The other day, I was on a flight when the gate agent crossed out my seat number and put me in business class. It was only a regional jet and a short flight but it is always welcome – and a surprise since it was on Turkish Airlines and I only have Star Alliance Gold status, not Turkish status. But, it was very interesting to hear some comments as people walked through our cabin and made me realize again how clueless many people are about flying in first class and what it takes (or how little it can take) to sit there.
Are You One Of “THOSE People?”
This was one of the comments I heard as a bunch of college students were walking through the business class cabin – “Look at THOSE people just sitting there in their nice seats.” These comments were followed by many others and I thought it would be a interesting quick take to break them down in form of answers, had they actually asked me about it. So, here are my answers to just some of the many comments that I heard from people as they walked through the business class cabin to coach.
No, I Did Not Pay More Than You To Sit In Business/First Class
The truth is, whenever I sit in business or first class, I have almost always paid less than everyone sitting around me. That is because it does not take a lot of money to fly in business/first class! With the US airlines, if you are an elite member, you can get upgrades (though they have become harder to get) to first class for the cost of a cheap economy ticket – thanks to your status. Even without status, you may be offered a very cheap upgrade to go with your cheap ticket to fly up front and still pay less than most of the people up there!
In this particular case, I can guarantee that I paid less than each of the people walking by me to the back of the plane because I hunted for a very cheap deal to help me make my choice. When I am not flying on good deals, I am using miles.
No, I Did Not Blow All My Miles To Sit There
Yes, one of them mentioned “I cannot believe that these people blew all of their miles just to sit up here for an hour.” As a matter of fact, I did not use any miles for this flight! And, had I used miles, it would have not come close to blowing all of my miles to sit there. It is very easy to transfer points from certain programs (like Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, ThankYou Rewards, and SPG) to airlines that will offer you the best award options for your route. Doing this gives you the ability to take advantage of some very good rates and still have enough miles left over for another flight later!
No, I Was Not Born In Business Class
The truth of it is that I did not even fly on a commercial airliner until I was 18 years old! That means that I have only been flying for 16 years! And, my first flight in first or business class was only 7 years ago so, no, I was not born in business class. I fly many times in economy on my trips but I also like to take advantage of award charts and upgrade certificates to give myself that business class seat on flights that make sense for the time and distance.
No, I Do Not Think I Am Better Than You
Not really sure I need to add anything else to this one. 🙂 After all, where a person sits on a plane does not say anything great about his/her station in life (as was shown by Prince William flying in coach).
No, You Do Not Need To Fly 100,000 Miles Per Year To Get Business Class/First Class
The truth is that since the US airlines have gone (or are about to go) with a revenue-based earnings system for award miles, it is much easier and more lucrative to earn your miles through credit card bonuses and even shopping portals instead of flying. If you can get a credit card, you can get some miles and points to start racking up and you can use those for awards in business/first class on airlines around the world while only paying a fraction of what the people sitting around you paid.
No, I Did Not Just Sit Down In This Seat
Yes, some people were actually talking about how “those people just decided to take these seats first like musical chairs.” Really?! But, no, I only sit where my seat assignment happens to be (unless it is to move to another seat in my cabin after takeoff) and on this flight, they happened to assign me to 1A!
Yes, The Food Does Taste Better
Even on just an hour flight, Turkish Airlines does a fantastic job with their meal service. Seriously, I had a three course meal with real plates and dinnerware along with a very tasty dish. While food in economy on Turkish is pretty good, it is definitely better in business!
Yes, It Is Nice
“Bet it must be pretty nice to sit here” was also a common comment. The truth is, yes, it is pretty nice! From the pre-departure drink to the good food and fine service to go along with the roomier seat and being able to get off the plane quickly at the gate, business/first class is pretty nice! When you start talking about things like showers and beds, it gets even nicer! The first time you experience it, it is hard to walk to the back the next time you fly! Though, I did go from Etihad’s First Apartment to Ryanair, so it can be done! 🙂
The truth is that even with hundreds of miles and point blogs talking about things like “free” travel or flying in first or business class for next to nothing, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there about what it takes to fly in business or first class. On this particular flight, I (and most of the others in business class with me) was upgraded because the flight was full/oversold and I was a Star Alliance Gold member. The best part? I only flew 12,000 miles last year to get that status! That’s right, flying less than the distance of half around the world put me a position to be upgrade to business class!
I have thoroughly enjoyed flying in some of the most comfortable, luxurious cabins in the sky as a result of credit card bonuses from a single card. It is always amazing to me when I redeem the miles and then fly the flight that all it takes is signing up for a credit card and then meeting the minimum spending to enjoy redemptions like this. But, people are still not familiar and it is always nice to be reminded sometimes of that so that we can try and inform others about this game of miles and points.
This is really a great hobby and I am always so grateful that miles and points have taken me and my family to some of the wonderful places that we have gone and that we have even been able to take some of those trips in business/first class! And that is not even mentioning the fantastic hotel redemptions we have had along the way, but that is another whole set of questions to be answered another time! 🙂