Who wants to ride first class without paying first class prices? I do!
You’re probably wondering, is it really possible to ride first class without paying an arm and a leg? Or maybe I’m just pulling your leg?
It is possible and this isn’t a short infomercial gimmick. You can fly first class using the science and art that is called travel credit card hacking… Cue the heavenly music!
We flew first class on a very reputable airline with extraordinary service (Korean Airlines!) for a 15+hour plane ride. Sitting on an airplane will never be as comfortable as your bed, but it can get pretty darn close when you fly on one of the best airlines and sit in one of the best areas.
I’m going to delve into the steps involved to show how we were able to land first class seat tickets by paying only around $200 per person. That’s it.
The tickets were technically free, but all the miscellaneous airline fees added up to around $200.
At first I didn’t believe it myself. This travel hacking strategy must be one of the best kept secrets of the travel industry. However, there are numerous examples online from other websites and blogs about how to travel hack and use credit points. I’m going to show you our step by step strategy.
1 – Travel credit card sign up bonuses
We utilized the Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-bonus offering 100,000 travel points if we spent $4k in 3 months. After loading up all my fixed expenses like rent and bills and pre-paying for some necessities, I hit that $4k limit. The travel points are credited to my account once I pay my statement.
2 – Identify your airline/route
Since I had 100,000 in Chase Ultimate Rewards, I needed to know which airline I could fly using those points. Instead of looking at each airline one by one, I can check awardhacker.com. Type in your destination and origin in the website and it will generate flight point values for multiple airlines. It also shows which rewards program the airline will take, such a Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), Amex Membership Rewards, etc.
Now, you should be flexible on when/how you’re going to get there; sometimes your flights are priced lower if there’s a layover. Of course, the preferred route is a non-stop flight, but layovers can make a significant impact on the flight price.
My thinking was if I’m going to enjoy first class, it should be for an elongated flight. And we’ve always wanted to visit Shanghai just once. That flight is already a 15+ hour flight from Los Angeles. Also, any flight over 8 hours would include some sleepy time, so what better way to enjoy those fully reclining first class seats?
We looked at the option to fly from Shanghai to LAX with one layover on Korean Airlines (wow, Korean Airlines First Class!) 80,000 Chase UR points.
3 – Transfer your points
After knowing that the flight was going to cost 80,000 Chase UR points on Korean Airlines, we created an account on Korean Airlines. Then we accessed the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to convert our Chase UR points into Korean Airlines points while entering in our membership ID from the Korean Airlines account. After we hit submit, Chase sent a confirmation email immediately.
4 – Book the flight
The most fun part of this process is using points as currency to obtain the flight of your dreams. After you’ve transferred those membership points into Korean Airline points, you go on the Korean Airlines website, find the identical flight that you saw on awardhacker.com and book it in points! That’s it! It’s that simple.
The airlines will probably throw in some miscellaneous and quite annoying fees, but it’s nowhere near the cost of a first class flight. In our case, the flight was priced at around $6,000. We saved over $5800 per person. Not to mention, that the Chase Ultimate Rewards Card comes with lounge access and global entry as well. As another bonus, booking first class means being able to use the first class lounge that includes gourmet meals, drinks, quiet areas, and even a massage chair!
I documented the adventure of flying first class in my vlog, see for yourself here.
If even I could fly first class for just $200, you could as well! Why not sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve and start racking up those points? The referral program ended for the card, but here’s the link to the application anyway. I get nothing if you sign up for the card. This card enabled me to do many things like fly first class for only $200, so I’m sharing my experience!
Some fees associated with the card:
Annual Fee = $450
Travel credit = $300
Global Entry Benefit and Priority Pass Benefit = $100
If you add these things up, the effective fee for the card is $150. The card also comes with great benefits like travelers’ insurance, concierge service, and more. If you travel a lot, this card offers a lot of great benefits that may outweigh the price to afford the card.
Also, the Chase Reserve sign up bonus is no longer 100,000 points. It is only 50,000 points which makes it more difficult to rack up a first class ticket on Korean Airlines from Shanghai to LAX. However, 50,000 bonus points can still get you a decent first class flight, just check out awardhacker.com to see the options. Click here if you’d like to learn more about the Chase Reserve card.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your next vacation. Also, if this post inspired you to do anything or you learned anything, please show your support for my blog by either clicking on one of the affiliate links here(click on one of the gardening supply product links) and buying something through Amazon (I get a small like under 10% commission on it), following me on Instagram/Twitter, commenting, or visiting the blog.