For decades – flying first class was a not in a lifetime experience for more than 99% of travelers. But thanks to the roaring growth of lucrative loyalty programs, more and more people can now experience the delights of flying in completely lavish style, at least once. But before you go and blow the mileage bank on one single flight – consider these tips to maximize your first class points experience.
Is your flight purely an overnighter? This is an occasion where unless an amazing nights sleep is your only goal (which you’ll rarely get on a plane, anyway), it may no be worth it. Overnight flights mean abbreviated everything. Less menu, less service, less time to tinker around and enjoy all that first class is about. Business class has beds anyway, after all. Flights such as those from Europe to Africa, US to South America, Asia to Australia or US to Europe are generally just overnighters.
Inconsistency is a thing in First Class. Of course, it’s all amazing up there, but which aircraft you fly can be the difference in a comfortable, ten year old standard seat – and a suite with a door you can close. There may even be a shower on board! Long story short: research which plane or which airline will offer the best first class you can unlock with your points. On Singapore, it could be the difference between a comfy old seat, a lovely seat with a door, or a private suite with a chair and a separate bed!
There are some wildly attractive business class suites out there. Yes, there are even suites and not seats in business class too. On certain airlines, it’s only very marginally worth it to spend the extra miles required to make the jump. On others however, when not too many extra miles are required – it can absolutely be worth it. For example, Alaska Mileage Plan only charges 70,000 points for first class on Cathay Pacific versus 62,500 for business. The two experiences are incomparable. Worth it! Other airlines however, maybe not!
Again – it’s all amazing up front, but as points collectors – we all want to “maximize”. Traditionally, you’ll always have the best experience flying an airline from their home base, rather than to it. Lufthansa’s first class terminal in Frankfurt is better than any lounge you’ll enjoy to get there. Same for Singapore, Air France, Qantas and so forth. We highly recommend trying to use points for first class where an airline is based. You’ll find higher quality food, beverage and treatment.
This may seem obvious, but there’s a bigger picture here. If it’s the difference in trying first class once, or not at all – go ahead, use points for a short first class flight. But if you’re invested in this amusing hobby and have the capacity to earn more points, why not save up for a flight over 8 hours, where you can really live it up – with time to enjoy and time to rest as well?
Which products would you say the difference between J and F is not worth the point differential? And you comment about home base, I am guessing this is because of the departure experience, correct? Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Still looking to do our first big long haul redemption.
Hey Davis, thanks for your great question.
Yes, my statement is absolutely based on the check in, lounge and ground experience.
I’d say… American Airlines, British Airways (unless it’s out of LHR t5), maybe even JAL, but JAL F is lovely. It’s just their business is so good. Others… Tough to say. It’s really about you. If you love vintage champagne, it’s almost always worth it for first. But if you don’t drink, many airlines would be very marginally better. Feel free to email me happy to discuss your personal ideas.
I will let you know in April. Flying BA award in F to LHR from SEA on an overnight about the Queen of the Skies. My return trip meets all of your criteria :
1 – Day trip from LHR to SJC.
2 – Flying the newest first class suite aboard the B789.
3 – Alternative? I could have redeemed 10000 miles less for crummy BA business class – no thank you.
4 – Departing BA homebase – LHR.
5 – Duration will be 11 hours.
This will be my first 787 flight and in the newest BA first class suite. I am so looking forward to the return flight.
I would consider that absolutely perfect. Nice duration, best BA experience offered, their best current plane and first class seat. Top marks Steve!
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