- Introduction: Four Airlines, Four Days, 10,000 Miles
- American Airlines Premium Economy, DFW-Madrid
- American Airlines Admirals Club DFW Terminal C
- The easyJet Experience, Madrid to London Gatwick
- Making the Most of 24 Hours in London
- Hilton London Hyde Park
- Scoping Out London’s Food Scene, from Afternoon Tea to Dim Sum
- No. 1 Lounge, London Gatwick South Terminal
- Norwegian Air Premium Class, London Gatwick-Boston
- Exploring Boston: A Lovely Fall Day from Copley Square to Faneuil Hall
- The Lounge at BOS, Boston Logan Airport
- jetBlue Economy Class, Boston-DFW
Last week, I wrote about my plans to try out American’s new international Premium Economy product over the weekend. The planning began several months earlier, when AA announced DFW as the launch city for the new product. Besides the new product, I also wanted to work in as many new airlines as possible. Though I preferred to fly on the actual product launch date (Thursday, November 3rd), I just couldn’t make it work. I settled for the Friday flight to Madrid, needing to get back home Monday to minimize vacation time. For this flight, I redeemed 47,500 AAdvantage miles for an off-peak Anytime award. More on why I used miles in my flight review, later.
A 5:45 P.M. Friday departure, with the need to return by Monday evening, left a rather tight needle to thread. I sort of worked inside-out to pick a flight plan, by first trolling ITA Matrix for options home from Europe. Thanks to the abundance of cheap business class airfares these days, that’s where I focused my search. Eventually, I settled on Norwegian Premium Class from London Gatwick to Boston on Sunday evening, for the low, low price of 474 euros including fees. With a choice of an overnight in either London or Madrid, I selected London. Since my flight into MAD arrived at 9 A.M. Saturday, the best option appeared to be an easyJet hop to Gatwick departing at 11:35. This flight priced out all-in at £42.91. Finally, my Sunday flight on Norwegian arrived at 6:30 P.M., too late for a same-day connection to DFW. JetBlue offered a flight departing at 2:40 P.M. for a cost of $151.10. Perfect! And just like that, my 4-day jaunt across the pond was set.
Friday, November 4, 2016 – DFW International Airport (DFW) to Madrid Barajas (MAD), American Airlines Flight 36, depart 17:45, arrive 08:55 (+1), Boeing 787-900
Saturday, November 5, 2016 – MAD to London Gatwick (LGW), easyJet flight 8276, depart 11:35, arrive 13:00, Airbus A319
Sunday, November 6, 2016 – LGW to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Norwegian Air Shuttle Flight 7147, depart 16:00, arrive 18:30, Boeing 787-800
Monday, November 7, 2016 – BOS to DFW, jetBlue flight 1115, depart 14:40, arrive 18:05, Airbus A320
Granted, for some of you hard core road warriors, 10,563 miles in four days might not be much. It’s definitely out of character for me, though. Although I’m a veteran of many crazy trips, mainly of the road trip variety, this was by far my most flying in such a short period of time. Generally, jet lag doesn’t bother me too much, but it would be interesting to see if the vaunted jet-lag fighting features of the 787 would help keep me fresh.
I’ve included teasers of the trip below; much more to be included as posts go live.
My flight selection provided a diverse mix of airlines and products, with many things to look forward to. First, of course, was the primary purpose of this trip, a sample of American’s new Premium Economy product. Initially, I thought my Premium Economy experience included only the upgraded seat. To my surprise, though, the soft product featured AA’s advertised enhancements, such as upgraded meal service.
To the extent that Premium Economy constitutes an enhanced passenger experience, the next flight provided a stark contrast. Presenting European ultra-low cost carrier easyJet, the king of low fares, though not exactly known for providing a luxurious on-board experience. As is typical for an LCC, easyJet provides basic transportation only. Everything else – including water – includes an ancillary charge. I didn’t find the experience to be that bad, though the seats certainly qualified as, well, tight.
Heading from one extreme back to another, Norwegian Premium Class fit somewhere between Premium Economy and Business Class. Seating more closely resembles Business, but as far as the soft product goes…well, a boxed meal doesn’t exactly scream “Premium”…
Finally, my trip wrapped up with my first flight on jetBlue, in a plain-Jane Economy Class seat. Though the seat is nothing special, free WiFi (yes, free) was awesome.
One overnight in London, and another in Boston, necessitated two hotel stays. I’m a Hilton guy, but also love boutique hotels, so I opted for the best of both worlds. The Hilton London Hyde Park is a historic building converted into a boutique hotel under the Hilton flag.
Meanwhile in Boston, my one night stay brought me to the Copley Square Hotel, named after the public square in the Back Bay neighborhood. Yet another historic hotel re-purposed with a more modern vibe.
Naturally, long-time followers of this blog know I can’t go anywhere without checking out the local food scene. London certainly doesn’t disappoint as a food destination, with the highlight a special Halloween-edition high tea at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington.
Meanwhile, Beantown also has a fine food scene, but with less than 24 hours in the city, there’s really only one option – lobstah and chowdah.
As you can see from the top of this post, this will be a multi-part trip report series, and will take several weeks to complete. Post titles are subject to change, and will not necessarily appear in the order listed. Therefore, check back to this post often, as I will update with links as sections are completed. Meanwhile, get ready for the first official post of this series Saturday, a review of my AA Premium Economy experience to Madrid.