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Etihad Apartments first Class

Travel Hacking Business and First Class Travel

What Exactly is Travel hacking and how do we get started?

So if you’re new to travel hacking and points, you may be thinking “What are the Benefits?”, “How good can it actually get?”, and “How do I get started?”.

In this post we’ll explain the basic principles behind Travel Hacking and earning Airline Frequent Flyer points and miles.

What Exactly is Travel Hacking?

Travel Hacking is the art of optimising travel experiences whether frequency of travel or level of comfort of travel.

This can enable people who couldn’t otherwise afford to travel, to be able to travel and experience the wonders of visiting different places, and meeting different people.

For others it may mean travelling more often than usual. Two or three overseas trips per year rather than one.

For others still, it can mean travelling in better comfort than usual  Travelling at the ‘pointy end’ of the plane or upgrading one or several classes of service on a multi service plane. (experiencing First Class instead of being crammed in with everyone else in Economy)

Or getting your own chauffeur driven limo to the airport with fast track check-in and priority through immigration for example. No more getting those shuttle buses there or struggling to find a parking spot.

Why Consider Travel Hacking?

Firstly why should you consider travel hacking? Let’s look at air travel today. It’s a constant lining-up or queueing experience.

Economy Check in Queue

Economy Check in Queue


Immigration Queue

Immigration Queue

Current Air Travel Experience in Economy

This quote by Ed Caruthers, Retired physicist and technology developer, age 70 on  just about sums up travelling today as we know it:

“People complain about legroom because most seats on most airlines make most passengers uncomfortable.  And people complain because air travel is generally miserable – crowding, long lines, security procedures, poor food, delays, and impersonal service.  And people complain because everyone who has traveled for more than two years remembers when flying was a little better.  Those of us who’ve been flying for 50 years remember when it was much better – for a price that fit into a middle class vacation budget.  These resentments sometimes boil over during flights – which further adds to the problems.”

No More Golden Age of Travel

For many of us under 70 years of age, we have never experienced the ‘golden age’ of air travel. Prices certainly have come down relative to average incomes (Elizabeth Knight writing for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper wrote an article in 2016 proclaiming International airfares in Australia were at a 30 year low. ) however the standard of travel for those at the back of the plane in economy have become ever more cramped.

For those who are taller or perhaps larger than others this means being crammed into a plane with seats 10 abreast, being woken mid flight by a seat companion or meal service at an inopportune moment and generally having an unpleasant flight.

Flying Economy

Flying Economy – How Most People Experience Flying – Cramped and Unpleasant.

This is before even considering things like temperatures (too hot, too cold) , arriving three hours before the scheduled flight time, only to spend two hours in long lines waiting to check-in. There’s also the stress of having bags weighed and being potentially told bags are over the ever decreasing weight limits and having the indignity of re-packing in the queue, paying a huge surcharge or sending excess baggage by a freight forwarder.

Airtravel today has changed and for those at the back of the plane it’s not as good as it once was. Focus has been on price cutting and cramming more seats on planes with less legroom in an ever increasing race to the bottom of level of service and quality of experience.

What is the Alternative?

Elite Business leaders and public figures travel differently. When Major League Baseball team The Los Angeles Dodgers came to Sydney as part of the MLB Series, they not only flew out on their own all business class plane to bring them here but they employed special technology to avoid jet lag. No being awoken to be asked “chicken or beef” mid sleep for them!

What To Expect From Travel Hacking Business or First Class

The upside of all this is that there is an alternative. Business and First Class have been getting better and better, with private chefs and private apartments on-board planes. A modern ‘seat’ on a Etihad’s A380 First Class plane dubbed the ‘Apartment’ not just gives you more room to sit but you have a private lounge area plus the dining area can comfortably allow you to dine with a companion.

The prices can seem astronomical compared to flying economy but that’s where travel hacking comes in to play as we don’t have to pay full price for these experiences. We just have to think a little differently ans smarter in approach to travel!

In short, flying in Business or First Class, can mean:

  • lounge experiences with free food and drinks;
  • fine dining in lounges and on board;
  • complimentary massages and spa treatments;
  • double beds in the sky;
  • your own ‘apartment’ in the sky instead of sitting in a crowd of people;
  • showers and bars on board planes;
  • priority check-in and boarding  – no more queues;
  • Childrens playrooms or private rooms in lounges to enable you to relax as if you were at home; and
  • you can look forward to the journey as much or sometimes more than the destination itself.
Etihad Sydney Lounge Dining

Etihad Sydney Lounge Pre-Flight Dining

The guides on this site will help you work towards achieving some or all of these experiences and many people will be able to experience an enhanced level of travelling for the first time.

Travel Hacking Etihad Apartments first Class

Travel Hacking Etihad Apartments First Class Lounge Area

How I got into Travel Hacking

My first foray into the world of travel hacking started with the need to travel to Europe one Christmas at late notice for a relative’s wedding. Christmas being the most expensive time of the year and booking last minute combining to make this a very expensive proposition for my wife and I.

I thought I had found a sneaky way to get there for less as the initial flight out of Australia was the most expensive leg so I deconstructed the flight and broke it down into the constituent legs Sydney to Gateway X, Gateway X to the UK and back, and checked out a number of permutations to achieve the journey at a lower price.

The end result of this very basic entry level travel hacking was to do the following in early December:

Ticket 1 – Sydney to Singapore via Scoot Airlines Business Class, ScootBiz

Ticket 2 – British Airways Economy Class Singapore to London to Manchester. STOP. Then back to Sydney via London and Singapore.

Surprisingly this hybrid fare worked out being a cheaper proposition than a basic return to the UK. It got me a taste of business class, at a similar price to the same journey in Economy. I was happy to be flying business class for the first leg, and I delighted with the price of the ‘hacked’ fare.

My wife couldn’t travel so early in December and had to travel later in the month which meant an even more last minute flight and even more peak timing (the Scoot/BA hybrid or hacked fare option wasn’t feasible).

Also, when checking the options, we had reached a crossover point when the Business Class/ Premium Economy fare combination on Etihad was a cheaper option than flying in full fare economy, so we plumped for that ticket option.

The Hacked Fare Results

I arrived in a daze off my epic economy hybrid flight due to not so great connection times in Singapore. I also had to collect bags, clear immigration and re-check in and then go back through immigration which was also an un-needed hassle. But, I was happy to have hacked the system. Better flights were surely to follow.

My wife having flown out in Business Class arrived fresh, full or energy and ready to hit Selfridges and Harvey Nichols shops to buy some cold weather clothes. Whether that was a good thing or not for the wallet I’m not sure, but I was amazed at how refreshed she was.

As a bonus we credited her flights to Virgin which gave her Velocity Silver Status with sampler lounge access and only a few more flights away from attaining the more valuable Gold Status which gives benefits such as lounge access with free snacks and drinks before and after all flights and priority boarding regardless of fare purchased.

This gave us new impetus to start looking into making the most of the status, achieving Velocity Gold Status and so our path into the world of travel hacking had started.

Since fully embracing travel hacking, our most recent experience in Singapore was in the inner sanctum of the ‘lounge within a lounge’ of The Private Room, Singapore Airline’s Flagship lounges for Suites Customers.


The Private Room

The Private Room for Singapore First Class Suites Guests


So, in this introductory article hopefully we’ve whet your appetite to start learning more about travel hacking.

It can require a bit of time to learn about the concepts but as I’m sure you can appreciate the benefits of travel hacking to optimise your travel are more than worthwhile!

In the next part of this Travel Hacking Series we’ll show you how to get started travel hacking in Australia and Our Quickest and Best techniques to start earning frequent flyer points.

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