TAM Ending First Class On New York Route Early

TAM was historically one of the few airlines which never released first class award space. Then in early February, out of nowhere, they went from releasing no space to making virtually every first class seat available on miles. At first I assumed it was a mistake, though they continued to release the space, so presumably it wasn’t.

I guess we really got our explanation in late April, when TAM announced that they’d be eliminating first class in favor of an improved business class product. At the time they announced they’d discontinue first class service as of November 1, 2014.

TAM-New-First-Class
TAM’s 777-300ER new first class

That meant those of us in the US had until November 1, 2014, to hop on one of their flights to Sao Paulo out of Miami or New York, which have been operated by their 777-300ER aircraft and featured the new first class product.

However, it looks like TAM will be eliminating first class on the New York route early due to some equipment changes.

Per airlineroute.net:

TAM Airlines from 31AUG14 is adjusting operational aircraft on 1 of 2 daily Sao Paulo – New York JFK route. JJ8080/8081 will be operated by Boeing 777-300ER and A330-200 on alternating days, from 31AUG14 to 18SEP14. From 19SEP14, the airline will operate 1 daily each of A330 and Boeing 767-300ER.

JJ8102 GRU2150 – 0655+1JFK 763 D
JJ8080 GRU2230 – 0710+1JFK 330 D

JJ8081 JFK1945 – 0630+1GRU 330 D
JJ8103 JFK2200 – 0850+1GRU 763 D

This aircraft change marks the end of TAM Boeing 777 service to New York JFK.

So starting September 19, 2014, New York to Sao Paulo will have:

  • One daily A330 featuring TAM’s old first class product
  • One daily 767 not featuring a first class product

If you’ve gone out of your way to make a TAM first class booking before the product is eliminated, be sure to check your tickets and make sure you’re not on one of these flights. While the A330 does at least still have a first class product, it is significantly older.

TAM-Old-First-Class
TAM A330 old first class

Meanwhile the Miami service continues to have 777-300ER aircraft with first class for sale through November 1, 2014, and there’s plenty of award space — in many cases all four seats in the cabin!

TAM-First-Class-award

Bottom line

Ultimately this isn’t a huge deal, but I did think it was worth pointing out since I know a lot of people wanted to try TAM first class while it still existed. Ending the “new” first class service to New York six weeks early is pretty disappointing. My guess is that they’re pulling the 777-300ER service early so they can start reconfiguring the planes with the new product.

Is anyone impacted by this schedule change?

Comments

  1. Paul says

    I have a ticket on hold for TAM F for a couple of weeks from now. Anyone have any thoughts on Buenos Aires in late July/early Aug, worth going or too cold? Changing jobs and want to take a quick trip for a few days in-between the two.

  2. lucky says

    @ Paul — I’d do it. Won’t be especially warm, but also not uncomfortably cold. And there won’t be too many crowds.

  3. ucipass says

    @Lucky, Are you aware of any issues related to using AA miles on TAM? I have called AA and even talked to a supervisor and it seems like AA cannot book TAM business class tickets on any dates for the US routes either from GRU or GIG. I called US Airways and they had no problem putting an award on hold while AA agents see the route coming back “unconfirmed…..

    Any idea? AA twitter team is just saying talk to supervisor….

  4. lucky says

    @ ucipass — What route are you looking at? Surprised you were able to find TAM award space. Out of the US it’s almost impossible to find, in my experience.

  5. JMR says

    @Paul: I’ve been in BsAs in July and August. Not cold at all (15C/60F) normally. At night it could freeze, though. Sort of standard spring in Northern Europe :)

  6. Bjørn says

    Crap!! I’m booked on JFK-GRU on Oct 30th (LHR-JFK-GRU-EZE), now on the A330 instead of the 77W. I was SO much looking forward to the 4 seat F class and took the JFK detour instead of LHR-GRU direct just bacause of it. :(

    Two problems:

    – I booked while USDM didn’t charge YQ on BA. Will the taxes be repriced if I re-route via Miami? Do you reckon YQ will be added?
    – Will USDM accept this as a reason to waive the $150 change fee? I’m thinking probably not, since on paper it’s not a downgrade, just equipment change. :-/

    What’s your advise?

  7. lucky says

    @ Bjørn — All depends on the agent you get, but in general I’d say it’s not a valid reason since on paper nothing has changed. As far as repricing of the YQ, I’m not sure, sorry.

  8. ucipass says

    @Lucky, Try GRU-MIA during the last week of March or first week of April. I know there are a ton of space for Apr/5 specifically.

  9. ucipass says

    Here are a couple of dates:
    10:25 3 Apr 17:45 3 Apr Tam Airlines JJ8094 Business Available 7
    10:15 29 Mar 19:25 29 Mar Tam Airlines JJ8095 Business Available 5

  10. Brian says

    @Paul Definitely go. We were there a few weeks ago in July, and it was in the 50s and 60s. Buenos Aires is a fantastic walking city, and those temperatures are just about perfect. It will probably be even nicer when you are there.

  11. Craig says

    Hi Ben,

    I previously posted that I had booked three first class seats for my family for a Christmas trip. When I called TAM about three months ago, the rep didn’t even know that they were eliminating first class.

    Last week, when I called US AIr, whose miles I used, I asked how come I didn’t receive a miles adjustment for the difference between a first class flight and one in business class. The rep replied that TAM never advised them that there was any change.

    Any suggestions as to what I can do? At this rate it will take forever!

    Thanks!

  12. Craig says

    @Ben — I just went online to check. For the outgoing flights:

    JFK-GRU Cabin: Unknown(C) A330
    GRU-SCL Cabin: Unknown (I) 777-300

    The award amount was 125,000 per person R/T

    When I called TAM several months ago to reserve seats, which was after your post about eliminating first class, I reserved business class seats on the 777 main flight, which is now an A330.

    By the way, I have exactly one hour to connect in GRU and it says I have to go from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. Is that too tight?

    So what do you think?
    Thanks!!!

  13. lucky says

    @ Craig — Since those are both business class codes I’d call again and explain you were downgraded from first class to business class, and they should refund the difference in miles.

    As far as an hour goes, that is the minimum connection time, so if everything is on-time you should be fine, but otherwise it’ll be tight.

  14. Denis says

    @ Craig – by Christmas TAM will probably use T3 for international flights (not for S. America). So, I’d say you are not going to make your connection.
    Well, as a Brazilian, I can assure you that 1 hour is not enough to make an international to domestic connection in any airport in Brazil, much less changing terminals (even though T1 and T2 don’t count as different terminals).
    However, I wouldn’t sweat too much about it. You have to take your bags to clear immigration and you’ll likely be rebooked on the next flight, no fees charged.

  15. Rakesh says

    Thanks for this post. Flying GRU-JFK on Sep 1 and appear safe for now, however I hope they do not make further changes and jeopardize my chance to fly TAM F on the 777.

  16. says

    @Lucky this started early in July, my flight was downgraded from 77W to A330 on a wednesday JFK-GRU without notice, even still in F class, seats are narrower and don’t go full flat (service is exactly the same in both configurations). I spoke with TAM and as you guessed they said they started reconfiguring planes slowly and switching configurations until d-day. They also told me their new business class service will be integrated with LAN (I assume TAM will copy LAN), and they will keep the special services on the ground for VIP passengers.

  17. Bjørn says

    Hi Ben. I’ve now been further downgraded, first from 77W F to A330 F, now from the old A330 F to 767 business on JFK-GRU (note my comment from July). What would you recommend? If I call USDM to try and find a new itinerary in First, would they be able to call a partner liaison to open up an extra F seat due to the circumstances? Would they in your experience waive the change fee?

    My second option is to bring the original confirmation at check-in, claiming that I wasn’t notified about any changes*, and ask to be rebooked to another carrier. Do you reckon that a supervisor or station manager would do that?

    Thanks!

    (* Actually, they never told me I was downgraded, just that there was a “schedule change”. A lot of people wouldn’t have noticed the downgrade. But that’s beside the point, since I would claim that I wasn’t notified about anything at all. ;))

  18. lucky says

    @ Bjørn — If you show up day of I can almost guarantee they won’t rebook you in first class on another carrier, so I wouldn’t do that.

    They would be willing to rebook you on another partner that has award space available, though they wouldn’t be able to open up space, unfortunately. So your best bet is to either find another option with award space, and if not unfortunately the current option is probably the best they’ll be able to do. Sorry. :(

  19. Bjørn says

    Wow, I just spoke to the EXP desk, asking if AA under any circumstance could open up a F award seat so that US could grab it, and got the most condescending and rude answer…

    – We cannot modify US Airways bookings. I would need to connect you.
    – I realize that, and I know that US themselves would be the ones actually changing the booking. I was wondering if there’s any possibility that you could open up extra Z bucket seats for a partner, or if the EXP benefit only applies when also using AA miles/ticket stock.
    – I could transfer you to the Chairman’s Desk for them to help you.
    – But wouldn’t they just be able to see the regular partner seats? I’m asking for details about the expanded award availability for EXP members.
    – Have they been treating your poorly since you don’t want me to connect you?

    Seriously!? Wtf?! What happened to the AAngels…? How about just answering my simple question with a yes or no? I even started the conversation saying that my request probably was too optimistic, but that I wanted to check what my options were. Figured that there could’ve been some leeway, especially with the merger and everything, didn’t expect this kind of rude (non-)response at all…

    Anyway, rant over. Thanks for the much nicer (though equally “negative”) reply! There doesn’t seem to be anything available now, what would you (or your team) charge for monitoring LHR-[JFK/MIA/FRA/CDG/GIG]-EZE the next 5-6 days & rebooking if anything in F shows up? Any chance of last minute space on BA/JJ/AA?

  20. lucky says

    @ Bjørn — Sorry they weren’t friendly, that’s unfortunate. Agree the EXP agents aren’t nearly as good as they used to be. We don’t really do monitoring unless it’s for existing bookings, so in your shoes I would just keep an eye on space for those routes once a day.

    Good luck!

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