From Economy to First Class, Here's What Makes Each Type of Airline Ticket Different

Plus, how to choose the right class for your next trip in the skies.

If you're like many travelers, purchasing an airline ticket means searching for a flight with the cheapest fare that also leaves from your local airport. But not all tickets are created equal, and it's always good to understand your options. "Choosing the right flight is important. It's the start of your travel experience," says Marissa Daniels, owner of Spread Your Wings Travel Agency. "Granted, most people just want to get to their destination, but some want a full experience starting with the flight. No one wants a rough start to the vacation they've been waiting months for, so choose wisely."

She advises that whatever class of ticket you decide to purchase, it's best to search for a flight on Tuesday, because that's when airlines release their weekly sales. It's also advised to shop for your flight between three months and 30 days before your date of departure. Here, she explains the different types of flight tickets that are available for purchase and what you should know about each one.

Business class cabin of long haul passenger aircraft
EThamPhoto / Getty Images

Economy (Coach or Travel Class)

Daniels says that this is the basic accommodation that most leisure travelers purchase. It's oftentimes the most affordable option. Depending on the airline, you can expect to receive limited snacks and limited leg room. "This is my personal favorite," says Daniels, "especially for flights three hours or less."

Premium Economy

This ticket offers the same amenities or accommodations as economy says Daniels, but advises that "you may receive more legroom or wider spacing between the seats" with this ticket option. "If I have a flight that is more than three hours, I'll probably choose this option for more leg room," suggests Daniels.

Business Class (Executive Class)

These high-quality tickets are normally purchased by business travelers. Many airlines have replaced their first-class ticket option and now offer business class accommodations at their highest category of seating and service; you may remember a time when this class of flight ticket existed as an available option that was less expensive than first class yet an upgrade from the economy ticket option.

First Class

These are usually the most comfortable seats available on an airplane, but this top-tier level of comfort comes at a price—these seats are the most expensive available for any particular flight. Daniels points out that these accommodations typically offer many perks that others do not including priority boarding and seating, complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, premium snacks, and premium in-flight dining service, more leg room, and better entertainment.

Regardless of what class of flight ticket you decide to purchase or what airline you decide to purchase your flight from, it makes perfect sense to inquire and sign up for any available frequent flyer programs including the Delta Air Lines' SkyMiles program, United Airlines' MileagePlus, Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan, Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards, or JetBlue Airways' TrueBlue program. These accumulated points can be used toward the purchase of a flight and upgrades, or they can be traded in for magazine subscriptions, merchandise, and more.

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