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?