Ok so far so good we've managed to make it to the airport, kids and co in tow with no major drama. I'm feeling like a Rockstar! Mamma you've got this!!!! Dressed like the Beckhams, I've briefed the kids to put their best cutie 'show' smiles on and off we head to check in with the hope that the desk assistant is going to take one look at our pristinely turned out and well behaved children, (cough cough) and bump us all straight up into business class.
I'm a pro at this ... I've scanned all the desks and spotted the cute guy - he's a sure thing!
I hand over the passports and compliment him on his lovely white teeth (I mean there's not much to work with here!!!). As he gives me a massive grin and starts to tell me about his dentist in Poland who I'm not the least bit interested in, I hit him with the question.
“So what are the chances of an upgrade today???????”
He stops in his tracks, sniggers and answers that the flight is full. Hands me back our passports and wishes us a pleasant flight and that's that …
You see upgrades are few and far between. Now I'm not saying it's impossible for a well to do person travelling alone but let’s face it a family of 5 is never going to get a look in.
SO HERE WE GO ... WHAT IF I TOLD YOU I’VE NEVER ACTUALLY HAD TO BEG FOR AN UPGRADE????
We fly business and 1st class as a family all the time and we have never paid more than a premium economy ticket price for it.
WANT TO KNOW MORE??
Here are my top tips for a lifetime of travel never turning right again...
1 - PREPARATION
As a mummy this is your thing! If you mastered the prep then you've got this! And this is the key to 99% of luxury travel (the other 1% being a small amount of luck). We plan our holidays a year in advance taking between 6 and 8 within every 12 month period - This means choosing a destination and sticking with it. Don't worry about hotel bookings at this point. The flights are the 1st thing you need to book once you've decided on your chosen location. Cheap business and 1st class seats are out there and available from every airline and every destination but it takes preparation, timing and knowledge of a few industry secrets. And this everybody is how we do it again and again...
So firstly let's talk about the annual airline SALES
Every so often, international airlines will sell premium cabin seats at super cheap prices. Airfare sales can be offered simply to fill up empty seats or perhaps put the squeeze on a competing airline. Once you've purchased these premium seats you can upgrade using points or miles (we’ll come to this in a minute). BRITISH AIRWAYS holds airfare sales twice a year - usually in February with the best deals often coming around November. Each flight will have a number of these business class and 1st class seats at ridiculous prices, but you have to get in there quickly as they can be sold out within hours. We've also found great deals with Qantas and the best deals usually come with some of the lesser well known airlines such as Air Brunei ( not great for us mammas though as they have a no alcohol policy)
2 - INDUSTRY SECRET
Did you know you can buy a full fare coach ticket and ask for a business class seat?
Many airlines have a fare code that automatically grants 1st class privileges, but you have to ask . These are obviously not well documented!!!! Call the airline directly and ask them how much a coach class ticket with 1st class seating privilege will cost.
This will be much less than a 1st class ticket but be careful it will probably be non-refundable
3 - SIGN UP TO A CREDIT CARD AND USE IT FOR EVERYTHING!
And I mean everything!! There are lots of credit cards that give you free air miles as you spend. And you'll be surprised how it all adds up when you're using it for even the smallest of purchases. We use two particular ones:
The amex black centurion card (invite only) gives amazing deals, miles that can be swapped between airlines, free companion seats and free upgrades but this is only available to a select few.
More commonly register for a British airways American express card. The best feature apart from the 1 for E1 Avios points you can collect is that you get 2 for 1 travel with a companion when you spend £20,000 (formally E10,000) over a year. This can be taken in any cabin and you can save your companion vouchers up and use in bulk.
The top 10 credit card list for airline rewards:
Virgin Atlantic white credit card account
British Airways premium plus credit card
Virgin Atlantic black credit card account
Emirates skywards credit card
Emirates skywards elite credit card
Etihad guest credit card account
Flybe credit card
Lloyds bank Avios rewards credit card
Mileageplus credit card
Miles and more Lufthansa credit card
4 - BUSINESS CLASS CONSOLIDATORS
(Unpublished ticket discounts)
Get a quotation from a BUSINESS CLASS SPECIALIST CONSOLIDATOR who may have access to "unpublished' premium airfares which can undercut the normal market fare by 20-50%. Then use these tickets to upgrade using miles from your credit card. Using a consolidator is optimal about 1 to 2 months before travel. If using a consolidator ensure the agency is a reputable business in good standing though. Double check it's a member of trade bodies such as IATA (international), ABTA (UK) or ASTA (US).
5 - CHECK YOUR EMAILS
On a recent flight to Bangkok I'd booked premium due to the late booking only to receive an email the day before I travelled offering me a return upgrade in business class for £400. Beware these emails usually fall into your spam accounts and are easily missed!!!!
London to LA (non specific airline as I've heard this happens across the board) passenger (friend of mine) gets chatting to a lovely blonde hostess. The champagnes flowing and he asks her about her boyfriend. Apparently she's engaged to be married and they're saving up for a house but times are hard and their saving isn't going to well - the 12 hour flight continues and during this they realise they have friends in common. Upon landing in LA my friend finds this girl on facebook and offers her a proposal...
AND THIS IS IT
He offered to pay £2k as a gift towards her house deposit in return for 2 places on her friends and family list for 6 months! She accepted and him and his now wife are in their 3rd year of travelling the world in 1st class luxury for less than a standard train fare to Manchester
SO THERE WE HAVE IT-WHY YOU NEVER NEED TO SPEND LIKE A MILLIONAIRE TO TRAVEL LIKE ONE
Thank you so much for dropping by and don't forget to check back later in the week when we'll be talking through air miles and Avios points.
Big Kisses Rach x
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