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Over the last few years, I’ve had the fortunate pleasure of flying many first class awards around the world. There’s nothing special about me (trust me), it’s just a tribute to the value of understanding travel rewards and learning how to reap their massive benefits. If you’re responsible with your credit and willing to learn a few tricks and do a little planning, you can easily manage at least one epic trip per year. I think that’s a pretty solid goal for most people, depending on their work schedules.
I hope this gives you an idea of the value of travel rewards points and motivates you to start planning your next trip!
My Top 5 Favorite First Class Award Flights
Let’s start at #5 and work our way to the top…
5. Thai Airways 747 MUC-BKK
Award Price: 115,000 United award miles & $153.30
Cash Price: $3,509
Earning: You can earn United miles through the Chase co-branded United personal & business cards. Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus, and Freedom & Ink Cash if you hold one of the previously mentioned cards, can be transferred into United MileagePlus miles instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
Booking: You can search for and book on United.com. Thai Air is in the Star Alliance, so there are other options, too.
4. Cathay Pacific LAX-HKG
Award Price: 67.500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles & $5
Cash Price: $9,000!
Earning: American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be earned through the Citi co-branded personal & business Platinum select cards and the World Elite Executive.
Booking: You can search for Cathay Pacific award availability on the British Airways website. Once you find availability, you will then call American Airlines at 1-800-882-8880 to book your award. I booked my flight as a business class award first and then upgraded a couple of weeks before departure. Cathay Pacific is in the OneWorld alliance, which gives you other options, and they are a partner of Alaska Airlines as well.
3. Qantas A380 DFW-SYD
Having the upstairs lounge area helped because it gave us a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy a change of environment. We experienced great service and the meal service was good, too. Plus, if you’re going to fly for that long, you may as well look for quality first class flights.
Award Price: 72,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles & $27.80
Cash Price: $10,978!!
Earning: American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be earned through the Citi co-branded personal & business Platinum select cards and World Elite Executive.
Booking: You can search for & book this Qantas award on the American Airlines website. Qantas is also a part of the OneWorld alliance.
2. Lufthansa 747-8i FRA-IAD
After the terminal, we parlayed the party to the nose of the 747-8i plane. Flying in the nose can be a little noisy, but it’s a cool experience, and I always like flying the 747-8i. What was extra fun was that our party of 4 had the whole back area.
We actually only shared the cabin with one other passenger who slept the whole time. The service was fun and attentive, meal service was great, and the hard product is solid. This was truly one of the most unique first class flights. Great experience.
Award Price:110,000 United MileagePlus miles and $188.30
Cash Price: $8,819
Earning: You can earn United miles through the Chase co-branded personal UnitedMileagePlusCard & business cards. Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus, and Freedom & Ink Cash if you hold one of the previously mentioned cards, can be transferred into United MileagePlus miles instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
Booking: You book this flight on United.com, but First Class availability won’t populate until 14 days before departure, and you may have to call United to book. You can also use Aeroplan, ANA, and Avianca miles for Lufthansa First Class since they are a part of the Star Alliance. Also, you can earn Lufthansa miles through their Barclaycard co-branded card, but beware of the high fuel surcharges on their award flights.
1. Singapore Suites A380 NRT-LAX
The service we received on this flight was the best I’ve ever had on a plane. They even brought out a cake for us to help celebrate our anniversary. We were popping bottles of Dom Perignon & Krug, comparing the two, and enjoying every minute of the amazing meal service. The wagyu steak I had was the best beef I’ve had on a plane, and I really enjoyed the lobster thermidor as well. When it was time to wind down, they made the two suites in the middle out to a double bed. Truly one of the most unbelievable first class flights.
Award Price: 74,375 Singapore Krisflyer miles & $132.50
Cash Price: $5,000
Earning: You can transfer Citi ThankYou, American Express Membership Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards to the Singapore Krisflyer program. Great to have multiple options!
Booking: You can search for & book Singapore Airlines flights on their website after logging in to your account. Singapore Airlines is also in the Star Alliance, so there are other options.
Wrap Up of My Favorite First Class Flights
First Class award travel isn’t on everyone’s to-do list, and that’s fine. You can spread out your miles more for economy or business class flights. And business/first cabins, like we flew recently on LAN’s 787, are becoming more of a trend, which is fine with me.
What’s next for us? Well, this year I’ll be flying the Emirates A380, which has a full-service shower, and the new Etihad apartments.
If you’re interested in earning miles to redeem for first class flights, check out the following posts so you can earn for your purchases:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.