One of my goals is to review as many new (for me) airlines products as possible. Of course, with a baby at home, that’s more difficult to pull off than before. That’s because Assistant Travel Editor Ashok is a taskmaster that doesn’t give daddy permission to take time off. Nevertheless, I’m trying to put something together twice a year. Last year, I took off on a whirlwind weekend trip to Europe to sample American’s new Premium Economy.
Trip Report Index
- Introduction: Flying 5,418 Miles for Pizza and a Bagel
- Review: United Club Concourse E, San Francisco
- Review: United 777-300 Polaris Business Class Seat, San Francisco – Newark
- A Freezing Cold New York Night In Search of Pizza
- Review: The Renwick Hotel New York City, Curio Collection by Hilton
- Review: Delta E-175 First Class, New York to Dallas
Fast forward a couple of months, and United announced the introduction of their brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Not only is the aircraft brand spanking new, it features United’s new Polaris business class seats. Even better, United planned to showcase the plane on its San Francisco – Newark route from February through May. That gave me the chance to try the seat without taking a long trip overseas. The challenge, though? I needed to squeeze the entire trip into a weekend. Although Ashok grudgingly gave me permission to go, I’d be too busy at work to take time off. And so, the idea sprang in my mind – take the long way to New York for a pizza and a bagel. After all, if I’ll drive 500 miles roundtrip for a hamburger, what’s flying 5,400 for pizza?
The Flight Plan
Before getting into the specifics of my flights, below is the map of my ultimate journey.
The primary constraint, as mentioned, was squeezing this in to a single weekend. United offered reasonable ($649-669) fares in either direction each Saturday in March. However, going westbound meant a 7:30 AM flight out of Newark. No thanks. The March 4th eastbound left around 1 PM, allowing for a reasonable connection from DFW. Furthermore, I could actually stay in the city Saturday night, and enjoy a leisurely morning before heading home. That sealed the deal with the routing, at least. I briefly considered transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to claim an award. But, at just $649, less $250 off for my Citi Prestige airfare credit, it seemed like a waste of points. I just paid cash instead.
I kept it simple to get to San Francisco. American offered a coach flight departing around 9 for $189, which would give me a 2 hour layover before my flight to Newark. That seemed like a perfect (and cheap) option, so I went with it. I’ve reviewed American’s coach product recently, so I won’t be reviewing it again.
Meanwhile, numerous options awaited me to return from New York. My flight arrived around 9 PM, so I’d need an overnight in the area. I could have taken a direct flight on American or United from Newark in the morning. But both wanted $220+ for coach, which seemed steep. Widening the search area to La Guardia and JFK, some better choices emerged. The most intriguing: a nonstop on Delta from LGA, First Class, departing at noon for $315. I’d make it home in plenty of time for dinner, which was perfect. Delta operates an E-175 on this route, and I was curious to try it on a longer route after a pleasant short flight on American. In addition, I haven’t flown Delta domestic First since 2008, making it a practically new product.
In the end, my flights looked like this:
Saturday, March 4, 2017 – DFW International Airport (DFW) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), American Airlines Flight 417, depart 08:51, arrive 10:46, Airbus A321
Saturday, March 4, 2017 – SFO to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), United Airlines Flight 443, depart 12:50, arrive 21:00, Boeing 777-300
Sunday, May 5, 2017 – New York La Guardia Airport (LGA) to DFW, Delta Air Lines Flight 6116, depart 12:21, arrive 15:52, Embraer 175
The Hotel Plan
With a noon departure on Sunday out of LGA, I decided to look for a room in Manhattan. I’m used to paying an arm and a leg for hotels in New York City. To my surprise, though, prices looked relatively reasonable. I guess not too many people fly to New York for pizza in early March. One option that quickly caught my eye was The Renwick, a Hilton Curio Collection property in Midtown. I love historic boutique hotels, and I’ve never tried a Curio. The hotel offered a AAA rate of $186 for a “City View” room, which I thought was a great price.
The Food Plan
Of course, no trip of mine is complete without a food element. In this case, I planned to keep it simple. Cheap, greasy pizza or Saturday night dinner, and a bagel for Sunday breakfast. Mission accomplished on both counts. Both meals cost maybe $15 total.
Since this trip spanned all of 2 days, this series will be shorter than most. I’ll begin later this week with my review of my flight to Newark in the new Polaris seat.