My name is Jarvis Marcos, I’m a London based frequent flyer and when I’m not here (or on a plane), you’ll find me over on Flyertalk.com posting under the username: Jermyn.
I travel the World in Business and First class, flying upwards of 100,000 miles a year. I do all of this whilst holding down a regular job and often pay less for my seat than the people sat in Economy.
This website contains my reviews of many of the World’s best airplane products and luxury hotels with tips on how you too can travel like this!
I have always been fascinated by aviation and was heavily influenced by the fact that my grandfather was one of the engineers that worked on the development of Concorde. Ever since first setting foot on a long haul plane in the 90s, I was wowed by the premium cabins that we would walk through on our way to Economy. I vowed that one day I would get a chance to sit in one of those seats.
Fast forward to today and I’m lucky enough to have flown in First and Business Class on the majority of the World’s top carriers. The best thing about premium travel is that it effectively adds days to your life: You arrive at your destination and are able to immediately explore; on the other end you can fly overnight and be ready for the office the next morning (although it can be tough leaving your Overwater Villa in the Maldives, boarding a seaplane and knowing that technically your commute to work has just begun!)
I’m always happy to answer questions, which you can ask by clicking: here
Frequently Asked Questions
I work a regular office job in London. My job is totally unrelated to travel and all of my travel is self financed.
On the face of it, business class travel is insanely expensive. It never ceases to amaze me, the sums of money thrown around by companies in order to fly their executives around the world. Even a quick 7 hour hop from London to New York can cost as much as £3000 for a round trip.
First Class is often another level of cost again, with a price two to three times that of business class being the norm.
However, there are numerous ways to get the cost down considerably. If you plan in advance and are flexible with your choice of destination you can often fly business class for around £50-70 per hour.
I tend to look at that price level as my upper limit, as long as I stick to this I can fly in style, on a regular basis.
This may still sound like a lot of money but I figure that I can often save myself a couple of nights’ accommodation by sleeping on a flat bed in both directions.
I keep to my budget in the following ways:
- I earn points and miles from credit card signup bonuses
- I buy points and miles when airlines and hotels put them on deep discount sales
- I buy paid flights using inventive routings which usually take a little longer than the direct route. This is not an issue for me, extra time in the air is pretty good when you have a flat bed, unlimited food and drink and sometimes even a shower or bar onboard.
I get 28 days of paid holiday a year, which is pretty standard in the UK.
I will often make use of national holidays and add my regular days off to these, in order to maximise my travel time.
I am also not averse to taking red eye flights wherever possible as a means of squeezing every last drop of time out of my holidays. When you are flying in Business or First class you can usually get a very decent night’s sleep.
Timing-wise I can also do awesome things like this:
5pm Friday – Go straight from the office to the airport
9pm Friday – Fly to Dubai
7am Saturday – Go to hotel and check-in early
All day Saturday and Sunday – Hang out with friends, enjoy the sunshine whilst it’s 10 degrees in London etc.
Midnight Sunday – Head to the airport for the night flight
7am Monday – Arrive back in London and head straight to the office, well rested.
I can spend two full days in Dubai and only pay for one night’s accommodation, whilst taking zero time off work!
To be honest, once you’ve already committed to buying an economy ticket, your options are very limited.
Most airlines will let you use points/ miles to upgrade tickets but there are usually some very prohibitive terms and conditions attached. You will tend to find that the cheapest economy fares are non-upgradeable or only upgradeable with a substantial additional cash component as well.
A number of airlines offer bid for upgrade systems which can get you upgrades very cheaply (eg. Emirates and Qatar), whereas others will offer a discounted fixed price upgrade, either online or at the airport (BA is a big fan of both this).
Complimentary upgrades are very hard to come by and tend to be reserved for frequent fliers with commensurate status with the airline.
Much like airlines, hotels have their own loyalty programs. These are designed to reward customers and to incentivise people to prioritise the brand of the hotel over other factors such as convenience and price.
For those of us that don’t travel for work, clocking up the necessary number of hotel nights, to gain status is almost impossible (stay requirements of 50 nights per year are not uncommon for upper tiers of loyalty programs). However, in the UK the American Express Platinum card comes with Hilton, Shangri-La and Melia hotel statuses thrown in for free.
The features of each loyalty program (and tiers within the loyalty programs) vary quite a bit but generally include some variation of these benefits:
Executive lounge access (featuring free food drink)
Late check-out until 4pm
Alternatively, you can book hotels via the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Program, which is only available to Amex Platinum cardholders. The FHR website allows you to book hotels at the exact same flexible rate as the hotel’s website with the following additional benefits:
Free breakfast for two people
Noon check-in if available (not guaranteed)
Guaranteed 4pm late checkout
An extra benefit worth around $100 per stay (usually food and beverage credit or spa credit)
As you can see, this effectively gives you a proxy version of top tier hotel status – with late checkout guaranteed, where most loyalty programs only give 4pm checkout on a ‘maybe’ basis. Plus you get the $100 credit which represents an amazing value on one night stays, particularly if your hotel of choice has a destination restaurant that you were planning to visit anyway.
For me, those benefits alone are almost enough to warrant the £450 per year annual fee on the card alone.
The simplest idea would be to pick an airline which flies from your home airport and look towards always flying with them.
In doing so you will begin to enjoy benefits such as:
Access to airport lounges (the benefit people often care about the most)
Free seat selection
Increased points/ miles earning
Increased chance of free upgrades
The above benefits are so enticing that people will sometimes fly somewhere and immediately back again, solely in order to earn status with an airline. Alternatively people will attempt to fly the most circuitous routing possible between two cities, in order to maximise the distance traveled. These practices are referred to as mileage running.
The other way to get status with an airline is via something known as a status match.
A status match is a process whereby an airline or hotel will attempt to poach loyal elite customers from a rival.
As a Hilton Diamond member you may find that Hyatt are willing to extend you Diamond Membership for a year.
The following year, if your Hyatt Diamond status is about to expire you could then ask Marriott to match you to Platinum and so forth.
As long as you have an initial hotel elite status, you can endlessly match back and forth each year, leveraging the fact that at one point in history you held status with one hotel chain.
The same thinking applies to airlines.
StatusMatcher.com is a fantastic resource for everything you need to know about the world of status matching.
To be honest with you, I’m perfectly happy just being on a plane with a window seat. It’s always sunny above the clouds and the views are spectacular. Nonetheless, there are some airlines whose products are significantly better than others.
My current favourites in First Class
Overall: Singapore Suites
Suite: Etihad Apartments
Seat: Cathay Pacific
Lounge: Cathay Pacific
My current favourites in Business Class
Drinks: EVA Air
Lounge: Virgin Atlantic