10 airline products that are tempting me…

Some people like to go “window shopping” for clothes, while I love to go “window shopping” for award tickets. I’ll have days where I just put together award tickets that work for me in theory, though in practice I don’t follow through with them. The issue is that I’m seriously considering a move to the left coast in October or November, and that’s kind of messing with my ability to plan travel.

I’m incredibly fortunate to have experienced many of the world’s best airline products — Lufthansa Airbus 380 first class, Qantas Airbus 380 first class, Singapore first class, Swiss first class, Cathay Pacific first class, Etihad first class, Asiana first class, Thai first class, ANA first class, Japan Airlines first class, Qatar first class, and Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, just to name some of them.

But I’ve flown some of the products so often that they’re almost like a second home. And while I enjoy the experience each and every time, I do get excited at the prospect of flying (and reviewing) new airlines. For example, I really enjoyed my recent trip in Aer Lingus business class. While Aer Lingus may not be a world class airline, there was something awfully exciting about experiencing a product for the first time. With that in mind I’m dedicated to doing everything I can to sample new products, even if it means taking an inferior product in order to be able to review it (though I’m not saying any of the below products are inferior). With that in mind, here are some of the products I hope to try over the next year:

Asiana’s new first class

As I wrote about in July, Asiana has introduced a new first class product, which is debuting on their Chicago to Seoul Incheon route. This is a legitimate “suite” product with closing doors. This aircraft is also guaranteed to feature the new business class product, which is fully flat and based on all the reviews I’ve read, fantastic.

ANA’s “square” first class

While I’ve flown ANA’s old first class, I’ve yet to fly their new “square” product. The “square” product can be found on ANA flights operated by selected 777-300ERs, which are coded as 77Ws. If the aircraft is coded as a 777 it will feature the old product, while the 77W designation indicates the new product. It typically serves London, Munich, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, though be sure to check the aircraft for your specific date.

Award availability in first class on their European routes is excellent for January and February, so that makes it all the more tempting.

Thai’s new 747 first class

Thai has a nifty new first class cabin on their 747s, though unfortunately the roll out is slow so far. Originally they were going to feature it on the Bangkok to Frankfurt route as of August 1, though in the meantime the only route that seems to be getting it regularly is the once daily 747 frequency between Bangkok and Tokyo. And even that isn’t a given, since there’s no airline in the world more notorious for aircraft swaps than Thai.

That being said, the best indicator of whether a flight will have the new first class is if the seatmap shows only nine first class seats.

That means the flight is scheduled to feature the new first class. Fortunately award availability is wide open on the Bangkok to Tokyo route.

Brussels Airlines’ new business class

Back in June Brussels Airlines started service to New York, and not too long before that introduced a fantastic fully flat business class product. Award availability is excellent and there are no fuel surcharges for travel on Brussels Airlines when booking through Aeroplan, United, or US Airways, so it’s a product that’s tough to beat. I’d also love to visit Brussels, which is the icing on the cake for me.

Korean Air first class

Given that Delta SkyMiles can’t be redeemed for international first class, it didn’t dawn on me till recently that Korean Air actually has a pretty solid frequent flyer program of their own. As I discussed in this post, it’s only 80,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles for a one-way Airbus 380 first class trip between the US and much of Asia. I realize they’re known to be a notch below Asiana and other top carriers, though that doesn’t stop me from wanting to try them.

Emirates Airbus 380 first class

It’s the only product in the world that allows you to shower at 35,000 feet, and as of October 1 it’s getting a whole lot cheaper through Japan Airlines. At 110,000 Starpoints roundtrip between New York and Dubai in first class, I’m totally in!

China Southern’s new business class

China Southern’s new business class product can be found on their Airbus A380 aircraft, which will operate the Los Angeles to Guangzhou route as of mid-October. Given the ever-decreasing uses of Delta SkyMiles, especially given the Air France “IT glitch,” I’d say this is as great of a use of SkyMiles as ever. And availability is wide open and easy to search on ExpertFlyer.

British Airways’ new first class

I have an award companion certificate from the British Airways Signature Visa card, though I’ve been waiting to use it until a vast majority of BA’s fleet has been upgraded with the new first class. With the amount of premium cabin travel I’ve done, it’s embarrassing that I’ve yet to fly BA first. I doubt it’s one of the best products in the world, though I would still like to try out the Concorde Room, Cabanas, etc. Given that my companion certificate expires at the end of the year I suspect I’ll be doing this sooner rather than later.

Austrian Airlines’ business class

Austrian Airlines might have an outdated business class hard product, though based on what I’ve heard their business class catering is spectacular, with an onboard chef. Now, the chef may be nothing more than a flight attendant with a puffy hat on, but it’s cool nonetheless. And the coolest thing of all? They have 10 types of iced coffee aboard. Here’s a picture someone took of iced coffee on an Austrian flight.

US Airways’ Envoy Suite

While US Airways may not be the pinnacle of the aviation industry, they sure seem to have a solid business class product. In the meantime almost all of their Airbus 330 fleet is equipped with the new Envoy Suite, so I’d love to give them a try.

Anyway, I’m not suggesting the above are the best products in the world, but just products that tempt me. Which airline products tempt you?

Comments

  1. Just looking for a RTW Cathy Pacific First JFK-HGK-SIN then Singapore First SIN-Moscow-IAH.

    Plus I’m looking forward to the United 787 nation-Wide Tour booked in BusinessFirst in Dec.

    and the Emirates First 380 ala JAL

  2. Perhaps try EVA Air new J class on a trip to Taiwan? It’s a pretty developed country and BR’s soon to join *A

  3. As a longtime LH and LX first flier, I was actually suitably impressed by BA’s First. The service was quite good and the new seat is really comfortable. Of course I miss the limousine service to the plane, but I’d say it’s worth it to try at least once.

  4. @Lucky – From the pictures the EVA business looks very similar to the Cathay’s new business, suppose to be serving NYC-TPE as of right now

  5. Echo MH, since it’ll be joining Oneworld

    ANA Cube comes to ORD October 31…..

    What happened to Saudia on your list…??

    Concorde Room.. Meh.

  6. I just traveled on CZ CAN-PEK on their Deluxe First Class! It was a fantastic experience. The hard equipment is really splendid, but the service is just all right(But definitely better than AA). I would love to share some photos with you. BUT HOW CAN I DO THAT?

  7. Looks like Brussels and Southwest both call their In-Flight mag ‘Spirit’ always makes me think of the airline however.

  8. i flew on the new SN C seat from BRU to ABJ – fantastic experience . Even received a giant box of oralines as present. Seat is pretty much the same as LX on the a330s but a bigger screen

  9. Lucky, do you present your German passport when leaving the US and going to the EU? Or do you just have your US passport? My partner just got his EU passport and we keep reading conflicting ways to use it when leaving the US to enter EU. We hear that if we don’t present the EU passport on departure, they won’t be expecting a US passport and that will cause red flags to go up. Any tips on how to use the EU passport when going form US to EU?

  10. @ JohnBom — Didn’t end up ticketing, though am planning on doing a similar trip early next year.

    @ oleg — Considering San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.

    @ Pablo — Send them to me at onemileatatime@hotmail.com please. I’d love to see them!

  11. @ BBTBphile — My strategy is that when I leave the US I present my US passport, and when I return to the US I present my US passport at check-in and EU passport at immigration (this is because you need to show the EU passport to leave, but want the US passport information entered into the computer so you’re recognized by the US when you land). Make sense? 🙂

  12. That ANA first class seat looks more like a tiny cubicle. I’m sure it’s real comfortable but it just doesn’t look very enticing in that picture..

  13. @ AK — Th right coast is the tight coast (not actually sure what that’s supposed to mean, but take that, rhyme-master)!

  14. @ lucky – Hehe, the east coast is the least coast? 😉

    I had a relative fly the ANA cube NRT-LAX and she said it felt confining. She liked the TG suite BKK-NRT more.

    I’m interested in your eventual review of CZ, especially CAN airport … I have an award on hold with 12- and 15-hour stopovers there during the day.

    As for the BA companion pass – I’m close to $30K now but won’t use the voucher immediately, so I’m guessing it’s best for me to wait until shortly before 12/31 to pass $30K so my voucher is valid for a departure late into 2014?

  15. Looking forward to the Emirates shower review (how much real water pressure can they have on the plane?)

    Come on out to the west side, the humidity is low and the people are whack!

  16. Once Malaysian joins one world you should give them a shot in F thought ought to be interesting and different. Probably pretty nice too!

  17. small nitpick — I believe the ANA product is called “Square” and not “Cube”

    I’ve heard the complaints about it being confining, but personally I enjoyed it. YMMV.

  18. Save the $, and live in Portland (no sales tax)…actually SD and Seattle are pretty great. You can’t go wrong.

    I want to try the new OZ and its 32″ monitor!

    On its own 80K UR pts is worth it for Korean Air F, but it must hurt for someone like you that gets 3-4 F segments for 70-80K UA miles, right?

  19. @ David — Yes, though Oregon has a state income tax! And yeah, it does hurt redeeming for KE F, but it is a new product, so…

  20. @David

    Ah, but WA has no income tax, however.

    (going to be a bit of an outlier here)

    Being hub captive, my friends all fly on Delta for their flights when they travel, and if I ever fly on their BusinessElite flat-bed, that would be excellent.

    Also have seen lots of reviews/pictures of LAN’s long-haul product, it’d be interesting to try that as well.

    ANY class more prestigeous than economy on Cathay Pacific, would LOVE to get to Hong Kong in style. (Everyone else in the family usually flies… United. Economy class.)

    And when I eventually fly to Japan… try to see what everyone raves about w. Singapore Airlines. Even if I don’t have enough points and need to fly economy, at least I arrive in style and I get to say I flew on a 380?

    Oh, Korean Skypass allows one-ways? Is that for redemptions on Korean Air only or all partners?

  21. The new US Envoy Suite is fantastic. I tried it MAN-PHL back in the spring and liked it so much I’ve booked myself again with them in November.

  22. I have to say that even tho Austrian food is truly excellent, probably the best of all airlines I’ve been on, even better than Singapore… but it doesn’t make up for how antiquated the hard product is… they simply need a complete makeover of the business class cabin.

  23. Silicon Valley. Best weather in the world in the middle of the peninsula. (SF is dreary, and all the way to San Jose is Hotttt. Real close to SFO too.

  24. You forgot the LOT business product you highlighted last week on their 787! I think that would be a great use of *A miles too.

  25. How hard do you think is getting the ANA 77W? I don’t see any first class in Sept or Feb or July. Also it seems like ur saying the new Thai 747 is replacing the a380? Is that a good thing? I was looking forward to ride the a380 but not sure how good it is there.

  26. @ Lark: Thanks for sharing the reviews, cool stuff…. Still looking forward to the ‘One Shower At A Time’ version (ala a few weeks back).

  27. Will we hear more about this left coast move? Pretty surprising as most longtime readers know you’re pretty close with your family… Good luck.

  28. @ Matt — Would love that! Have a couple of Suites tickets in January and February as well. Can’t wait. 😀

    @ Ryan from MA — In January and February it’s not too tough and I see plenty of space on the routes from Europe to Japan and New York to Japan. The new Thai 747 isn’t replacing the A380, but rather just a new product that’s already out there.

    @ Steelsnow — I may have a bit more mercy at 35,000 feet!

    @ Blaine — Might as well do a post about it shortly. Stay tuned!

  29. What about a trip report in Delta’s BusinessElite? Looks like you haven’t posted anything about that product since your trip in an outdated 763 some time ago. The newly refurbished 747s are purported to be very nice.

  30. Lucky, which routes operate the new BA first class product? LAX or anything on the west coast by chance? Are all the Business cabins on BA ‘new’? Thanks!

  31. At your age and your income level, forget taxes and cost of living, and live where you want. If you want to be a Republican tax-evader, move to Singapore.

  32. In favor of San Diego:
    – an Andaz.
    – 500 mile minimums on all those AA connections through L.A.
    – lots of SPG mattress run options.
    – easy airport to get to/in/out of.
    – the best climate in the country.

  33. Ive got a TAP flight booked in Business this coming May from EWR to LIS. I don’t know how great that will be but I figured I shouldgive it a try. I am also trying out the new Business on ANA from NRT to JFK the week before, so it should be an interesting comparison. Maybe I can do a guest trip report! 🙂

  34. @ Lucky

    Doesn’t Thai airways have a new first class product coming out? I’m surprised it’s not on your list…

  35. Coins you need to head to the Bay Area more specifically Silicon Valley. For one you’ll be tens mins from the ANA 787 SJC-NRT n/s with loads of J space and an amazing easy terminal experience for only 90k USAir pts.

    2nd the Hyatt lounge in Santa Clara is closed on weekends. Imagine earning Hyatt pts for 1 cent each almost every weekend.

  36. @Maginoo

    where did you see that Austrian will update their business class over the winter? i can’t find that info anywhere… if it’s true I’d fly them next summer but if not I’d rather take Swiss.
    Thank you.

  37. You need to think out of the box..try Oman air first or business, have you investigated that? looks great…..but.. no alliance… best deal is on a pkg including hotel.

  38. @ elsie — I would, though I don’t believe there’s any practical way to use miles for travel on them, right?

  39. Lucky, if you move to Seattle, I’ll visit you there on a mileage run. Oh wait, you probably will only be there 3 nights/month!

    Anyways, I would LOVe to see you experience and review a trans-Pacific coach product. I’ve never experienced one (at least not yet, I know I’ve been fortunate), so I’d love to read your review of one… Any chance of that EVER happening? 😉

  40. The united.com shows ORD-ICN will be on 777-200 and two-cabin configuration if I search in July, 2013. Are they going back?

  41. @ Yi — It should still have three cabins. What on united.com is indicating to you that it’s a two cabin plane?

  42. @lucky

    Yesterday, when I searched for the ORD-ICN award space (direct flight only) on united.com, it consolidate the first/business columns.

    However, when I searched today, it shows 3 columns. First class is available and the aircraft shows “777-300ER”. I called UA to change my previous complicated trip(FLL-CLT-LAX-SIN-ICN on biz) to FLL-CLT-ORD-ICN on first. The details of the reservation on United.com still shows 777-200, but both of the search results on united.com and the trip details on usairways.com show “777-300”. But F is F and I don’t worry about angle flat now.

    Thanks for your blog that directs me to the right choice.

    Another thing to share:

    I called united two times to change the ticket, I thought there might be either 150 dollars or 75 dollars fee since I change not only the award cabin,but also the carrier (previous ticket is LAX-SIN-ICN on Singarpore but this new one is ORD-ICN on Asiana).

    The first agent insisted that I need to book united operated flight since there is award space available. My explanation doesn’t work, so I had to hang up and call again.

    The second agent is so nice. He changed my ticket and issued me refund of the tax without one word about the fee.

  43. @ Yi — Odd, cause Asiana doesn’t have 777-300ERs. But best I can tell it’s the three cabin product for the entire schedule as of now.

    The fee seems to inconsistently be applied since after the merger, but if it’s more than 21 days out agents often don’t charge any fee, as long as the origin and destination stay the same.

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