My 5 Favorite First Class Award Flights

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Over the last few years, I’ve had the fortunate pleasure of flying many First Class awards around the world. There’s nothing special about me (trust me), it’s just a tribute to the value of understanding travel rewards and learning how to reap their massive benefits. If you’re responsible with your credit and willing to learn a few tricks and do a little planning, you can easily manage at least one epic trip per year. I think that’s a pretty solid goal for most people, depending on their work schedules.

Anyway, all that to say, I was asked by a reader this week to share my 5 favorite First Class award flights. So here you go! I didn’t list any airline twice so that you could see more examples. I’m also including the dollar price based on a current Kayak search (for comparison purposes), and the current award prices for the flights based on one-way travel.

I hope this gives you an idea of the value of travel rewards points and motivates you to start planning your next trip!

My Top 5 Favorite First Class Award Flights

Let’s start from #5 and work our way to the top…

5. Thai Airways 747 MUC-BKK

What stood out: The service was incredible, which is standard for an Asian international First Class trip. I also enjoyed the Dom Perignon champagne service. And when I arrived in Bangkok, I had two representatives waiting for me, who then escorted me through customs via a buggy. Say what.

Award Price: 115,000 United award miles & $153.30

Cash Price: $3,509

Earning: You can earn United miles through the Chase co-branded personal UnitedMileagePlusCard & business cards. Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus, and Freedom & Ink Cash if you hold one of the previously mentioned cards, can be transferred into United MileagePlus miles instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

Booking: You can search for and book on United.com. Thai Air is in the Star Alliance, so there are other options, too.

4. Cathay Pacific LAX-HKG

What stood out: Spacious and extremely comfortable seat, fantastic service, great meals, Krug champagne, and a great mattress pad for sleeping. We also had a good lounge experience before our departing flight out of LAX.

Award Price: 67.500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles & $5

Cash Price: $9,000!

Earning: American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be earned through the Citi co-branded personal & business Platinum select cards and the World Elite Executive. You can also transfer SPG points to the AAdvantage program, and you will get a bonus of 5k miles for every 20,000 SPG points transferred.

Booking: You can search for Cathay Pacific award availability on the British Airways website. Once you find availability, you will then call American Airlines at 1-800-882-8880 to book your award. I booked my flight as a business class award first, and then upgraded a couple of weeks before departure. Cathay Pacific is in the OneWorld alliance, which gives you other options, and they are a partner of Alaska Airlines as well.

3. Qantas A380 DFW-SYD

What stood out: Flying the A380 is always a treat. The First Cabin felt wide open, with a large seating area. The seat swiveled so you could make use of the whole space. I like the design, except for the overhead bins, which you have to share. Even though we spent 17 hours on this plane, we were very comfortable. Having the upstairs lounge area helped because it gave us a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy a change of environment. We experienced great service and the meal service was good, too.

Award Price: 72,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles & $27.80

Cash Price: $10,978!!

Earning: American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be earned through the Citi co-branded personal & business Platinum select cards and World Elite Executive. You can also transfer SPG points to the AAdvantage program, and you will get a bonus of 5k miles for every 20,000 SPG points transferred.

Booking: You can search for & book this Qantas award on the American Airlines website. Qantas is also a part of the OneWorld alliance.

2. Lufthansa 747-8i FRA-IAD

What stood out: First of all, we had a great experience in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. You get access if you’re flying LH First out of the Frankfurt airport. It’s a dedicated terminal just for First Class passengers, and they even drove us to our plane in a Mercedes. After the terminal, we parlayed the party to the nose of the 747-8i plane. Flying in the nose can be a little noisy, but it’s a cool experience, and I always like flying the 747-8i. What was extra fun was that our party of 4 had the whole back area. We actually only shared the cabin with one other passenger who slept the whole time. The service was fun and attentive, meal service was great, and the hard product is solid. Great experience.

Award Price: 110,000 United MileagePlus miles and $188.30

Cash Price: $8,819

Earning: You can earn United miles through the Chase co-branded personal UnitedMileagePlusCard & business cards. Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus, and Freedom & Ink Cash if you hold one of the previously mentioned cards, can be transferred into United MileagePlus miles instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

Booking: You book this flight on United.com, but First Class availability won’t populate until 14 days before departure, and you may have to call United to book. Here’s my post on how I was able to book 4 LH First Class tickets. You can also use Aeroplan, ANA, and Avianca miles for Lufthansa First Class since they are a part of the Star Alliance. Also, you can earn Lufthansa miles through their Barclaycard co-branded card, but beware of the high fuel surcharges on their award flights.

1. Singapore Suites A380 NRT-LAX

What stood out: There is so much to rave about concerning Singapore Suites. The cabin is l a r g e, and in the spacious A380, so it’s a smooth ride. The privacy is top-notch, with doors that close to form an enclosed suite. And, we were lucky to have the whole Suites Class cabin to ourselves! Epic.

The service we received on this flight was the best I’ve ever had on a plane. They even brought out a cake for us to help celebrate our anniversary. We were popping bottles of Dom Perignon & Krug, comparing the two, and enjoying every minute of the amazing meal service. The wagyu steak I had was the best beef I’ve had on a plane, and I really enjoyed the lobster thermidor as well. When it was time to wind down, they made the two suites in the middle out to a double bed. Truly an unbelievable flight.

Award Price: 74,375 Singapore Krisflyer miles & $132.50

Cash Price: $5,000

Earning: You can transfer Citi ThankYou, American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Chase Ultimate Rewards to the Singapore Krisflyer program. Great to have multiple options!

Booking: You can search for & book Singapore Airlines flights on their website after logging in to your account. Here’s my full post on booking Singapore Krisflyer awards, and how to manage the waitlist feature to your advantage. Singapore Airlines is also in the Star Alliance, so there are other options.

Wrap Up

First Class award travel isn’t on everyone’s to-do list, and that’s fine. You can spread out your miles more for economy or business class flights. And business/first cabins, like we flew recently on LAN’s 787, are becoming more of a trend, which is fine with me.

What’s next for us? Well, this year I’ll be flying the Emirates A380, which has a full-service shower, and the new Etihad apartments.

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