My nice flight in coach!

Given that my trip reports revolve primarily around my travels in first and business class, I’m often asked “how often do you actually fly coach?” Well, like everyone else I occasionally get stuck in coach on regional jets without first class. Aside from that, though, I don’t remember very many flights where I’ve been stuck in coach.

I flew in coach from Buenos Aires to Mendoza earlier in the year on Aerolineas Argentinas, though that’s a fairly short flight. Truth be told I don’t remember the last flight before that where I was in coach. I know, I’m incredibly fortunate and I don’t for a second take it for granted (though it’s easy to when your upgrades clear 99%+ of the time).

Anyway, this afternoon I was flying from Chicago to San Francisco and my flight was already sold out in first class at my upgrade window 100 hours out, so I figured I had no shot at the upgrade. At the gate at O’Hare I was number three out of 21 people on the list with first class checked in full, so it goes without saying that I didn’t get the upgrade.

But my flight was actually surprisingly pleasant. Yes, I have a sore rear thanks to the lack of padding, though other than that I was actually surprised by how pleasant coach is. Every last seat was taken on the flight so I didn’t have a whole lot of shoulder space or an empty middle.

Executive Platinum members get complimentary snacks and drinks when they fly coach, though it seems to be very inconsistently offered and can also lead to an awkward conversation for flight attendants that don’t know the policy (“but I’m an Executive Platinum, isn’t it free?”).

In tonight’s case I thought the execution was phenomenal. As we taxied out the flight attendant walked through the cabin with the manifest and stopped at the seats of a few Executive Platinum members seated in coach and discreetly explained that they could have complimentary snacks and beverages if they wanted to, and to just let her know during the drink service. Very classy!

I was served by the other flight attendant (not the one that stopped by my seat), so when I ordered the turkey sandwich and was about to show him my boarding pass, he said “don’t worry about it Benjamin, it’s on us.”

So while I didn’t have all that much personal space, coach wasn’t half bad. And it’s good to fly it once in a while to appreciate first class a little bit more.

Now I might not be so optimistic if my upgrade from Chicago to Delhi doesn’t clear next week…

Comments

  1. My may complaint about coach is the lack of padding, especially on DL. How hard (no pun intended) can that be to fix?

  2. I’ve taken quite a few AA flights in coach this year and was very pleasantly surprised. Yes, it’s a bummer not to be up front, but found economy more pleasant on AA than UA given the service I received.

  3. @hobo13 I don’t believe that it’s “unlimited”, although it definitely varies by flight attendant. The few times that I’ve been stuck in coach as an EXP, the FA has told me that if I’d like another drink or snack just to let her know.

    Officially though, my understanding is that the benefit is 1 drink and 1 snack “food for sale item” (sandwich, salad, snack, etc. – depending on what is offered on your flight). In fact, here’s a copy from the FA Manual (posted on FT):

    Inflight/Pre-Landing 1.12 Inflight Policies and Procedures

    Premium Customer in Coach

    Executive Platinum and Concierge Key customers seated in coach are eligible for:
    *On Domestic, Hawaii, Mexico, Caribbean, Canada, and short-haul LAM flights (where Food for Sale is scheduled): one free Food for Sale item and one free drink
    *On International Transatlantic, Transpacific, and medium/long-haul LAM flights (where complimentary meals are scheduled): one free drink

  4. “I was actually surprised by how pleasant coach is.”

    LOL Didn’t Marie Antionette say that before she lost her head?

  5. I can’t remember the last time I was on a completely full flight. Glad coach was good to you!

    Where can I read reviews of places you have stayed in San Francisco?

  6. I have been loyal to Continental and now UNITED for over 15 years and I am less than 100K miles short of million miles; I usually fly between 75 and 100K per year and could keep it up (all on my dime); the more I read about the great experience that you have as an Executive Platinum with AA, the more I want to get a status match and jump ship. Would any of you that fly around 100K per year and are really close to Million miles with Untied would jump ship to AA? I am getting tired of some of the CO/UA problems.

  7. @Rami

    I was on a UA flight, IAD-SFO in F and after the flight backed out of the gate it sat for a few minutes and I saw a baggage truck head to the plane. It took just a few minutes (one or two bags, I’d guess) and then it buttoned up and
    went.

    Later on, the fellow in the seat next to me came back from the galley/loo and said that he just learned of a Million Mile benefit he hadn’t heard of. The purser/lead-FA told him that the slight delay was to load his bag (tight connection – his incoming was late) and that was a courtesy they extend to GS and MM when they can.

    If I were within a year or so of MM, I’d be sure to get it before jumping elsewhere.

    I’ve not been so lucky. Starting about 30 years ago I was a PanAm and later a Braniff flyer, then spent a few years on NW followed by US and now CO/UA. All at about 40-70K/yr so together it would probably be a MM (or close) but there’s no way I’ll ever make it now.

  8. Hi Lucky, I am glad you are enjoying AA. I enjoyed it too but they just cut too much from SFO for me to be able to stay with them.

    ORD-SFO is a notoriously difficult upgrade for EXPs most of the time (especially the dinner flights)–in fact, AA 1561 used to be a 763 and went to 738 last year. Ugh!

    I am glad you had a good experience in Y. Many flight attendants are still unaware of the free drink/snack option for EXP from what I hear on FT.

    Good luck with the ORD-DEL upgrade. Now *that* might change your mind on AA Y-but hopefully you’ll clear ASAP. 😀

  9. Coins, They should be calling you mr. S, not Benjamin. I’m surprised that you and other readers haven’t complained about this disrespectful service.

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