I’ll Take My Domestic Flight Without A Flat Bed, Please

I’m curious if I’m the only one who feels this way.

American operates some internationally configured planes domestically, in particular between Miami and New York. It seems to be especially prevalent lately, as they’re reducing capacity on some international routes due to the strong US Dollar (and resulting weak foreign demand for travel to the US).

For example, between Miami and New York, American is flying internationally configured 757-200s, 767-300s, 777-200s, and 777-300ERs. The exact plane varies by day/time, but all of those planes are in the schedule for the coming weeks.

Yesterday morning I flew from Miami to New York on an American 767-300. This plane featured their new business class product, the same one I flew from New York to Madrid several weeks back.

American-767-Business

While it’s not my favorite business class hard product, it is a fully flat bed, and is objectively significantly better than domestic first class.

American-767-Business-2

However, I’d go out of my way to avoid it in the future.

Why?

Because American’s 767-300s don’t have wifi, while almost their entire domestic fleet does. For a flight leaving at 7AM and landing at 10AM, I’d much rather have wifi than a flat bed.

The other thing is that American doesn’t have “proper” bedding on domestic flights operated by internationally configured aircraft (which is fair enough). While American offers great pillows and blankets on international flights, when you fly that same plane domestically you only get a thin blanket and no pillow. Which isn’t to say that a nap isn’t possible, but rather than unless you’re really tired it’s not like you’ll get “great” sleep.

American-767-Business-1

Now in fairness some of American’s internationally configured planes do feature wifi. Specifically, the reconfigured 777-200s, as well as all 787-8s and 777-300ERs, do feature wifi. However, American doesn’t use Gogo for these planes, so if you have a Gogo pass you can’t use it on those flights. Instead you’d have to pay extra.

For a daytime domestic flight, wifi is my number one priority. I’d take a domestic first class seat with wifi over a fully flat international business class seat without wifi. 

I know I’m probably in the minority in feeling that way, but am I the only one?

Comments

  1. There are First World problems – and then there are Lucky problems…this is the latter. I would say you will be distinctly in the minority on this one.

  2. @rene and giving Richard Anderson an extra buck to complete his evil plan to eliminate all frequent flyers 😉 #keepdescending

  3. If I were a business traveler on a 7am flight from MIA->NYC then yes wi-fi is more important than a flat bed. That said, i’ve been to Miami a half dozen or so times, never for business. I’d think given that route they’re more appealing with a flat bed than wi-fi.

    If it was NYC->DFW or ORD->SFO then yes I’d agree wi-fi is the better call.

    Then again, i’m a Delta loyalist, so clearly i’m the one in the minority here 🙂

  4. I AM FLYING TO LIMA IN “FIRST” FROM DFW IN APRIL ON THE 757 WHERE THEY NOT SUPPOSE TO GET FULL FLAT SEATS ON NEW VERSION? I HAVE YET TO SEE THAT.

    PLEASE REPLY,
    RENE LEON

  5. I flew in the exact same aircraft depicted in your pix above from miami to LAX for Thanksgiving. We had great thick blankets and large pillows…

    So I years they just figured that on a 2:20/30 route, there is no need for a full “sleeping package”

    This was my best domestic business/first class experience without any contest as far as I’m concerned but would be interested to know which other airlines offer such a high end business/first class domestically in the US.

  6. Actually, I’ve been specifically choosing the internationally configured aircraft. Yes, wi-fi is important to me, but I’ve noticed that I also appreciate the simple joy of not being connected. I let go, stretch out, read or watch a movie on my iPad, or get radical and just stare out the window, letting my imagination contemplate the beauty of the clouds, and enjoy a good conversation with my wife. It’s been freeing.

  7. For that flight, I’d take WiFi over a flat bed. But the number of AA flights I’ve flown on WiFi-equipped AA 737s in which the WiFi didn’t work, has been high, easily more than 10% of such flights. Give up some comfort for WiFi, then don’t get WiFi? Depressing.

  8. Most will choose flatbed over wifi. They will want to rest well as once they land.. they will need to attend meetings (on business), or play (on leisure). Most r not full time bloggers. This is a strange post.

  9. One of the things I like best about flying is having a good excuse to just disconnect from the world for a few hours. Luckily my position at the moment allows me to be internet free for a short time as I don’t need to do any work on flights so using wifi would purely be for leisure.

  10. Leaving MIA on an early flight to JFK with flat/angled seats has been my favorite commute up there and I specifically search for those flights. It allows me to catch another 90 minutes of sleep, I love it. First stumbled across this years ago when AA were using I think a 763, connecting from Brazil or so.

  11. And here I thought the problem was no video inflight entertainment on these planes (pre-loaded tablets are given out on the international flights). Considering the number of decades we’ve lived without wifi on AA planes, what’s another 3-hours? Of course, AA could bring back the MD80s on this route.

  12. I always have loved a widebody domestic flight. Just more comfortable all around than a 737 or the like. I guess if I had to be working it wouldn’t be the best trade off but then again UA has wifi on nearly all of their Int’l planes. I would say my one gripe with them is the extra time certain things take (like boarding).

  13. What’s disappointing is that AA is using refreshed planes domestically while they still have non-refreshed planes flying longer INTL routes…

  14. American has been flying international planes on domestic routes for a while. Three years ago, I flew 777 from MIA to LAX in first class in all its glory – I was automatically put in first with no option for economy for some reason. And guess what, I didn’t complain!

    Is your site to help people accumulate points and fly for free or upgrade using miles or to complain about a product most of your readers probably will never experience? As, I’m sure you know, most of your readers are accumulating points to fly for free – first class and business need not apply.

  15. Just flew SFO-HNL on an int’l configed UA 747. Didn’t sleep a wink, but I’ll take the bed every time.

  16. Lucky. Be grateful for the wonderful flatbed seat. Most of us can barely afford a coach seat, much less business / first. We read these blogs to search for travel / points tips so we can have a bit of enjoyment in our lives. The marvelous experiences you write about serve as inspiration for many of us. These are aspirational products to most, if not all of us, which you belittle time and again. Read your own words here “I prefer Internet access to flatbed seats”, written on a travel blog that is meant to encourage readers to travel a lot with very little. So I am going to share a feedback with you, in particular why you are increasingly more dis-engaged and delusional about the fabric of your readers. Recent examples:

    1) Complaining about preferring wifi (all of us have access to internet) over flatbed (not all of us have tasted anything remotely similar)

    2) Ford complaining about British Airways business class like its a Russian charter plane from WW1

    3) Your failed attempt to use crowdfunding for Etihad’s residence

    Not to take the sparkle away from the colorful content you pose, keep it up. But no harm exercising some humility in your blogging so as to not further alienate your readership into thinking that our mediocre lives must be so awful if the writer of this blog no longer appreciate a flatbed seat and would much prefer wifi because flatbed seats are so nonchalant to him. Spare me the free glass of Lafite 82 dude, I prefer cold water with my steak – is something only the very entitled would say. Most of us are chirpy at the thought of a business class seat, paid or upgrade, and giddy with excitement when it does a 180 flat!! But naw … Cold water gets your vote because you are still drunk from First Growth. That’s the gist of your dilemma.

    Why do I still read and bother to write such a lengthy feedback? Because there is redemption in all of us. Not that we are insecure as a bunch, but we vote with our clicks. And your prose is sending out marching orders into the arms of other less “entitled” bloggers like Gary Leff etc. Because I am let to wonder what you will blog / write about if you spend a day in the shoes of the bulk of your mostly mediocre readers. We must really suck!

    Write honestly. Be opinionated. But don’t ever ever ever lose touch with your audience and customers.

  17. Yeah, if I’m on a 7am flight, I guarantee you I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. I’d fall asleep even in coach, so WiFi is of no use to me. Flat bed all the way.

  18. Sorry, Lucky. You’re in the minority on this one. I will GLADLY take and EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for an airplane with a flatbed, like my upcoming MIA-ORD. Even though it is the old 767 product, it is still miles better than the rock-hard 737 seats.

  19. I’m headed on the DFW->MIA route for business on a 767 this next week and was sorely disappointed that for a 5AM flight there is no Wifi. I’m with you on this one. Are they using these as repositioning flights or is it really intentional?

  20. In this case, I have to disagree with you. I will take a nice direct aisle access 767 over any of AA 737 and MD-80 at any day. I don’t need WIFI on most flights, especially the price that AA is charging these days (in combination with its slow speed), and will gladly pass. It is also a short flight and I don’t think our work culture has obsessed to the level that we have to be online 24/7. There are also plenty of work-related stuffs that can be done without WIFI. While the new 767 lie flat seats may not the best, they are still pretty comfortable to sit and nap on, compared to all those narrowbody planes, except the 3-class A321 Transcontinental planes.

    Carfield

  21. Thank you “not entitled.” This harping on the NECESSITY of wifi is beyond dreary. I would welcome a decent, clean well-maintained plane with comfortable seats every time, every class, far, far more than wifi ever, period. It is very similar to when phones were first put on planes because Executives so urgently needed them. Few used them at those prices. Give a rest.
    The First World problems and the Lucky problems comment is right on target. Lucky indeed, but pretty close to Silly.

  22. I for one prefer to disconnect when I fly, so I’ll take the more comfortable seat, and what I would hope would be, better IFE. I haven’t flown the 767, so I don’t know that to be true, but I assume it to be so.

    On the other hand, your job is internet based, so I can totally understand your preference to be connected whenever possible. I’d say it isn’t necessarily an over-entitlement, just an occupational requirement.

  23. A couple people mentioned AA’s 767 service on MIA-DFW, but I thought I’d mention that there’s also a *777* run each day on that same route, departing MIA at 10:55am (flight 969). There’s a return later in the day. Seems to be a -200 with angle-flats in BC.

  24. To me, in-flight time is personal time, regardless of WiFi availability. So I’d take the long-haul configuration aircraft almost every time, just to be more comfortable. But I agree with @Trevor; your job is highly dependent on internet access, so it makes sense that you’d prefer the connectivity over a (more) comfortable seat. Having said that, I recently decided to forego an AA 321T F seat in favor of a DL 717, simply because the short SFO-LAX flight wasn’t worth the extra cost. YMMV.

  25. I think I may speak on behalf of at least some of us road warriors who are not bloggers. We have kids, we nave wives, we have bosses, we have long hours, we have numbers to hit, and maybe most importantly, we are no longer 25 years old.

    While wifi is certainly nice, being able to get some sleep is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do while on the road. Because the rubber meets the road for us (so to speak) when we get to our destination. Whether we have internal meetings or negotiations with partners, we need to be sharp to extract the most value for our employers and ourselves.

    That said, I can see how it may be of paramount importance for you to have wifi…but I ink you are in the minority.

  26. If one element is so important to the flying experience for you, why not route via DFW or ORD on domestic, WiFi-enabled aircraft? If the direct flight doesn’t offer what you want, take the indirect option.

  27. It’s a valid critique. Certainly, it’s a first world problem and it’s not something AA is doing to try to mess with people, but it’s something that one ought to take into account when booking a flight.

    To those that say “Shut up you spoiled brat.”, I say “Shut up you jealous so and so.” It’s not as if he’s trying to say that it’s horrible to get a flat bed seat on a domestic route, just that, given the choice, he values WiFi over a flat bed seat that’s not fully provisioned. Grow up children.

  28. I have to agree with the wifi over flat bed at that time of day. Makes since but why doesn’t American get with the times and have wifi on all flights like this one. This is why I avoid American. They seem to cut a lot of corners and don’t know their audience.

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