My Third Flight In A Row Where I Was The Only First Class Passenger — Where Is Everyone?!?

Filed Under: Travel

Even though I’ve flown hundreds of segments in international first class, I still get giddy every time. Fortunately not giddy to the point that I can’t sleep the night before (which is a good thing), but still genuinely very excited.

Obviously the quality of first class products globally varies significantly, based on the airline, time of day you fly, the specific crew you get, etc. However, there’s one characteristic that has made flights special without exception — when you’re the only passenger in first class.

In my life I’d say I’ve probably had about a dozen flights where I was the only passenger in first class, and it’s always such a treat. However, I just took my third first class flight in a row where I was the only passenger in the cabin:

What makes a private first class cabin so special?

The most precious commodity on a plane is space. Of course space is less of an issue in first class than economy, though having a private cabin takes that to the next level. You don’t have to worry whether your meal choice runs out, you control the lighting in the cabin, the bathroom is always (hopefully) clean, etc.

It’s like flying a private jet across the ocean, only it’s significantly more spacious (unless you’re the Qatari royal family — they also have a 747-8).

At a minimum you have one crew member looking after you, and often even two. I’ll admit that it can almost sort of be awkward, as there’s no subtle way for the crew to check on you. When there are others in the cabin they can just walk by, while when you’re the only one you see them peeking through the curtain to see if you want anything, and you certainly feel watched.

I’d say that’s a small price to pay for hundreds of square feet just to yourself while crossing an ocean.

Personally I don’t think there’s that big of a difference between a private cabin and one with just one or two other passengers. However, I imagine my Air China experience would have been slightly different if there had been 11 other passengers, for example.

My private Air China first class cabin

Are my private cabins a coincidence?

Yes and no. It’s partly luck, partly not. Sometimes I just need to go where I need to go, and I book whatever is most direct. Fortunately my job affords me a lot of flexibility in terms of where and when I travel, so at times the occupancy of a cabin does impact which flights I book.

For example, a few weeks ago I booked my Jet Airways first class flight, and noticed no one else was booked in first class. The cabin has eight seats, and after I held my seat it was still “F7,” meaning there were seven first class seats for sale. So I knew no one else was booked in first class at the time.

In the case of my Air France first class flight, booking a private cabin was quite intentional. I booked the day before departure, and saw that the Paris to Houston flight was “F4” before I booked, meaning that all four first class seats were for sale. If I was going to redeem as many miles as it cost, I figured I might as well get a private cabin out of it.

In the case of my Air China flight, that was a complete coincidence. I booked the flight simply because it was operated by a 747-8 (and Air China has the last 747-8 I want to fly, since I’ve flown those operated by Lufthansa and Korean Air). I did notice after booking that no other seats were assigned on the seatmap, but that’s not always an accurate indicator.

The other thing to keep in mind is that stuff can always change last minute. So when I book a flight where I’m the only first class passenger, I never expect it will remain that way. People often book last minute first class tickets (whether paid or award), there are often last minute paid upgrades, operational upgrades also often happen when economy or business are oversold, and in the case of some airlines, employees (typically captains and management) might get seats in first class on a space available basis.

My private Jet Airways first class cabin

How can you maximize your odds of an empty first class cabin?

I’m not necessarily suggesting going out of your way to do this, since it can lead to disappointment. Like I said, you can never count on an empty first class cabin, even if it shows as empty a few hours out. I also realize most don’t have the flexibility to book this way. However, if you want to maximize your odds:

  • Book last minute
  • Take a look at both the seat map and the number of seats for sale when you book
  • Travel mid-week, which is typically when the fewest business travelers are taking longhaul flights
  • Always check how full business class is; if business class is sold out and first class wide open, it’s fairly likely that there may be operational upgrades the day of the flight
  • Book slightly less premium routes, which are less likely to have first class demand (for example, Paris to Los Angeles is typically full in first class, while Paris to Houston seems to have the first class cabin go out empty with some frequency)

My private Air France first class cabin

Bottom line

I’ve been incredibly spoiled with my past three international first class flights, as I was the only first class passenger on each of them. Having a private cabin is a very special experience, though I don’t think it’s necessarily worth planning your travel around that, as it often leads to disappointment.

If you do decide to go for it, hopefully the above helps.

Have you ever been the only person in first class, and if so, what was your experience like?

  1. I was on Cathay Pacific Los Angeles/Hong Kong last week and there was only one other person in First (and he was a pilot).

  2. International first class? Sadly I have no experience – yet. But last year I was in a business class cabin on an AC 777 to Paris with 40 seats and only 8 passengers. And that was after I bought a discounted ticket. The two ladies in front of me had saved Aeroplan miles for about 3 years and were flying for free. Not sure about the other 5 of our fellow travelers. Long story short? Premium cabins are too expensive. Airlines have access to the latest technology for dynamic pricing, so why can’t they figure this one out?

  3. Sorry Ben but you are bragging here. Not everyone gets the points and miles you get from credit card referrals. Thus, not many people can afford dumping their hard earned miles for first class flights. I rather save my miles to fly with my family on business than splurge myself on first. Second, not many people can afford to pay for first class. Many that can prefer to fly private. Last, many corporations do not allow first class even for top executives so unless you upgrade you won’t fly first. I think first class will become a thing of the past. Enjoy while you can and while readers allow you that.

  4. It’s a pretty straightforward business model-related explanation – only very few routes can really support an F cabin, most of the other routes are there for general prestige reasons / as a vanity project. What really matters in the airline business to make money is owning the right routes and shutting down the competition, rather than what the on board product is like. Hence BA F and J are permanently full / close to full between LHR and JFK (without BA giving seats away for free) despite the product objectively being not that impressive.

    Then a separate point that US airline F cabins are always full / close to full because people get routinely upgraded for free into them, whereas the airlines you flew above don’t.

  5. My best mate and I were the only F pax from SYD-BKK on a Thai 747 a few years back. It was an absolutely incredible flight – seats in 1A and K, beds in 2A and K and a private bathroom each. One of the best flights I’ve ever had and you are right – you can completely control most aspects of the flight experience.

    In regards to your question of where is everybody:

    1. Almost no-one pays the asking price for F;
    2. Where they use miles they don’t waste them on obscure products like Jet or Air China, instead opting to save for aspirational redemptions like the ME3;
    3. Some airlines make it very difficult/expensive to redeem miles (i.e. AF) so people don’t bother redeeming.

    I can’t imagine Air China would ever have TWELVE F seats filled – you’d like a 4 seat F cabin would be far more realistic.

  6. I’ve experienced that only once ever when after a major NYC snowstorm most of CX flights were cancelled, and mine was the first that resumed (most pax already rebooked for later flights), so I flew JFK-YVR in CX F (i think was using AA award) with 6 seats, 1 pax, but 2 crew.

    I feel occasionally awkward during single-pax F since I’m not a fan of overly courteous service asking to refill my glass every 5 mins.

  7. The first time I experienced this was years ago on a Northwest 747-400 Nagoya-Detroit, with 16 seats in F. It was 2 flight attendants, plus the purser, and me! I was in my 20’s at the time. Very cool!

  8. I once flew with a friend in First on the Emirates 5th Freedom flight between CHC and SYD. We were the only two in the cabin. It was only a short flight but it was a lot of fun.

    Saying ‘Cheers’ with a glass of rather nice wine across the deserted first class cabin was pretty cool.

    I also enjoyed the mini bar in the arm rest! An unexpected delight 🙂

  9. Not the same First Class situation, but about 10 years ago I flew on business from Orlando to Miami. Small aircraft, so I arrived 10 mins before departure at the gate where the FA spoke my name directly to me as I approached her. I said, “yes”. We both walked to the aircraft, both walked up the stairs, and she closed it behind me. I was the only one on the plane, seat 1A. It was hilarious as she did her emergency exit information…… and as she asked me what I would like to drink, etc. Best flight.

  10. It seems like they have a pricing problem. It’s like if your house sits on the market for 180 days – it means you’re asking too much for it. If a cabin is going out empty they’re asking too much for a given seat.

  11. @vermeio. I dont think Ben is bragging. Ultimately this is his job. He likes his job. Good for him. I would have zero interest in flying the amount he does and I’m not jealous as a result. However the headline does come over as slightly elitist I’ll give you that. The reality is times are hard for a great many and neither commercial operations nor private individuals are willing to spend cash or points on First class. It’ll be gone soon enough. Also to be fair Ben has concentrated more on business class this last year. That probably gives you an indication about where first class is going.

  12. I only flew like 3 times in international First class: Air France on the same cabin as you and it was full. Then Singapore Suites JFK to SYD with my husband: on the FRA to SIN leg there was only another couple, and we were alone in their old First class from SIN to SYD. The service was a little awkward on that one, as you said we felt pretty watched and our FA was also not the best honestly (several requests were never answered).

  13. Singapore airlines SIN to FRA on the 777. Not the suites, but an awesome experience to be alone in the cabin. The next day I flew the suites and the cabin went out full!

  14. Not just airline management and captains get upgraded on a space available basis. I am the daughter of two employees and have received a free, space available seat on many International flights… including Japan. We don’t count on it, but if the seats are available they will give them to you.

    Even as someone who is now a buddy pass rider I have been upgraded to first on flights from PIT-DFW and back.

  15. I actually think most people have no real practical use of your First Class reviews, cause they do not have needs nor miles to choose First Class over Business on short- or long-haul. Empty First Class cabins only reinforce this assumption.
    I guess what you are selling is fabulous fantasies, that those tens of thousand reasons watch in shock and awe those First Class cabins they never fly and 900$ hotel nights they never spend 🙂

  16. Airlines are getting rid of First for very good reasons. Almost nobody in F pays full fare – most are on points/miles, got upgraded or are airline staff.

    There are much better profits to be made on a larger Business Class, especially as Business on many airlines is better than First was a decade ago.

  17. Many good comments above.
    Lucky, no one redeems miles on Jet Airways and Air China’s first class.

  18. Agree with the others above who say these seats are not a good value proposition and perhaps the empty F cabins are a harbinger of the end of International F as we know it.

    Things are changing all the time in commercial air travel – just ten years ago I could not have imagined that I’d be routinely fly International premium cabin (J) with a lie flat seat, with privacy and aisle access at an affordable price.

    They need to drop the price of these F seats or improve them.

  19. Flying first class in no way compares to flying private. The main difference between the two is not the space. After all some private jets are quite small. The true difference is when flying private the plane leaves when YOU want it to leave, not on any one else’s schedule. Same difference between driving and taking the bus.

  20. Certainly no bragging by Lucky but I think perhaps the routes and those dates flown were not so popular in F. I’ve personally flown F for the first time with GA only a few weeks ago, the same experience Lucky had but from LHR. Of 8 seats 5 were occupied including one by my self. But it still didn’t feel as a full cabin. In saying that, I bought my one way ticket for AUD$2k so a bargain but uncertain who truly would pay as I’ve checked, the same flight was £1600 one way or the following day at £7000!!! It’s down to price of the ticket or reward avail.

  21. Lucky, you often lament how many airlines are getting rid of or downgrading first class, then you fly three flights in a row with an empty first class cabin. Put two and two together. Airline traffic continues to set global highs, but extravagant first class experiences aren’t worth the money for many people. More airlines will adopt the US model and find a price for first class that people will be willing to pay for – from there, they will reverse engineer the benefits to make premium cabins profitable.

  22. Once I flew alone in the F cabin of CX 747 when it was used on HKG-Denpasar route and sold as J class but only Diamond members were allocated seats up the front on request. Perfect luxury experience, and a candid one when I walked back to the bathroom and found one of the crew snoozing in a suite

  23. @Charlie McMillan
    “Airlines have access to the latest technology for dynamic pricing, so why can’t they figure this one out?”

    A quote for a September flight LHR-HND gave BA First seats cheaper than BA Business (apparently Business had sold out all the lower cost tickets so only full fare remained; First had sold nothing so cheap options were available). So I guess the answer to your question is “they do”.

    And no, I didn’t book it (though my employer is happy for us to buy F if it’s cheaper than J); Qsuites via Doha instead. Which was even cheaper.

  24. @MK – Not a fantasy at all. If you are flexible and have a reasonable income, you can do it also. I’m writing this from a $1000/night suite paid for by points.

  25. Even if you were the only passenger the day of departure you’d have to be lucky to have the entire first class cabin to yourself.
    I had the entire business class upper deck of a 747-100 once back in the day.
    You have your own flight attendants, lavatory, and the cockpit in front of you.
    Definitely feels like being on a private plane. Then you know what it’s like to fly like Trump JR.

  26. Last year my wife and I were the only two in CX HKG-JFK.
    Booked award tix less than 24 hours out, and specifically chose that departure time b/c we saw the cabin was empty, and fortunately for us, it stayed that way! Best part was it was just before the AA partner deval, and I remember saying specifically to her “it’s almost all the rest of our miles, but what the hell – they’ll probably devalue them soon anyway”. Sure enough, less than 4 months later…

  27. I was the only F pax on SQ’s First Suites from SIN-SYD back in March. It was absolutely mind blowing because it was also the very first time that I have flown in a premium class, I’ve never even flown in Biz class prior to this experience. I got my Double Bed in the First Suites and another seat to lounge in for my meals and was literally hopping from one seat to another because there was no one else. The bottles of Krug and Dom Perignon were opened in front of me bec there was no one else drinking it and I had 4 crew members serving me at the start of the flight before 2 were rotated to other areas to help out. It was like an amazing dream that I didn’t wish for it to end.

  28. Where is everyone, you ask? Back in business class. In another ten years you’ll be back there too.

    If this isn’t a clear sign that longhaul F is doomed, I don’t know what is. Enjoy it while you can, because in another decade there’ll barely be any left.

  29. I’ve had KE JFK-ICN on the A380 with my wife and child (lap). Was one of our best flights. The FA’s even offered to watch the kid while we slept.

  30. I booked two award tickets in Air China First Class earlier this year with Virgin Atlantic. Air China said they couldn’t verify the fare class, put us in Economy, and First went out empty… The ever generous Virgin has offered a refund of 12,000 miles per downgraded ticket.

  31. My best tale was being the only F passenger an Etihad A380. Nothing like having 3-4 flight attendants at your disposal for a 14 hour flight is sweet.

  32. I’ve been on a few and definitely loved the experience!!! I agree with everything you mentioned on here.
    As to the ‘why’, I agree with others that not many people who follow the miles/points blogs redeem miles for Air China First, Jet Airways First, and Air France First. In addition, I think it’s getting harder to redeem miles due to the devaluations and harder to do MS compared to a few years ago.
    Regardless, enjoy these experiences! Personally, I think the best flights are when you’re travelling with a friend/partner and you have the entire F cabin to yourselves.

  33. My wife and I were the only pax in F flying SFO-DUB on an Emirates A380! 16 hrs of awesomeness! We used one set of seats for take off/landing, another for sleeping, and another for dining. We each showered when we wanted to, and my wife even took two showers (before sleeping and after waking up), per a suggestion by the crew.

    This was last year and I booked the tix several months out using AS miles at the old 90K rate. Even managed to score a private car transfer to our hotel upon landing.

  34. Earlier this year I was on a paid C-class ticket on BA between PHL-LHR. At check-in, I inquired about a paid upgrade to F, and was quoted USD 799. I would have spent perhaps 299-399 for the upgrade but 799 was just too much for a relatively short flight to the UK. Ultimately I kept my seat in C and F went out empty. Perhaps BA should auction upgrades instead. Some incremental revenue is better than none.

  35. Low demand. 1st class won’t be around much longer. Business class seats are now sufficiently good for just about all customers.

  36. @vermeio i fly first class once or twice a year and am not a blogger or getting credit card referrals. The fact you go for business redemptions well cheers to you. I don’t see the need for your post as it sounds like you are just jealous.

  37. I just had an empty F cabin flight on cx hkg-jfk, and that was the first time it has happened for me. I wonder if it’s because airlines are not opening up award space very far in advance so only people who are extremely flexible can redeem. If someone has an employer and only set days they can travel on then last minute redemptions can be tough.

  38. 3 flights in a row! And I was happy when the middle seat of my 2 WowAir flights were empty…

  39. My wife and I were booked on a late night Virgin America flight from LAS to SFO. As we were lining up to board I noticed my wife no longer had her carry-on. It had been left in the lounge…but which one, as we had been lounge hopping? I sprinted to The Club at LAS in terminal 3, but alas, no luck. So off to the Centurion lounge as quick as I could. As I’m riding the tram back to terminal 3, carry-on in hand, my wife says they are closing the door. Not to worry though because the last flight of the night would be at the gate in another 35 minutes and we had been re-booked. We ended up being the only passengers…on the entire plane. When we boarded the flight attendants and the pilots had a ‘what do we do in this situation, pow-wow’, but arrived at the conclusion that the flight must go on! Naturally I suggested that we should probably change seats, you know for Center of Gravity reasons, etc. Despite having booked in economy, seats 1A and 1C worked out pretty well for us. After takeoff, the flight attendants gave us a bunch of food and some mini bottles of sparkling wine. We got to indulge, and they got to take a break for the rest of the flight. It’s nice having an A-320 all to yourself.

  40. Unless I have hundreds of thousands of miles I don’t know what to do with, I just don’t see the point. I can get a lie flat seat, good food, and decent service in business. I’d rather splurge on a luxurious hotel than a shoe box in the sky.

  41. @Emily Thomas;
    You are completly right. I Own a company of On Board Couriers and have with almost all Companies we fly a Corporate Agreement on Costs etc. Among that on every Check-in Worldwide when one of our fliers are booked appears on the screen; “AUPG” wich means For comercial reason Upgrade when space available. That means from Y to C and from C to F when available. I don’t remember the last time one of us flew Y and we each fly at minimum 300.000 Miles a year.

  42. It’s simple from my point of view. I use my miles for biz class tickets for more frequent experiential travels. When I have flown in first class in the past, I did not find the experience to enhance my overall travel. Hence, I prefer to spend my points on int’l business class round trips instead (40-50 annually on average). I find a better value for my money/miles. I would be traveling for leisure much less frequently if I redeemed my points for first class. Ultimately, the destination is more important to me.

  43. I flew from Dubai to Bangkok with a colleague in April and we had the entire Business Class of an Emirates A380 to ourselves. Was the best flight ever!

  44. Flew SQ Suites a week ago from SIN to SYD. Only 6 of 12 suites were taken. Double bed with the wife and then dinner together in another suite!

  45. International don’t upgrade like domestic. They’d rather have empty seats up front than upgrade someone with status and get more paying customers in the back. No surprise that cabins are empty because people don’t want to pay for that. There’s 15-30 medallion members on every domestic Delta flight I take and rarely anyone in first class is paying for their seats

  46. My wife was a flight attendant on United and on December 31,1999 they flew a 747 from San Francisco to Sydney with only 17 passengers all booked in coach. They moved everyone up to business and flew with an empty first and coach compartments.

    Lesson here is you can also look for end of world / Y2K scenarios for empty flights.

  47. Shame on the revenue managers responsible of the three empty F cabins in a row you flew. I worked at Google, my team had an account strategist, his job was to constantly provide optimization insights to most top online campaigns. To waste those sq ft, luxury seats and expensive staff is a business crime, and then some airlines ask for a bailout or government subsidies in their countries… Any cabin with less than 50% occupation is a poor management performance.

  48. I asked about this a little while ago in Ask Lucky, you even wrote a response post about it: It seems that what it boils down to is airlines want to sell seats through corporate contracts rather than to the general public. That can make sense, obviously selling Full-Fare First Class tickets to a very wealthy passenger who may take a vacation once or twice a year still isn’t as desirable as selling to a corporate customer, even at a discount, who could be buying tickets multiple times a month. However, it seems like there is a problem… it isn’t working. Even if First Class Cabins weren’t otherwise completely empty like they have been on your past three flights, when was the last time you flew First Class where it was completely full? It seems that in all of your trip reports, a cabin will be at most three-quarters full. It appears that airlines aren’t able to fill seats even when they’re being sold at a discount to businesses, so why not try and sell to the consumer market so that they can sell a seat and earn a small amount of money for it rather than just letting it go out empty and earning $0?

  49. So where do you see the mentioned F4 ? What app shows four available first class seats like “F4”? Seat maps are missleading because empty seats sometimes blocked and opened a few minutes before departure.

  50. A few years back, I had an entire LAN 767 to myself between Miami and Cancun on the way to Santiago. I was using British Airways miles before Avios. Apparently they weren’t allowed to sell revenue tickets between Miami and Cancun but then the flight filled up in Cancun. The flight attendants didn’t know what to do for me and the pilots even invited me into the jump seat for about 15 minutes. Rest of flight was routine business class on LAN.

  51. Haha @Kent Miller files 40-50 Int’l Business round trips each year and he would fly MUCH less if he redeemed for first! Is 30 round trips a year too little? That is probably even more than Lucky flies.

  52. Two of us traveling together were only passengers on AF F, from BOS-CDG on A340. The old flat seat at that time, in a 2x2x2 configuration. Only one row, but the front part had a nice credenza.

    Overall OK, but off to a bad start. The FA had a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket on the credenza. I asked for a class – and she said after everyone boarded. Turns out no one boarded, so we had the cabin.

    Nicely curtained off, and service was fine for the dinner, but then the FA disappeared. OK flight but nothing special.

    Was rebooked from cancelled flight out of IAD, due to weather, Flew to BOS in the early AM and hotel for the day (at my expense). Originally AF did not want to book us on the flight – I think they wanted to keep it empty – but they finally did after some convincing. Was able to use the F lounge in CDG – as was connecting elsewhere.

  53. Who cares about people’s cutes stories. How / where do u see F4 (available seats) for a flight?

  54. I’d love to see a world where loyalty programs didn’t exist (out of curiosity). You’d probably see no first class (because who would actually spend their own money on it, instead of being upgraded with points or business travel paid by the employer?). Business class would be greatly reduced, and you’d see a lot denser configurations. We’d probably see less people traveling, less planes in the air (since there would be more passengers per plane), and that would actually be good for the environment. It’s a weird industry….

  55. My wife and I had the entire upper cabin on LH on one of the last B747 flights with the F seat and separate bed combo out of SEA a few years back. What an awesome hard product that was!

  56. ANA First with 4 or less passengers is excellent. The empty seat is the bed. The process to go from seat to bed is not quick and easy for quite a few of the premium class seats, unfortunately. Often award availability in first is easier to find than award availability in business. As to the seat map and the load factor, F0 is a good indication the cabin will be full and F8 is a good indicator the cabin will not be full but all is subjective. Not out of the ordinary for the airlines to move people from economy to business when economy is overbooked.

  57. I have actually had the opposite experience of late and with many segments in F over the last few months on LH, LX, SQ and QF I have had close to full cabins on all flights with the exception of FRA-DFW (on which route they are discontinuing F in the near future anyway) which only had 1 other pax who was a last minute upgrade.
    That said, as per your post, I am usually flying ‘premium’ routes (FRA/ZRH/LHR-LAX/MIA/SIN-SYD).
    I am noticing LH having *a lot* of last minute additions to the F cabin (i.e. they weren’t even there when OLCI opened). Maybe due to aggressive up-selling at check-in. LX premium F routes are often sold out on the days I travel well in advance.

  58. @Tom – relative to one’s interests and experiences. If I could, I would travel even more annually than I do currently 🙂 However, time and health are the limiting factors. The balance between time, health and comfort guide me to use awards on business class tickets (instead of first) while satisfying my appetite for backpacking across the globe.

  59. I flew on about 2 weeks ago from JFK to Haneda (Tokyo) on JAL in first class and i was the only one. Absolutely amazing experiance.

  60. I’ve only flown business or first class once, and it was for a brilliant reason; I was flying from BUF to FLL with United and there was nobody in business class, but quite a few people in economy. Most of the passengers seemed to be seated right at the back of the plane. When we were all sat down, they made an announcement over the intercom saying that there were too many people at the back of the plane and that it would be dangerous so we could all be upgraded to business! There was a stampede for the front of the plane, but eventually most people got seats in J and the flight took off. I enjoyed it immensely!

  61. I flew ANA F LAX-HND-LAX just this past week (Sun and Thurs). Late departures each way. Only 3 of 8 seats were taken each way.
    I kept noticing the FA’s trying to peek at my seat to make sure I was good.
    I barely took advantage of the service, so they seemed a little sad that they didn’t provide enough service for me.
    I am generally very picky on what I eat so most menus just don’t have anything good for me to eat, so no dinner needed.

  62. Well, I think this the reason more and more airlines are pulling F at least from some routes (e.g. AF, LH, CX, QF, BA) or are implementing it only very cautiously (e.g. GA, QR). There are very few pax flying international F – and most of them are not actually paying for it, or at least not the regular F fare.

  63. @Vermeio, sorry. But Ben isn’t bragging here. And if he is so what? I wish I had his job.
    And that being said I do travel first class as often as I can. With all the resources out there earning enough miles for a first class gicket is no longer only for the rich. It takes work and dedication but with credit card offers anyone can fly first class.

  64. Yes! LH first from FRA to DFW. I was doted on by the two fantastic flight attendants. That flight was on Easter Day, maybe flying on Holidays increases the odds?

  65. I just had this happen this week GRU-LHR with BA.
    Given that I was redeeming Avios with maximum cash contribution, the extra from Business to First was only 15,000 Avios which I value at GBP150.
    I used to hoard airmiles for maximum number of Business redemptions, but that was a small enough differential to buy.
    I have seen BOS-LHR differential at only 10,000 Avios.
    I did feel rather bad about having several bottles of wine opened, much of which would be thrown away, but they gave me the bottle with a screw cap.

    I also experienced this once on Emirates CDG-DUB – as other comments say, odd dates are key: that was Eid al-Fitr.

    Thanksgiving from USA to other countries is another dead date.

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