We strive to find and send easy-to-book, useful, and valuable flight deal alerts to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members every day, but for our fellow aviation geeks, we have something we call Nerd Alerts.
Nerd alerts are tailor-made for those who travel…differently. Want the heads up on when you can book an Etihad Apartment or Qatar Airways First Class, even if those flights don't touch U.S. soil? Happy to book within the last few weeks (or even days) if it means you can snag ultra-rare award space like flying Starlux Airlines to Asia? Want to fly lie-flat for cheap, even if it's just for a quick two-hour flight in the Caribbean? Nerd alerts are for you.
These deals are all bucket-list-worthy experiences in the sky that you can book for cheap if you know where to look. And in some cases, it might be more about the journey than the destination.
From incredible last-minute award deals to unique aircraft to some of the best seats in the world on routes wholly outside the U.S. and Canada, these are our best Nerd Alerts.
- An Apartment in the Sky for 63K Points
- Emirates First Class for $940!
- SWISS First Class…in South America
- Cathay First Class…on Air New Zealand?
- British Airways Club Suites for 15K Points!?
- Qatar First Class to Thailand
- ANA First Class to Japan
- Last-Minute Starlux Business Class
- How to Get Our Nerd Alerts
An Apartment in the Sky for 63K Points
There's first class and then there's the Etihad First Class Apartment. Just look at this thing. That's on an airplane!
These ludicrously spacious first class seats are widely viewed as among the best in the world, and for that reason, they end up on the bucket list of many an aviation geek.
Etihad only flies the Airbus A380 – the so-called Whale Jet – equipped with these Apartments on a handful of routes including just one U.S. destination – New York City (JFK). And finding award availability to book these seats with points and miles is difficult as these seats are typically in high demand.
While it's certainly not nerdy to want to fly in that “seat,” it takes a certain type of traveler to seek it out and book it because your best bet at finding affordable award rates for The Apartment is on the on the route between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and London (LHR) flying Etihad Airways.
When we sent this Nerd Alert to our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers, 63,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles was all you needed to make this apartment your home for a six-hour flight.
Emirates First Class for $940!
From bottomless Dom Perignon and caviar in your private suite to an onboard bar and even a shower, flying Emirates First Class is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in the sky.
But finding an affordable way to book these ridiculously cool suites is elusive…unless you know where to look.
These normally $10,000 suites can be booked for less than $1,000 sometimes when you snag them on one of Emirates' unique fifth freedom routes, like this one from Christchurch, New Zealand (CHC) to Sydney, Australia (SYD)!
These seemingly random routes that allow airlines to fly between two cities where the carrier itself isn't based can be a great way to fly some of the best seats in the sky – often for substantially less than what you'd pay on a “normal” route. Speaking of which…
SWISS First Class…in South America
Similar to Emirates First Class, the swanky SWISS First Class can also be found for cheap when you look far, far away from the airline's hub in Zurich (ZRH).
Sure, it's a short flight from São Paolo (GRU) to Buenos Aires (EZE), but you can't beat getting the full first class experience for just 39,000 miles each way. You could easily transfer points from Chase or Bilt Rewards to United put yourself in one of these seats.
Cathay First Class…on Air New Zealand?
How about flying Air New Zealand business class – which is actually made up of Cathay Pacific First Class seats – between Auckland (AKL) and Melbourne (MLB) for just $490 each way?
If you need to read that again, I understand. Air New Zealand recently leased an old Cathay Pacific plane with these first class seats onboard. But because Air New Zealand does not have first class, they're pricing these luxurious pods like business class seats instead.
Just $490 one-way would put you in what Air New Zealand is calling “Business Preferred.” That's some insane value for an incredibly comfy ride between Australia and New Zealand.
British Airways Club Suites for 15K Points!?
All but the nerdiest travelers will be surprised to hear British Airways flies a fifth freedom route between the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands…and that you can fly lie-flat for that short two-hour flight.
Flying business class doesn't get cheaper than this.
You can book British Airways' amazing Club Suites business class from just 15,000 points each way between Nassau (NAS) and Grand Cayman (GCM) and only $1 in taxes and fees. British Airways is a transfer partner of almost all the major banks – Amex, Chase, Capital One, and even Bilt.
That's the crazy value you can find on this hilarious fifth freedom route, which gets you all the bells and whistles of business class travel, without the long flight.
Qatar First Class to Thailand
Qatar Airways is best known for its QSuites Business Class, which is among the best in the sky. But did you know Qatar also operates a first class on some routes?
While rare, Qatar First Class can be found on routes flying this leased 777 from Cathay Pacific. It's the same exact seat from that Air New Zealand I mentioned earlier, decked out in Qatar's maroon colors instead.
Best of all, you can fly this seat from Qatar's hub in Doha (DOH) to Bangkok (BKK), too! It might be the long way around the globe if you're trying to get to Bangkok from North America, but it's possibly the most stylish.
And if you have 50,000 American Airlines miles or 75,000 Qatar Airways Avios (which can be transferred in from Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase, or from your British Airways Avios account), you can make one of these seats yours for that long haul flight.
ANA First Class to Japan
ANA First Class is one of the world's most sought-after ways to fly on Japan's top-rated airline, and done right, booking it is one of the best deals in points and miles. So although these dates were all for just one traveler, we had to let our nerdiest members know!
You could book this nonstop flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) for just 73,000 Virgin Atlantic points or 121,000 United miles.
Last-Minute Starlux Business Class
We also try to avoid sending our Thrifty Traveler Premium members last-minute flight deals. Typically, we're looking for something further out to help you plan more effectively, but when seats like this become available – even at the last minute – we're going to send you a nerd alert about it.
This incredible-looking new business class seat from Starlux Airlines can get you to Taipei (TPE) in luxury. With the availability being so last-minute, it'd be tough to book a full trip around this deal from scratch. But if you have an existing trip to Asia on the books and want to make it a little fancier using your Alaska points…welcome to being a sicko.
Just 75,000 Alaska Airlines miles is all you need to book these seats. You'll just have to explain to your friends and family why you potentially upended your entire trip just to fly them.
How to Get Our Nerd Alerts
Did one of these deals pique your interest? Have any of these aircraft or premium cabins on your travel wish list? Thrifty Traveler Premium members can get every Nerd Alert we send.
Simply log in to your Premium account online and go to “Settings” and “Deal Filters.” Scroll to the bottom, and toggle on “Nerd Alerts” to start receiving them.
You can also see any nerd alerts and all our recent flight deals in your Premium account. Scroll through the deals to find them or type “Nerd Alerts” into the search bar at the top.
Not every flight deal has to be the easiest, simplest route between two destinations. Sometimes you have to look around the globe to find the strangest fifth freedom routes flying some of the coolest airplane seats in the world for prices you won't believe.
We label these Thrifty Traveler Premium deals “Nerd Alerts” but you don't have to be the nerdiest traveler to book them. It's all about what kind of experience you want to have in the sky – and what you're willing to do for it.