Five Really Cheap Ways to Fly First Class

First class isn't just for the rich or elite frequent fliers.

ByABC News
March 30, 2010, 8:07 AM

July 21, 2010 — -- We're all sick of airline fees. But, sometimes, you can make them pay off big-time on the comfort scale. And isn't it time steerage passengers like us got a taste of the high life?

Here is one way: use some of the current fees to get upgraded to first or business class for less. It wasn't exactly easy for the airlines to figure out ways to get passengers to pay for these individually "unbundled" services, but since they have, we might as well pay the fees for things we really want.

And some of these are worth it, thanks to certain realities like the sheer cost of "upper class" plane travel today.

For example, I checked out the price of first class versus economy on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York in August. With a Sunday to Friday itinerary, a coach passenger would pay $483 roundtrip. The first class passenger, however, would pay a whopping $5,373. The good news is, you can make a change without a penalty fee -- plus, you get to check a bag for free. Okay, that may not quite make up for the scandalous price differential.

Is it any wonder the rich are departing first class in droves? Or making other arrangements, as Paris Hilton so merrily tweeted recently: "This Private Jet takes Huge to Another Level. Loves it!"

We loves it too, Paris, only we cants afford it. We can, however, sit in first class if we play our cards right, and here are my strategies to do just that.

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One of the basic ways to fly first or second class for cheap is to buy (or earn) an upgrade, only that's not particularly cheap. So instead, here are five other ways you can sit up front without busting your wallet.