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Emily and I use miles and points to travel First Class, but there are some people who actually pay to fly First Class!
No One Pays Retail?
In trip reports from our $32,000+ honeymoon in Paris for only $2,000, our Second Honeymoon in Bora Bora, our Spring Break in Maui, and our Second Anniversary to Italy we listed how much money we saved using miles and points.
Sometimes readers will comment that hardly anyone pays retail price for Business or First Class tickets.
Many Businesses Pay Full Price
Some businesses pay for Business or First Class tickets for their employees because it means an opportunity to network and generate new sales, as this article from the Huffington Post explains.
Other companies allow for Business Class tickets if a flight is a certain length as discussed in this thread on Flyertalk.
Universities Sometimes Buy Business Class
Some universities allow for Business Class tickets to accommodate medical disabilities or special needs or if “the time and convenience of the traveler and time away from the University” play an important role in needing to fly in Business Class.
Certain Government Officials Fly Business Class on Long Flights
The government allows employees to travel in Business Class for a variety of reasons such as if the total flight time is longer than 14 hours or if the government would save money.
Some Individuals Splurge for Special Occasions
Some individuals are willing to pay for Business and First Class tickets.
This thread on Flyertalk focuses exclusively on good deals for Business and First Class tickets. Since it has 222 pages of discussion, more than a few people are buying Business and First Class tickets.
And there are threads like this each year. For instance, San Francisco to London in First Class for $3,633 or $2,455 for Business Class.
1. Luxury Travel
In my interview with Debbie from Traveling Well For Less, she and her husband paid for Business Class tickets for a trip to Australia and Tahiti.
2. Honeymoon or Anniversary Travel
Other people will splurge and buy Business or First Class tickets on their honeymoon or anniversary, especially to places like Paris.
3. Comfort Or Medical Need
Brian, The Points Guy, frequently mentions that he prefers to travel in Business or First Class because of his height.
Things to Consider
People often confuse the price they would pay with the value they would get. At some point I’ll write a series on it, but for now we’ll just cover a few basics.
1. Value You Would Get
You shouldn’t calculate how much you saved based on what you’d be willing to pay because that’s not a good indicator of the true “value” you’re getting.
In other words, there is a DIFFERENCE between the cost of an item and the value of the item to you.
A better indicator of savings is to calculate the cost if you had to pay and what it cost you with miles.
If you want to buy a Mercedes E-Class Coupe that sells for $52,200, but you are only willing to pay $48,000 and a dealer will sell it to you for that price, is your savings $0 since $48,000 was all you wanted to pay? No, your savings is $4,200 because that’s the difference between what it cost and what you paid.
Some folks think, “I would never pay $50,000 for a car. I’d pay $25,000 tops. So I’m not saving any money!”
But then they would never get to experience a Mercedes E-Class Coupe. Meanwhile the rest of us are having a $50,000 Mercedes experience for less than the price of your Hyundai.
The same can be said for using miles instead of cash for airline tickets.
Let’s say you want to go to Brussels this summer. A First Class round-trip ticket in August would cost 160,000 United Airlines miles. And there are lots of ways to earn United Airlines miles!
But what if you had to pay for your First Class flight?
You’re saving ~$8,575 in cash by using miles!
2. Price You Should Redeem At
Emily and I rarely, if ever, pay for airline tickets. Instead we use our miles and points.
When deciding if you should use miles or points vs. paying cash, it helps to know what price you should redeem your miles for. Ask yourself if you’re getting a good value for the miles and points you’re using or would you be better off paying cash?
You could pay ~$27,500 to fly in First Class from New York to Auckland, New Zealand.
Or you could use 225,000 American Airlines miles to fly First Class on Cathay Pacific. There are also plenty of ways to earn American Airlines miles.
Cathay Pacific doesn’t release their First Class award seats until closer to travel so I can’t show you a screenshot of availability.
By redeeming 225,000 miles instead of paying $27,487 for a First Class ticket, you’re getting a value of ~12 cents per mile ($27,487 / 225,000).
The Same Idea Also Applies to Hotels
As mentioned earlier, Paris is a popular honeymoon destination.
The Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome’s makes it extremely appealing. And the suites are spectacular!
Paying for your room at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome could cost ~$1,000 per night!
Because the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome is a Category 7 hotel, it costs 30,000 Hyatt points per night.
So I’d much rather use my Hyatt points to stay for free, than pay $1,000 for 1 night! Especially because there are so many ways to earn Hyatt points!
Believe it or not, there are some folks who pay for Business and First Class airline tickets.
Some companies pay for Business Class tickets so their employees have networking opportunities. Universities and the government will pay for business class travel if it’s medically necessary. And other people are willing to pay for Business or First Class tickets because it’s a special trip or they want the extra comfort.
The value you get from using miles isn’t the same as the “price” you should redeem your miles.
The value you get from using miles isn’t only a price tag, it’s a memorable experience you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get. And it’s extremely valuable for those of us who want Big Travel with Small Money!