Sam Huang is a man who doesn’t fly frequently and would never pay outrageous amounts to sit in first class, but earlier this spring, he managed to take a $60,000 trip of his life by exploiting an airline loophole — and he only paid $300 out of his own pocket for the entire trip.
In his blog, he documents the process of booking his ticket and his epic experience around the world and back in the world-famous Emirates’ First Class Suite.
“Unlimited Dom Perignon, wild caviar, and a shower spa while flying 40,000 feet in the air – it’s no wonder the Emirates First Class Suite is consistently named one of the best airline seats in the world.”
Huang played a tedious game of accumulating credit card and frequent flier bonuses. Because he doesn’t fly often, he couldn’t fly on just saved up frequent flier miles. Instead, he spent months signing up for credit cards from Bank of America — who also has an agreement with Alaska Airlines and just so happens to be a Mileage Plan partner with Emirates Airlines.
The next step was to use the credit cards to accumulate flier bonuses. Huang warns, however, that this strategy is not sound for people who can not pay off their credit card debt each month. Once he saved up 100,000 miles, he was ready to book his ticket.
Here’s where the loophole comes in. Huang proceeded to take advantage of Alaska Airlines’ lack of restrictions on routing flights. Most airlines have routing rules that prevent passengers from booking a multi-city trip around the world with one flight.
When you add multiple stops in different cities along the way to your destination, it’s called nesting a layover, and you can schedule stops so long as they are no longer than 24 hours. Unfortunately, Alaska has since changed their policy on routing.
Huang booked a flight from Singapore to New York and nested in 5 cities along the way. On his return trip to Singapore via Houston, he stopped in 6 more cities, revisiting some he had previously stopped in. In total, his trip covered 11 different cities in seven countries on five continents over three weeks.
While Huang was able to book the flight successfully, he was nervous about getting on the plane. Alaska Airlines only called him once to confirm that he really wanted all the layovers scheduled for the ticket. But when he got to the gate of his first flight, he was greeted with the always-cordial “Welcome Mr. Huang.”
What followed was a once -in-a-lifetime adventure filled with top-shelf booze, luxurious showers in the plane, amazing gourmet food and first-class service:
“I stumbled upon the loophole accidentally while on the Alaska website,” Huang told NextShark. “After finding out the loophole, it wasn’t long before i made my booking. Took maybe a couple hours.”
When asked to share some of his other travel hacks, Huang told NextShark: “American Airlines doesn’t show award space for most of the top airlines in the world. Let’s say you want to fly from the US to Asia. American Airlines only shows award space on its own airline for flights to Asia. So, you won’t be able to find award space on Japan Airlines & Cathay pacific, all top of the line first class products. If you search on AA.com for example for Dallas (DFW) to Sapporo (CTS) you’ll notice it gives an error.”
“All the best stuff is hidden from 95% of the users who just use the online search engine! TopMiles teaches users how to find award space that you usually won’t find.”
How do you find award space? you will have to go through a completely new process. The full explanation can be found here. This is what TopMiles is all about, step-by-step instructions teaching users tricks like these.
To see more of Sam Huang’s epic trip, visit his blog.