How to Fly First Class on a Coach Budget

How to Fly First Class on a Coach Budget

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Always wanted to fly first class?! Are the fully reclining seats and gourmet meals calling your name?!

source: onebigphoto


Who wouldn’t want extra leg room, complimentary wines, beers, and cocktails, in-seat massages, flat screen LCD screens, USB connectors, and numerous other perks of first class?

You can always pay for these elite upgrades. But that usually means shelling out thousands of extra dollars. Even if you are loyal to a specific airline and have priority status, it always seems like 20, or even 50 other people do as well. With that, there’s not much chance of getting a free upgrade. Bummer.

However, you may just be able to achieve your in-flight dreams, all while paying less than a coach fare. WHAT?! Less than the price of a last minute coach ticket?! Does this sound too good to be true? It’s not anymore with the purchase of a y-up.

Who  wouldn’t want a bowl of exotic fresh fruits for dessert?  source: Flickr via archangeli

What’s a Y-Up anyway?!

Y-ups (pronounced why-ups) are airlines best kept secrets. They never, ever advertise them (and most likely wont in 100 years), and therefore most people have never even heard of them. I hadn’t either until I started researching for an e-book I was contributing to.

In other words, they are insider speak for discounted first class airline tickets. Getting excited again?!

United's new First Class Suite
source: Flickr via plequere

Why do airlines offer y-ups?

Since first class fares are so overly expensive, they hardly ever sell out. Even the rich people don’t want to pay the price of a first class ticket, so there are many left. Instead of having empty seats (and therefore losing money), airlines offer these discounted first class seats to those in the know.

It’s kind of like last minute deals you find on a cruise ship or other vacation package. While they don’t make a ton of money on these fares, it’s better than not making any at all.

How to find a Y-up:

Since these are not advertised, the airlines make you dig a little (or a lot). If you are using a travel agent, ask for her to search for “y-ups” or “discounted first class tickets”. Searching for flights without the assistance of a travel pro? Use websites such as fare compare which has a tool that specifically tracks Y-Ups. There are over 100,000 of these, you just need to find them.

Appetizers on Lufthansa First Class
And those are just the appetizers.
source: Flickr via plequere

But realize something- Y-Ups are not dirt cheap, nor are they even sometimes relatively cheap. They are usually less expensive than booking a last minute coach fare, beneficial for business travelers or those traveling due to an illness or death in the family. Y-Ups are also good to look for when traveling on leisure, for a honeymoon or anniversary trip perhaps.

Another added bonus! Y-Up tickets do not say “first class” on them, so for those companies who do not allow upgraded seats for business travel, this is a way to get around that. The code on Y-Ups and coach fares literally look exactly the same, so there is no way to differentiate. A win-win for everyone!

While this may not work every time, it is definitely worth a shot. Go ahead, give it a try, you never know what you may come out of it. You may just be that person reclining in first class smirking at those sandwiched between two sumo wrestlers in coach.

// *THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on one of these links, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for the support and help keeping the site free of charge for everyone to enjoy!

4 Comments

  • jill says:

    How interesting – will def try for this next time. For sharing this 'insider secret'!
    My recent post Canada Adventure: Ontario and Quebec

  • Kimmy @ AfterGlobe says:

    This is a great tip! Something I'll be trying in the future. You'll see this article featured on this week's posting of AfterGlobe's Stumbling Over You series. Thanks for your contribution! The post goes live tomorrow.

  • meagan8477 says:

    Great trick! I'll have to check it out.
    My recent post Say WHAT?! Wednesday

  • Suzy says:

    Great tip! I had never heard of y-ups before.
    My recent post Chicago’s Playground: Jumping into the Canvas at Millennium Park

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