I just booked my first International Long Haul Economy Flight in 22+ Months?!?

Yes, you read that right. My wife and I just booked an Economy ticket for a long haul international American Airlines flight. Believe it or not, the decision wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be.

Finding the Right Balance

This whole trip was precipitated by especially good business class flights out of Brazil that we booked pretty much on a whim when we saw them. In truth, the flights we got were less than $1600 for the two of us. Just one catch. We had to actually get to Brazil! Well, this wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten great flights out of Brazil, but this time I figured I’d just burn miles, which would be 100,000 AAdvantage Miles round trip per person to fly a less than spectacular business class.

Over the past couple of weeks, my wife and I had been going back and forth, trying to see how we could get more of our Elite Qualifying Miles earlier in the year. We were also trying to get as much of our award travel booked before the upcoming AAdvantage Award Chart Devaluation come late March. For the first time in a while, I was coming up with fewer miles than awards that I wanted to book. I started running the opportunity cost of burning 200,000 AAdvantage miles on an award that didn’t even come close to exciting me. Whereas, if I added just 35,000 miles round trip, per person, my wife and I could fly to Asia, maybe even on Cathay Pacific First Class. I do like Asia, so this was starting to gel.

Searching for business class fares came back with way too high fares. That, coupled with American’s move away from Elite Qualifying Points, and giving at least 1 Elite Qualifying Mile per mile flown, meant that flying a mix of economy and business class fares would not necessarily hurt us in the pursuit of Executive Platinum Status, led me to look for economy pricing. Low and behold, for a little less than our business class tickets from Brazil (and back later in the year), I could find economy flights that dovetailed nicely. Sad that I was happy about this, but I was. A quick 20 minute call to Citi’s Thank You Points line, and we were able to trade in some of our Citi Thank You Points at 1.6 cents per point for those American Airlines flights.

Trying to Enhance the Experience

Luckily, we have Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs), that we can at least attempt to put in place. I say attempt, because ExpertFlyer is not showing anything available now, and not many business class seats currently being sold. I’m not sure if I helped or hurt myself by choosing to fly via Miami instead of Dallas. My goal in that choice was the shortest path. I know, contrary to mileage running practice, but my logic was this: 2,000 miles at the end of the year, probably won’t mean a whole lot, but a few hours less in the back of the plane could mean more to me. Besides, I still plan to requalify in the first half of the year.

Even more interesting, at least to me, is that, while both over-water flights are 777-200’s, the flight home is showing up as the reconfigured. See for yourself, here’s the flight down:

Old 777-200 Configuration

Old 777-200 Configuration

Note, the lack of Main Cabin Extra, however, there is the benefit of 2-5-2 configuration, which for me, just traveling with my wife, I’m thinking I prefer. Now the new configuration:

AA 772 v2

New 777-200 Configuration

On the new configuration–which incidentally, we have a better shot of upgrades on–they switch to 3-3-3 for Main Cabin Extra, but, worse, further back is now 3-4-3, the dreaded 10-abreast seating. Luckily, at the moment, we’re set to have main cabin extra, but, I’m imagining that those in the back of the plane won’t be nearly as happy as they might have been in a 2-5-2 configuration.

Wrapping Up

For many, this is a non-event, or a #FirstWorldProblem, I acknowledge that, but figured I’d share anyway, because, well, that’s kind’ve the fun of writing. The other side is, the aircraft and configuration you choose to fly can have a very real impact on your passenger experience. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to try the two different configurations out and see the differences.

2 thoughts on “I just booked my first International Long Haul Economy Flight in 22+ Months?!?

  1. I flew AA coach to Rio for the World Cup, and it was perfectly fine.
    Well, maybe not perfectly, but…
    Well, it was OK, at least I lived through that harrowing experience. 🙂
    What helped was that the flight was delayed for 2 hours, and they let us disembark, so we managed to get a good use of these drinking coupons in the Admiral Club.
    Hint, hint!

    • @Andy – Got it, Fully partake of drink coupons in Admiral’s club before boarding. Last longhaul flight I did was BA LHR-BWI (and unfortunately, they had to swap breaks which meant we were on the plane for 10+ hours). Before that, I think it was a flight from Ghana, where the flight attendants at least took good care of me. This will be quite the experience if our SWU’s don’t clear. You can bet, I’ll be checking daily! I appreciate the advice!

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