13 Rites Of Passage For Any Mileage Geek

Filed Under: Humor

If you’re into miles & points, there are certain aspirational redemptions you’re probably aiming for. If the number of pictures I’ve seen in my Facebook timeline is any indication, half of my “friends” basically live in Emirates first class (well, or at least did until Alaska devalued Emirates redemptions last year).

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to share 13 rites of passage (of sorts) for any mileage geek. Let me know how many of the below you’ve done in the comments section below.

In no particular order:

Showering on an Emirates A380 while drinking champagne and posting to social media about it

Planning an extra long layover in Doha just so you can sleep in the Al Safwa First Class Lounge

Connecting in Frankfurt Airport on Lufthansa, but leaving the terminal and walking to the First Class Terminal so you can be driven to the plane

Looking forward to the coffee menu more than anything else when flying Austrian business class

Sleeping in a double bed in Singapore Suites Class, even if traveling alone

Dining face to face with a friend or loved one in Cathay Pacific first class

Joining AARP so you can get a discounted British Airways business class ticket (and then probably complaining about how British Airways is not so great)

Taking a bath in the Cathay Pacific Wing First Class Lounge, even if you’re not in need of a shower

Getting your hair cut in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, because why not

Not shaving before you go to the airport when flying Etihad, because you figure you might as well get a wet shave in the Etihad First Class Lounge

Ordering salt & pepper squid in the Qantas First Class Lounge

Spending most of your Qatar Airways A380 flight at the awesome onboard bar

Going out of your way to fly an EVA Air Hello Kitty flight, even if you don’t really like Hello Kitty

So… how many of the above are you “guilty” of?

  1. If you’re plane is leaving from far enough away you can get a car transfer from the First Class lounge in Frankfurt too; you don’t have to walk to the FCT. And the lounge is arguably nicer than the terminal

  2. Guess I’m older.

    1. Bring me back Russian caviar and generous portions.

    2. Carve the Chateaubriand and toss the salad in front of

    3. Reopen the cockpit, reopen the cockpit, reopen the cockpit.
    That’s my aviation idea.

  3. Oh my gosh I’ve done so many of these and it’s all thanks to your expertise and guidance, Lucky!

  4. Great list! Allow me to add…

    Departing Bangkok in Thai First for the full spa experience.

    Book the Cook lobster thermidor (not actually one of the better dishes) on Singapore Airlines

    American Airlines first class just for the swivel chair

    Flying Air Canada business class out of O’Hare to try the United Polaris lounge

    Buying a refundable first class ticket to use a first class lounge while flying economy

    Playing pool in the Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge (“july 15 heroes of democracy lounge”) Istanbul

    Sadly scheduling an extra long layover in Frankfurt just for the day room at the Kempinski, and booking the complimentary chauffeur service on an AAdvantage-issued Etihad J/F award, are things of the past.

  5. I’ve proudly got the AARP membership! Haven’t used it yet, but damn is it ever nice to wave my finger at kids on my lawn and hold up my membership as proof that I’m a genuine (38 year old) curmudgeon.

  6. Ben, I’ve appreciated your comprehensive airline reviews and found them to be incredibly insightful/helpful.

    After this report, I’m done with this blog.

    I wish you the best.

  7. 11 out of 13 for me. I haven’t tasted the salt and pepper squid and haven’t had a long layover in Doha to sleep in the al safwa lounge. Gosh I think I’ve been reading your blog too much 😉
    I’m curious why Etihad a380 F didn’t make the list.

  8. I done only 4?? But 4 good ones Lufthansa FCT (2x – 1 w/ full bottle of Monkey 47 Gin as souvenir from Bartender). Cathy Pacific Cabana (2x) Emirates Shower (2x) Etihad wet shave
    Plus Etihad Apartment, Japan Airlines 1st by myself & I loved those AA swivel seats to look out the windows. ✈️

  9. Completed the double bed on Singapore Air, joined AARP for discounted business class on British Airways, first class on Cathay Pacific, but never ate with anybody, use the tub at the bath suite at Cathay Pacific Wing just because it was there, never got a hair cut at Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse but did get a 15 minute massage. I am looking forward to Etihad in November. Looking forward to an actual professional wet shave. Thanks for all the tips over the years.

  10. Slept in day room at Al Safwa

    Dined face to face with loved one on CX F

    Flew BA J and then complained about it

    Took bath in the Wing Cabana with loved one. (If the champagne attendant isn’t looking you can sneak a bottle into the Cabana. The attendants there will allow food and drink in)

    Shaved in Etihad Lounge(the new F lounge wasn’t open yet when I did it.)

    Spent my entire QR F flight to BKK at the bar, didn’t even enjoy the seat.

    Agree with Gary’s addition fly AA F to sit in the swivel chair. Had the chance once when AA was flying the 77W from JFK to MIA, J being sold as MCE and got comp upgraded to F. Then a blizzard canceled my flight 🙁

  11. I think you mistitled your article as it should be “13 Rites of Passage for the Wealthy and/or Privileged”.

  12. Just Hello Kitty! Honestly this list would be more interesting if it involved all the awkward interactions:

    -Manually feeding award routings to pmUS agents
    -Explaining to transit desk agents or security that yes, I’m immediately returning to my point of origin
    -Evading punishment from power-tripping FAs or lounge agents (or side-eye from other pax) for taking a picture
    -Convincing friends to sign up on my CC referral links
    -Weird MS purchases


  13. I’ve done a few of these… I’d probably add “flying BA 002 to LCY” to this list. I’m also shooting for the Gudetama and Bad Batz Maru planes this fall… But I think my favorite thing so far was flirting my way into the crew rest “bump” on a 787 🙂

  14. Some people don’t like this post. I haven’t done any of them. I don’t care. I wouldn’t even know about them w/o Lucky. I only want to fly in SS for a shower and a laugh. I wouldn’t post to my feed cause my friends wouldn’t get it nor would they care to. They never had saver ability on Singapore though. However, I’ve got more travel planned than I can mentally cope with. In part thanks to Lucky.

  15. Sadly, only one – the coffee on Austrian but I’ve had a lot of premium hotel stays with amazing upgrades since I started miles and points but maybe that’s for another post (would love to see your list of those!).

  16. Done quote a few on the list but nothing listed is as exciting as it was flying LHR/JFK/LHR on Concorde which is sadly a bygone era ….

  17. Only one: the shave in the Etihad lounge; but, only because I was a scruffy mess from having been in transit for 16 hours.

    I have, though, played pool in the TK lounge mentioned in Gary Leff’s comment.

    May I add to the list?

    How about trying to impress some love/lust interest by taking him/her on a first class flight to some distant, exotic locale for date night.

  18. Zero. I have flown LH F and connected at FRA (but didn’t connect on LH), I’ll be flying BR J (but I am not going to SIN on the Hello Kitty plane or leaving the USA out of IAH), I’ve drank at the EK bar on a mileage redemption, but it was J, and I took a shower and hung out in one of the Pier F day suites instead of the Wing cabanas because my onward flight gate was MUCH closer to the Pier.

  19. If we’re talking about real “rites of passage,” I’d include the basics, too, such as: flying business class and first class for the first time. First time getting drunk in an airport lounge. First on-board champagne. First airplane bar. First time in the nose of a 747. First time on the upper deck. Those are fun cherries to pop!

  20. None listed. Feels big fine just the same! I have however gotten to have lots of amazing experiences..which I value more than this list. I would like to at least fly business class lay flat seat! Yep! First world proba for sure! I will continue reading for all the info I can get! Thanks!

  21. To everyone judging the writer and readers of this blog why don’t you lay off and go back to your day job popping balloons at children’s parties and other fun ways of killing the fun.

  22. Showering on an Emirates A380 while drinking champagne and posting to social media about it is an incredibly douchy thing to do. You can get away with it if you’re a travel blogger providing info on this experience and how you were able to use miles to get this out of reach opportunity (for many), but otherwise for most people, this is an incredibly pathetic thing to brag to friends about. If one is doing so, I sure hope their caption is written to be more like an informative post unlike many I see doing just to brag. I’ve flown the Emirates A380 first class a couple times but didn’t post/would never post about this. Selfies with champagne on a plane is a pretty pathetic thing to do as well.

  23. @Steve – I remember those days too! Spent many a day in Northwest First Class (remember Regal Imperial service?) to/from Asia and on their pride and joy MSP-LGW flight. Food and service were some of the best in the air in those days. I also flew First on KLM to/from AMS on numerous occasions. They too did an outstanding job in “Royal Class”.

    Ah, those were the days… How I miss them so!

  24. Good post. But I hope some of your readers are living their own life and not just following yours. There’s a lot of fun to be had traversing this planet with miles and points. Most of it occurs outside the first class lounge/seat.

  25. Closest is sitting at the Virgin Atlantic bar in Upper Class on the 744 LHR-SFO for almost the entire flight. FA’s let me mix my own drink. That was cool.

    I love your blog and great list.

  26. Wasn’t going to post about this until I read the comments by LMcK and Pita Pie Burrito, and then I couldn’t resist. 🙂

    SQ Suites double bed with my wife. 4 flights so far, 2 more coming up in August. Had the lobster thermidor twice, and we loved it, but the roast pheasant was absolutely spellbinding. Easily as good as food I’ve had in 3 star Michelin restaurants in Paris.

    LH FCT with tasting flights of top shelf Scotch, Rum, and Whisky, then the tarmac ride. Once so far, another one coming up in September. Taking the 6pm flight to BOS so that we have a full 9 hours to spend there this time.

    Stayed in the 2,583 sq. ft. Presidential Suite in the Vienna HIlton, on a basic room HHonors award with only Gold status, as a mea culpa gift from HHonors, for the hotel having mistreated us on the phone. Top floor Penthouse with full balconies on 3 sides of the Suite, with incredible views of Vienna. So cool we had to force ourselves to leave to go to dinner.

    Enjoyed the Wing First Class Lounge in HKG twice, without flying CP, since we were in long haul FC with JAL.

    I’m pretty sure Jon didn’t mean it this way, but no, I don’t feel guilty about any of this. 😉

  27. Wonderful post, as always, Lucky. Trolls just can’t seem to dream . . . or share.
    I’ve done only two of the list, but agree that they are keeper memories. Plan to do a lot more. Thanks so much for all you incredible, accurate and timely information. Couldn’t do it without you!

  28. Hmmm, only three: The Squid at Qantas First LAX, Cathay First dining w/ a friend, and the bath at The Wing First HKG.

    I better get cracking on the other 10…

  29. Ummm… seven. Yes, it’s crazy that I have even experienced one of them as I’m definitely not “rich or privileged”. I do however spend time reading your and other blogs to educate myself, so that I can maximize the miles/points I earn that can be used for premium travel & these experiences. Thank you Lucky!

  30. I agree with the post comment that they are done with this blog. ME TOO.
    used to enjoy reading it but with a family who travels with children I have learned some interesting things however this recent post is ridiculous bragging posting sharing about all the “” cool things” that you look forward to posting on Facebook get over yourself once and for all. By the way I never enjoyed reading about your political views either. I do offer you the best of luck and goodbye

  31. You don’t need to walk to the LH First Class Terminal. Just exit security to the front of the terminal. LH has a nice waiting area there. Tell the agent you need a lift to the FCT and one will come along within 10 minutes.

    Also, you may not have discovered it but the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul also has bedrooms for passengers who have a (I think) 6 (but it maybe 4) hour layover or more.

    I am guilty of redeeming 125,000 BA miles in 1995 to fly the Concorde RT with connecting Club Europe service to Rome. However, they did not meet their 8 minute guarantee for luggage delivery, so they refunded me 15,000 miles as compensation.

  32. Zero at the moment. But that will change in July:

    1. Etihad A380 Shower
    2. Singapore Airlines Suite Double Bed with the wifey!

  33. Lucky,
    I have great respect for you and the information you provide. I can’t understand why or how you tolerate flying on the airlines (nationalized in many cases) of countries that are blatantly homophobic (not to mention sexist and racist) and use LGBT as a call sign for anti-gay propaganda. No matter how big the suites are, how wonderful the shower feels, and how many kilos of Beluga served, is it really worth it? Just a question…

  34. I’ll say this. Lucky definitely has a passion for flying. I fly about 150k miles per year and I’ve done this for the last 15 years. I don’t get that rush as I did in the past. Personally, I could care less what’s on the wine list or the catering. I’ve sat in all 3-4 classes and at this point in my life, I just want to get there on time and not have my baggage missing.

    I’m surprised Lucky doesn’t get sick of the inflight meals, considering all the flying he does. 5 years ago, I would of never missed an inflight meal. Now, I skip the first meal on long haul flights or skip them all together on short hauls.

  35. @ Mohamed — Since you can only redeem miles at the standard level and you have to be an elite member, it doesn’t seem like much of a mileage redemption opportunity.

  36. Too bad it’s impossible for a woman to complete everything on this list. Unless the Etihad barber does legs 😛

  37. I’m 68 years old. When I was 16 the airlines introduced “youth fare”. I convinced my mother to let my sister and I fly for the first time from Worcester, Ma. to NYC for the day. It was about $14 round trip. I’ll never forget it. At that age, that was my biggest adventure and my first rite of passage to the wonderful world of travel.

  38. With everything going on in the world I like reading about Lucky’s travels. I can escape for a bit the harsh reality we now live in. If you don’t like it then read “Readers Digest” you miserable auld gits.

    I’ve never done any of them but I hope to one day.

  39. Lucky, you have a big fan in Guatemala who enjoys your reviews! I´ve done only 2 of these but look forward to doing many more; however, please ignore the many resentful readers who are “mad” at you for this post: Come on people, it´s OMAAT, it´s HIS JOB and he´s not bragging, he´s WORKING and what he´s doing is the sole intention of this site; I advise you all resentful and envious readers to try Lonely Planet 😉

  40. I think people would be less angry with this if these were actual rights of passage…a right of passage is something nearly everyone goes through (birth, adolescence, death)

  41. How about ‘Book flight halfway around the world just because there was that scare F award availability’ ? I’ve done that more than once.

    CX F dining w/ my then gf on board was really special as was the CX private suite in the lounge in HKG so a big nod to that.

    And let’s not forget that feeling when we get a friend or SO into F/J long haul for their first time. That’s one of my favorite parts of the hobby…

  42. What about those oh-so-cute rubber ducks in Lufthansa FCT’s bathrooms? That’s part of the whole FC experience too, right? 😉

  43. Haha. A few jealous readers I would say. Thanks for posting this list.

    Surprised the Residence didn’t make the list. And another reader mentioned the La Premiere experience. There’s lots isn’t there! Also KLM’s draft beer or the breakfast martini in Emirates A380 bar.

    How about the mile high club…? That’s a kind of right of passage for an av geek. Ha.

  44. I didn’t think AF La Premiere was so special when I tried it a few years ago. Very nice but not a dream.

    I forgot one more in my previous comment: the KLM liquor filled houses you get whenever flying up front. Anyone else collect those?

  45. I am perplexed by the negative comments. This was a lighthearted post. A fun one. And maybe aspiring as well. Why not aim for some innocent, superficial and self indulgent things once in while? Good for Lucky for finding a way to make a living doing something he enjoys. His content is actually pretty good and allow all of us to either dream or aspire to be there.

    There is no necessity to do any of those. They are as shallow as they get… but they sure feel good when you can do it. Regardless of you aspirations.

    No one is pretending that this is attainable for all people, but it’s also not “Kardashian” in your face. Don’t think it’s all glamorous all the time either. I am sure that Lucky won’t report the economy flights that get him in line to perfect award or the less than stellar hotel for 1 night. That’s not the goal of his blog.

  46. To each their own, but having done most of that list, one thing I didn’t do it for was for bragging rights, either on or off social media. I’m fascinated with commercial civil aviation – I love nothing more than flying and checking out everything out there (both in the cabin and in the lounge) – but I couldn’t care less what “cache” it has or for using it to promote some “I fly around the world in luxury for (*optional* nearly) free” mythology. It’s entirely a personal thing for me, for my personal enjoyment.

    If you are doing it just for bragging rights, I think the point has been missed. Check these things out if you are in love with commercial civil aviation, to see what different airlines offer.

  47. I enjoy these posts even more when someone claims they’re ‘done with this blog’. Great, don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out

    Keep up the good work, Ben

  48. @Robert Hanson – love your approach and wish I had a similar list just to set LMcK and Pita Pie Burrito off a little more (oh hang on, I’m too late, they’ve stopped reading). And everyone else who seemed to miss the “Humor” label at the top of this blog.

    Have only done 1 – the squid. My best experience? First class with Qantas to London for $1200!! Just wish I had the wherewithal to do the Residence.

    Keep these coming Lucky, they’re fun and a nice escape after a long day at work.

  49. Showering on EK, layover in DOH, connecting at FRA and Salt & Pepper in QF First lounge, amazing.

    QR is my main airline, (150000 miles this year already ) but have never bothered with the on-board bar, not for any particular reason, just never have. Next flight, done.

    I also think dining with a friend on CX is a good one. But the rest, little or no interest.

  50. When my late father made his flight to freedom (with the help of Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt) from what was then Yugoslavia (Macedonia) to come to Cornell University in 1958, he flew KLM and the stewardess thoughtfully gave him one of those liquor filled Dutch townhouses which still sits on our bookshelf today.

  51. I would also like to see a “Rites of Passage” posts that details the steps of getting into the hobby, like “First time taking advantage of a mileage promotion”, or “first Business/First mileage redemption” as well as “first premium cabin flight in B747, A380…”
    It may not be the most spectacular product out there, but I personally will never forget the moment I was looking up the ANA check in desk for First Class at Narita and realized it was a separate building, or walking on the ANA 777-300 and just gawking at the sheer amount of space I had (it was my first time not in Economy). Flying in the nose of the Thai 747 the next day was also unforgettable: especially the sunrise split through all 4 windows!

    Only upcoming one is a Double Hello Kitty flight (Singapore to Taipei to Chicago) later this month, with plans for Singapore Suites in the next couple of years.

  52. @Christine

    “used to enjoy reading it but with a family who travels with children I have learned some interesting things however this recent post is ridiculous bragging posting sharing about all the “” cool things” that you look forward to posting on Facebook get over yourself once and for all. By the way I never enjoyed reading about your political views either. I do offer you the best of luck and goodbye”

    Bye Felicia!


  53. Buying a refundable first class ticket to use a first class lounge while flying economy? What do you mean by this??

  54. @The Reverend I’m a 37 year old (pretty close) curmudgeon (one of my favorite) myself, and love that AARP associate membership 🙂 Having already read this week’s Economist and being in a slight podcast lull, I was reading the AARP magazine on my morning commute. It was pretty good.

  55. Lucky, this is a fun list! I’ve got #7 AARP, but that’s it. Also kind of on the age issue, I’m not about to do #10 shave; not gonna pretend to be younger than I am.

  56. @David – The City Miler I like your list! Too bad I haven’t checked off the 2 for 747 🙁

  57. The Debbie Downers need to read Bentham or something; there’s greater utility to more joy in the world rather than less. It’s a great thing if you can help someone else, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all seize our happy opportunities.

  58. so far 4, though I did try for the salt and pepper squid, unfortunately, they weren’t available because I was in the lounge in the morning for my QF F flight to LAX, so for all of you out there hoping to try some squid in the QF F lounge in SYD, don’t take an early flight!

  59. Shower on Etihad, walking to Lufthansa FCT, and double bed when i was the only passenger in SQ suites

    most memorable flight experience: dining with two friends in CX F – one of my friends sat in the ottoman and two of us sat in the F seat.

  60. I should think these are Mileage Blogger rites of passage! But based on a few comments, I’d be wrong.

    I’m lucky if I can clear a domestic upgrade using miles lol

  61. I have not done any of the 13, but I have experienced:

    – having the flight attendants sing “Happy Birthday” to me as we crossed the International Date Line on a trip from San Francisco to Sydney…

    – having a three-way conversation in Italian, Spanish and English during a flight, where I was giving fellow passengers transit advice for our landing at SFO…

    – receiving a card from a United pilot that said “Thank you for putting my daughter through college!” after I became a 1K for the seventh year in a row – all domestic – yikes!

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