So I’ve flown on 25+ business class flights on five star airlines, stayed at 3 different private villa hotels and have accumulated over 2 million airline miles and hotel points. All in the last 4 years alone! Oh and I make less than $40,000 a year… And no I’m not in debt.
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve figured out how to use the credit card points the system to my benefit.
Can anyone do this? Yes. But it’s not for everyone. For real.
So you know when you buy something that has a mail in rebate to convince you that you’re actually paying less? Only about 15% of people actually go through the hassle to send in the paperwork. And even those who do, 99% forget all about it after they put in the mail. So now the company can claim they never got it and the chance of you following up are about 0-1%.
You get the gist. Credit card companies, airlines and hotels are exactly the same way. They entice you with loads of points, miles and dream vacation. But secretly they expect you not to maximize their value.
Case in point: Did you ever get a catalog of electronics from an airline excitingly telling you how you can “use” your miles for a brand new tablet? For like 120,000 miles you can buy a tablet that’s worth $175. Meanwhile those same miles can buy you an experience of a lifetime that usually costs close to $10,000.
So here are my 10 Commandments of the Mileage Game.
(If you can’t follow these, than this game is NOT for you.)
- Know the value of points you accumulate and how to get the most of them. Say you blow 50,000 United miles on a domestic first class standard award, this game is not for you. My brother actually did that a couple years ago and it still hurts me to think about it.
- Ignore all advertisements for credit card sign up bonuses with taglines like “miles you can use” or “that’s more than enough miles for a free roundtrip ticket” etc. (Yes, I’m talking to you Capital One!)
- Pay all your credit card bills in full EVERY month. The moment you start paying interest or late fees due to negligence or overspending, you cut up all your credit cards immediately. This rule is non negotiable!!
- Know what’s in your wallet. Every credit card has different benefits and bonuses, know when to use them and for what.
- DO NOT let miles or points expire. AwardWallet.com is a great tool to help you with that. Also before you cancel a card, be sure you aren’t going to lose the miles or points that card has earned you.
- Do not pay any credit card annual fee without getting some sort of incentive from the Credit Card issuer or if the benefits outweigh the annual fee. (You should still call for an incentive though.)
- Actively look for ways to get the most out of your miles and points. Promos, loopholes, and even mistakes. Also be sure to be on the lookout of devaluations from the airlines and make your plans before they go into effect.
- Do not jump on every offer or opportunity. Only zero in the offers that help you plan that dream vacation or give you the miles you need.
- The simple way is not always the best way! Like using 30,000 British Airways to fly British Airways Across the Atlantic is a terrible idea (once you notice the $500+ fuel surcharges)
- Don’t give away miles and free tickets to people who don’t value miles and points. They will disappoint you. (Yes it happened to me.)
Ok so maybe one of the nicest, but for sure the top 5. Meet Reid Worrel. He’s been an airplane enthusiast since he’ was 11 years old. He talks about flying like artists talk about colors. He’s just an overall pleasure to be around.
ZJ caught up with Reid last week and posed the following four questions:
Question 1. What made you want to become a pilot? I’ve always loved flying. It’s been such a passion of mine since I was young.
Question 2: What’s the largest airplane you’ve ever flown? American Airlines shiny new CRJ 900
Question 3: What was the most spectacular thing you’ve ever seen while flying? I got to see the Eclipse!
Question 4: What is your dream airplane you’d like to fly? The 757 is all time favorite. It also happens to be fuel efficient.
Ok so maybe one of the nicest, but for sure the top 5. Meet Reid Worrel, He’s been an airplane enthusiast since he’s been 11 years old.
Did you ever hear of a Basic Economy fare?
See Also: How to Book Airline Tickets like a Pro
Low fare airlines have been popping up all over the world. Hence the amazing deals by the legacy airlines who we’ve been jacking up the prices and reducing the services for the last 20 years. Now they have to reckon with the likes of Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit AIr.
Now while flying in 28″ legroom, hard as hell seats is highly unrecommended for flights over 45 minutes. Not to mention the nickel and diming for every conceivable convenience. However, it’s becoming more of an option for frequent fliers who are just looking for the cheapest way to get from point A-B.
So… the airlines figured they’d compete by offering a new reduced service phenomenon to our disadvantage called “Basic Economy.” You may have seen it mentioned when trying to book a super low fare you were excited to book. Like this one:
Now for those of us who want to select seats in advance or have a chance at an upgrade, Delta figured out how to squeeze an extra $15 out of us.
So now for the question “Is it worth the extra $15 to fly in “Regular” economy? If you have status with one of the Legacy Airlines then I say yes. But if not, it may actually be worth it. Because if you have no status, you’re kinda flying Basic Economy either way.
Here’s a sample of American Airlines Basic Economy Restrictions compared to “Regular Economy.”
Now here’s the comparison of the different airlines that offer Basic Economy: (Courtesy of Point Me to The Plane.)
|American Airlines||Delta Air Lines||United Airlines|
|Boarding||Last Group||Last Group||Last Group|
|Carry-On||Personal Item Only*||Regular Rules Apply||Personal Item Only*|
|Elite-Qualifying Credits||Reduced (Half EQM/EQS)||Regular Rates||None|
|Changes/Refunds||None Permitted||None Permitted||None Permitted|
|Seat Assignment||Extra Fee, or at check-in||At Check-in||At Check-in|
|Elite Upgrades||None Offered||None Offered||None Offered|
*Passengers with elite statuses and co-branded credit cards will still be able to bring a full-size carry-on onboard with both American and United.
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I’ve never flown International First Class. I tend to strive for Business Class. I know what kind of Travel Geek am I? All the Travel Bloggers out there seem to drool over the idea of a first class experience. The reason being is simply because, except for United & British Airways’s 777 (avoid those two like the plague)
Or you might get stuck in one of these they call Business Class ——->
I’ve never felt the need for more room or better service. I don’t need someone kneeling at my side every five minutes asking what they do for me.
Deep down, I’m dying to experience Cathay’s Best Bed in the Sky, Singapore Suites or even take a shower on Emirates and Etihad! But for now we’ll go with the former 🙂
Before we give you our top three. make sure to Sign Up for these 3 Points Programs! That way you’ve already taken one step towards enjoying a business class seat 🙂
So here are some of my best business class experiences I’ve ever had.
Toronto Canada to Taipei, Taiwan
Royal Laurel (Business) is the highest class on EVA so you have their full, undivided attention, it may also have been because the business class cabin was nearly empty. Either way, I’ll take it. One of the best long haul flights I’ve ever been on. Quiet cabin, superb, attentive service but not too in your face. Oh, and the flight attendants practically knelt before us when they speak to us. Must be a Taiwanese thing. EVA’s amenity kits, especially the case they come in, are pretty awesome. The contents are all standard but the presentation is what takes the cake.
The only negative of the flight is that the Captain did not make ANY announcements. Not before, during or at the end of the flight. All the announcements were made by the flight attendants. IDK why I cared but I just found it a bit weird.
Fun Fact: EVA Air has a few airplanes that are all decked out in Hello Kitty gear.
Japan Airlines 787 Sky Suite
New York JFK – Tokyo Narita
Not all 787s have the Sky Suite! So check HERE to make sure your route features the JAL Sky Suite.
If you’re traveling solo, opt for the window seat. It’s almost completely private. Seat is one of the most comfortable I’ve sat on. One of the greatest features of the suite is the entertainment screen and handset where you can order your meal/snack/drink anytime during the flight! Service was impeccable.
Fun Fact: Did you know that you can book the JAL Sky Suite for only 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way?
KLM 787 World Business Class
Amsterdam – Salt Lake City
KLM’s World Business Class IMHO is the elite of the european carriers. Not first class (that honor goes to Air France and Lufthansa.) But as far as Business Class service, I just loved my flight on KLM.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves 🙂
Fun Fact: KLM is the only airline (that I know of) that gives each business class passenger a gift (pictured below) at the end of the flight.
So there you have it. My three favorite Business class products. (That I’ve flown) Other great business class include Singapore Air, ANA, Virgin Atlantic, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific (I did fly them but felt EVA Air was better) Qatar, and Korean Air.
Here is one card that can get you a one way ticket in any of those business seats: Chase Ink Preferred will net you 85K Chase points that can be transferred to United (for booking on EVA) to Flying Blue (for booking on KLM) and to Singapore Air as well!