My successful first class experience strategy

The best strategy to fly First Class for almost free

[email protected] Airlines, Flying, Travel ideas 19 Comments

I used this strategy and found this to be the best strategy to fly First Class for almost free, or by paying close to nothing. 

This strategy is one of the best strategies for us Canadians. In countries such as USA and Europe, there are a lot of options. Unfortunately, in Canada, there are very few options. Therefore, one needs to figure out what works for them? I assure you that this strategy worked for me and would work for any Canadian looking to score executive class travel options without spending money in executive style.

In this post, I will share my strategy. In the next post I will share my flight experience in First Class of Lufthansa. And the next post will be about my strategy on how I scored business class in Japan Airlines using points? The following post will be about how my experience was in Japan Airlines Business Class flights from Delhi to Tokyo to Vancouver? In addition to these posts, I will have another article about the overall experience. For starters, I flew on

Calgary to Frankfurt – Air Canada DREAMLINER – ECONOMY CLASS

Frankfurt to Delhi – LH A380-800 – FIRST CLASS

How I flew on First-Class

How I booked in First and Business class is a trick that worked for me? And I flew in First Class without shelling a lot of money. I will tell you how much I spent at the bottom of this page. You will be surprised how easy this strategy is and how you can use it to your advantage too?

One thing you need to know it wasn’t an easy flight to find. I spent countless hours searching for the perfect flight where I can maximize my points value. I used a family/friends referral to apply for an AMEX Business Platinum card. If I applied directly with AMEX I would’ve received 40,000 AMEX MR Points. Since I used a family/friends referral I received 75,000 AMEX MR Points.

I converted these points into Aeroplan Miles at 1:1 ratio and the transfer was instant. The requirement was to spend $7K in 3 months from the account opening date. Which was easy considering I own a business? You can have a personal AMEX Platinum if you don’t own a business.

If you want to apply and get extra AMEX MR Points, feel free to use my family/friends link below. Remember the points difference can be huge between a direct application and an application from the referral code.

Coming back to the point of this post. I assure you that finding a flight that works for you and your points was not and will not be an easy find. The big problem is that when you use Aeroplan miles for flights on Air Canada, the airlines will charge you hefty carrier surcharge. However, when you fly on other airlines the surcharge is generally very low.

Home Calgary to Home Delhi

Just like any high-value award travel booking, the first leg was challenging. I was trying to fly on Cathay Pacific in First-Class. Until 4 days before the flight, I couldn’t get myself into Cathay Pacific so I gave up. Therefore, I decided to checkout Aeroplan and scored an excellent deal. It was AC/LH deal of Calgary Frankfurt Delhi on Business and 1st Class using my strategy.

Air Canada – I used Aeroplan Airmiles and booked the ticket. Problem with Aeroplan is, they only get 3% to 5% business class seats on AC. Once they are filled, they don’t give you a confirmed reservation in Business class. You’ll be booked in business class as a standby but will confirm you in economy class. And at the time of boarding, they will upgrade you if seats were available.

If you are stuck with the business class Air Canada seat then use Expert Flyer. This tool will help you to find out if seats are available on a certain flight and you can set up an alert to stay informed about the seat availability.

I booked and paid for business class and I was confirmed for an economy class seat while I was standby in Business class which I never got. So I had to travel in Economy class from Calgary to Frankfurt. Since I have already talked about Economy class in the past I won’t waste your time and my time talking about it. However, you can read about it here.

Air Canada and Lufthansa are Star Airlines partners. Therefore you are able to book Star Alliance members flights using Aeroplan. And I was glad I could book it.

Booking requirements

For Economy class ticket to Delhi from Calgary, one need 50,000 Aeroplan Miles + applicable fee.

Same ticket in Business class would cost 75,000 Aeroplan Miles + applicable fee. Higher carrier surcharges on AC flights though.

Same ticket in First class would cost 105,000 Aeroplan Miles + applicable fee. Carrier surcharges will remain the same irrespective of class of travel. If there are 2 flights in 1 booking and only 1 is available in 1st class (like my trip), you are still required to pay the full 105K miles + fee.

So I used my sign up bonus of 75K AMEX and spent $30K on the card. 1 good thing with Platinum AMEX is you get 1.25 AMEX for every $$ which means $10K spend would get you 12,500 AMEX MR.

You can see Air Canada Aeroplan award chart here.

Please take a note of a few things below:

Since carrier surcharges are higher on AC flights, try finding flights on other airlines. I even tried to find flights from Vancouver and Toronto. I remember flights on AC were charging me $400 and other airlines were charging me $80 for the same trip in carrier surcharges.

Another notable thing is flying from LHR is more expensive due to their high airport fees. So try avoiding LHR if you can. However, I love flying from Frankfurt and/or Amsterdam, because I love to explore the terminals and the airline’s lounges there.

The AMEX Platinum will get you free Priority Pass membership and access to 1300 lounges worldwide. This is in addition to any airlines lounges that you can get access to when you fly first or business class. You also get access to AMEX Centurian Lounges and Delta Lounges if you are flying on Delta Airlines.

How much I paid

The cost was so low that I couldn’t say no to flying on business and first class of AC/LH. For this trip I paid 105K Aeroplan miles + CAD $300. I would have loved to travel in business class of AC 789 but I couldn’t because the flight was full.

However, my experience on LH and the access to their lounges was so great that $300 was peanuts for this trip. The regular cost of this one way trip is like $9500. And I paid $300 and miles. Wow, that is a goldent deal. Can you picture yourself flying in First Class of LH for that low price? Check out the photo below as you would be seating this setting.

Use my strategy and fly First Class on LH
Use my strategy to sit in this seat and enjoy the luxury experience

In conclusion

I will say, follow this strategy and score a deal. I flew on this combination last month and now I am trying to have my wife experience this. Time will tell if we are able to score this deal again? I am confident that this strategy will work again and again. Although I paid $499 in annual fee of the card, but that’s well worth it considering I got 1.25 MR for every $$ I spent.

Comments 19

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  2. To travel first class is such a fantasy and so much out of my reach and those business class lounges at the airport too. At least your post gives me an idea that one can travel first class without blowing a hole in one’s pocket.

  3. Wow amazing how much money you saved and flying first class! I have never flown first class before but would love to try it without having to break the bank! I will have to check this out and see! Thanks!

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  6. Wow… I am blown away with how much you saved! This is a great post and I will definitely try and save money when I fly the next time… I would love to use First Class!

  7. Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks with us! Finding a good deal on a flight has proven so difficult for me lately.

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  9. Wow did you get a deal … $300 that’s amazing!!! I love saving money on trips and flying. Before I had kids I would travel a lot and always volunteer to do stand by. One time I gave up my set and for the next flight was given first class! It’s nice to fly First Class!

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    I am sure wherever you live, you can definitely find a card or cards that would offer you miles/points that you can use to your advantage to fly executive class for free or close to free.

  11. I’ve always wanted to fly first class, but have never had the opportunity. This is awesome information if I’m ever in Canada!

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  14. I had no idea that this was even close to being possible. I love that you have shared these tips and tricks with us.

  15. Great strategy and tips! I’d love to experience to a first class flight soon. I’ll try to follow these.

  16. I will try using the tips you’ve mentioned next time I fly. I hope they work because I feel that flying first class would be an amazing experience.

  17. Wow, I never flew first class in my life. I was being upgraded to business class one time and that’s the only time I ever tasted how’s business class was like. Your tips are amazing.

  18. I’ve always wanted to fly first class but never had the money or chance! I’ll give your suggestions a try next time I fly!

  19. Wow! This is great insight. My boss is traveling to Canada at the end of this week and travels fairly regularly. I’ll have to pass along this blog to him and he may be able to use your advise!

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