I started off with the simple question, “how many miles do you need for a free flight in first class?” My question led me on a journey around the world 6 times in the most amazing First Class cabins in the sky.
Keep reading for how you can book First Class flights for free with points.
This Is My Story of Flying The World First Class for Free With Points
I grew up in a single-parent household, and we never had any money for vacations.
My first “International” trip was a $300 Carnival cruise to the Bahamas. Needless to say, it’s not something I would recommend to anyone, and it left me with the impression that International travel was just not in my future.
That is, until I took my first “First Class” flight. I was in Orlando with my soon to be wife @ThreadTherapy, and we had our flight canceled. We rebooked for the next morning, and had the option to upgrade for just $70.
It all started at boarding. We got called first, had plenty of space in the overhead bin, had the flight attendants look genuinely happy to see us, and once we were seated were greeted with a glass of champagne (actually mimosas, it was an 8am flight).
I told @ThreadTherapy on that flight that I was going to figure out how we could fly first class, whenever possible, from now on, even though we couldn’t afford to pay for it.
I was going to learn how to fly for free with points.
3 years later, we’ve flown first class more than 20 times, and have traveled to Tokyo, Thailand, Singapore, and everywhere in between.
Now it’s your turn.
I’ve taken all the knowledge I’ve learned on how to fly first class for free and condensed it into a single article for you so you can tell share the luxuries of first class with whoever is special in your life.
If traveling around the world in style for next to nothing sounds like something you may be interested in, you’re in luck. I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it and how you can do it for yourself, too!
First Class: The full experience
Singapore Suites First Class
Singapore Suites is our preferred airline for a number of reasons. For starters, if you save up on frequent flyer miles like I do, you can get an almost $9,000 flight for just $500 a person.
All I had to do was transfer 93,500 points from AMEX to Singapore Airlines for our tickets and I was flying in style; watching tv, wearing complementary Givency pajamas, and sipping some of the world’s finest champagne (choice of Krug or Dom Perignon) before our plane ever even left the tarmac.
Here’s how to book Singapore Suites Class using points and miles:
Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer program, KrisFlyer, is where it all begins. Once your points are transferred, you can begin looking for your flight. Singapore Airlines is a part of the Star Alliance Network, a network of partner airlines, which means that you can fly using any of the airlines available.
There are some great redemptions using Singapore Air points for domestic first class, which I share with my newsletter subscribers.
Here’s How to Book Singapore Suites with Points
Keep in mind first and foremost that award availability is highly dependent on the route.
To get started, you must log into your KrisFlyer account. Once you have logged in, enter the search information you wish to receive and click the “Redeem Flights” button.
This will allow you to see not only what flights are available, but how many points each flight will ultimately cost you.
Choose the flights you wish to accept by clicking the bubble below “Available”. Here you will choose both your departure and return flights. You will then see a screen prompting you to continue as it goes over the costs of your trip. Look it over, make sure you are satisfied, and click continue. Now it’s the fun part!
Now that you are booked, it’s time to choose which suite you’d like, pick a main course to eat while flying, and even book a specific chef if you’d like! You’re going to be flying high in first class, so you may as well take advantage of it and savor every second.
Here’s Where Singapore Suites Flies
- NYC to Frankfurt
- NYC to Frankfurt to Singapore
- Los Angeles to Seoul
- San Fransisco to Hong Kong
Emirates First Class
When my wife and I planned a trip using Emirates First Class, we knew we were in for something exceptional. The tickets to Europe ended up costing $18,000, but we got them for just $1,000 because of our accumulated airline miles. We went from New York to Milan, Milan to Dubai, Dubai to Phuket, and then took an Air Thailand Business Class flight from Phuket to Tokyo. From there, it was back to Emirates to head to Dubai from Toyko, and then from Dubai back home to New York.
These tickets should have cost us $18,000. The $1,000 it ended up costing us has turned out to be some of the best money I’ve ever spent.
Having taken all these flights, I’ve been able to refine my favorite travel essentials I bring on every flight.
Tips for Booking Free Flights with Miles
For anyone not familiar with booking free flights with your miles, this can seem like a daunting task. Many people often feel like they are somehow doing something wrong or “cheating the system” because they are getting expensive airline tickets for little to no cost at all, but that is simply not the case. You earned these miles fair and square and there is no shame in using them. If anything, you should be proud of yourself for getting this far.
That said, there are a few important tips to keep in mind to help the booking process go more smoothly. Let’s get started:
• Booking over the phone is faster and more efficient than booking online.
This is typically said to be true of any travel plans, but it is a million times more important when you are booking with points. Many international trips include stops. This often means layovers, switching flights, etc. In order to make sure you have an optimal experience, you need to rely on the experts. Talk to the airline themselves, explain that you are using your points, and have them help you find the best route for your trip. There is no shame in asking for help, especially not when its your vacation at stake.
• Consider booking a RTW ticket.
RTW tickets, also referred to as “round the world” tickets, are unique ticket types that allow their passengers to take a full trip around the world, with a certain number of miles and/or stops. These tickets often cost less than if you purchased individual ticket segments, which makes them the better, more cost efficient choice than booking a regular airline ticket. That said, it is not for everyone, but it is something that should be considered.
• You can’t always get what you want.
You must be flexible when booking flights using your points. Sometimes, no matter how badly you want something to work out, it just won’t. Certain airlines don’t have the connections you need for your trip, certain dates are blacked out when booking — whatever the case, flexibility is key. You need to be willing to bend your dates and even your destinations, as availability is limited depending on the airline.
Best Credit Cards for Earning Miles
Having any old credit card isn’t going to do the trick anymore. You need to find cards that are going to give you the most bang for your buck — and, in this case, the most frequent flyer miles. Many credit card companies are more than willing to entice you to join by offering can’t-pass-up incentives. It’s up to you to figure out which card works best for you and your family’s unique requirements, but I’ve compiled a list of some of the top notch credit cards and what you can (and will) get out of them.
I’m not going to lie to you. The annual fee for the Amex Platinum card, at $450, is pretty high for anyone whose last name isn’t somehow connected to A-List celebrity status. But when it comes to offering luxury perks, few do it quite like the Amex Platinum card. You earn membership reward points for every purchase. For example, if you manage to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of having the card, you will earn 40,000 membership points that can be used for dining, merchandise, and (most importantly!) travel. You also earn 5x membership points for all travel booked using this card.
Amex also offers a unique $200 Airline Fee Credit, which means that you can receive up to $200 a year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments, are charged by the airline to your card account.
This makes it the perfect credit card for a frequent flyer, as they will earn travel miles simply by using their credit card on everyday purchases.
Let’s face it: reward cards are nothing new. There are 3 being mentioned in this post alone, and countless others available if you do a little research. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is often mentioned in league with ‘the best of the best’ because of its seriously structured (and beneficial) reward program. Here’s how it works: You can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, which is similar to that Amex card mentioned above.
What you may not realize, however, is that you just earned $1,500 towards travel when you redeem this through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And if you don’t want to book through Chase? You still have a 1:1 transfer point value to their transfer partners, such as Southwest Airlines, United MileagePlus Expolorer, Marriott, Hyatt, and Ritz Carlton.
You will also receive up to $300 annually in travel expenses, and 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining.
This card does not allow you to transfer points to airline programs, which is almost always the best way to fly first class using points.
Instead, this card is similar to the Venture card you see advertised with Jennifer Garner’s pretty face.
You earn 2 points for every dollar you spend, and then you can use those points to be re-imbursed for travel expenses you accrue.
ie You book a flight on United, that costs $500, you can then redeem 50,000 points and have that removed from your bill
This isn’t a great redemption, just at $.01 per point, BUT thanks to the Bank of America preferred banking program (if you qualify by having $100,000 in your bank accounts), you get an extra 75% bonus on all points earned.
So you would earn 2.625 points per dollar, making this an excellent card for booking hotels and paying for cheap business class fares you find.
I use my Bank of America card for AirBnb, as well as booking amazing villas like this one above (and where we got married) on LuxuryRetreats, and if I have enough points, the villa is 100% FREE!
How Many Miles For a Free Flight on United, Delta, AA & More
How many miles for a free economy flight on American Airlines. This is based on the American Airlines award chart from March 2017 for domestic flights:
- MileSAAver: 7,500 (flights under 500 miles)
- MileSAAver: 12,500
- AAnytime Level 1: 20,000
- AAnytime Level 2: 30,000
How many miles for a free economy flight on Delta. This is based on the Delta award chart from March 2017 for domestic flights:
- General membership: 5 miles per dollar
- Silver Medallion: 7 miles per dollar
- Gold Medallion: 8 miles per dollar
- Platinum: 9 miles per dollar
- Diamond: 11 miles per dollar
How many miles for a free economy flight on United. This is based on the United award chart from March 2017 for domestic flights:
- Basic members earn five times the fare on flights, while Premier members can earn between seven and 11 times the fare price depending on status.
How many miles for a free economy flight on JetBlue. This is based on the JetBlue award chart from March 2017 for domestic flights:
- JetBlue uses a points-miles direct system. This means that 1 mile is worth $.01, so on and so forth.
How many miles for a free economy flight on Alaska Airlines. This is based on theAlaska Airlines award chart from March 2017 for domestic flights:
- Every 1.8 cents spent goes towards 1 mile of travel.