Our family is flying to London this summer. We purchased economy seats. There are many available seats on first class. I can upgrade with miles and $500 per person. Would it be cheaper if we wait until a few days before we travel?
If you can swing it, lock the seats in now!
If you need to use miles AND $500 per person to upgrade you need to decide if that is really worth it for a flight that is how long? I get offers to upgrade to first class from here in Hawaii to Seattle every time I fly and when I add up the additional costs, it comes out to being half of another coach ticket. I would rather fly in coach, hopefully in an emergency exit seat (like tomorrow) and save the extra cost to fly again.
Flying 1st Class on an international flight gives many benefits beyond merely a larger, more comfortable seat: - early boarding - a better chance of being able to sleep - far better customer service from beginning to end of journey - quicker, more attentive food and beverage service and far better food quality - quieter flight time - priority luggage handling, can take more baggage w/ no fees, if you need that - priority access to Passport Control (at least I had this on a Business Class flight once, so would expect it for 1st Class as well) - use of the airline's 1st Class Lounge prior to boarding and during any layover - complimentary alcoholic beverages, I think, if you drink in-flight - complimentary newspapers & magazines - cleaner in-flight bathrooms - higher quality blankets and pillows
- I'm sure there's more but can't think of them at the moment I'd say you have to decide if these things are important enough to spend both hard-earned miles and money on. Also, it depends on the type of plane you are flying on. On some it would not be worth it because of how 1st Class is configured. Others, where 1st Class is a completely separate area at the front of the plane where other passengers do not even walk through and each passenger has a pod-like space with fully-flat reclining seat - very worth it, in my opinion.
Roger I don't know how long your flight is, from where I live its like 13-14 hours, and so for me, I would jump at a chance to pay only 500 dollars more for first class.. but if flight was 6 -7 hours I wouldn't bother. I would book seats now if that was the deal, I wouldn't wait to see if they had enough left later, unless of course some members of your family don't mind sitting in coach while others get to sit up front! lol
We always fly business class to London and overseas. We have the luxury of using our son's frequent flyer miles though. Your plan sounds like a great offer to me, especially for first class. We feel it is so worth it to fly business or first class. The flight to London is a long one. You get the beds in business and first class. You also get to make use of the lounge before you board. That is really a nice option.
Wow - what Rose said! If I were on your flight, I might have already taken your first-class spots :-( Nothing gets cheaper a few days before travel with the airlines! GRAB 'EM!!!
On my last 2 trips, I flew business class on Lufthansa and Swiss. On each (both ways) the security screening was separate and unhurried; the service was exemplary, the seat moved in every direction and the bathroom was closer. Eight hours or more in a metal tube is not pleasant; if you can afford to spend the $500, spend it to feel better.
In addition to everything Rose said, I have two more things to add. 1. On many flights to London, there are three classes. So, business class has the perks she mentioned, and first class has even nicer seats and some more perks. Remember that these days, the seats in non-coach classes convert to beds; read the various online reviews to see if they sound comfortable to you (there are various kinds, and some are not a good match for some people). 2. On British Air, both business and first class arriving passengers can use the special BA arrivals lounge. You get a shower, a massage (by a person if you booked in advance, in a massage chair otherwise), and a hot breakfast (buffet for business, waiter service for first class). A friend of mine got to use this, and said he almost felt human by the time he was ready to leave the airport. Just hearing about it, I was very jealous. I don't know if other airlines have similar arrangements (he said American Airlines did not, but of course, these things change).
You don't indicate which airline, so I'm not sure how "flat" you can get, but being able to flatten out and sleep is a big bonus for arrival. We've flown direct and through JFK and Chicago -we've always wanted to sleep. You should also be eligible shorter check-in and security lines, plus lounge use. As mentioned, some airlines will allow you to use their lounges on arrival. That's an added bonus if you're arriving well before check-in because you can do a decent freshen-up before starting your day. I've only been able to do first class once with miles (apparently not too many want to travel to London in January), but American had a different lounges at JFK for business and first class. So, at $500, I'd do it
Do it ASAP! I keep telling my in-laws even though it hurts me 'If you don't fly First-Class, your heirs will'. It's OK to live a little, especially at that $. Enjoy your London trip. Great place to go with the family.