Flying in first class is a necessity for many of us if we are going to be booking travel. It’s especially vital if you intend on traveling internationally.
The alternative is to sit in the back of a cramped steel tube in close quarters, the exact opposite of social distancing.
In fact, most airplane COVID-19 transmission occurs in economy, so it’s essential to book the best first class flights for maximum social distancing when it’s practical!
If you are used to booking travel through Amex Travel or Chase Travel Portal, you absolutely need to read on. By the end of this guide, you’ll realize that you can often reduce the points you pay by 90%!
That $10,000 flight will no longer cost 1 million points; it’ll cost 100,000 points. Let’s get started.
What’s the Difference Between Travel Portals and Transfer Partners?
If you’re booking your travel by logging into your online account and shopping for flights such as Amex Travel, then you’re using a travel portal.
Using travel portals is a lot like using Expedia or Kayak. The unfortunate reality of portals like Amex Travel is that the value your points have is “fixed”. In other words, if you book a flight in Amex Travel, your points are going to be worth around 1 cent per point, regardless of how expensive or cheap your flight is.
That’s why you’ll see ridiculously expensive price tags on business and first class flights. The number of points you will pay is directly correlated with the cash price of the ticket. That’s why a simple, $10,000 business class ticket to England will cost 1 million points.
If you’re running your own business, you’ll definitely want to check out our best tips to maximize business rewards to fly first class with points.
In addition, you might also have to pay a fee to Amex Travel when your ticket is booked.
Transfer partners are a completely different way to book travel. Instead of using your points directly on Amex Travel, you will transfer your Amex points to an airline partner. Transferring Amex points to an airline partner will essentially change the jurisdiction of your points so that it falls under the airline partner.
From there, you can search for and book flights. For example, if you see a nonstop Air France flight on Amex Travel that costs $10,000, you can avoid paying 1 million points by instead transferring points to your Air France frequent flyer account. After you do this, you search for flights on Air France’s website instead of Amex Travel.
Once you’ve located the flights, you’ll simply redeem the points and book directly with Air France to save nearly 900,000 points on just this one ticket! Simply put, using transfer partners is the only way you can take advantage of the best first class flight deals in the world.
When Should You Use Transfer Partners?
Generally, you should always strive to use transfer partners. The incremental benefit of using transfer partners is the ability to book the same flights for around 10% of what you would otherwise pay.
The main challenge of using transfer partners is finding availability. Let’s take an example itinerary: first class flights to Europe.
There’s aren’t much better ways to fly to Europe using points than Lufthansa first class. This is certainly an aspirational flight, and tickets routinely sell for $10,000 one-way.
If you booked through Amex Travel, you’d have to pay at least 700,000 points just for a one-way flight. If you used transfer partners, you could pay as little as 50,000 points, a savings of nearly 93%.
However, the difference with transfer partners versus Amex Travel is that these flights are subject to availability. If you look at the entire schedule 1 year from now, you might only find 1 available date with 2 tickets on the same flight.
It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Tickets are released at seemingly random times by computer algorithms, so the barriers to locating these flights are exceedingly high — and they’re only getting tougher to find.
Because these flights can be so rare, you’ll definitely want to constantly be checking to see if available tickets are released for points redemption.
Spending more time can be worth it because you’ll literally be able to get 90% off of these flights by leveraging the power of transfer partners.
By leveraging transfer partners, you will save around 90% of your points on flights. And the savings will continue to compound if you’re booking couples vacations using points!
When Should You Use Amex Travel?
We mentioned the concept of “availability” with transfer partners above. The only time you should use Amex Travel is if you can’t find any availability with transfer partners at all.
In some cases, it may be more practical to use Amex Travel to book flights outright. With Amex Travel, you don’t really have to worry about availability — as long as there’s an empty seat on the plane, you can book the ticket with Amex Travel.
However, the drawback of using Amex Travel is that you’ll shell out massive amounts of points compared to using transfer partners. Still, if you absolutely need to jump on a flight and there’s no availability with transfer partners, then your best option is to use a travel portal like Amex Travel or the Chase Travel Portal.
But in general, there are very few situations where there is truly no availability through transfer partners. If you are flexible enough or know when to search, you can book flights like Emirates A380 first class!
If you are focused on luxury travel for your exotic vacations, forget about everything you think you know about booking travel.
The backbone of travel hacking using your points is leveraging the power of transfer partners and forgetting about travel portals like Amex Travel. And the amount you’ll save multiplies when you’re booking family vacations using points!
While Amex Travel does have its practicality in a small percentage of situations, the reality is that you will waste your hard-earned points if you don’t use transfer partners. And you’ll spend literally 10 times as many points if you don’t take this seriously.
While transfer partners are the single, most effective way to redeem your points for luxury travel, you will learn that finding availability is incredibly demanding and tedious.
If you’d get value from the world’s best service that will take care of searching for first class flight availability for you through an ultra-personalized points and travel management service, click the button below to discover how we can help you make luxury points travel effortless.