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Airline Tickets: The Cost of First Class

Cost of flying first class on airlines

First Class Ticket Prices Continue to Soar

We all know that the economy is in bad shape. Families are struggling to pay their bills each month. Unemployment was above 9 percent for more than a year. Housing values are falling, and record numbers of people are losing their homes or declaring bankruptcy.

Even credit scores are falling: A new study by credit score provider FICO found that 25 percent of consumers with credit scores had scores under 600. For those who don’t understand credit scores, a FICO score of 720 or higher is considered “good.” A score under “600?” That’s considered terrible.

So with all this financial turmoil, consumers have to cut their costs wherever they can. And that could mean trouble for airlines.

Airlines make big money from consumers who elect to fly first class. But as the cost of first-class tickets continues to rise, a growing number of passengers are electing to pass on the gourmet nuts and free glass of wine to fly the far more affordable, if less luxurious, coach.

Soaring First-Class Fares

When times get tough, consumers cut the luxuries first. It’s why people always eliminate their cable TV service when they need to save money each month: Cable TV is fun to watch. But when you’re struggling to pay the mortgage each month, it becomes far less of a necessity.

First-class airline tickets are in the same category: It’s a lot nicer to fly first-class. But it’s certainly not a necessary expense, and it does take a lot of airline frequent flyer points to earn those seats.

A story by the New York Times found that the average ticket prices for first-class and business-class flights continue to climb higher. And recently, some carriers have added minimum spending requirements to their first class “elite” customers. Fliers will have to spend upwards of $2,500 just to get the elite status.

It’s also more expensive to fly in luxury from the United States to Europe. The average one-way premium-class ticket price for flights between these two countries stood at $2,087. With such high ticket prices, it’s little surprise that travelers are passing on the first-class treatment

Businesses are taking the approach as well. They have found their profit margins squeezed tighter than ever thanks to the Great Recession. Business owners are focused on cutting costs. This includes forcing their employees to fly coach instead of first-class. The savings between the two types of airfare is substantial.

How Much Do Those Truffles Really Cost?

Flying first-class brings with it a host of amenities. But are these amenities really worth the extra cost of a first-class ticket? Probably not.

Consider that can of soda. It costs the airline less than $1. And those gourmet nuts? They cost the carrier just $3.50. The smooth ice cream truffles? These set airlines back just $4.99 for a 2.7-ounce serving.And that famed first-class pillow? That costs airlines an average of $39.

These extra touches might be nice, but they certainly don’t come with price tags high enough to justify the often exorbitant costs of flying first-class. Travelers wanting to eliminate unnecessary expenses might consider downgrading from first-class to coach, unless the extra leg room is really worth it.

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