You know what sucks? Flying long haul in economy. Food is usually bland. You can’t sleep and you feel like crap when you land at your destination.
What if I gave you a 3-step method to fly from Europe to India in First Class for less than $2000? (Hint: you can also fly from US to Europe and back or from Europe to US with the same method for about $100 more) If you’ve only flown economy, you can’t start to imagine the experience of flying business or first class. Depending on the airline, they will send a car to pick you up at home and bring you to the airport. Then, you will get access to the fast checkin lane. No need to wait with hundreds of people. Same thing for the security. What about taking the fast track directly to the lounge. You will relax with a glass of champagne. Someone will then escort you to the plane (it sometimes involves a Porsche Cayenne or another cool car) where you will discover a whole new world: a seat who turns into a bed, gourmet meals and all-you-can-drink champagne (You’re right, I love champagne).
The experience continues after landing as you can access the lounge and take a shower before leaving the airport. If you want to leave the airport quickly, airline personnel will escort you through security and immigration. Did you know that some airline guarantee that you will be in your car 15 minutes after the airplane doors opened.
As you’ve been experiencing so far, I used to fly economy. Flying at the front of the plane was part of my wildest dreams. But I couldn’t imagine spending tens of thousands of Euros for this. I spent my money for crappy sandwiches in the terminal and I stayed in lines for hours until I discovered travel hacking. Travel hacking is the way of finding tricks and loopholes in the travel industry to maximise the travel experience. Travel is not free and never will be, but it can be cheap and very comfortable. It’s now been ten years I haven’t set foot in an economy cabin except on a few two-hours flights in Europe or Asia.
Today, I’d like to teach you an amazing method to get you to India in First Class for under $2000. If you want to fly in Business class, it will be under $1500. Almost the price of Economy!
Are you hooked?
In order to work with this method, you need to know a bit about the wonderful world of air miles. Most airlines have a frequent-flyer program to reward their best customers. The more you fly, the more miles or points you get. You can then use these miles for upgrades or flight tickets (Don’t think about using your miles to buy something from the airline shop – such as a suitcase or an iPod – this is the worst use of miles). The amount of miles you get for a flight is usually based on the airline flown, the class of service (economy, business or first), the distance flown and the price of your ticket. The best use of your miles is for award tickets on premium cabin of top airlines. Premium cabin means Business and First class. Top airlines means airlines such as Swiss, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, EVA air, Qatar airways, Etihad or Emirates. US airlines such as United, Delta or American Airlines usually don’t make it to my “top airlines” list.
First, I need to introduce you to my Colombian dealer. No, it’s not what you think.
Avianca is Colombia’s national airline and you will need to open a frequent flyer account with them even if you never plan to fly them. Their frequent flyer program is called LifeMiles. As Avianca is part of Star Alliance, one of the three main airlines alliance, you will be able to use LifeMiles to book your seats for your trip to India on Lufthansa First Class.
So, if you don’t have an account already, go to www.lifemiles.com and open it now. Joining LifeMiles is quick and easy. You’re less than 60 seconds away from the many benefits LifeMiles can offer. Come back here when you’re done, I’ll be waiting.
Are you back? Is your account ready? Good. Let me tell you why you need that account: you can get LifeMiles by flying any Star Alliance airline but you can also buy them. Usually you can buy 1,000 miles for $33. You can buy up to 150,000 miles per year (for the price of $4,950). Seems expensive? It is and I don’t want you to spend that amount. Except today! LifeMiles has a great promotion until September 10th, 2016 where you will get 130% bonus miles. That is if you buy 150,000 miles at $4,950, you actually get 195,000 bonus miles, for a grand total of 345,000 miles. That is 1.43 cent per mile (or CPM).
Now that you know that you can buy this, let see how you could use it.
As I said above, you should use the miles for award tickets on premium LifeMiles partners. The good news: Lufthansa is a partner and you can find availability on Lufthansa First Class with LifeMiles. Did you know that Lufthansa is the single largest consumer of caviar in the world? Lufthansa serves caviar to all its passengers in First Class.
Let’s look at the amount of miles we would need to fly Lufthansa First Class from Europe to India (or another Star Alliance airline to Sri Lanka, Maldives or Nepal).
LifeMiles has a pretty generous award chart. Here is part of it:
As you can see on the LifeMiles award chart, you need 60,000 miles for a one-way award ticket from Europe to Central Asia. 120,000 for a round trip. As we’re buying miles at 1.43 cent, we’re paying $1,716 for 120,000 miles. You will have to add the taxes, but we’re getting back to this in a minute.
You can search for flight availability on the LifeMiles website. Keep in mind that LifeMiles has access to Lufthansa First Class 14 days before departure. Let’s look at a First Class from Geneva to Delhi on September 15th.
There are three options on that day:
As you see, the system confirms that the flight will cost 60,000 miles. With LifeMiles, you only need 40% of this amount and you can buy the missing miles during checkout at the price of 1.5 cent per mile. Today this option is not the most interesting as we’re buying at 1.43, but when LifeMiles doesn’t have any promotion it can be interesting.
We can then review our flight booking.
We’re looking at Lufthansa 1213 from Geneva to Frankfurt connecting to LH76o to Delhi on the Airbus A380. 3 hours to connect is a good option in Frankfurt as it allows you to visit the First Class Terminal. Here is the seat you get when flying on Lufthansa First Class in the airbus A380:
Let’s have a look at our grand total here. To book this one-way flight from Geneva to Delhi, it costs us 60,000 miles + $96.33. At 1.43 cent per mile, 60,000 costs you $858. $858 plus 96.33 is $954.33. Less than $1,000 for a one-way Lufthansa First Class trip from Europe to India. Keep in mind that if you wanted to buy a regular ticket for this trip, it will cost you around $10,000.
As I said above, Lufthansa First Class tickets are only available 14 days before flying with LifeMiles. What if we want to travel around India for 2 months? We could buy a return ticket in Business class (45,000 miles + roughly $100, a total of around $750) or we can wait and buy the ticket just before coming back. Your call!
Buy your miles and get back to the booking page. Confirm the booking with passenger name and credit card number for the taxes. LifeMiles will show you your booking summary. WRITE DOWN YOUR CONFIRMATION NUMBER. Before closing the window, go to CheckMyTrip, and verify that your booking is correct. Within a few hours, CheckMyTrip should show you an eTicket number. You should also receive your electronic ticket by email from LifeMiles within a few minutes (sometimes the email doesn’t make it to your inbox, check your spam folder). If you don’t get any confirmation, you can always check on CheckMyTrip that the booking is correct (if you have an eTicket number, you should be all set).
After getting the eTicket number, I usually give a call to the operating carrier (in our case, Lufthansa) to check that the booking looks all good on their side and to confirm the seat assignment. Seatguru has seat maps of most airplanes and shows you which one you should avoid.
Things to keep in mind
- The LifeMiles call center is difficult to work with. If you need to call them, better not.
- You only need 40% of the amount of miles in your account for a ticket. LifeMiles will sell you the missing amount of miles at 1.5 cent per mile.
- Lufthansa First Class tickets are usually available 14 days before the trip
- You can get a First Class ticket for one way and returning in Business Class. It will cost you the price of the one-way first and one-way business tickets.
Will you buy a flight ticket? Feel free to comment below and share this article with your friends.