I can hardly contain my excitement about booking our first long-haul business class seats! Ever since I started travel hacking, flying in a premium seat on a long-haul flight has been one of my top goals.
What I realized I started to begin my trip planning is that there are not many US – Europe sweet spots for award flights especially during the summer. The few that I identified were as follows:
- Aer Lingus using British Airways Miles: Boston to Dublin (37.5k + taxes/fees in Business)
- Delta Airlines using Korean Air Miles: US to Europe (80k RT + taxes/fees in Business)
- Singapore Airlines: New York to Frankfurt // Houston to Manchester (49k + taxes/fees in Business)
I initially started searched for Aer Lingus premium award availability, but I think I was a little late to the game. Most of the summer award availability was gone. I figured last resort would be to fly BOS to DUB in economy for 12.5k Avios miles.
The next thing I did was try and book Delta business seats with Korean Air miles. You can read more about my mistakes and my struggle to book these seats in this blog post. Ultimately, Korean Air was either showing phantom award availability or someone beat me to the punch. I failed to book these seats and now have a ton of Korean Air miles, which I plan to use for some first class seats.
Searching for Award Space
So that left me with the Singapore Airlines flights. Re-positioning from Seattle to Houston is slightly easier than Seattle to New York City. Plus we always like visiting places we’ve never been. I started searching for availability on the Houston to Manchester route. My initial results were not promising. All the flights for the 5 days we could fly were waitlisted.
I also looked at what it would cost to book cash tickets. I was surprised that economy prices were only $328 per person. For a couple days, I considered booking these economy seats and then using miles to upgrade to premium economy. I did the math and found that it’d be pretty good value considering that premium economy would cost around $1k each. However, I put off booking it because they were nonrefundable I hadn’t asked for the time off of work.
Procrastination Pays Off
Fast forward to about three days later, I happened to be searching the Singapore Airlines website again. I plugged in the date we wanted to fly to Europe and there wasn’t just one seat there were TWO saver level business class award seats available! I was so excited that I just about jumped out of my seat.
In order to book this flight, I needed to transfer roughly 93k miles. I already had about 5k miles sitting in my account from an Air Canada flight I credited to Singapore Airlines. I decided to use a mixture of transferable points since pretty much all four of the major transferable points transfer to Singapore Airlines.
So I transferred 63k from my Citi TY Premier card and then another 30k from my Chase Ink Plus. The 63k Citi ThankYou Points that I transferred to Singapore Airlines primarily came from the Citi TY Premier signup bonus which I received in 2016. The other 30k of Chase Ultimate Rewards were earned from various methods, but primarily gift card arbitrage.
Points Posted – Flights Booked
For a day and a half I held my breath hoping no one else would take these two award seats. The Chase points posted to my account within 12 hours of initiating the transfer. The Citi TYP didn’t post until 34 hours after the transfer was initiated. The morning all the miles showed up I immediately hopped on my computer and the award seats were still available! I booked them right away especially since Singapore Airlines’ change/cancellation fees are reasonable.
My wife and I are so excited to experience a premium seat on this transatlantic flight. Best part is we’ll be able to lie flat and hopefully sleep on the flight. Singapore Airlines flies an Airbus A350-900 on this route, which has three classes: Economy, Premium Economy, and Business (no First class seats). Furthermore, I am pretty excited to finally try out the wonderful Singapore Airlines service that I’ve heard so much about.
The Cost Breakdown
The cash prices for two people in business was $5,452 when we booked our award tickets. These might have gone up or down since we booked.
We booked our award seats for 97,750 miles + $257 in taxes/fees. Here’s the math:
$5,452 – 257 = $5,195 | $5,195 / 97,750 miles = $0.053 per mile
Now let me put that in perspective. If I would have just redeemed the points for gift cards, I would have gotten a value of $0.01 per point. This business class award effectively gave me 5x the regular value. Now that’s what I call travel hacking!