Fly First Class Cheap: Fly the Etihad Apartment by brunching

You CAN learn How to fly first class cheap in the Etihad First Class Apartment by brunching.

Before we start, this post may not be for everyone – there’ll be some tough love, some no BS talk, and some work – but the result is worth it.

So if you’re easily offended, or want to sit on your ass and take no action, or you can’t think positive then perhaps it’s best you find another article to waste your time on.

However, if you’re serious about travel hacking, and want the results and are prepared to put the effort in, then read on – you’re welcome!

Fly Etihad A380 First Class Apartment by brunching

Fly Etihad A380 First Class Apartment by brunching

Fly First Class Cheap: The 3 Steps How to fly Etihad A380 Apartment by brunching

See, the truth is this – ANYONE can do travel hacking – but not everybody wants to put the work in, or spend a little time learning. In reality, those that make a success of travel hacking are just everyday people that follow what I call the 3 steps:-

In reality, those that make a success of travel hacking are just everyday people that follow 3 steps:-

  1. Objective
  2. Strategy
  3. Tactics, then Execute

Fly First Class cheap: Objective

So in this case, let’s start at the beginning – an Objective. For a goal to succeed, you need to have a vision, so it’s important for you to think about what your travel goal is.

If you need some inspiration, take a look at our free ebook ‘How To Travel in Luxury for Free’, available to download here.

For the purpose of this article I’ve picked one of the many ‘bucket list’ travel experiences I’ve achieved through travel hacking – to fly Etihad A380 First Class Apartment. If you’d like to read the flight review, or just drool over the photos, take a look here.

The first step in setting your travel goal is to make it into an Objective, such as to “Fly Etihad A380 First Class Apartment”.

Leave everything else for now, just think and decide – and then write down – what your own personal Objective is.

Fly First Class cheap: Strategy

So now we have the Objective (fly Etihad A380 First Class Apartment), we can work on the Strategy. The Strategy is the steps, method and details of how we will achieve the Objective.

So, to make my Objective realistic, I need to think with some common sense. I can achieve it by travelling long haul from Abu Dhabi to say, the United States, or Europe, but that will cost more as it’s further to fly.

So, let’s look at the routing for the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, and we can see the shortest route it flies is from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai, India.

So, by reading elsewhere on this blog, we know that we can use American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly with Etihad. By checking American Airlines AAdvantage/Oneworld award chart here we note that we need 40,000 miles.

Also by reading here , we know that we can also earn Starpoints in Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) – a hotel loyalty program – pretty easily in Dubai. As an additional bonus, we also know that for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred from SPG into American Airlines Advantage, we get an extra 5,000 miles.

 Therefore, we need 40,000 AAdvantage miles but we only need to earn 35,000 SPG Starpoints (as 5,000 will be added on transfer from SPG to AAdvantage).

So, that is our Strategy defined, such as “To earn 35,000 Starpoints in the SPG loyalty program and then transfer to 40,000 AAdvantage miles to book a one-way reward flight in the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment”.

Fly First Class cheap: Tactics

Now we move to perhaps the most intricate step, Tactics, which are the actual steps we need to Execute to earn the Starpoints to fit out Strategy.

At this stage, our plan should start with some planning about how much we need to spend, how, and where to achieve the Strategy.

To start with, the Emirates NBD SPG MasterCard gives 25,000 Starpoints on signup/activation as well as Gold membership in SPG.

We know that Gold membership in SPG earns 3 Starpoints for every $1 USD spent on Starwood properties.

We also know that the Emirates NBD SPG Mastercard gives an additional 5 Starpoints per $1 USD spent on Starwood properties.

Just to clarify this, for every dollar spent on Starwood properties, you will earn 3 Starpoints (via the SPG loyalty program) and an additional 5 Starpoints (via the credit card/bank).

So our Tactics so far look like:-

  1. Sign up for the Emirates NBD SPG Mastercard – receive 25,000 SPG Starpoints
  2. Spend to earn 10,000 SPG Starpoints
  3. Transfer 35,000 SPG Starpoints to AAdvantage
  4. Earn a bonus 5,000 AAdvantage miles on transfer
  5. Book Etihad A380 First Class Apartment with 40,000 Aadvantage miles

Why does brunching come into this? I want to fly First Class cheap – especially the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment!

We could do this the difficult way – just by spending lots of money to earn the Starpoints – or we could look for opportunities to earn more Starpoints faster, and with less spend.

Which do you think we will take?

To see how this is going to work, we need to look for the opportunities in the SPG program. As it happens, you can normally earn bonus Starpoints (double, triple or more using hotel promotions – i.e. staying at hotels) but in this case, we’re going to do this by brunching.

In the SPG terms and conditions, you can benefit from promotions for up to 8 people dining (e.g. using the SPG Cravings promotion, which often gives up to 20% discount). So, our Tactic here would be to find a brunch that one person can pay the entire bill (and of course be reimbursed by his companions for) with the Emirates NBD SPG Mastercard. Once the bill has been processed, they then will be credited the  Starpoints on the cumulative spend (i.e. through SPG account and the credit card).

Note: Sometimes getting the SPG benefits when you are not staying at a hotel can be troublesome and erratic – this is known as YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). Rest assured, the terms and conditions are on your side, and you WILL get the Starpoints, even if you need to complain via SPG afterwards.

However, this is a shortcut to bypass any hassle – stay at the hotel where you are all dining, and charge to the room. That way, all the bill (and Starpoints) will defintely be applied without fail.

How much will it cost to earn the Starpoints to fly Etihad A380 Apartment though?

Apologies in advance – this will take a little calculation, sorry. We need to find the Starpoint rate per AED dirham spend.

We want to earn 10,000 Starpoints, as 25,000 Starpoints will be issued as a sign-on bonus for the Emirates NBD SPG Mastercard.

To calculate what we will earn through SPG, which is 3 Starpoints per USD (at Gold member level in SPG)

1 USD is approx 3.675 AED, so 3/3.675 gives us approx 0.816 SPG Starpoints for every AED spent.

To calculate what we will earn through Emirates NBD (credit card), which is 5 Starpoints per USD

1 USD is approx 3.675 AED, so 5/3.675 gives us approx 1.361 SPG Starpoints for every AED spent.

What you need to spend to fly Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, and points to note

So, if we combine these two rates, we will earn approx 2.177 Starpoints (0.816 + 1.361) for every AED spent on SPG properties with the Emirates NBD SPG Mastercard.

So, if we need to earn 10,000 Starpoints, we need to spend 10,000/2.177, or 4,593 AED.

That means that we need to find a big enough group for brunch, so the bill will come to around 4,600 AED. So you’re looking at a unit cost of 574 AED for 8 people, which could be somewhere like Toro Toro in Grosvenor House or St Regis Dubai on champagne/cocktail package.

However, there are few provisos to consider:-

  • Allow for exchange rate fluctutaions, although the AED dirham is ‘pegged’ there may be rounding up on the conversion rates from USD to AED.
  • As with all travel hacking, understand YMMV
  • The rates of 25,000 on activation and 5 SPG Starpoints per $1USD are from the Emirates NBD website, and may change
  • Of course, if you don’t want to do the group/brunch option you can earn SPG Starpoints by staying at SPG properties – there’s plenty in Dubai!
  • Also, the credit card clearly has the higher earning rate than through SPG, so that’s another way to hit your spending target quicker. Bear in mind, the sign-up bonus as described was on activation (not when a certain level of spend has been achieved) and perhaps more SPG Starpoints could be earned with other promotions on the same card?

So there we have it – all that’s left now would be to execute the Tactics to fly First Class cheap in the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment. Unfortunately, this is often where most people lapse, they want to do it – then don’t.

However, for those that are willing to work hard, plan ahead and follow these 3 steps – albeit to suit their own Objective – then the process works just the same!

Good luck, and happy travels!

What would be your Objective or luxury travel goal? Has this article inspired or helped you? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts using the comments below :-)