Whenever I travel I like to see the crazy offers airlines like to throw at me to upgrade from economy to first class. In some cases, they exceed the amount it would have cost to purchase first class outright. I checked a current booking, and for a transcontinental leg Delta is asking over $800 one-way! No, thank you. I’ll pass.

For the short-haul segment, the upgrade fee is much cheaper: $44. This made me recall the first class upgrade I was once offered for $29.

Passing on the Cheapest First Class Upgrade I’ve Seen

A first class upgrade for $29 (or even $44) might seem like something you’d want to jump on. However, both were for a hop of about an hour in a regional jet. Besides having a little more space, what else does such an upgrade offer? Not much.

The specific flight was on an Embraer E175 from Los Angeles to Santa Rosa. The flight is blocked for 1:40, although the flight time is substantially less than that. This is even an ideal aircraft on which to enjoy this upgrade, as you *might* still have the option of a solo window/aisle seat on the left side of the first class section. But even that wasn’t enough to entice me. Economy is just fine, thank you.

The $29 first-class upgrade is the cheapest Alaska will ever sell it to you. You can check their page dedicated to first class upgrades with cash or miles.

Even though it is probably the cheapest price you’ll ever see, I really cannot see a reason to take a $29 upgrade. Sure, if Alaska serves all beverage options, you might be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two. This would make up 30-50% of the cost. But if you don’t really care to drink or need the extra space (I mean, the flight is only a bit over an hour), paying extra is totally pointless.

The Only Reason to Take a $29 Upgrade

The only reason I could see it being worth it is if you can check a bag for free that you would otherwise be paying for. If this is part of the buy-up, it’s now essentially free. I’d definitely take it. But then again, I have free bags with both Alaska (from co-branded BofA credit card) and Delta (from status), so it would still be pointless.

Just note that the terms specifically state that “Passengers upgraded after baggage has been accepted are not eligible for a refund of baggage fees paid,” so make sure you wait until you’re offered the upgrade to add that bag.

What do you think of paying for upgrades on regional flights? Would you pay $29 for more space on a 1-hour hop?