Here's a trick that might help. You'll see what the charge is for 1st class when you book your tickets online. Outrageous right? Few grand maybe?
Buy your coach tickets. When you get to the airport & check-in, ask the person at the desk if there is any First Class/Business (depending on the flight) seats open. If so, ask them how much would an upgrade be? The airlines will love you - especially if the flight is overbooked in coach.
Now I can't speak for your trip, but I know going from Hartford, CT to Florida, the upgrade on any airline was only $100. Yes, its a 2 1/2 flight I know.
Even if its $300, it's probably worth it with bigger seats & looking at a 10 hour flight? I shudder. I can't even make it Aruba or Las Vegas & that's only a 4 hour flight without going stir crazy. God Bless ya!!