those seats outright will require I win the lottery!

Posted by
167 posts

I never thought that business class was worth it until I was mysteriously upgraded to business class for both legs of a return flight from Vienna to Madrid and then home to Charlotte, NC. I knew it was different on the other side of the curtain, but I had no idea how much better I feel during and after the flight..not to mention the food and wine service.
It also makes the flight a pleasurable adventure instead of an ordeal.
I am not at all wealthy so I needed to figure out how to fly business for very little money. I have been successful so far with using credit cards to accrue bonus mile offers on American, United, Delta, and British Airways.
Using my strategies, I have flown business on my 2 yearly trips to Europe for the past 4 years. And I have enough in my AA, United and BA miles to do this well into 2018 when I will apply for the next round of bonus miles offers to continue the business class to Europe travel.
I am not any smarter than the average RS poster but just do the research in order to achieve my goal!

Posted by
400 posts

I'd sit on an apple box if I could save some $$$ on the flight. I've never upgraded and probably never will see the need for it. Airlines have to provide a minimal level of comfort and for me, that's good enough.

Posted by
9689 posts

Oh gosh, I always upgrade to comfort or whatever it's called for the long segment. I'm willing to pay for the extra leg room even though I am only 5'6" (or possible 5'5" due to old age setting in!). The first time I flew to Europe in decades was in 2013. I signed up for the upgrade then they changed the plane and we lost our seats so I got stuck in the middle of the middle row of economy. I will not do that again...and I learned to check every couple of weeks to see if there are equipment changes too!

If your husband doesn't have a passport, have him go ahead and apply. This time of year is supposedly a slack time. Spring is a very busy time so it's better to go ahead and get it.

Once you get to your airline website to book you'll be given the choice of a seat upgrade.

Posted by
21709 posts

Please, Warren, do not give the airlines ideas. Air Canada will see that and pretty soon they will post that our customers really like apple boxes.

Posted by
5125 posts

Sometimes airlines offer the upgrade to economy comfort after you buy your ticket. I flew KLM for 4 long haul flights last summer (8-9 hours each). I went from economy to economy comfort for about $125 a flight. My best score was on check in for my last flight back to Vancouver from Amsterdam. I was offered a business class upgrade for $295. I didn't have to think twice!

This summer I am traveling with frequent flier miles so it is business on the way there and coach on the way back since that matched the number of miles I had. I did pay to select my seat in advance on the coach flight to maximize comfort. I think it is simply a matter of personal preference.

I do suggest not sitting in bulkhead seats in economy comfort. You end up with no place to put things since there is no seat back in front of you. Your legroom can be an illusion if you are in the center section because your fellow passengers mistakenly view this as an aisle......

Posted by
367 posts

I was lucky to be upgraded to business on a flight from Zurich to San Francisco and it was wonderful. Since I can only manage one trip every year or other year due to having to work :-(, I have decided to save my money and go business. I did manage to get a very good deal on business from SFO to CGD on Air France this year as I am spending Christmas in Paris. It is so nice arriving relaxed and feeling good, instead of tired, achy and stressed after your flight. Plus, it is just plain nice to be pampered. A great way to start a vacation.

However, what I have noticed is that a lot of the airlines are adding another class of seats that are economy plus. Bigger seats, own space on the plane and better food. That seems a good way to go in the future.

Posted by
351 posts

Whether you can mix classes on a multi-leg journey might depend on the airline. I know the one time I tried it - Icelandair - their policy was that I'd need to upgrade all 4 legs and not just my overnight leg.

It's probably worth calling the airline directly before you book.

Posted by
2005 posts

Hopefully the OP has already bought their seats since this thread was last active in November

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for all the suggestions! You're suggestions were all very helpful!

We did an open-jaw, heading to Nice from Minneapolis, MN and coming home through Munich. With credit card miles we got two tickets with our long flights upgraded to Economy Plus, for the price of one ticket ($700).

Thanks, all!