I’ve found that trying to explain The Higher Flyer to someone who isn’t familiar with the world of miles and points can be a bit of a challenge at times. While a THF Glossary (that can be viewed here)  is expanding daily, the namesake of the website seems deserving of a more detailed explanation beyond a few lines. Because the phrase itself can act as a noun, adjective, and a verb, and it also refers to facets of travel beyond flying, things can get confusing at times. For the sake of clarity, here’s a brief primer on what defines “higher flyer.”

Higher Flyer, noun

Thai J Sleep
Your favorite higher flyer enjoying a fully-flat business class seat on Thai Airways. I redeemed miles for this airfare, meaning I didn’t pay a single dollar for it.
  • Definition: Someone who utilizes deals, offers, and promotions to enable or enhance travel experiences at comparatively cheap rates.
  • Example: Theresa is a real higher flyer; she flew her whole family from New York to Paris for a week-long vacation for $1,250 and 50,000 reward points.
  • Additional notes: Higher flyers don’t necessarily travel in the lap of luxury all the time, but they do always seek to get the highest possible values for their cash/miles and points. Maybe that involves international first class tickets, or maybe it’s flying to a nearby city for a quick weekend getaway with friends. Becoming a higher flyer is contingent on habitually meeting or exceeding your travel goals at prices agreeable to the beholder.

Higher Flyer, adjective

  • Definition: Associated with something that adds tangible value to a travel experience but at a comparatively low price.
  • Example: Theresa’s airfare to Paris was 45% cheaper than other tickets there — quite the higher flyer deal!
  • Additional notes: Describing something as “higher flyer” signifies that it is both valuable and economical in terms of enabling or enhancing travel experiences. Anything that satisfies a higher flyer’s goal at a cost below the ordinary rate could be considered “higher flyer.”
UA F Redemption June 17
This ticket was redeemed for 80,000 United MileagePlus Miles. Because I value these points at 1.5 cents per mile, it’s the equivalent of paying ~$1,200 for the ticket instead of nearly $10,000. 88% off the list price is definitely a higher flyer bargain!

Higher Flying/Flying Higher, verb

Thai J Champagne
Enjoying champagne in business class instead of sparkling grape juice in economy class is an example of higher flying.
  • Definition: The act of enabling or enhancing travel experiences by taking advantage of deals, offers, and promotions at comparatively cheap prices.
  • Example: Theresa was flying higher while she sipped her champagne en route to Paris.
  • Additional notes: Flying higher happens when someone is able to enjoy travel, or some facet of it, at a rate cheaper than the ordinary list price. Someone who is higher flying could be sitting in a ridiculously cheap economy class seat on a Transatlantic flight, enjoying a complimentary massage in a ritzy hotel spa, cruising around the Caribbean, or doing something else anywhere else.

Technically speaking, the expression “a higher flyer higher flyer flies higher” makes total sense. The first ‘higher flyer’ is used as an adjective, the second as a noun, and the final is a verb adaptation. The phrase could instead be said in other words as “a value-minded customer with a dream destination finds the means to go there for cheap, and then enjoys an experience worth more than the price paid for it.” The latter is a bit of a mouthful, but it summarizes of how “higher flyer” can best be understood when it’s used in different contexts. Obviously, this website uses the term a lot…

So, no matter where it is you want to go and how you want to get there, I hope you, as a higher flyer, can find a higher flyer fare/ticket/hotel/etc, and then fly higher and experience a more comfortable, yet relatively cheaper way to travel.