Financing First Class Flying

Purchasing a house, the biggest investment most people will ever make and as such often requires finance in the form of either a mortgage or a loan. Over the last 20 years, consumer spending has changed drastically. Now, most people have everything from their car, TV and phone, through to the couch they’re sat on and even their clothes on their back on finance.

I’m assuming people living their life on a line of credit is so that they can buy luxuries they can’t afford to buy outright. As this has become socially acceptable, I have a question…

Would you buy a Business/First class flight on finance?

Business and First class flying are certainly to be considered a luxury. A long haul (6+ hours) Business class flight will set you back at least £1,000 and First is almost double that. The same flights at the back of the plane will often be at least 4X less than business.

There is no doubting though that flying in a premium cabin transforms the experience. Perhaps a chauffeur to drive you to the airport. Having your own check-in/security area as soon as you walk through the airport doors. Access to lounges where you can fill your boots with free food and drink. If you’re not yet fully chilled, maybe a complimentary massage or a bath. That’s before you even board, where you will walk past the queue straight onto the plane, often through your own private doorway to be greeted by a pleasant flight attendant who shows your to your seat and takes your order for a pre-departure drink. From there it’s food and drinks when you choose, served with silverware and crystal, big tv’s, a seat that’s also a bed… You may only be 30 metres from economy but when you’re in your designer pyjamas, you’re a million miles away. Then when you land, you’re the first off the plane, sometimes in your own area for immigration saving hours and then your luggage is the first to be offloaded onto the luggage belt. You may even have access to spa facilities to freshen up before you go about your holiday.

Flight + Hotel

Currently, the only way to finance your flights is by combining it with a hotel or car rental and creating a package holiday. Most companies will then let you spread the payments as long as you pay the full balance 1 month prior to departure. I myself have done this myself for the first time this year. You see rather than paying the full whack upfront, you pay a deposit then pay the rest off when you see fit. If you’re uncertain that you’ll be able to travel this is an excellent way to hedge your bet. The deposit in my case was €300, I’d rather lose that than the full €1300. Adding 1 night in a hotel to the booking actually brought the price down €360 as well which was a nice bonus.

The pitfalls of creating a packaged holiday are customer service. When I book flight only, my loyalty status with airlines usually gets me talking to someone on the other end of the phone at any time of day within a few minutes. They’re usually very helpful and help keep the stress levels down. You get almost the same experience when booking Business or First regardless of loyalty status. When you book a package holiday though, don’t be surprised to wait often more than an hour on hold, only for the person on the other end to be as helpful as Teletext in today’s internet world.

Flight only

I think within the next year or 2 all major airlines will allow you to book a flight only tickets on some form of finance. Having seen people purchasing clothes using Klarna, it’s blown my mind that Airlines don’t already offer this. It may be a godsend to many who could never dream of buying premium tickets, it won’t all be great.

For those that are happy to pay circa £1000+ for business and £1900+ for first, finance will destroy the market. Remember the trusty Nokia 3310, a flagship of its time costing £99. Fast forward 2 years and the introduction of a contract where the payments were spread over 12 months. Flagship phones went from £99 to £299. Fast forward another few years and the introduction of 24-month contracts where flagships were £699. Now you’ll be paying £1399 and is marketed as “only X amount a month” then in small writing for 3 years…

An interesting perspective

I ran an IG survey some months ago now the question was “If you had £1,000 to spend on flights to New York, would you book a return Business Class flight for yourself or would you book for you and 4 mates to fly in economy?” The vast majority chose to forgo the razmataz for the latter and have a good time with their mates.

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