How to Get First Class Treatment When You’re Traveling Coach

These days, nearly every major airline will offer you extra legroom or entrance to their V.I.P. lounge - if you're willing to pay for it. As part of a growing trend, some airlines have begun offering economy passengers the option to purchase comprehensive packages of perks once reserved for first and business class travelers. Here's a shortlist:

American Airlines Five Star Service Program
One hundred twenty-five dollars gets you (or you and your spouse, for $200) the full VIP experience on American - at least until you board the plane. Choose from three service options: Departure Assistance, Connection Assistance, or Arrival Assistance. Each option provides you with a personal assistant to handle everything from booking a car service to checking you in to expediting security. Once you're near the gate, relax in the Admiral's Club lounge while your assistant coordinates any last-minute requests with the in-flight crew before finally ushering you onto the plane - ahead of the queue, of course.

Jet Blue Even More Space (with Even More Speed)
Offered on select flights, Even More Space lets you book seats with extra legroom for an additional fee (ranging from $10-$75, per flight leg) depending on the destination. In several cities, an additional perk known as Even More Speed is offered along with Even More Space (though it's not available separately). Opt for it and enjoy expedited security and boarding.

United Premier
United offers both a la carte or combo platter options for its V.I.P. services. Choose from expedited security and boarding (Premier Line, from $9), hassle-free baggage (Door-to-Door Baggage, $79; Luggage Free/Luggage Forward, from $225), or extra legroom (Economy Plus, from $9), or go for one of the packages including several options (Premier Seating, from $65; Premier Travel, from $47). Brand-loyal frequent travelers can even pay for a full year of baggage for a flat rate of $349 through United's Premier Baggage program.

Delta Economy Comfort & Preferred Seats
Priority boarding, extra legroom, free alcoholic drinks, and super-reclining seats are all included in Delta's V.I.P. offering, which is only available on international flights. Prices range from $80-$160 per flight leg and vary according to ticket fare. Domestic travelers who are members of Delta's SkyMiles program can request the best seats in the house (or, in this case, plane) through the Preferred Seating option. SkyMiles members are also eligible for Priority Waitlist Status for upgrades once they've purchased a ticket.

Sources: New York Times, msnbc.com

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