It is a bit odd that too much travel has prevented me from updating my blog about travel.
Unfortunately, I’ve been on a run of lots of business travel which has left me very little free time. I’m not keeping up the pace of my posts as much as I hoped, and worse, I’m not as home as much as I need for my family. In the last five weeks, I have been to Los Angeles three times with a trip to Brazil mixed in. Now, I’m working in south Florida.
Brazil on American/TAM
For the Brazil trip, flights scheduled on the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER between Dallas and Sao Paulo. My upgrade to Business class cleared a few weeks in advance, so I was excited to try out their best business class product. Unfortunately, shortly before boarding, there was an aircraft change to a 777-200 with the old angled-flat configuration in business class.
For some reason, my seat changed to 4C, which put me in First Class. In this case, it seems I got an operational upgrade to First Class, and I was one of a few people who wasn’t crew in the cabin. I got to try a new (to me) product, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. This was my first long haul international flight in First Class on a US carrier in several years. Service was not special at all. I’ll likely do a more complete trip report later.
Recaro slimline seats on a TAM A320
While in Brazil, I had connecting flights on TAM, so I added a new airline and a new destination, Curitiba. For the return trip my upgrade cleared a few days out. I flew from Rio to Miami, which showed as a reconfigured AA 777-200, but this too swapped to a tired old 777 with the angled flat seat. This time I did not get operationally upgraded to First class, and just kept a seat in business. I slept mostly okay which was the point, but it was a bit disappointing to miss out on the “NewAmerican” product on both long haul flights. American likes to say they are “Going for Great”, and I usually agree, but they have ways to go in many places; upgrading their long haul product in particular.
Going for good?
I’ve had mostly good experiences flying AA domestically lately. My upgrade rate is still solid, and is way higher than last year while primarily on United. I did have one United flight that I took just due to better scheduling. It was ORD-LAX, so usually a tough upgrade. I had a decently high fare class, but I didn’t really expect to clear. Applying one of the 6 regional premier upgrades I have, since I don’t know when else I’d use them since I rarely fly United anymore.
I was waitlisted as soon as I booked, but it never cleared. I checked in 24 hours out, and watched my position drop from 1 to 6 or lower on the list, so I knew it wasn’t happening. The morning of the flight, First Class showed as full, but about 90 minutes before departure, I was pleasantly surprised that my upgrade cleared. I guess my RPU priority did help. Something to keep in mind for upgrades on United domestically.
While it was nice to have DirectTV and wifi on the 737-900ER, I really don’t miss the operational disaster that United still is years past its merger with Continental. Boarding at C29 at O’Hare was still a scrum. Despite being in First Class I was about the 20th person to board since I didn’t line up like a gate louse. We left late and arrived late, although only a few minutes, so it likely doesn’t even count as a delay. I guess the meal was good, I was pleasantly surprised to have 3 breakfast options. Cereal, french toast, or an egg dish. Standard airplane fare, but I guess options are always good. And better than typical meals on American these days.
I’m very busy with work, and missing time with my wife and daughter, but otherwise things are going well. I’m still not sick of travel, although I do wish I could space it out a bit more. Hopefully my next post will be more on our family trip to Europe, and for my own travel, I have some interesting destinations planned, including business trips to Europe and Southeast Asia in the next month or so. Stay tuned.