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Flying first class international for free! (and other #hacks)

May 22, 2018


I recently bought a first class ticket from Washington to London for free with Delta SkyMiles.  Here’s how:

The Basics:

There are a number of things that make no rational sense when it comes to buying tickets with SkyMiles.  Most people don’t realize that and that’s what we’re going to exploit.

In theory, a mile should be worth approximately $.01 – so a $250 ticket should cost 25k Skymiles.  And that is in fact the pattern most of the time.  The trick is, sometimes it is NOT.  Sometimes it’s REALLY not.

Here’s an example of what a one way main cabin ticket to London costs with miles:


Here’s what a first class ticket costs with cash:


It’s usually $4,200-$7,000.  Insane.

But get this.  When you look at  flights the same day, you can find a *first class* DeltaOne ticket (the best ticket you can get, with seats that lay down flat into beds, etc) using miles:


Wait.  Reality check.  You can buy a first class $7000 ticket for 70k ($700) worth of miles.  But you could buy a main cabin ticket for 84k miles?  Yup.  Logical?  Hell no.  Awesome?  YES!  It can be cheaper to buy first class than main cabin on the same day.  Miles can be used to discount a first class ticket up to 90% off?  Yup.  I purchased my  ticket for 87k miles based on the specific day I needed.  Still crazy.

THAT is how I flew first class to London for free using miles.  Exploiting crazy patterns in Delta Skymiles.  There are wild inefficiencies in their system that if you’re aware they exist can make for Iggy-level fancy travel.  For less money than main cabin.  Which is insanely awesome.

Quick international travel hack:

Lounges:  I’m writing this while sitting in one of the top UK lounges getting ready to fly out.  Free food, internet, tables to work from, and peaceful space.  Using the Amex card, you get a Priority Pass card which gives you access to all kinds of lounges when you travel around the world for free.  It really does make travel a lot nicer.

Packing list:  Sometimes it’s remembering the small things that make travel easier.  Here’s a link to a packing list I use (and keep updating).

Travel even better:  Here’s a link to a travel article about using 125k Amex miles to travel around the world in business class.

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