I’ve flown all over the world the past 3 years writing this blog, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make my flight experience the best it possibly can be.
Now if you’re like me, and weren’t born rich or have a super high-paying job, you need to learn how to get the First Class experience without paying the First Class price.
I’ve put together a list of my favorite tricks I’ve learned over time, and regardless if you’re flying coach or First Class, these tips will make your next long flight an absolute pleasure.
Keep reading for details on how I just booked an ultra first-class $5,683 flight to Europe for just 110,500 points.
Here’s the first one, I just used it on a JetBlue flight from New York to Anguilla.
When I was checking in, the flight attendant told me that if you’re traveling as a couple, don’t book your seats right next to each other…
Find out why on the next page…
Instead, she said, “select the aisle seat and the window seat leaving the middle seat open.”
If you’re lucky, nobody will book the middle seat. If the plane is not full, this is a big possibility.
This works best if you’re booking for a premium seat (more legroom, etc.) because nobody wants to spend extra money to sit in the middle seat.
So if you do this, and worst case scenario, someone does have the middle seat. Just ask them to switch. It’s worked 100% of the time for me. People would always prefer to sit in the window or aisle instead of a middle seat anyway.
Coming up next: How to Use Points to Book a First Class Flight for Free
Learn How to Use Your Points to Book a First Class Flight
First of all, NEVER, EVER use your points for a flight within the United States.
If you want to experience ultra-luxury, the best use of your points is ALWAYS flying Internationally. This flight below, on Singapore Airlines, cost me just 107,500 miles.
I’ll go into more detail on how to actually book a Super First Class flight using points, but the starting point now is to get yourself an awesome points-earning card.
The best one on the market now is the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
It earns 3x points on dining and travel. So if you get the card, and book your flight on it, you earn 3X points.
The next best card only earns 2X points, so this is a huge deal.
Also, when you sign up and spend $5,000, you get 100,000 points. That’s almost enough points to get the flight on Singapore Suite Class. It does carry a $450 annual fee, but it totally pays for itself.
Have a huge person sitting in the middle seat next to you and you’re in the aisle?
Thanks to this trick, you get yourself and extra inch or two to breathe.
Some flight attendants may ask you to put your armrest down if they catch you, so try to do it only when the fasten seatbelt sign is off.
Flight cancelled or delayed? Don’t wait in line
Think ahead. When a flight is cancelled or severely delayed, there are hundreds (literally HUNDREDS) of people all rushing to the customer service counter to get themselves re-booked.
Instead of waiting on a 2 hour line like a herd of cattle to talk to an overwhelmed, overworked service representative who has probably been rudely talked to for the last few hours by disgruntled customers, call the airline and talk to them instead. Not only will you be helped significantly faster, but you will probably have an overall better, less stressful situation. To save you time, save the airline’s phone number in your phone beforehand. Every second counts.
Book online with private browsing
If you have checked out airfare in the past, chances are that the travel booking website you used has saved your search. Because they know you are interested, they will hike the prices of the flight after a few days so you feel more inclined to impulse by that flight.
Avoid this altogether by doing all of your travel searches on a private browser. With this enabled, the travel booking website cannot save your search, therefore avoiding all of that impulse buying.
If you want to avoid the screaming children, make sure to select your seat below the 10th row.
The airlines tend to stick babies in rows 1-10, mainly because they know the parents are going to need more time getting on and off the plane, so they board them first, and also let them exit first.
Your best bet is to book the exit row seats and spend the extra $50 or so.
I’ve flown more than 200,000 miles over the past couple of years, and these are the items I always bring with me.
After struggling through super long flights in economy, I realized that to make my flight a lot more bearable, I needed to bring along with me a dopp kit loaded with supplies that will keep me refreshed, entertained, and asleep (or awake).
So after all my travels, I’ve narrowed it down to these essential items.
A storage bag with tons of pockets
I put everything into one of these Flight 001 Seat Paks. What’s great about them is they have 4 zippered compartments so you can keep everything at hand and organized during your flight.
Plus they’ve got that little strap on the side that fits perfectly on the clasp for your reclining tray table.
As soon as I get in my seat, I strap it onto the tray table clasp and I’m good to go.
If you want to get your own, I picked mine up on Amazon for $28.
Fancy Hand Sanitizer That Won’t Dry Out My Hands
Sure, you could pickup the Purell sanitizer, but on an 8 hour flight, using that too many times will really dry out your hands.
That’s why I go for the Aesop hand sanitizer. Plus, if you’re in economy, the packaging and scent make you feel like you’re in First Class.
A Single Charging Cable That Charge All Your Devices
I’m an iPhone guy, which uses a Lightning connector. My backup iPhone battery uses a mini-usb.
So instead of carrying two cables, I use this one that has a built-in adapter for mini-usb.
It’s the best $10 you’ll ever spend.
Canned Water Spray to Keep You Hydrated On Long Flights
I was skeptical until I tried this out for myself.
It’s evian water put into a can form, and I use it whenever my flight is over 3 hours.
My skin gets dry on planes, and I would never think of using the water in the bathroom to wash my face, so that’s why I always pack these Evian bottles.
I picked up a 3-pack from Amazon and they’ve lasted me all year.
Apply for Global Entry & TSA Pre-Check to Breeze Through Security
If you have seen people jetting through security in 5 minutes or less, then you’ve felt the envy of those TSA Pre-Check flyers.
No, TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry is not reserved for pilots, diploamats, etc.
It is available to any US citizen (and maybe green card holders).
All you need to do is schedule a meeting at your local TSA office, most likely an airport, and then if you pass a routine background check you’re good to go.
Bonus: If you want to waive your $100 TSA pre-check fee, get one of these credit cards
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Citi Prestige
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire
- Amex Platinum
Wear lots of layers
This works to your advantage for lots of reasons, one of which is that airports and airplanes tend to be colder than warmer. By wearing various layers of clothes, you can start to discard them as your body temperature grows warmer.
Even better than that, however, is that by wearing several layers, you can bypass the carry-on luggage weight limit. Go through security with a few extra layers (we recommend wearing the heaviest items you plan on bringing… just remember not to look absolutely ridiculous like Joey from FRIENDS), then head into the bathroom and take off the extra layers once you’ve gotten to your gate. Shove the extra clothes into your carry-on and voila! Crisis avoided.
Avoid crowds: Fly red eye
There is something to be said for an overnight flight. Not only can you usually avoid the traffic and chaos of the airport by flying after 10 PM, but you can fall asleep during the flight and wake up just in time for landing.
Whenever I take a trip that is over 5 hours long, I try to book a red eye. More often than not, the planes themselves are less booked and you have more room to spread out. Not too long ago, on a trip to Las Vegas, my friends and I were all able to take our own ROWS of seats to sprawl out, lay down, and take some naps. You can’t beat it.
Moisturizers will prevent the dryness that usually appears during flights.
It’s a fact that airplanes are drier than being on the ground. The reason is because on the plane, there is only a certain amount of air available, and that is constantly being recycled on the plane.
To avoid this, I recommend bringing on board a tiny bottle of Evian water spray. It’s spring water in a spray bottle form. Trust me: nothing feels better than a refreshing spray of this after a 5 hour flight.
You can bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it at the gates.
Make sure to have water with you at all time, since you can easily get dehydrated while traveling.
Before going through security empty the bottle and fill it up again at the gate.
If you ran out while up in the air, just ask the flight attendant to refill it for you.
It will also save you $5.
To get a jump on the jet-lag, change your watch to your destination’s time zone.
You can play a little trick on your mind to avoid the awful jet-leg.
Set your wristwatch and your phone’s watch to your destination’s time zone and act accordingly.
Then, once you land at your destination, you need to do whatever it takes to stay up until at least 9pm.
I’ve flown Internationally countless number of times, and this is the best way to beat jet lag.
Airport food can be pretty gross, not to mention expensive, so pack your own snacks. Make them fresh and healthy too.
The meal and snack options on airports aren’t really the most healthy ones and to avoid feeling bloated and heavy after a meal, just pack your own.
If you’re traveling in the morning make sure to pack a lot of fresh fruit and some nuts (preferably not salted).
Instead of having a burger or pizza for lunch, bring a fresh salad and mix it with oil and vinegar just before consuming.
Instead of the airplane meal, you can bring some kus-kus with vegetables or a tuna sandwich.
Protein bars are also a good on-the-go option.
Take care of some onboard entertainment, charge up your power bank and download some off-line games.
You probably watched that movie before and sitcoms aren’t really your thing so how are you gonna keep busy during your flight?
Charge up you power bank and bring your own entertainment on your phone.
Download some games you can play off-line or your favourite movie.
Whatever suits you best.
You will be less rattled by turbulence if you sit next to the wing.
The wing is the main support system for the plane, and as the wings go, so goes the plane.
Just because the plane is made of metal, doesn’t mean that at times the front or aft of the plane aren’t bending in the air.
But if the plane is going up or down, the wings will always stay steady.
The airlines know this, and that’s why they charge more for these seats.
While others fight over the wall outlets, use the USB ports on the gate TVs.
The wall outlets on airports always seem to be taken, but no one thinks about the gate’s TV ports.
Be the smart guy and sneak behind the TV and take advantage of the USB port while others fight over the wall outlets.
A hoodie can be very handy: you can use it to block out light, instead of a blanket, or as a pillow.
Hoodie is a very practical piece of clothing, not to mention probably the most comfortable option. You will:
- stay warm during the flight
- block out light when trying to get a nap
- fold it into a comfy pillow
- look badass when arriving to your destination
Jeans are a terrible idea when you have to set for long periods. Choose sweatpants or leggings.
You don’t have to forget about looking good when traveling comfortably.
It’s a great thing that sweatpants became so fashionable, as they are the best choice when you have to run through terminals and sit throughout your flight.
For extra comfort bring PJs on your flight and change just after takeoff.
A sleep collar looks dumb but it will work better than any pillow.
The problem with a pillow is that it doesn’t fixate your neck which will make it difficult to sleep and sore after.
This collar, however, works wonders.
You can use an additional pillow to provide you a soft surface when tilting to sleep.
To reduce stress caused by your flight, go for a run before. It will also help you sleep.
Physical activity won’t just get you a better sleep the night before your flight, since you will burn your energy, it will also make you feeling fresh and energized on the day of your trip.
We suggest you take a short run and don’t forget to mildly stretch your legs about 15 minutes after workout.
This will also reduce stress that we often feel when traveling.
During your flight drink or eat something tomato flavored. It helps with the weird taste in your mouth.
The dry air in the plane makes a weird taste in your mouth and to get rid of it it’s best to drink some tomato juice.
The tomato flavor is said to taste pleasantly fruity in its aroma unlike most of other foods served under cabin pressure.
Gift your flight attendants
Imagine for a second that you job is to fly three flights a day, spending weeks at a time away from your family and friends. There are crying children, grumpy adults, and the constant risk that something could go wrong.
Flight attendants don’t have the easiest job in the world, so it’s both polite and beneficial to you to give them a little gift of thanks. Several flight attendants have vouched for the fact that they give preferential treatment to those who don’t treat them like an on board servant. A simple box of chocolates works wonders, and will probably leave you as their favorite customer for that particular flight.
If the flight isn’t booked, there is always a chance that the flight attendant will think of you and move you to a seat with more leg room, or provide you with an on-the-house mini bottle of alcohol for your kindness.
Get cheaper parking
Take JFK for example: If you park your car at the terminal, you’re going to be paying $33 per day in parking fees. That adds up, depending on the length of your vacation, to being another plane ticket.
Opt out of the extraneous parking fees by checking out discount park and ride websites. These are designed to help you find discounted parking, sometimes at 1/3 of the airport’s original price. You can’t beat it.
Look into TSA pre-check
If you are flying in the United States, you may be eligible for TSA pre-check.
This provides trusted travelers with expedited TSA screenings, and is available at over 160 airports in cooperation with 16 airlines. As someone who has used TSA pre-check in the past, I can say with 100% certainty that it makes the entire traveling experience much more enjoyable. While everyone else is waiting on that pesky 2 hour TSA line, you can get in and out in 15 minutes with plenty of time to spare before your flight.
Know how busy your airport is
There is nothing worse than getting to your airport with 45 minutes to spare only to be faced with a 90 minute TSA line. If you did not sign up for TSA pre-check and have no other options but to wait on line, you would have benefited by downloading an app that specializes in airport wait times.
My TSA will tell you not only how long the current TSA wait time is, but all about any other delays you may be likely to experience. If you download the app and give it a look a few hours before your flight, you will be able to plan accordingly.
Weigh your bags beforehand to prevent delays and extra expenses
Nearly all airlines have a weight limit for your checked bags. Make sure that you do not go over this limit by placing your bag onto a scale the morning of your trip. If you come dangerously close to the number or are already over, I recommend shoving a few items into your carry-on in order to avoid the hassle of having to do this at the airport.
There is nothing worse than being late for a flight already and having to go through your luggage in the middle of an airport to decide what to shove into your carry on luggage — or, worse yet, having to pay $50 in baggage fees because you’re 5 pounds over the limit.
You can bring as much liquor onboard as you like, as long as the bottle doesn’t exceed 100ml.
Be prepared and pack 0,33ml bottles of your favourite liquor which you can bring through security with no hassle.
The entertainment will provide itself.
Although don’t go overboard with the amount, it’s easier to get drunk while 3000 miles up in the air.
Buy your airline tickets on Tuesdays to get the lowest rates
It is a proven fact that Tuesday is the cheapest day of the week to purchase your airline tickets. The cheaper airlines, such as JetBlue and Southwest, post their deals early on Tuesday morning.
The more expensive airlines then lower their prices sometime in the mid-afternoon to remain competitive. By the time Wednesday comes around, sales are gone and it goes back to being business as usual, so make sure to get your tickets while they are at their very cheapest.
Buy a one-day pass into the VIP lounges
Although this is not an option in all airports, it is certainly something to look into. If you have a long flight ahead of you, there is nothing more relaxing than to start your travels in luxury.
Airport VIP lounges, which are usually reserved for frequent travelers who spend tons of money annually, can usually be afforded by regular travelers when they purchase a daily pass.
If you bring an extra pair of underwear and a t-shirt onboard, you can change right after your flight and it will instantly make you feel better.
The best thing you can pack in your carry-on are some fresh undies and a t-shirt.
Most of us feel kinda gross after a long flight, so change into your fresh clothes right after landing and you will feel as good as new.
Also, have your toothbrush with you, and wash off that awful plane-taste in your mouth.
Bonus: I like to carry with me self-cleansing wipes to freshen up before I land. I pick up these Dude Wipes, and swear by them, especially after an 8+ hour flight.
Choose the TSA checkpoint all the way to the left for the shortest line
It may seem ridiculous, but there is scientific evidence behind this. Because the majority of people are right-handed, their natural inclination is to go to the right. This causes more delays and longer lines.
By being mindful of this fact and opting to go to the left, you will save yourself a lot of time and stress. When in doubt, think of Beyonce and you’ll know what to do.
Mark your suitcase as “fragile”
TSA members will treat your suitcase with a bit of extra respect if you mark your suitcase as having fragile items inside. More often than not, your suitcase will end up at the top of the pile when being loaded into the plane, as well.
This means you will get your suitcase first, resulting in a faster arrival process.
On the next pages I’ll show you how to fly with a private bed in the sky.
According to Consumer Reports, You May Actually Want to Buy Travel Insurance. A $50 Policy Can Pay You Back $1,000
We’ve all seen the ads while we’re checking out on Jetblue or whatever carrier we’re booking on.
We’ve just booked our flight, and we’re getting a “great deal” to buy travel insurance on our flight.
Geeze — you just spent a ton of money on the flight, now they’re asking you to spend even MORE? And on Insurance of all things.
The truth is, it actually makes sense to buy travel insurance in a couple situations:
- If you are traveling overseas, and your ticket is over $1,000, a travel insurance policy of $50 is well worth the investment.
- Most lost luggage takes five days to return to its owner, and if you have travel insurance you can get cash immediately to replace your bag
- If you are traveling to an exotic locale, and there’s a chance you could get sick, the travel insurance policy will pay for your healthcare (which if you’ve ever been to a hospital in a 3rd world country, will be extremely necessary)
- Your existing health insurance may not cover you if you’re traveling overseas, so travel insurance is a great backup if you have any chronic health issues
For all other short flights, definitely do not buy travel insurance. People spent $2 billion on travel insurance last year, and in cases like this, it isn’t worth it.
If you do want to buy insurance, use a site like InsureMyTrip.com, don’t buy it through the airlines or travel agencies directly.
Here’s how to fly with a private bed in the sky
I just landed from an 8 hour flight in Singapore Suites, where I slept like a baby next to my wife in a queen size bed.
How’d I do it?
Using points. It was just 110,500 points for each flight, which would have set me back a cool $6,000 if I paid cash.
I go over the secrets of booking Singapore Suite class with miles in this post.