Two travel hackers have flown first class on 6 major airlines -- here's how they stack up

Emirates A380 First Class Private Suite AEmirates AirlinesA first class cabin on Emirates.

The INSIDER Summary:

• Daraius Dubash and Emily Jablon write about travel hacking on Million Mile Secrets.

• According to them, British Airways and Jet Airways have great service, though Lufthansa is their favourite carrier.

• American Airlines was the worst.

Daraius Dubash and Emily Jablon are all about “big travel with small money.”

What this means is that they pay very little for very luxurious travel by redeeming airline miles and credit card points. On Million Mile Secrets, they share their expertise in the hopes of making unforgettable adventures available to all, regardless of income.

In their eight years as travel hackers, they have used millions of miles and points to fly first class on about 10 major airlines.

Here’s how their six favourite ones compare.

6. American Airlines

American Airlines didn’t provide slippers and pajamas the way most airlines do, nor did the flight attendants make them feel particularly welcome. But one perk of the first class setup were the swivelling seats that allowed Dubash and Jablon to eat facing each other.

A first class seat on American Airlines costs around $18,000. They redeemed 90,000 AAdvantage Miles and paid $62 in taxes and fees.

5. British Airways

Dubash and Jablon said that their flight on British Airways far surpassed the one they took on American Airlines.

“The crew was very warm and friendly, and did their best to make us feel welcome,” they wrote on Million Mile Secrets. “This was in stark contrast to the American Airline’s crew, who made us feel as if we were trespassing on their private aircraft and intruding upon their down-time.”

The top-notch first class experience also comes with a $18,000 price tag. They got it for 90,000 airline miles plus $300 in taxes and fees. 

4. Jet Airways

Jablon appreciated Jet Airways’ personalised service.

“They called the day before asking what time to expect me,” she said. “As soon as I pulled up to the airport, they had one or two people personally escort me through every single line, fill out my paperwork, follow me around in a little golf cart, so that was really nice.”

The $18,000 first class seats were a connection from an American Airlines flight that cost them 90,000 AAdvantage miles.

3. Cathay Pacific

Every first class suite came with purple orchids, along with the usual amenities like pajamas and toiletries. The seats were so large that Dubash and Jablon were able to sit together to watch “Home Alone.”

A flight like this would have normally cost $16,173 one way, but they used 135,000 American Airlines miles instead.

2. Etihad

The roomy seats included storage compartments with sparkling water and mixed nuts, and the pajamas were lined with Swarovski crystals.

“I thought it was the most tastefully-designed interior,” Dubash said, citing the warm colours and wood paneling. 

The seats would have cost $8,000 each, but they used 90,000 American Airlines miles instead.

1. Lufthansa 

Lufthansa’s cabin included both a comfortable chair and a full bed, making it their favourite first class-class flight to date.

“I didn’t have to mess with getting the chair to lean back,” Dubash said. “I thought it was pretty neat to be able to sleep on a bed with an actual mattress.”

At 67,500 United Airlines miles, a one-way ticket also cost less than other airlines they have taken. (Their flight from Frankfurt to Mumbai would have been around $6,000). Win-win.

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