1st Class vs Coach to France

Apr 11th, 2007, 11:00 AM
Original Poster
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1st Class vs Coach to France

i plan to take my first overseas flight to paris in september and i know that these flights are very long. is it better to fly coach or splurge and fly first class? also, if you have flown coach was it a comfortable/crowded flight?
parisbound07 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:21 AM
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Well, of course it's nicer to fly first class. And of course coach tends to be crowded and less comfortable than first. The question is how you value the difference in comfort and ease and whether you think it's worth the money. How tall are you? How wide are you? Do you have bad knees or a bad back?

By the way, depending on where you're flying from, trans-Atlantic flights are not "very long". They're about 7-8 hours from the New York or Toronto. Long is flying to Asia (12+ hours) or Australia from North America - or flying to Europe from Australia.

There are options in between traditional Economy (coach in US terms) and Business class (by the way, US airlines call a domestic product "First" that is really what most airlines in the world call "Business"; First is something even better and more expensive). If you want to splurge but don't want to spend $5000+ on a ticket, then consider flying L'Avion, the new all business class airline from Newark to Paris. It's significantly cheaper than a regular business class fare, although probably at least 50% more expensive than a discounted economy class ticket. There are similar airlines that connect London with New York and Washington - you could buy a one way ticket to London and a one way back from Paris.

You could fly World Traveller Plus or Premium Economy with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, respectively, to London and then economy to Paris. Less expensive than L'avion and similar business class airlines, but this is more of an "economy plus" product. I fly BA regularly in WT+ and find the extra cost worth it for the comfort (about 38 inches of leg room instead of 30 inches). The cost is probably 25-50% more expensive than economy class. Note that First Class on a lot of US domestic airlines doesn't offer much more than 38 inches of leg room, although the seats are wider and the service is better.

There are two discount airlines that offer a premium economy product for less than BA and Virgin. Air Transat flies from several Canadian cities to the UK (all year) and Paris (in the summer). Zoom Airlines flies from Canadian cities to several UK cities and Paris all year round. The seats aren't as comfortable as BA and Virgin's WT+ / Premium Economy product (e.g. maybe 34-36 inches of leg room), but the price is closer to what you'd pay for a regular economy class ticket on a regular (non-discount airline).
Kate_W is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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It would help if you let us know a bit more, for example, from where are you flying. US, New York, San Francisco, Australia? that let's us know how long a flight we are talkiing about.

Also, a big factor is your budget. As you must know, the cost of a First Class vs. Cattle Class ticket is significant - at least for my budget.

Once we have basic facts like that, perhaps we can help you with more advice.

nukesafe is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Almost all of my transaltlantic flights to Europe have been quite full, and yes, they are uncomfortable. But does that make me want to spend several thousand dollars on a 9-hr flight? No.

Of course, if money is no object, I'd fly First anytime.
yk is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Embroidered on a pillow in my friend the Travel Agent's store:

Travel First Class. Your heirs will.

Premium Coach might be worth a couple hundred to you. It is to me (11 hours from Phoenix).
Robespierre is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Coach is crowded, full and uncomfortable generally speaking. But I can't afford a 1st class ticket.

If you can, sure, go for it!
suze is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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When I went to Paris in 2002, I was celebrating the end of a 32 year marriage and treated myself to a business class ticket on United using FF miles. It was obviously wonderful! However, when I went to Paris in 2006, I used FF miles again, but didn't have enough for business class. So, I booked a coach seat and the friend that I went with very graciously bumped me up to sit with her in the economy plus area. That had a little more leg room (I am 5'8" so every inch makes a big difference!).

However, all that to say, I don't think I personally would splurge (or use FF miles) on a businss class ticket again unless I had some type of financial windfall! I don't know the price difference between an economy ticket and the economy plus ticket, but it can't be that much.


luvparee is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:03 PM
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Kate W is absolutely right, but let's repeat the point.

The real choice is between economy, premium economy and business. First across the Atlantic (I assume from your language on the other question) is a pointless level of additional expense.

My own view is:
- there's never any point, if you're going to Paris, taking any of the US-London business-only flights, since they involve transferring at a London area airport onto a lowcost, and that wipes the whole pampered feeling out.

- there might be point, even on your own money, taking a same-terminal, same-airline, transfer through another hub (like Zurich or Amsterdam or even Heathrow T4) if you can find a business-class specialist broker who offers this. And brokers often offer biz class deals on direct US-Paris operators like Air India, who have a terrific Business product but an unreliable economy offer.

- if it's your own money, or the money of the company you own yourself, paying for normal business class on transatlantic flights is worthwhile only for 1-4 day roundtrips, where you absolutely HAVE to get off the plane and go straight into a meeting. It's different on flights over 12 hours, but there aren't any across the Atlantic

- even then, it's hard to justify spending your own money on a Westbound transatlantic premium class, or on an Eastbound all-daytime flight. You might get better value by ensuring you have lounge access at both airports: the honest truth is that the airport experience (especially in Paris) is far, far worse than any flight can ever be. Or by lashing out on a car to collect you.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:03 PM
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About half of the airlines flying the US-Europe routes don't offer first class anymore. Instead many offer what they call First/Business class. The difference?

Not much. The most noticeable ones are: First Class lounges (if available) instead of Business Class lounges. For example, the BA First Class Lounges offer pre-flight full service dinners before the flight, so you can relax or go to sleep as soon as the flight is off. Spas, including full massage services, etc.

More miles.

Better seat, but in many cases not by much.

More attentive service. There are usually 2-3 FAs for the 12-14 passengers in F.

The airlines that still offer First Class to Europe:

US based airlines - AA and UA (limited destinations). There maybe others which I don't know about.

European based airlines - British Airways to London, AirFrance to Paris, KLM/Northwest to Amsterdam. Lufthansa to Frankfurt.

As I said. There may be others but I just don't know them all.

All the airlines offer the first/business class to many European destinations. Usually just a notch or 2 below the actuall first class, so it's still a very comfortable flight with attentive service.

Third choice would be to fly one of the new all business class airlines. Unfortunately they only fly between 1-2 major cities so you still have to get to New York or ? on your own penny and unless it's the new Paris based all business airline which flies to Paris, you will need another ticket between London and Paris. They are usually less than the legacy airlines and the buzz is that they do a very nice job.

Good luck and have a wonderful trip!

AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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Obviously, if money is no object, this question is moot.

I am as spoiled as the next guy, believe me. But let's be serious - it's only 8 or 9 hours for most of us, and it's not like we are in a conestoga wagon going over the Rocky Mountains. Coach has a cushioned seat, rest rooms, in seat entertainment systems, music, food, drinks --- how hard is it, *really*, to fly coach?

dwzemens is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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"Coach has a cushioned seat..."

I thought so until I flew Continental to CGN and back last month. I think they must add a seat row by eliminating the padding from all the chair backs.
Robespierre is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Real international first class from US to Europe can cost $7000-10,000. I think you're probably thinking about international business class, which may offer flat beds or almost flat beds. They often cost around $4,000-7,000 during regular season, but as low as $2,000 during summer holiday season.

There are also cheaper alternatives. One is premium economy from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, SAS, and Air NewZealand (LAX-LHR). They often cost just $300-400 more than coach, but give you more legroom and more recline.

Another alternative is from one of the new all-business and all-first class airlines. All-business airlines include Maxjet and Silverjet to London, and L'Avion to Paris. The all-first class airline is called Eos to London.

Since you're going to Paris, investigate on L'Avion. They fly from Newark to Paris-Orly. I heard their planes are very very empty now, so they may still have good deals even though you're going in September, a business season. You may be able to get a roundtrip for $2,000 or less.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:30 PM
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DH hates coach. We always buy upgradable tickets and use CC points to upgrade to First Class/Business. Since we put absolutely everything on the credit card we always have lots of points.
Lady is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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I'll be very happy to take an upgrade to First or Business anytime. Other than that, I will use the difference in cost to stay at my destination at least two/three weeks longer!! Europe for a month is better than Europe for 10 days.
Greatsights is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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In fact, I just found roundtrip EWR-ORY on L'Avion for early September for $1,815 all-in.

rkkwan is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Two people only $3,230.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 10:15 PM
Original Poster
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thanks everyone for your responses. i should have stated originally that i will be flying out of seattle. some of the airfare prices that some of you posted were waaaaay out of my price range! silly me. anyway it was just a thought, since i have never done anything like this before.
parisbound07 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2007, 03:18 AM
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Hi P,

A few hints on flying to Paris:

The air gets very dry. Drink lots of water. Some people put Vicks or Vaseline in their nose.

Get an aisle seat. It's easier to get in and out, and you can stretch your legs (or at least one). Besides there is nothing to see at night over the ocean at 30,000 feet.

Walk around a lot. It helps to keep your feet from swelling.

For the difference in cost between 1cl and coach, you can stay 2 nights at the Meurice, the Crillon or the Ritz in Paris.

Fly cheap, sleep cheap, eat well.

ira is offline  
Apr 12th, 2007, 03:51 AM
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"Fly cheap, sleep cheap, eat well"

I can only agree with the "fly cheap"..when I travel, I sleep well and eat well!! I like nice places and good food.......
gracejoan3 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2007, 04:27 AM
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From SEA, seriously consider premium economy on BA or SAS.
rkkwan is offline  

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