I fly around 20,000 miles per year, depending on how many flights to Asia I take. While I certainly fly more than the average person, it’s sadly not enough to put me in the coveted elite levels of most frequent flier programs. I miss out on business or first-class upgrades, airport lounges, preferred boarding and check-in, better food, and all the other perks that come with elite status. While twenty thousand miles may get you gold status, the real perks don’t come until you fly 50,000 miles per year, which I don’t.
Yet I’ve still managed to find a way to fly business class most of the time I fly anywhere! There are a lot of easy ways to get into business class without earning the elite qualifying miles that put you there. How? Simple. Airlines make it easy to accrue miles without ever having to fly them.
First, get an airline miles credit card. If the travel rewards you want are airline miles, then getting a credit card tied to a single airline alliance is the best thing you can do to get into business class. You’ll accrue miles in one place and have the best opportunity for deals and rewards that many general travel rewards cards don’t offer.
For starters, you get a big sign-up bonus. My American Advantage card gave me 25,000 miles just for joining. That’s a free round-trip domestic ticket or miles I can use for an upgrade. United Airlines gives you 30,000 miles for signing up. Delta offers miles AND elite status miles when you sign up.
Second, money you spend on the card is converted into miles. I charge everything because of the miles it gets me. I’m like Ryan Bingham from Up in the Air. I don’t spend any money without getting miles from it. There are over 56,000 miles in my AA account, and I’ve only flown about 11,000 of those miles. I have enough miles to upgrade myself from coach to business class.
Moreover, airlines sometimes offer incredible deals with these cards. I recently got a British Airways card. They had a 50,000 miles sign-up bonus, plus another 50,000 after I spent my first $2,000, which, considering I was going to buy a new computer anyway, was easy to do. Plus, for every dollar you spend, you get 1.25 miles added to your account. I now have over 105,000 miles with British Airways and I haven’t even flown with them once. I just bought my new computer on the card. Now I have enough for a free business or first-class ticket when I do fly with them.
Next, use an airline’s preferred partners. AA is always sending me information about deals for double miles if I shop at their preferred retailers, so I do. More miles for me. Keep an eye out for special deals and offers, and you’ll grow your mileage balance quickly. I rented a car last June with Avis and got an extra 1,000 miles simply for using my AA card.
Additionally, use your family. My parents might fly once a year, my sister maybe twice. They don’t really need or use their miles. My parents use my credit card to purchase all their tickets and when they fly, they transfer their miles over to my account. There’s a small fee, but it’s worth the extra miles. After they visit Israel this year, the miles they both earned will end up in my AA account.
If you’re an American Airlines flier, take their challenge. If you pay 300 dollars and fly 10,000 miles in three months, you’ll get platinum status for a year. If you do this after June, the status carries over for the next full year, giving you 18 months. Platinum status gets you automatic upgrades, priority check-in, boarding, and lounge access. Take one flight to Asia, and you’ve earned it.
To get a lot of miles without actually flying, you need to use credit cards. Airline-specific credit cards are the quickest way to get into business class. You just need to keep an eye out for offers and jump on them when they occur.
Airlines love when people actually fly the miles they earn and treat those who do with extra care. However, they make it so easy to earn the points to get into business class that it’s silly to not take advantage. Business class is no longer out of the reach of even the most infrequent flier. Take advantage of this system and fly business class for free.