How Much Does It Really Cost To Fly First Class?

Comfort, but at what cost?

How Much Does It Really Cost To Fly First Class?

Image: Emirates

Travelling by aeroplane has always been the fastest way to get from one destination to the other. However, flying economy or other lower classes is rarely appealing, as the conditions are not always stellar. They are noisy, the food is not always great, and the leg space is severely lacking. 

To fly in full comfort, first class is always recommended. You get many amenities, privacy, and various benefits that make short- and long-haul flights more comfortable. But how much does it really cost to fly first class?

Australian Airlines That Offer First Class

When it comes to travelling first class, Australia offers a couple of options that passengers could try, such as:

Qantas Airways

Cost to Fly First Class - Qantas Airways via qantas
Source: @qantas via Instagram

Qantas Airways is one of the top airlines in Australia that offers first-class services to those who want to travel in style. Their services include dedicated lounges with all the amenities, fine dining options, and luxurious bedding. Passengers have access to their own cabins, offering a sense of privacy for those who wish to fly quietly. For instance, flying from Australia to Europe first class with Qantas Airways costs around $14,500-$15,000, but it depends on many factors that we’ll explain a bit later.

Virgin Australia

Cost to Fly First Class - Virgin Australia via virginaustralia
Source:@virginaustralia via Instagram

Virgin Australia is also an airline that offers top-of-the-line services to anyone wanting to fly in luxury. Technically speaking, its current label is “The Business” instead of First Class, as they discontinued first-class in 2014. However, while the label may not be there, the offerings are in the same range as other first-class flights, including luxury lounge access, priority check-in, gourmet dining, and lie-flat beds. For instance, the average ticket that takes you from Australia to the US is around $20,000.

Non-Australian First-Class Carriers Operating In Australia

Aside from the Australian carriers, international carriers also land at and depart from Australian airports, offering first-class service. The most popular options used by travellers include: 


Cost to Fly First Class - Emirates via emirates
Source: @emirates via Instagram

Emirates offers top-of-the-line first-class services for passengers who want to enjoy unparalleled experiences. Like other Australian airlines, you get cabins where you are entitled to your own privacy and comfort, along with an on-board shower spa. For those who enjoy having a shower 40,000 feet in the sky, the average price in AUD for a long-haul flight is somewhere between $10,000 and $18,000.

Singapore Airlines

Cost to Fly First Class - Singapore Airlines via singaporeair
Source: @singaporeair via Instagram

Like other first-class carriers, Singapore Airlines also provides private suites with fully flat beds, luxurious dining options, and in-flight entertainment. Not only do you have access to a wide selection of movies, but the luxurious amenities also make you feel like you are flying in a cloud. It may not offer on-flight showers like Emirates does, but you still get complimentary toiletries to improve comfort. The average price for a short-haul ticket is somewhere between $2,000 and $4,500, whereas a long-haul flight can reach $19,000.

Cathay Pacific

Cost to Fly First Class - Cathay Pacific via cathaypacific
Source: @cathaypacific via Instagram

Cathay Pacific is yet another airline known for its premium offerings. You get private suites, priority services, gourmet meals made by top chefs, and numerous entertainment options. The cabins also have a minibar and a lot of storage space, allowing people to fly in full comfort. Short-haul tickets start around $3,000, but long-haul ones from other continents to Australia can go as high as $20,000.

Factors That Affect First-Class Ticket Costs 

Here are some aspects that influence the price of a first-class ticket:

1. Choice of Airline

Each airline has its own prices for first-class tickets, depending on the distance, the amenities, and other factors they consider a priority. In Australia, you have Qantas and Virgin Australia, along with other non-Australian carriers that could charge their own prices. So, the company you choose can significantly impact the ticket cost.

2. Route Distance

The route and distance could also significantly impact the price of the first-class ticket. For instance, a domestic flight is usually cheaper than one over the distance, as the distance covered is much smaller. It’s not very easy to come up with a price, as the costs can change from one day to another, but the table below can provide a rough estimate for a one-way trip based on the route:

Type of FlightRouteAverage Price (AUD)
DomesticSydney – Melbourne$1,500-$3,000
Trans-PacificSydney – Los Angeles$8,000-$15,000
Trans-ContinentalSydney – London$10,000-$20,000

Bear in mind that these are only estimates that are common in 2024. This can change in only a few months, with the high season often charging higher fares. It’s always best to contact the airline directly to see exactly how much they charge for a flight.

3. Booking Time

The time of booking could also significantly affect how much you will have to pay for a first-class ticket. For instance, if you want to get a good price on it, it’s always best to schedule the flight ahead of time. Last-minute bookings, especially during peak season, are always the most expensive.

4. Demand

Demand could also greatly impact the final price, with the same distance having different prices. For instance, many people travel during the weekend, as this is when they have free time. The same applies to peak travel season or holidays. If more individuals tend to fly around that time, airlines will mirror that. 

This is why first-class ticket prices are lower in February but higher in August. You could also pay a high fare when travelling on the 28th of December when everyone is heading towards their New Year’s celebration. On the other hand, if you choose the evening of the 31st, demand is lower as travellers are already celebrating somewhere – which means the first-class tickets might not be that expensive.

5. Amenities

The amenities are also considered when the airline chooses the price for a flight. For instance, while most of the first-class options offer private cabins, full beds, lounge access, and gourmet dining, not all of them have on-board showers. On our list, that only applies to Emirates. For this reason, their prices are higher.

6. Promotions

Promotions or frequent flyer miles can significantly affect the price of a first-class ticket. For example, Qantas offers occasional promotions that allow air passengers to get the first-class ticket at a low price. Bear in mind that they are only valid if purchased within a specific timeframe.

7. Condition of the Market

The condition of the market could also impact the price of the ticket. For instance, the war in Ukraine led to a fuel crisis, which ultimately caused airlines to increase their ticket prices. Competition could also play a role in this, as most airlines tend to match one another to stay ahead.

How Much Can a Round-the-World First-Class Ticket Cost?

The cost of flying around the world first-class varies from one airline to another. Going around the globe usually depends on which airline you are using, along with the moment you book the flight and the demand. Travellers can expect to pay somewhere between $20,000 and $50,000 (28,000-70,000 AUD) for an around-the-world plane journey on most flights. A one-way ticket, without the return flight, is charged for half of that.

The Bottom Line

There is no exact price to flying first class, as the cost depends on various factors. You need to consider the airline, the services they provide, and the distance you want to travel. Bear in mind that the prices can quickly change from one day to the other, so you should book with a strategy in mind.