We Skipped Lufthansa First Class For This?!?

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As Ben has mentioned a few times now, picking flights for this trip escalated out of control. Like, ridiculously out of control.

The other flights we needed to book (the outbound flights for my husband and niece, and the return flights), had zero flexibility. It was very obvious what the best options were, and those took maybe seven minutes combined to decide on and ticket. But we agonized and deliberated over our outbound flights for days.

It’s certainly not an actual problem, but sometimes when you have all the miles and all the flexibility, the pressure to find something “perfect” gets pretty intense.

I’m guessing some of you can relate.

What do you book when you can book anything?

While I am firmly on the record as stating Ben overhypes Lufthansa First, it is honestly the best transatlantic product you can redeem miles for. Particularly if there is space from the West Coast, which basically never happens.

So you can imagine my surprise when award space opened up to Munich, and Ben didn’t want to jump on it:

convo-LH-F

Which, of course makes sense. He is pretty passionate about this blog, and wants to review new stuff for y’all, and I can’t really argue with that.

Of course, the problem is that once you’ve rejected Lufthansa first class, it’s not like any other option is ever going to sound compelling. But gosh we tried!

In addition to all the great reader suggestions, we pitched each other on just about every carrier you can imagine, and routings ranging from the sorta convenient to the downright insane:

convo-ci-routing

And eventually, it got to the point where just nothing sounded appealing, and we were getting pretty cranky:

convo-jetihad

Finally, at about 10AM on Thursday morning, Delta released two seats from Los Angeles to London at the lowest level for Friday evening, which became the obvious (though unfortunate) choice.

DL-LAX-LHR-low

Booking awards on Delta flights from multiple programs

So this is not something I recommend, not even a little bit, nope nope nope, but I figure it might be helpful to walk through this, just so you know why I suggest not doing this. 😉

If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that we’d gotten ourselves into a bit of a situation at this point:

  • We (really Ben) had transferred 125k Citi Thank You points to FlyingBlue in anticipation of booking flights on Aeromexico, but space disappeared before we could book
  • Ben’s return flight had been booked using SkyMiles, so he’d paid ~$400 in the stupid “European origination” fees that Delta charges

Given that, we had two options for booking the flights:

  • Book both tickets through FlyingBlue like any sane person would
  • Try to modify Ben’s Delta ticket to save the $400 in fees, and book my ticket through FlyingBlue

While the first option was relatively straightforward, it was more expensive. The second, however, would require some serious juggling of award space, a complicated conversation with at least one Delta agent, and a risk that FlyingBlue would cancel Ben’s account if we used it to book a ticket for just me.

I’m sure it’s obvious which option we went with. 😉

And even though we’re pretty good at booking awards, it took a bit of trial and error. The plan was for me to call Delta (it was my account, and I love talking to phone agents), while Ben dealt with the FlyingBlue ticket.

Once I’d convinced an agent to modify the existing award and add an outbound segment (not a minor feat), she pulled one of the two seats for Ben, and set it up for re-ticketing.

And the inventory management system removed both seats from the system. So we wouldn’t have been able to book the second seat through FlyingBlue.

So I made an excuse, had her release the seats, and we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And looked at some other options for award space while swearing at each other for being idiots.

And waited.

About twenty minutes later, both award seats returned to inventory. This time Ben navigated all the way to the final confirmation screen on the FlyingBlue site, and the Delta system kept one seat for SkyMiles customers. A second agent understood what I was trying to do, and was able to pull that seat for Ben. He finalized the online FlyingBlue reservation right as I confirmed everything for the phone agent, and after a few tense moments of praying that FlyingBlue wouldn’t decide to be ridiculous, we both had eTicket numbers.

The takeaway here is again, please don’t do this, but if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, and need to book one seat with SkyMiles, and one with FlyingBlue, and there are only two seats, pull the seat from FlyingBlue first.

For the record, I don’t hate Delta

I actually love Delta as an airline — their phone agents are my second favorite to Aeroplan, and their crews are almost always fun and happy.

SkyMiles sucks, which is why I throw my loyalty elsewhere, but the airline itself is lovely.

And my flight to Los Angeles was lovely as well. It was significantly delayed to the point where I ended up changing to a later flight (that arrived before my originally scheduled flight), but the San Diego SkyClub was a fine place to work for a few hours.

DL-delay

Beyond that, the flight change resulted in my being possibly the first person ever to actually clear a Crossover Rewards upgrade, so I’m definitely not complaining!

DL-Crossover-upgrade

might hate the Delta 767-300

Let’s be honest — it’s a pretty horrible airplane.

Delta-One-Cabin

Ben will have his full trip report shortly, but I had a few main takeaways to share:

  • The seats are not comfortable. The cushions are thin, the configuration is weird, and the legroom situation is impossible for side sleepers
  • A little bit of mood lighting would go a long way
  • Two lavatories are not sufficient for a huge business class cabin and the crew

I’ve flown other Delta configurations, and feel like they generally have a really solid business class product. I love the blankets and pillows (especially the pillows!), and the catering and crews have always been great. The latter two were not so good on this flight, but the bigger problem for me was the seat.

I think I would probably avoid the 763 going forwardParticularly if you’re a side sleeper, as only 50% of the seats have any foot room at all. And the problem with those seats is that you’re practically in the aisle, so are getting bumped into all night.

If the lack of privacy doesn’t bother you, then the orange seats below are the ones you’ll want to choose if you have to fly this configuration. If you need a sense of space, the yellow seats are better, but they have the same foot cubby situation as the red seats. Even at 5’7″ and a size 9 shoe I couldn’t fit both my feet in the foot cubby if I tried to sleep on my side, so keep that in mind.

Delta-One-767-Seatmap

On the plus side, I had lots of time to read my book! 😉

Overall

The final routing on Delta was certainly direct, and getting to London a day earlier made other aspects of life much easier.

Business class is obviously better than anything in economy, and it ended up being an all-around decent use of miles.

But it certainly wasn’t as much fun as Lufthansa first class would have been!

Have any of you ever been in a situation where none of the options seemed good enough? What did you end up booking?

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. At some point you just have to throw in the towel and remember that not every trip is going to be reviewable. I think we all realize that comfort needs to be key sometimes, or even the trip reports suffer. So shame on y’all for skipping out on Lufthansa F. Yes, I know it’s been reviewed to death, but we long-time readers get it and can be an understanding lot.

    For what it’s worth, I flew CI in their new J a few weeks ago – reviewed it for another site, actually – and it was lovely. And their new lounge in TPE is mind-blowingingly beautiful. Very, very good service/food/drink, too, on both the flight and in the lounge . So definitely try to route through Taiwan in the near future if you can. Especially if you’re connecting to and staying within Asia.

  2. Just booked FAO-LIS-AMS-YYZ when I was trying to get from Faro to Toronto in economy with exit seats confirmed. Got a good 18 hours in Amsterdam which is always nice.

    F or J would have been nice but not bad for 30k United miles.

  3. On a side note, the two only times I’ve flown Delta in the past 18 months, I’ve been upgraded due to crossover rewards. Though they were only two hour flights between MKE-ATL.

  4. Before an award trip ATL-STR-CDG-ATL I sussed out all I could find on recommended seats. Some reviews-and Seat Guru-suggest that 1A & 1C suffer from proximity to the lav and galley, but one on Flyer Talk said just the opposite. I, in 1C and a friend in 1A, had no problems with disturbances and really appreciated the extra space for feet.

  5. I’ve cleared Crossover Rewards upgrade on Delta a few times on late night BOS-LGA routes, so I guess that’s not completely unheard of…

  6. I’m all Delta, all the time – for loads of reasons, but agree Skymiles is lame.

    763 – Ok from JFK-LAX, wouldn’t do longer.
    777 – Don’t like facing all the people, and away from the windows.
    A332/3 – Love love love.

    And yes, happy crews, usually good food, and the Heavenly bedding is heavenly.

  7. I skipped 10 minutes of my life reading this crap!?! Funny, I’m 5’10 and have a size 11 shoe and I have no problem fitting into their seat. Sounds like the problem might be you…just sayin’. Delta has a great product and people.

  8. @ Sam — Well, it’s not uncommon within 48 hours of departure, but not something you can plan on otherwise.

  9. @ Peter Sanders — Do you sleep on your side or your back? I had no problem on my back either, just on the side.

  10. Lufthansa first class is crap. Go BA – they’re actually decent with a decent selection of films and food

  11. I’m flying DL BRU-ATL-AUS in 2 weeks. 763 on BRU-ATL. I have 3A, so one of the “private” seats. Thanks for the report, I have a good idea what to expect. Even a “sub-par” business class is still far better than economy.

  12. Well, sorry Tiffany, I am with Lucky here.

    While definitely you are right that LH F is probably the best value option that has opened up from West Coast USA to Europe, but this would not have done much for blog readership. OMAAT has to look after their audience, even if their butts have to suffer slightly as a result. 😛

    If AeroMexico have been available, it would have been a great review, and the post will be searched over and over again, as there is so little review on that. And I think AM’s J availability is still much easier than LH F. So the review would have helped a lot of readers decide if AM is a good alternative, when available. (Unfortunately, it is not when both of you tried to book)

    In the end, Delta is boring, but at least we know 767 on DL is really meh.

    And definitely, I would have loved the LAX-TPE (CI), TPE-ICN (KE), ICN-HKG (KE), HKG – CGK (CI), CGK-SIN (AF), SIN-AMS-LGW (GA). Lol. (CI reviews are lacking as well, both short haul and long haul, and not that many on SIN-AMS GA J)

    Guess that would be another time!

  13. This is an awesome behind the scene on efforts going reward travel booking, especially the back and forth text between you two make it my favorite post on OMAAT !!! Agree with flyingfish that LAX-TPE (CI), TPE-ICN (KE), ICN-HKG (KE), HKG – CGK (CI), CGK-SIN (AF), SIN-AMS-LGW (GA) would be a spectacular (and somewhat insane) route to review, but the co-ordination of booking two remained seats through two different reward programs is equally spectacular how you guys can make it work, almost an adventure by itself. Well done!!! And we definitely won’t try this at home 😉

  14. Just curious, do you guys always talk in airport codes, or do you ever use city names? ; )
    I love the conversation–it’s just how we imagine you guys.

  15. Excellent post, entertaining and informative. I enjoyed to see how funny and passionate y’all interaction are ‘behind the scenes’ in trying to maximize the use of miles. Nicely done Tiffany, loved the text exchange!

  16. RK: unless 2 members of family r equally versed in miles n can do rebooking w each prog concurrently, it is v difficult. (Hard to find 2 friends, not to mention 2 in a family).

    Tiffany: what did u put ur hubby and niece on, since its not DL n AM. Lol. It should be a more direct choice compared to the exercise above.
    (Maybe LH F went to them?)

  17. @ mbh — Oh gosh, we really do. We actually have an entire game we play on boring taxi rides based around airport codes. We aren’t lying about being nerds. 😉

  18. @ flyingfish — Indeed. I could probably have booked the online award at the same time as I was on the phone (we have to do crazy stuff like that all the time), but was much easier having Ben there. My husband would have been zero help.

    He and my niece flew Virgin Atlantic on Saturday evening. They both had other commitments during the day on Saturday, so that ~11PM flight was perfect for them. Was much easier to decide on, though her itinerary required mixed cabins for the positioning flights, so took about 25 minutes on the phone with Delta to price.

  19. I’m just kinda shocked that you text each other in regular texts…why not use Whatsapp??? it’s so much more fun and easier.

  20. Well firstly it’s good news that more reviews are apparently coming up – hopefully more in J. Glad to see Ben is planning for this. The blog needs more than just reviews of F on the same airlines all the time.

    Secondly – I didn’t understand a lot of this review – I mean literally didn’t understand! Way too complicated for my small brain!

  21. @Kathy I’m with you ref Peter Sanders Dude get a life and ease up. Good review Tiffany but based on reviews on FT about Air Tahiti,Iberia et al no way would I fly them 🙂

  22. Tiffany, Similar story to your crossover rewards upgrade. I was meeting my family in Texas (wife, son, daughter) They were on the same record, I was on my own. I am Gold and she is Platinum, the children only 2,000 miles short of Silver. Anyway, I landed on Wednesday and we were all on the same return. Anyway Wednesday night I checked the app and DFW-MSP I was upgraded. As Gold. Before my Platinum wife. I went to Delta.Dumb and looked up why this happened, and apparently they have some stupid companion policy. Anyway, the next day my wife called the PM Line. Reservation was separated, and BAM, 1st Class for DFW-MSP. We forgot to ask about the companions and then I called the GM Line. Requested companion upgrades for children, explained I’m Gold and wife’s Plat. He put the request in, said they will clear later like at the gate then started saying wait, wait… I said what? and he said. Um, it look’s like they’re clearing right now. Ta-da.
    Best thing that ever happened to this family.
    (PS my daughter’s name is also Tiffany)

  23. I am 6’3 and can side sleep in 1A and 1D but otherwise I avoid all other seats. Not great seats for sleeping if you are tall. The 767-400 is better since the bathrooms are in the back of the Delta One cabin and not in the front of the plane. A lot less traffic for anyone sitting in the front of the plane. I am glad the 767 model is getting phased out. It is a tired old plane.

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