How 21-year-old Alex Macheras flies first class for free

Travelling the world for a living is everyone’s dream job, but imagine getting to do it for free — and on empty planes.

As an aviation analyst and travel journalist, Alex Macheras, 21, has the plum gig of doing just that; he jetsets around the world for a living, testing new aircraft before they’re put into commercial service, reports.

“During these test flights, I have a number of responsibilities on board,” Macheras told

“First, during the cabin checks, I inspect exactly how the cabin was installed and specifically look for any defects or faults which may be evident in the different cabin products.

“As [these are] new planes — meaning no passengers have had the chance to “normalise” them yet — everything should be perfect — but sometimes it isn’t.”
The off-key sound of an overhead locker closing? Macheras is on it. The thread count on the crisp-white Lalique bedding chosen to compliment a first-class suite? He’s all over it like a first-time traveller at a complimentary all-you-can-eat buffet.

Fact is, it’s his job to notice every little detail.

“I’m usually on my hands and knees in the suites testing out what it’s like to work on the dining table, use the blinds, dim the lights, etc.” he says, adding, ” … it’s a funny feeling laying down in a business class suite, knowing that you’re the first person using mini-suite 02A … it almost gives you a sense of ownership.”

And the perks of his schmick job go far beyond rolling around first class, sipping bubbles like Mariah Carey.

Macheras routinely visits the very factories that make the planes, hobnobs with pilots (he’s on a first-name basis with the cabin crew that counts, too, thank you very much) and he gets exclusive access to pretty much every airport lounge around the world.

On the latest Gulfstream G500 with Don Ali @ali_m_alsaadi 🇶🇦

A post shared by Alex Macheras (@alexlhr) on


Of course, it’s not all about reclining, fine dining and drifting off into noise-cancelling nirvana.

Test flights are also about pushing aircraft to their limits, and gauging everything from how much turbulence a cabin can withstand to how a new aircraft reacts in emergency conditions.

“For me, there’s no better way I could imagine spending a Wednesday afternoon than feeling sick, weightless and watching the super A350 wings curve and shake as we enter a controlled nosedive,” says Macheras, who caught “the travel bug” from a very early age.

The Singapore Airlines' A380 first class cabin is
The Singapore Airlines’ A380 first class cabin is “miles ahead of Emirates” says Macheras. Just in case you were wondering. Photo / Supplied

“My family used to joke that at eight years old I could do the safety demo in five different languages.”

Now, of course, Alex is having the last laugh — he’s visited five continents alone this year — and he has the frequent flyer points to prove it.

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