Lonely Planet Writer

Can you recreate this travel blogger’s US$16,000 Christmas Eve flight for only $480?

With long queues, crowded airports and bad weather, Christmas is not generally considered a great time for air travel – unless you’re a money-saving travel blogger who can secure a $16,000 first-class flight during the holidays for only $480.


Samuel Huang, who writes on the site TopMiles, provides advice on how to save money on flights using reward miles. Last year on Christmas Eve, he was able to fly on Singapore Airlines First Class Suites, where he sipped on champagne and slept in an exclusive private room with a full double-sized bed.

While Huang values the flight at $16,000, he ended up only paying about $480 and redeeming 119,000 frequent flyer miles for a ticket from Los Angeles to Sydney. He was even able to arrange multiple day stopovers in Tokyo and Singapore, turning the luxury trip into a true vacation.

A photo posted by Sam Huang (@intotheplane) on Nov 29, 2016 at 8:00am PST

The flights were over a few days, but Huang says that nothing tops his Christmas Eve flight from Singapore to Sydney. He arrived at Singapore’s Changi Airport and was able to hang out in the airline’s exclusive first-class area before checking in and entering through the airline’s private security line and immigration checkpoint.

While hanging out in the exclusive lounge, he was able to enjoy lobster, a burger topped with foie gras and a quails egg, champagne and even a shower – a definite perk for any long-haul traveller.

A photo posted by Sam Huang (@intotheplane) on Dec 7, 2016 at 5:01am PST

Then, he was privately escorted onto the plane, where he was offered more champagne. Huang notes that the airline is the only one that serves both Krug and Dom Perignon for first-class passengers, and even offers a tasting so passengers know which one they prefer. He ate a meal that included caviar, seared tuna and a rib-eye steak.

After that, he was ready for a bit of dozing in a private double bed with a glass of whiskey to start. He was also able to use the entertainment system that comes with a 23 inch TV and Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Read the full account of his experience here.

And while you may not have thousands of rewards miles sitting around, Huang does have some tips for saving money on flights. He told Lonely Planet that while most people know to search flexible dates for savings, he says best option is Matrix Airfare Search, where users can pick a “calendar of lowest fares” and select a range of different dates and airports to get the best fare. Most airlines have a free 24-hour cancellation rules, but Huang says you can actually extend that to 47 hours by booking one hour past midnight, which “is nice for those who are still unsure of their travel plans but want to ‘lock in’ their fares”.

But that’s not it for his favourite tricks for saving on flights – Huang says that often, major travel comparison websites don’t show all the local airlines offering a route, and they may have much cheaper prices. He says it can be really beneficial to go to a local travel office and compare prices for domestic tickets, where you could save by paying rates closer to what locals would.