The Basics

Are You One Of “THOSE People?”

Written by Charlie

Being referred to as one of “THOSE people” is not always a good thing – but in this case it is ok! Here are answers to this and more questions about flying in first class and what it takes.

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! 🙂

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • “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!”

    This is me! I am not a status flyer, or even a very frequent flyer; I’ve never flown long haul business or first class (I will be doing that later this year), but each time I’ve sat in the first class cabin, it’s been because I’ve been offered an upgrade to first class for $90 on a cheap ticket in the first place.

    So, when I walk through first class on a plane these days, I assume everyone else bought the cheap tickets and got offered an upgrade 🙂

  • I’ve seen requests more than once for you to darken your font to make it more readable for the vision impaired group. I’ve requested it myself.

    Is the change technologically difficult, or is it just a choice you make despite the input?

    It’s a shame, because I (and others, I presume) really enjoy your content. Please don’t shut out our group. We’re not all healthy marathon runners, but like to enjoy the life vicariously.

    • Thanks, Colleen! To be honest, I did see one or two and thought they were spam. I had received a lot of spam comments and they sound like “this is great content, could you tell me how you come up with it”, “what theme do you use to get this?”, “could you make your words smaller?” and things like that. If there is a website of gibberish tied to the comment, it is spam. I may have missed the comments if I was going through the them in bulk and just paying attention to style comments. So thank you for mentioning it again and I will certainly change it to darken it up a bit! Thanks so much!

    • @ Colleen, just wanted to let you know that they changed the font type and it certainly does appear much more readable now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!