The best way to fly first class is to use an employee voucher. You can check the flight booking software to make sure the flight isn't too crowded, and then you are virtually guaranteed to get into first class. I used to have an aunt retired from Delta who gave me employee vouchers, so would go from JFK to CDG on standby, always got first class on NY-Paris, though not so much on Paris-NY (damn Frenchies). There was actually a rule book you had to follow when you took the vouchers, had to wear a jacket and tie, had to check in early, only carry-on, no checked bags, no flip flops or sweatsuits... First class on Delta NY-Paris was not on a 747, but was very nice--there was a wine list, and warm cookies. The seats were like lay-z-boy recliners with footrests. Very nice, and the only cost was the $35 CDG airport tax.