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How to enjoy luxury travel on a shoe-string budget

You don't need to sneak into first class like Annie (Kristen Wiig) in the film Bridesmaids. Image: Universal Pictures
You don't need to sneak into first class like Annie (Kristen Wiig) in the film Bridesmaids. Image: Universal Pictures

Luxurious air travel can seem like the province of only the wealthy, but with a few sneaky hacks, you can be enjoying those same perks for a fraction of the price.

That’s according to Point Hacks’ frequent flyer expert and spokesperson, Daniel Sciberras.

“Experiencing premium travel isn’t just reserved for the rich and famous. Luxury is within reach of everyday Australians, and it doesn’t require you to part with plenty of cash to get it,” Sciberras said.

“Hacks such as flying in a premium class on a low-cost carrier and experiencing 5-star luxury during layovers through day-use hotels can take you to premium on a smaller budget.”

Here are six ways to get the perks without the price tag:

Bid for an upgrade

There are a few ways to do this: many airlines offer upgrade auctions which allow travellers to bid on premium seats.

To join the auction, you will either receive an invitation from the airline, or you can head to the airline’s website to see if you’re eligible for an upgrade.

“For instance, Qantas’ Bid Now Upgrades portal enables travellers who have been invited, or are travelling out within seven days and are eligible, to make an offer using points or cash. Six to 24 hours prior to departure, those who are successful will receive confirmation of the upgrade,” Sciberras said.

Use one-off airport lounge passes

Just want to rinse off between flights and enjoy a bite to eat? You can actually get into many lounges without having an expensive ticket, lounge membership or top status within a rewards program.

Instead, platforms like Loungebuddy allow you to purchase single use passes so you can scoop up the perks even when flying economy.

Travel on a low-cost carrier, but buy a premium seat

If all you want is the leg-room, you should consider travelling on a low-cost carrier but buying a premium seat.

For example, flying Sydney-Bali with Qantas in business class will cost $1,843. You can have a similar seat on ScootPlus for around $600 cheaper.

Skip the lounge, go to a hotel

Got a long day-time layover? Many airport hotels offer day-only use, meaning you can shower, nap and freshen up before your next flight. This way, you can enjoy the luxury of a hotel room between 9am and 5pm for generally around 70 per cent off.

Think about a spa treatment

According to Sciberras, many airlines like Emirates and Etihad give premium class passengers free massages at airport spas.

But if you’re not one of these passengers, you can still enjoy a massage at 52 different international locations through Be Relax spa chains.

And if you’re in Australia, options like Brisbane Airport’s Wellness Spa also offers 10 services.

Or just pay for a shower

Some airports offer free showers, with others offering pay-per-use showers.

Singapore’s Changi Airport offers showers for $18 per use.

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