A Brief Intro: I travel a lot for work and the companies I work for pay for my flights. So of course I take advantage of every opportunity to earn miles with the major airlines (Delta, American, United, Southwest, etc). Doing so helps me to earn free flights so I can keep on exploring the world and recording 3D Soundscapes for Travelear. When I can hack it, I fly business class.
Alright, so now that’s out of the way let’s get to the good stuff: How I got 2 Business Class seats on Swiss Air for $44 (normal price = $16,000).
Earning the Points
My first step was taking advantage of Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card signup bonus in December. I signed up for the credit card, spent the required $4,000 in 3 months and received 100,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points (This deal has now changed). For the average person this is not easy to do, I had to finagle a couple finances like paying ahead on my car insurance and union dues to meet the qualifying spend. Ultimately it’s about financial strategy, more on that another time.
Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card has incredible dollar for point value. Travel and dining expenses get 3 points per $1 spent which is awesome, earning points is amazingly easy. But I’m not going to try and sell you the Reserve card, the sign up bonus has gone down since December to 50K points and there are better offers out there.
Meanwhile, back at Travelear HQ, I managed to earn another 40K points just by my spending with the Reserve card (it helps to put all expenses on one card). I had also met the $4,000 spending goal so together I was able to pool 140,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points! Woohoo!
Okay so I had a lot of points, now where to spend them? I knew the girlfriend and I had to go to London end of July for a wedding and it was 30K points each for a coach ticket on United Airlines, but it was 150K each for a Business Class ticket. Fudge.
Timing and Patience
Here’s a note about Travel Hacking: Timing is Key. We both knew we would be working a job in Boston near the end of July (freelancers as we are) and we found out the date the job would end. The magical date of Monday July 24th. Turns out, this date is key for airlines because not much business goes on for whatever reason and they offer “discounted” tickets.
Chase Ultimate Rewards offers points to miles transfers on a 1:1 ratio on their partner airlines. This is incredibly beneficial since sometimes the airlines have better deals then Chase’s own internal travel booking site.
The other note about Travel Hacking is patience. More specifically, patience in searching. When looking on United Airline’s site for flights from Boston to London I scrolled down past United’s flights and found their partner’s flights such as Swiss Air and Lufthansa. Swiss Air had Business Class tickets at 70K miles each!
Execution and Valuation
With just a few clicks and a couple hours later I had t ransferred 140K points to my United MileagePlus account and was able to purchase 2 Business Class tickets from Boston to Heathrow! The taxes and fees added up to $44.40. I checked the Swiss Air site and looked at the same tickets which were going for around $16,000! Woo! I saved $15,955.60!
Now, full disclosure: the flight is not direct, we had a layover in Zurich for a couple hours and then we had to take another Business Class Swiss Air flight to Heathrow. Some may think this is a lot of work and trouble, but it all depends on what your goal is. Mine was to not have to fly coach to London (again). I also wanted to experience the Swiss Air Business class, very nice I must say.
I would definitely do it all again to receive the same experience. For those who don’t care about the finer strategies involved in this Travel Hack there’s a TLDR below. For those that did read, I hope you learned something cool and useful.
1) Needed to fly from Boston To London.
2) Used Chase Ultimate Reward Points.
3) Transferred points to United Airlines.
4) Booked Swiss Air Business Class using United miles.