We've all been there: economy class flight, knees pressed rigidly against the seat in front. A baby screams in your ear as the behemoth beside you performs a hostile takeover of any armrest in the vicinity. You peer enviously at the curtain ahead of you: business class.
So close, and yet so far away. A place where millionaires stretch their legs further than the human body can even allow. A place where champagne rains, Michelin Star steaks sizzle, and the only thing more relaxed than the customers are their seats. The impossible dream.
But what if we were to tell you that this dream could become a reality. And if you believe travel addict Matthew Kepnes, it's ridiculously simple.
According to the Metro, Matthew, who runs the travel and money-saving blog Nomadic Matt, has flown business class on a 10,000-mile flight from New York to Melbourne without spending a thing.
‘After a six year hiatus, I decided to go back to Australia and visit my friends and travel around,’ he said.
‘Since flights are expensive, I wanted to find a way to get there without spending a lot of money and in business class. I redeemed 112,000 American Airlines miles for the flight along with $40 in fees.
‘I’ve been collecting AA miles for about six months through spending and online shopping so I could get bonus miles.
‘I used AA miles since I had the most with them but this could be done with miles on any airline or partner that flies to the country. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone to AA trying to find a route that worked and the Etihad flight [a codeshare flight] worked out the best as I could get business class.’
To help you achieve this high-flying dream, Matthew has provided a guide:
Choose a goal
‘What do you want – to take family to Disney world, to treat the wife to that one big trip to the Maldives or to take a cruise?
‘For me, I don’t have kids, so maximising the number of economy class tickets I can get isn’t of importance.’
Learn how the points system works in your country
‘In the US you get miles for everything, same for Canada.
‘It’s a bit more challenging in UK and Australia where you don’t have as many credit cards competing for it, but there are some really good websites out there and for anyone looking to do the same in continental Europe though, it’s going to be tough.’
‘A British citizen can still sign up with South African airlines or a Turkish airline,’
‘If you fly on that airline’s alliance, you can bank your points through that airline.’
Don’t bother with credit card air miles if you can’t pay off your bill
‘If you pay your bill off each month, you get no interest, so by using your money wisely, you’re not accruing.
‘But if you can’t pay your bill off then this is not for you, because the cards that come with the points and miles always have a higher interest rate, so if you’re not paying them off you’ll be spending more than the miles you get.’
Figure out what kind of spender you are so you can join the right points programme
‘With flexible spending cards, you can move points through multiple travel brands. So you can move it to places dependent on who they are partnered with.
‘But also, look at how you spend. For instance, I don’t stay in hotel rooms, so once a year I get a hotel offer to maximise points that will take me a year to spend.
‘And I don’t do a lot of grocery shopping because I live in New York and we have small kitchens, so getting grocery points isn’t as important to me as one that gives me restaurant points, plus, I have a lot of time on my hands so I do a lot of these weird surveys.’