Why you should fly first class (sometimes)

What do you really get for your money?

Who are we kidding – we are perfectly happy flying in economy class. But every once in a while it’s nice to feel fancy, maybe even splurge for economy premium, or better yet, business or first class.

To get a better idea of what you get for your money, we’re taking a closer look at the service, amenities and extras in each class. However, this can vary by airline, type of plane and whether it’s a short or long-haul flight.

Whatever your preferences, rest assured we’ve got you covered. When searching for a flight on KAYAK, you can narrow your results based on preferred cabin type. Searching on desktop? Just click “Economy” above the search bar and change it to your preferred cabin type from the choices in the drop-down menu. On all platforms, you can also easily filter your search results by cabin type. Try it out for yourself when you search for a flight.

Search for flights


Legroom? Who needs it
Legroom? Who needs it

Ah, economy class. It’s a seat on a plane, and it will get you from one airport to another. Economy seats are more or less the same no matter where you are, however, there are some differences in terms of seat size. Legroom can vary from 28-34 in and width can be anywhere from 17-33 in. There might also be some differences in terms of Wi-Fi availability, food and drinks, and in-flight entertainment.

After economy, but just before premium economy, is a fairly new seat class called economy plus (also known as Economy Comfort, Economy XL and a few other similar-yet-slightly-different variations on the name). What’s economy plus you might ask? It’s basically an economy seat with a few extra inches of legroom and maybe some extended seat recline. It will cost you a bit more to upgrade to economy plus, but it could be worth it for just a few more inches of personal space.

Search flights to Amsterdam for the next 30 days Find cheap flights to Amsterdam

Premium economy 

Economy with some extra oomph
Economy with some extra oomph

Moving on to premium economy (which can also be called a variety of things: Virgin America calls it Main Cabin Select; British Airways uses the term World Traveller Plus; SAS calls it SAS Plus). Not quite as fancy as business class, premium economy is certainly a step above economy class (but so is the price tag).

If you choose premium economy, you’ll most likely be treated to a separate and much faster check-in queue and a dedicated lounge at the airport. Your seat will be wider than an economy seat, you’ll have a larger luggage allowance, and your in-flight entertainment and dining options will likely have more variety. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Search flights to Stockholm for the next 30 days Find cheap flights to Stockholm

Business class

This is what (business) dreams are made of
This is what (business) dreams are made of

Now is when things start to get really nice. Once you fly business class, economy class will never be the same. Before you even get to the airport, some airlines offer a chauffeured pick-up and drop-off service if you live within a certain distance from the airport. After you’ve dropped your bags off, you’ll have a dedicated lounge in the airport where you can fill up on free food and drinks.

From the moment you arrive on the plane, you’ll notice just how much better things really are in business class: drinks are served in real glasses (so long, plastic cups), meals on real plates, and you’ll even get to use proper silverware. Instead of a seat that simply reclines, you’ll have a chair that’s as wide as 34 in and it will recline into a full flat-bed. Nice.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself flying with Emirates on one of their flagship A380 planes, you’ll likely find an entire bar onboard exclusively for business class passengers. We’re talking a proper, semi-circular, fully-stocked bar, serving hot and cold snacks and all the cocktails you could possibly manage.

Search flights to Cannes for the next 30 days Find cheap flights to Cannes

First class

Usually seen as reserved for the rich and famous, first class really is the height of luxury air travel. It’s like business class, only better in every way. Whereas business class has large, roomy seats that recline into beds, first class has individual suites, often complete with a full-size bed, a private bathroom and maybe even a lounging area. Of course, all of this luxury comes at an extremely hefty price, almost five times the cost of a business class seat.

The flight attendants in first class are highly trained and offer top-notch service, able to anticipate a passenger’s every need. Did we mention how good the food is? Not only are the menus more extensive (champagne and caviar, anyone?) but many of the dishes are created by Michelin-starred chefs. Now that’s an in-flight meal we would look forward to.

Search flights to Tokyo for the next 30 days Find cheap flights to Tokyo

The seat possibilities are endless!
The seat possibilities are endless!

So there you have it – all the cabin seats in the palm of your hand. If you’d like to learn which types of seats are available on your next flight, check the airline’s website for more information.

In the meantime, make sure to check out KAYAK’s Fare Assistant feature, which tells you how much it will cost to check a bag and if there are any additional fees depending on the payment method you select.

Start your search on KAYAK using our interactive map