It may not always seem like it when you’re trying to book that upcoming long-weekend visit with your relatives, but average airfares are at the lowest level since 2010, averaging out at $363 for a domestic round-trip ticket according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Now, this is for the base airfare only, and doesn’t account for additional baggage fees, seat selection, printed boarding pass fees, and all other ancillary items the airlines realized they could put a price tag on.
Delta has recently launched an effort to obtain more revenue out of their domestic first class cabins instead of upgrading elite frequent fliers (much to the dismay of the elite frequent flyer crowd). I’ve found the price gap between their Main Cabin and First Class fares has become increasingly smaller. My point? Don’t overlook first class when searching for a plane ticket. Quick example:
I did a quick search for a one-way trip in mid-June, and found a difference of only $49. If you’re not a Silver Medallion member or higher and don’t have a Delta-branded credit card to waive the checked bag fees, then this is absolutely worth considering. If you’re checking a bag, add in $20 to the $141 fare. Want to upgrade your seat to an exit row at check-in? Add in a minimum $15 on top of that. With one checked bag, the difference between Main Cabin and First Class is $29. For a flight that’s over 1.5 hours, this is absolutely worth it. With the First Class fare you get not one, but two free checked bags, priority boarding, and premium drinks and snacks (or meal, depending on route length). Oh, and in addition to several more inches of leg room and a wider, more comfortable seat.
As a side note, I actually found a Delta flight with a $136 fare for both Main Cabin and First Class between Boston and Richmond in July. It disappeared after a few days before I could snag a screenshot of it for this post, so it does happen!
Make sure you factor in all the fees that will add on to your economy fare when looking for a ticket, and take the extra few seconds to include First Class in your search. It also helps to search directly on the airline’s website because it displays all fare classes instead of third-party sites that only display economy unless you specify. You may find the benefits of flying domestic First far outweigh the price difference and it will significantly improve your travel experience.