Steve Hui, CEO and Founder of iFlyFlat, has done the groundwork for you…
It has been almost 40 years since American Airlines launched the first frequent-flyer program. AAdvantage, as it was branded, had 283,000 members at the time. Now there are said to be around 100 million.
The growth has been enormous. Today, most airlines offer frequent-flyer programs, encouraging travellers to fly more often and – hopefully – remain loyal. But working out which program is best for you can be a complex equation.
Different programs give members access to different experiences, and not all points carry the same value. But I’ve done plenty of groundwork. Here are some of the most luxurious experiences available through various rewards programs, and what it will cost you.
Fancy your trip with a double bed and sliding door for the utmost in privacy? Singapore Airlines’ new A380 First Class Suites are available for members who hold Singapore Krisflyer points, with just 85,000 points needed for a lap in luxury from Sydney to Singapore, one-way.
A few months ago, I reviewed the famous Emirates First Class Suites for Luxury Travel, highlighting the shower suite that is larger than many New York apartments. For 144,000 points, Emirates Skywards members can score a one-way journey from Sydney to Dubai. Qantas members are also in luck, thanks to a partnership between the two airlines. It’ll also be 144,000 Qantas points to get on board.
If showering at 30,000 feet piques your interest, the Etihad First Apartments can also be of service. Also outlined in Issue 77, each private apartment boasts four square metres, enough space for a single bed and separate chair, which is sure to be useful while you’re deciding what to order with the on-board chef. One-way from Sydney to Abu Dhabi requires 136,249 Etihad Guest miles, or 152,500 Virgin Velocity points.
Qantas’s non-stop Perth to London flight is the quickest way to fly between Australia and the UK. With inflight lighting specially designed by scientists to assist your body to fly through time zones, and premium food and beverage offerings, the Qantas B787 Dreamliner is true to its name. Qantas is a Oneworld member so technically, points accumulated through fellow Oneworld airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, British Airways and American Airlines, as well as partner Emirates, can also book this flight. Yet, I’ve seldom seen reward seats made available to anyone but Qantas members, for whom 112,000 points will cover a one-way business class ticket from Perth.
For luxury travellers headed to the USA, the Qantas First Class journey to Los Angeles and Dallas comes with access to the Neil Perry fine-dining restaurant in both the Sydney and Melbourne lounges, and a 30-minute spa treatment to get you relaxed ahead of the flight. Redeeming 144,000 and 168,000 Qantas points for Los Angeles and Dallas respectively will score you a seat while access is also available to members of Oneworld airlines, or Qantas partners, for various points values.
If socialising is more your style, Virgin Australia’s ‘The Business’ Class journey to Los Angeles is a top pick, with its 10-person bar serving a range of fine spirits, and boutique wines and beers. For 95,500 Velocity points, your one-way trip from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to Los Angeles is covered.
Flying Sydney to Los Angeles direct, Delta Airlines has upgraded its Boeing 777 and the new Delta One cabin features a Business Class suite with privacy door, memory-foam cushion and 18-inch entertainment screens. Those with 96,000 Velocity points can look to fly one-way. The number of Delta miles required is in perpetual motion under the airline’s dynamic award system.
United Airlines takes a B787 Dreamliner to the skies with direct flights from Sydney to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, and from Melbourne to Los Angeles. Polaris business class, complete with lie-flat seats, Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and restaurant-quality dining, requires 80,000 United Mileage Plus points for travel dates before 15 November. After the 15th, United is moving to a dynamic award system. For Singapore Krisflyer members, or members of Star Alliance airlines’ programs, the rate is 130,000 points.