It’s easy to get spoiled and think of business class as being very “bleh,” given that many of us are able to redeem miles primarily for international first class travel on foreign airlines. But it’s also important to keep things in perspective. In my case, I booked an $1,100 coach ticket from Tampa to Shanghai via Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in both directions, and confirmed upgrades for all flights. I’ll earn well over 40,000 elite qualifying and redeemable miles, so I’d be a happy camper even if my flights weren’t great.
But frankly, my flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai (that I just off of) was actually fantastic.
A few things to note in particular (I’ll save many of the details for the trip report):
- Headwinds are strong going west right now! The flight was blocked at 13hr50min (usually block time is about 30-45 minutes longer than the anticipated flight time), but our flight time was 14hr10min. As a result we arrived about 45 minutes late, though there were no lines at immigration, so I guess it balanced out in the end.
- Angled flat seats suck. They’re awesome when you upgrade from coach, but it really is pretty tough to get any “real” sleep in them. They didn’t used to bother me all that much, but I’m finding it harder and harder to sleep in them. Can’t wait for American’s new business class product.
- Empty flights are awesome. I’m so used to business and first class on US airlines being full due to how easy it is to upgrade, get award tickets, and the ease with which non-revs can fill the cabin, but as I posted about yesterday, this flight was pretty empty. Even after lots of non-revs cleared, business class was only half full, and I had two seats to myself (window and aisle). This isn’t just useful for the extra space, but it also makes it easy to grab a couple of pillows to at least make the seat a bit more comfortable when trying to sleep.
- Who said service on US airlines can’t be awesome? Since the flight was so empty the service was attentive and quick. But beyond that, the flight attendants were awesome. The flight attendant working my aisle was Chinese, and I mean “authentic Chinese.” I mention this because I honestly felt like I was flying an Asian airline. She spoke very slowly because her English wasn’t great, but she was constantly smiling and so friendly. She provided a “Singapore Girl” level of service.And the “senior mamas” (I use that term endearingly) — who all had 35+ years at American — working the flight were awesome as well. I accidentally pushed my call button once in the middle of the flight (was trying to turn on my light), and one of the flight attendants I hadn’t previously interacted with appeared in less than ten seconds, smiling and asking what she could get me. Kudos to the crew. If only I could have them on all my flights.
Anyway, now it’s time for me to fall asleep in the clouds… literally (the joys of a hotel on the 90th floor in smoggy Shanghai).