If you appreciate vintage champagne, top-notch service and value your privacy when travelling, a first class flight is probably on your bucket list.
That said, redeeming at the pointy end of the plane doesn’t come cheap. First class award tickets can command up to three times as many points as an economy redemption – meaning you’ll need to fork out significantly for a long haul flight.
However, if you play your points right, there are a small number of first class redemptions available to book at bargain rates. And, if you’d rather book at the pointy end instead of nabbing an economy class flight, these routes should absolutely be on your radar.
We’ve put together a list of four ultra-low points cost routes in first class. Each is available to book through an airline loyalty program that is accessible to Australian-based travellers.
All feature perks such as vintage champagne and on the ground access to some of the top first-class airline lounges in the world. Tempted? Read on to discover where your points could take you.
1# Singapore – Penang, Emirates (27,600 Qantas Points plus taxes)
Emirates has announced a new fifth-freedom route between Singapore and Penang, and it clocks in at just 27,600 Qantas Points. The reason? This is an ultra-short route, with just 90 minutes or less flying time to enjoy service in the air.
With plenty of award space available, if you’re itching to sample the Emirates first class suite, this could be a great way to do it. Just bear in mind that your experience will be somewhat limited. This route features the 777, with no onboard bar or shower. And the limited flying time likely won’t allow for full meal service.
That said, you’ll still enjoy a private suite in the sky and the finest wines, including vintage Dom Perignon Champagne.
A ticket up the pointy end also provides access to the new Qantas First Class Lounge in Singapore, although it opens just 55 minutes before wheels up – leaving you with limited time to indulge.
2# Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda, Cathay Pacific (40,000 Asia Miles plus taxes)
Hong Kong – Tokyo is a popular route for Australian travellers, with a one-way journey in Cathay Pacific’s highly regarded first class coming in at just 40,000 Asia Miles.
As a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Asia Miles is a very accessible program for Australian travellers. It provides extremely good value when redeeming travel for oneworld carriers, including Qantas.
With just six seats, Cathay Pacific operates an intimate and private first class cabin. The five-hour flight is the perfect amount of time for passengers to partake in a lavish meal with vintage Champagne on pour.
Better still, those departing from Hong Kong can start their journey in style with access to one of Cathay Pacific’s first class lounges, such as ‘The Pier’, up there as one of the best first class lounges in the world.
The Ilse Crawford designed lounge offers an a la carte restaurant with an extensive menu. Passengers can relax in one of eight ‘Day Suites’, private rooms furnished with a daybed, reading light, and privacy curtains.
Taxes departing Hong Kong on this route will set you back around $78 AUD.
3# Singapore – Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines (40,500 Krisflyer points for ‘Saver’ award, plus taxes)
Singapore Airlines has been long recognised for setting the standard in first class, with world-leading service and an excellent hard product. With Singapore Airlines operating both their A380 and Boeing 770-300ER aircraft on this 3.5-hour flight, you can choose between experiencing the airline’s flagship ‘Suites Class’ on the A380 and the refurbished intimate, four seater cabin on the Boeing 777-300ER.
Whichever aircraft you score, you’ll enjoy fabulous food (including the opportunity to use the ‘Book the Cook’ advance meal ordering service) and the choice of several premium Vintage Champagnes (Dom Perignon and Krug, with Taittinger, recently added to some routes).
Whilst Singapore Airlines doesn’t usually open up availability for their lower-priced ‘Saver’ award redemptions on their fabulous new first class suite, they do sometimes make them available at late notice.
And, if the first class cabin isn’t full, you might even score a double bed … just as Master Champagne Mile did last year.
Passengers departing Singapore will get the opportunity to visit Singapore Airline’s exclusive VIP lounge ‘The Private Room’.
The Private Room is only accessible by those travelling outbound in first or suites class with Singapore Airlines. This ultra-exclusive lounge offers an elegant dining room where guests can feast on delicacies including lobster and foie gras before they board their flight.
4# Sydney – Christchurch, Emirates (62,200 Qantas points)
Emirates has pulled back from trans-Tasman flights, with routes including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to Auckland getting the chop. However, luckily for Australian travellers, the Emirates three class A380 still plies the skies between Sydney and Christchurch. Passengers can book an award ticket via the Qantas website for just 62,200 points plus taxes – a bargain in anyone’s book!
During the 3.5 hour flight, first class travellers can enjoy a three-course meal and free-flowing Dom Perignon Champagne, plus the chance to try top-shelf spirits like Hennessy Paradis cognac.
After dining, there’s time for a quick visit to the onboard bar. Emirates’ excellent pyjamas and Bvlgari amenity kits are not usually stocked on short-haul flights, though you may be able to nab one if you ask nicely.
If you’re departing from Sydney, you’ll also get the opportunity to breakfast in the Qantas International First Lounge. Qantas’ flagship Lounge boasts an a la carte menu and an excellent spa.
If you’re considering redeeming an award ticket on this service, we’d encourage you to do so sooner rather than later – as we suspect that Emirates’ last remaining trans-Tasman service won’t be around for much longer.
Looking for a boost to your frequent flyer balance? Right now, card providers are offering up to 150,000 points, plus a reduced first-year annual fee. Browse featured offers here
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