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Getting High on Our Own Supply: Our Team’s Favorite Flight Deals of the Year

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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.

Scarface and the Notorious B.I.G. famously warned to “never get high on your own supply,” but we're in a very different business than Tony Montana or Biggie. We're in the flight deal business.

And here at Thrifty Traveler, we practice what we preach. So while we send unbelievable cheap flight alerts and points deals to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members, we might be our own biggest fans: We book them, too!

I've already covered the best flight deals of 2023, but as the year came to a close, I also asked my thrifty teammates for their favorite Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal alerts of 2023. They run the gamut from deals we booked and already flew to alerts we fell in love with but couldn't take advantage of to one tragic mistake fare that was ripped away from.

Yes, we're all diehard travelers, just like you. So here are the best deals we found and booked in 2023. Take that, Biggie!
 

 

Kyle & Jon: EVA Biz Class to Southeast Asia from 95K Roundtrip!

EVA Air business class is spectacular, easily one of the best ways to cross the Pacific Ocean. But finding the award availability to actually book these seats with miles is a chore – especially lately.

But that's exactly what we found and sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members earlier this year, with two seats or more bookable for as low as just 74,000 points each way … or maybe even less! Best of all, nonstop flights to Taipei (TPE) and onward throughout Southeast Asia were bookable from all of EVA's North American gateways.
 

EVA Air Business Class

Eva Air Business Class deal info 

Not one but two members of our team took advantage of this stellar deal for different trips in 2023.

 

Chief Flight Deal Analyst Jon Shallbetter: A Honeymoon in the Philippines

After postponing our honeymoon for a couple of years, my wife and I jumped on this chance to fly business class on EVA to the Philippines for just 95,000 miles roundtrip booking through ANA Mileage Club, an Amex transfer partner from cards like the *amex gold* and *amex platinum*.

We took a cheap positioning flight to Houston (IAH) in order to hop on the nonstop to Taipei (TPE), connecting onward Cebu (CEB). On our return flight, we flew from Manila (MNL) to Taipei and onward to Seattle (SEA). We especially loved the flight from Taipei to Seattle on EVA’s newer 787-10 Dreamliner.

For just 95,000 points each, it was an amazing deal and a great honeymoon!

 

Executive Editor Kyle Potter: An Anniversary Trip to Bali

It was a trip so nice, my wife and I have taken it twice.

Five years after spending our honeymoon in Bali, Indonesia, my wife and I were determined to return for our fifth anniversary earlier this year. And I was (selfishly) hoping to fly EVA Air business class again – five years later, could it live up to the honeymoon- and Hello Kitty-fueled hype?

That Thrifty Traveler Premium alert helped make it happen, pointing out wide-open award space from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Bali (DPS) that I could book for the pair of us. After transferring some Amex points to Avianca LifeMiles, where I already had 50,000 miles or so sitting around, our return to Bali was booked.

Twenty-four hours of flights, solid sleep in lie-flat seats, and seemingly bottomless glasses of champagne later, we made it. The trip itself was unbelievable, but that deal ensured the experience started from the time we left home.
 

eva air business class seats  

Check out my review of EVA Air business class from this trip!

 

Nick & Jared: ANA First Class to Tokyo From 55K Points

ANA First Class seats can cost you a semester of college tuition if you pay with cash, so booking it with points is one of the best deals in the world of award travel. But it's also the ultimate unicorn deal: These days, you'll almost never find award availability to book with points.

So when you do, you book it ASAP. We know our Thrifty Traveler Premium members did, locking in flights in ANA's newest First Class – seats – dubbed “The Suite” – for a trip to Tokyo this past summer and fall. And that was before Virgin Atlantic raised ANA First Class award rates, meaning you could book for just 55,000 points each way!
 

ANA First Class

ANA First Class 

Yet again, two members of the Thrifty Traveler team booked this alert themselves. But not just for two passengers.

 

Co-Founders Jared Kamrowski & Nick Serati: A Bucket List Flight For Four

ANA First Class is a real unicorn to book with points and miles. But what made this deal so special is that there wasn't just a seat or two available – there were up to four seats bookable on many flights!

That's unheard of. We found this deal for Thrifty Traveler Premium members just after Japan reopened to international travelers. So Jared, two other friends, and I each booked it for a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto this fall.

We each booked roundtrip flights for 110,000 Virgin Atlantic points and about $800 in taxes and fees. I paid for that cash cost on my *venture x* to get travel insurance protection, then used Venture Miles to cover a portion of the charge.

It was a pretty amazing deal for a ticket that would cost over $20,000 if paying cash. Jared agreed, saying it earned a spot “in my top five first classes in the world,” below Emirates' Gamechanger 777 suite and Singapore First Class Suites.

 

Jackson: ANA ‘The Room' Biz Class from 45K Points

Booking ANA First Class with points may be the rarest, but ANA business class is still a rare treat – especially if you snag a flight in the new “The Room” business class seats.

Yet again, we delivered.
 

ANA The Room 

 

Credit Cards & Award Travel Reporter Jackson Newman: A Major Upgrade on a Trip for Two

It was simply meant to be.

My wife and I were days away from a trip to Japan when the Thrifty Traveler Premium notification hit my inbox: Rare availability to fly in ANA's snazzy new business seats, dubbed “The Room,” had just opened up. The dates matched our existing itinerary perfectly.

These seats can be booked for as few as 45,000 points each with Virgin Atlantic, but I decided to pay more to keep the rest of my original reservation intact. Thanks to United's free change and cancellation policy on award tickets, I was able to easily swap our existing economy tickets for the much more luxurious ride to Tokyo. In the end, it cost me 90,000 United miles for the 13-hour business class flight full of sake and all the delicious Japanese cuisine my heart desired.

Now if only I could do it again …

 

Allie: JetBlue Mint to Dublin from 30K Points Each Way

Just last month, Qatar Airways added the ability to book JetBlue flights using its Avios mileage program. And for a brief window, you could use it to book flights to Dublin (DUB) in JetBlue Mint Suites for as low as 30,000 points each way!

We've found lots of great award alerts to Europe and beyond in 2023, but this was easily one of the best of the year.
 

JetBlue Mint biz class 

That's the value of these alerts: Thrifty Traveler Premium members get the heads up when award space is open and in-depth instructions on the best ways to book … before they disappear, as this deal quickly did – Qatar now charges at least 78,000 Avios for these exact same flights.

But our senior editor beat them to the punch.

 

Senior Editor Allie Johnson: A Sweet Ride to the Taylor Swift Eras Tour

You might be sick of talking about Taylor Swift, but I'm not.

I'm scheming up a Euro-trip to go see Eras Tour next summer, but flights are usually pretty pricey during that time just for economy. When I saw this JetBlue Mint deal to Dublin (DUB) included summer dates, I had to jump on it.

Flying across the ocean in JetBlue's fantastic business class … for just 38,750 points? It doesn't get better – or cheaper – than that. I quickly transferred 77,500 points from Chase to Qatar Avios (via British Airways – long story) and booked one-way flights for myself and my fiancé next July.

Hours after I booked our flights, Qatar hiked the award rates on these JetBlue routes to 78,000 Avios each way. I scored these seats for half that!

It's my proudest redemption of my points and miles to date. And after reading our editor Kyle's recent rave review of JetBlue Mint, I'm ready to pack up my friendship bracelets and take to the skies right now. Is it summer yet?

 

Peter: Rare Biz Class Space to New Zealand for 49K Points

Most business class deals are pretty straightforward, but this one has some quirks. In this case, the quirks all make it better!

Air New Zealand leased a special plane from Cathay Pacific, making a brand new (kind of!) business class seat available for flyers heading to Auckland (AKL) from Houston-Intercontinental (IAH). It's a much fancier ride than you'll find on Air New Zealand's own planes.
 

New Zealand biz class

New Zealand flight deal 

That wrinkle appealed to our ace award travel expert and made it his favorite deal of the year.

 

Senior Award Deal Analyst Peter Thornton: A Unique Redemption

Finding business class seats to New Zealand and Australia is typically a tall, tall task. Lucky for all of us, that has changed this year.

But among a long list of award alerts to fly down under in lie-flat seats, this one was my favorite. It wasn't just any lie-flat seat on that 15-hour jaunt from the U.S. to New Zealand over the peak season, from December through March 2024 – it was aboard the plane Air New Zealand is leasing from Cathay Pacific.

Those business class seats are a huge step above what you'll normally get on Air New Zealand. There was even an option to upgrade to even more spacious seats – Cathay Pacific First Class – after booking.

Oh, and about that booking: You could score these flights for just 62,500 Virgin points each way. Thanks to a transfer bonus from Chase at the time, it only required 49,000 Chase points to book. While you had to call Virgin to book these tickets, it's well worth it for that price.

 

Lauren: Delta One to Japan & South Korea from 85K SkyMiles Each Way

Awesome award space to Australia and New Zealand was a welcome surprise this year. But after years of seeing Delta One Suites selling for 300,000 SkyMiles or more each way, this was even bigger.
Delta One Suites

These Delta One award fares to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) and Seoul (ICN) were the lowest SkyMiles rates we've seen in business class in many, many, many years. Travelers with a co-branded Delta Amex card got the best deal of all thanks to the TakeOff 15 discount.
 

Delta One deal information

 

Social Media & Brand Manager Lauren Sohn-Ahn: A Unicorn Alert to Japan and South Korea

While I didn't book it for myself, seeing how many of our Thrifty Traveler Premium members bragging about getting this deal on social media deal brought me joy. It was heartening to hear their excitement about fulfilling their dream of visiting Japan or Korea for super cheap (and in Delta One business class!)

Korea is growing in popularity but deals to get there, using cash or points, are scarce. So even though I'm not going myself, I was happy we found this alert and sent people on their way to explore Korea next year.

(P.S.: #BTSARMYFOREVER)

 

Long: A Biz Class Mistake Fare to France From 5K Points (Or Less)!

Mistake fares are the best of the best in the world of flight deals. But they can be equally frustrating if the airlines decide not to honor the fare.

In this case, the craziest business class deal we've ever seen was both.
 

Mistake Fare to France

Mistake fare example

 

Credit Card & Award Travel Reporter Long Tran: A Too-Good-To-Be-True Mistake Fare

Always hungry for a good deal, I pounced on the recent Air France business class mistake fare. Flying from Toronto, Canada (YYZ) to Lille, France (QXB) in Air France business class would normally cost 50,000 miles or more each way.

A few weeks ago, Air France and KLM briefly sold these tickets for just 1,500 Flying Blue miles. Yes, 1,500 miles for a lie-flat seat to Europe.

Air France sure got my hopes up as I really thought I was going to be flying in style to Paris, then catching a flight to Vietnam, Australia, or back to the U.S. But thousands of travelers and I were wrong: Air France and KLM canceled nearly all these fares last week. Now I've got 2,000 Flying Blue miles collecting dust in my account, though I'm working to get them back to my Chase account.

Despite getting left out in the cold in the end, it was a thrilling experience and my favorite deal of the year.

 

Gunnar: SWISS Business Class for 63K Points

SWISS business class is a swanky way to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Early in 2023, we sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members an alert to book flights between Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) and Zurich (ZRH) using points all spring and summer long!
 

SWISS business class deal

SWISS BUsiness class flight deal 

Better yet, you could book this deal with connections to and from the rest of Europe – not just in Switzerland. And that's just what I was waiting for…

My wife and I were part of a huge group trip to Croatia this summer and had already found a very inexpensive ride across the pond to Croatia to begin our trip (which we ended up rebooking four different times, but that's a different story.) What we didn't have was a way to get from Zagreb (ZAG) back to Chicago, and the cash prices in economy were astronomical.

Then my Thrifty Traveler Premium teammates sent me a lifeline – and a super comfortable one at that!

After transferring some Amex points to Avianca LifeMiles, I booked us two business class fares from Zagreb to Chicago for 63,000 points each! That included a quick flight to Zurich (ZRH) aboard Croatian Airlines, giving us some beautiful views of the Alps on the way

The long-haul flight back to the states was in SWISS's beautiful business class cabin, which was so comfortable we barely noticed our flight was delayed an hour. We had some of the best inflight service I've experienced in the skies, too. An extra round of champagne pre-flight? If we must…

It was the kind of flight we didn't want to end – a sure sign of a great flight deal!

 

Bottom Line

Here at Thrifty Traveler, we love passing along our knowledge (and flight deal alerts) to help other travelers get the best deals in travel. But we're also doing this selfishly, too!

When it comes to booking Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deals, we might be our own biggest fans.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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