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Lie-Flat Seats, Unicorn Alerts & Fire Emojis: The Best Points & Miles Deals of 2023

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

You’ve likely already received these deals. If not, log into your Premium deals hub to see every recent alert we've sent.

Have a bunch of points and miles saved up but not sure how to use them best? You've come to the right place.

Our Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal alert service digs up the best cheap cash fares and award alerts to use credit card points and airline miles, day in and day out. And in 2023, we sent more award alerts than ever before – listing them all out here or even counting them up would be pointless.

Safe to say, we found hundreds upon hundreds of points deals for travelers this year. We can't pick favorites … but some were better than others.

There were plenty of unicorn alerts: our name for the rarest of rare deals like lie-flat seats to Australia or flying Delta One Suites to Japan for just 85,000 SkyMiles. For the best of the rest, we use fire emojis – think deeply discounted Delta flash sales to Hawaii for under 10,000 SkyMiles or New Zealand for 37,000 SkyMiles, Qatar Qsuites to the Middle East, and booking a Delta One seat to Europe for just 39,000 points.

So to round up the very best of the best points and miles deals as the year ends, I'll break them down like any good journalist would: by emoji.


All the Best Unicorn Alerts from 2023

Delta One Suites for 85K SkyMiles

Unicorn alerts are the best of the best: The deals so good, so rare, that we send a text alert to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members so they can book ASAP.

We'd gotten all-too-accustomed to seeing Delta One seats selling for 500,000 SkyMiles or more. So when we unearthed this deal, alarm bells went off at Thrifty Traveler HQ.


Delta One Unicorn 

You're not seeing things. You could book Delta One Suites all the way to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) or Seoul (ICN) for as low as just 85,000 SkyMiles each way. And surprisingly, Delta even cut members a deal when booking one-way redemptions – a rarity, as the airline typically forces travelers to book roundtrip for savings.

Delta One Unicorn Alert 

We heard from dozens of travelers who were able to book these fares using their SkyMiles. There's going to be some Delta One cabins full of Thrifty Traveler Premium members heading to Japan or South Korea next year.


Australia in Biz Class

A lie-flat seat is never better than on the grueling, 15-hour flights to Australia. But for years, finding the business class award availability to the land down under has been practically impossible.

That changed in 2023. And it started with this rarest of rare deals flying from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Melbourne (MEL) in Qantas business class.

DFW to Melbourne unicorn alert 

Yeah…you know where we're going with this. The space opened up big time, and we got it in our subscribers' inboxes in a matter of minutes.

DFW Melbourne unicorn alert


ANA First & Business Class Alerts

Japan might be the most popular place on the planet right now. So go figure, two of the best unicorn alerts of the year could get you there in serious style.

ANA First Class is notoriously difficult difficult to book using points and miles. So when we found some award availability to book from San Francisco earlier this year, we sent a text alert and email to our members ASAP. Heck, with a deal this good, even two members of the Thrifty Traveler team booked it.

ANA First Class 

We found this deal back in early 2023, before Virgin Atlantic raised award rates to book ANA First Class. That meant Thrifty Traveler Premium members booked a first class flight to Tokyo for just 55,000 points each way!

It's a ridiculous value for one of the best airplane seats flying: ANA's newest first class dubbed “The Suite.”

ANA First Class unicorn alerts 

But ANA's ridiculously spacious new business class suites called “The Room” are nothing to scoff at either. They're also hard to book … unless you get an award alert like this one.

ANA Biz class 

Back when we sent this in early 2023, there was plenty of availability from both Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX). Best of all, you could book for as low as just 45,000 points each way! 

The Room Unicorn alert


Fire Emoji-Worthy Points Deals From 2023

Our fire emoji flight deal falls just shy of the unicorn alerts … but not by much.

At TT HQ, we call them “heaters” or “scorchers.” I'm guessing our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers just call them “holy crap that's amazing” deals.

From dirt-cheap economy awards across the globe to some outstanding business and first class redemptions, here are some of our favorite fire emoji-worthy award deals from 2023.


Fire Economy Deals to Hawaii, New Zealand & Beyond

We search for flight deals to Hawaii all the time, including points and miles redemptions. We've sent plenty of great Hawaii points deals over the years.

But when Delta slashed routes from the West Coast to the Hawaiian islands below 10,000 SkyMiles roundtrip, we couldn't believe it.

SkyMiles to Hawaii 

Earlier in 2023, it looked like these deeply discounted Delta SkyMiles flash sales were disappearing. But then this happened: A SkyMiles flash sale to Auckland (AKL) in New Zealand from just 37,000 SkyMiles … roundtrip! It was a true heater, and easily one of the best points deals of the year.

new zealand premium deal 

We're always on the hunt for Delta SkyMiles deals – we send a ton of them. But we're also always looking for the best ways to redeem AAdvantage miles, and this nationwide sale on American flights to Europe for just 34,000 miles roundtrip certainly fit the bill.

AA Miles to Europe 

It was a sale unlike we've ever seen on American Airlines, and the best part was all the fares were in main cabin economy. That meant you could change or cancel your booking for a full refund of your points, taxes, and fees, no questions asked!

Our last pick for this section isn't quite an economy deal – it's Delta Comfort Plus, the airline's extra-legroom seats at the front of the cabin. Delta typically charges a few thousand SkyMiles more for these seats, if not tens of thousands extra.

Whoops: Delta mistakenly sold these roundtrip Comfort Plus fares to Bogota (BOG) this year for less than an economy seat! 

Comfort Plus 

It was a steep, steep discount, giving our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers a great shot to book Comfort Plus using SkyMiles from all over the U.S. this fall.


Fire Emoji-Worthy Business Class Deals Around the Globe

Up in the front of the plane is where you get the most bang for your buck (or points). But to fly business class using miles, you have to find award availability to actually book it.

That's what Thrifty Traveler Premium is all about: Finding the best seats you can actually book for the fewest points possible. That was easier than ever with this nationwide deal flying United Polaris business class … and not just to one or two cities in Europe or Asia – this was a worldwide sale!

UA worldwide business class 

It was one of the most insane award alerts we've ever found, giving United flyers a shot at five days' worth of availability in March 2024 for a very limited time. That's right: every single route United flies was bookable using points, all at once. We've never seen anything like it … and since we may never see it again, it was easily worthy of a fire emoji.

Qatar Airways Qsuites are the best it gets in business class, period. These vaunted business class suites have gotten harder to book recently … but not impossible.

Qatar Airways QSuites 

Just 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles could get you nonstop to (DOH) … or to anywhere in the Middle East … or even to the Maldives, too. For just 5,000 miles more, you could get all the way down to South Africa!

Condor business class doesn't get the accolades of Qatar, but it's a solid business class seat with great food and service, too. Sure, you can fly to its hub in Frankfurt (FRA) … but why not go off the beaten path all the way to Mauritius (MRU) in the southern Indian Ocean?

Mauritius Condor 

Flying business class to this island paradise is extremely expensive, so this deal to book for just 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles each way was a killer one.


Delta One Suites to Europe & Other Fire-Worthy Deals Across the Atlantic

When flying across the pond known as the Atlantic Ocean, a stylish bed in the sky isn't so bad!

Few deals are better than booking Delta One business class to Europe for just 50,000 points via Virgin Atlantic – especially when Delta charges 300,000 SkyMiles or more for the exact same flights. But the problem is finding award availability: These seats disappeared for much of the last year.

We found it again in 2023.

Delta One Virgin Atlantic 

Flying to Brussels (BRU), Frankfurt (FRA), and Zurich (ZRH) from New York City (JFK), you could book up to nine seats on each flight over the holidays and into 2024! Throw in a transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, and one of the best deals in the world of points and miles got even better.

There's nothing wrong with Delta One, but the airline can't hold a candle to Emirates business class on the Airbus A380. With a bar onboard, it's one of the coolest ways to fly … and you can even fly it to Italy with a nonstop from New York to Milan (MXP).

With this recent Thrifty Traveler Premium alert, it wouldn't cost you much.

Emirates A380 business class 

Emirates' decision to bring back its mammoth A380 on its route to Italy next year was all the reason we needed to dig in and find this amazing award availability. And for just 51,000 more points each way, you could possibly upgrade yourself to Emirates First Class, enjoying the onboard shower and all the caviar you can eat.


Fire Emoji-Worthy Business (& First!) Class Deals to Asia

You deserve to fly First Class! If you've been stashing away points to do so, this deal could have been your ticket for one of the world's best: Cathay Pacific First Class.

LAX to Hong Kong first class 

Cathay Pacific's nonstop flight to Hong Kong (HKG) from Los Angeles (LAX) is about as comfortable a ride as you'll find in the air. But booking it has been practically impossible for years … until this alert came along, that is.

Equally tough to find is business class award availability flying EVA Air business class to Taipei (TPE) and beyond throughout Southeast Asia, too. But this availability had us geeking out about getting you to Asia in style this year.

EVA business class


More Business Class Deals to Australia & New Zealand

When you're taking the long-haul flights to Australia and New Zealand, it helps to have a bed onboard. That's why business class award space down under is so, so valuable.

One of the biggest (and best) trends of 2023 was just how much easier it got to book these seats with miles. That includes this wide-open award space to fly Qantas business class to both Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) we sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members for a trip over summer 2023.

DFW to Sydney flight deal 

But availability flying business class on the epic Qantas Airbus A380 is even better. Yep, we got that, too.

LAX to SYD biz class 

Not to be left out, New Zealand is on travelers' radars more than ever, too. Luckily, Air New Zealand flies nonstop from a number of U.S. gateways including Houston-Intercontinental (IAH), where the airline is flying a newly leased plane featuring even better business class seats onboard.

This is one of three alerts we've sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members in 2023 to book it for a trip this year or next … for as low as just 49,000 points! 

Houston to Auckland business class


Bottom Line

From fire emojis to unicorn alerts, it was another memorable year for points and miles flight deals for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members. This is just a tiny sample of the award deals we've found in the past year. And they just keep coming.

From economy to first class and from Hawaii to Mauritius, these deals sent our travelers flying all over the world in 2023 and 2024 … one emoji at a time.


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