The smallest difference between economy and first class is 185%.
Business class or first class seats are normally out of reach for an average flyer. There are ways to fly first class without breaking the bank, and sometimes, you might just get lucky and get upgraded. But if you want to cross off “fly first class” from your bucket list, then you can look at airlines that don’t charge you for a year’s worth of flights for a premium cabin.
Price comparison website Money.co.uk has analyzed the differences between economy class and first class airline tickets using Google Flights. They used a sample of over 1,200 flights to get this data, and “the cost of a flight between each airline’s hub city and each destination that it offers business or first class flights to [excluding those within the same country].”
All first-class seats in the survey come with exclusive services like access to a top-end lounge, priority boarding, amenities, fine wines and dining, and departure and arrival services.
So, what are the five least expensive first-class airlines? Read on.
Top Picks for You
All Nippon Airways
The airline that has the least amount of difference between economy and first-class flight ticket prices is the Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways. However, it’s still a significant price increase. It typically costs 185% more to purchase first than economy. So you’ll still need to save a lot to be greeted with a flute of champagne and dine on miso ramen.
However, there’s a big caveat here: The increase from economy to first class is relatively less than other airlines because All Nippon Airways tickets are already quite expensive.
Second in line is Thai Airways, which will demand 313% more than an economy ticket to give you a seat in the first-class cabin. The Royal First Class is a semi-private suite, where you’ll receive toiletries and pajamas, and you’lll be served luxurious dishes such as stir-fried lobster, grilled Thai-wagyu beef, and Kurobuta pork chops.
Another Asian airline has made the list. It may be hard to believe, but the third airline on the list has a difference of 400% between economy and first-class tickets, and it’s still one of the cheapest upgrades you can get!
Flying first class with the German flag carrier is also a special experience, but you will have to shell out 477% more than economy to reserve your seat. The rewards of this hefty cost will be first-class terminal and lounges, personal assistance, and Michelin-starred standard food (think caviar served in fine china).
Surprisingly, Indonesian carrier Garuda charges more than Lufthansa to fly you in style. The difference is 527% between economy and first, and it offers a limousine service, fine dining, personal assistance, and fine dining in the clouds.
If you find these prices outrageous, then you’ll be shocked to hear the price differences between the most expensive airlines: Emirates charges 777% more for first-class than economy; Qantas spikes the price by 813%; and Etihad’s price tag is a whopping 1,019% more.