This couple flew around the world in first class using airline points - and paid less than $2,000 for $55,000 of airfare
Mark AbadiMar 14, 2018, 12.11 AM
Courtesy Alex and Erin Miller
Cheap-flight experts Alex and Erin Miller of UpgradedPoints.com flew around the world in first-class and luxury airlines.
Their eight-leg trip was valued at $55,000, but they managed to pay just $1,087 each.
Their secret is leveraging thousands of credit card points into frequent flyer miles.
Alex and Erin Miller are travel hackers extraordinaire.
In 2016, the couple launched UpgradedPoints.com to share their tricks for converting credit card points into cheap flights.
The Millers recently cashed in hundreds of thousands of points to book a month-long trip around the world aboard luxury airlines. Their eight flights, valued at more than $55,000, cost the couple just $1,087 each.
Read on to find out how they did it - and what it was like to ride with Singapore Airlines, one of the world's best international airlines.
Alex and Erin's trip took them from New York to Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. For their long-haul flight from New York to Singapore, they booked a Singapore Airlines first-class suite.
Alex began planning the trip more than a year in advance. He said the best strategy is to start by choosing your destination, then researching which airlines fly there, and then seeing whether your credit card allows you to convert points into miles with those airlines.
Singapore Airlines, for example, is a transfer partner of Chase, Amex, SPG, and Citi. To book their eight-leg trip, the Millers used 182,000 American Express Membership Rewards Points, about 280,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, and 160,000 SPG Points.
Alex has earned millions of miles since 2011 by strategically using his cards and by maximizing sign-up bonuses, which for some companies run as high as 100,000 points.
Before the Millers' flight to Singapore, their tickets gave them access to the swanky Virgin Atlantic clubhouse in JFK Airport, where they could lounge and enjoy cocktails.
The clubhouse even had a spa and hair salon.
The couple cashed in 187,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to afford the first-class suite. Each seat had an $8,400 value, but the Millers paid just $300 each in taxes and fees.
For other flights on their itinerary, the Millers used points from their American Express Membership Rewards program and their Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards.
Singapore Airlines pulls out all the stops for first-class passengers, including caviar before dinner. Meal options included lobster thermidor and suckling pig.
Here's a look at the menu.
For dessert, the Millers shared a chocolate cake with macarons, chocolate tuiles, strawberries, and raspberries. The cabin crew stored their leftovers in a refrigerator so the couple could finish it later in the flight.
First-class patrons on Singapore Airlines get sleek amenity bags containing skincare products and perfume.
The airline offered Dom Pérignon and Krug champagne at a moment's notice.
As for entertainment, guests can choose from more than 1,000 movies, TV shows, games, and music options.
"Having the middle suites turned into a double bed was surreal — we couldn't believe we were on an airplane, 35,000 feet in the sky," Erin said.
The Millers have been fare-hacking luxury flights for years by strategically signing up for credit card loyalty programs and accruing points that can be transferred into frequent flyer miles. Their first 'points journey' was their honeymoon in 2014, Alex said.
For their entire eight-leg trip, they paid just over $1,000 each in taxes and fees. Typical economy tickets for the same flights would have topped $2,300 each — meaning the Millers' travel hacking saved them more than 50% off even the cheapest available fare.
For the Millers, the experience was more than worth the year it took to arrange. 'There's no doubt this trip took a lot of planning. But I had so much fun doing it, and the memories will truly last a lifetime,' Alex said.