Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If this upgrade doesn't deserve a blog post ....

For someone who—deservedly or not—has become accustomed to being upgraded whenever he flies, yesterday's move from Economy to Business on flight AA50 from DFW to Heathrow will be remembered for quite a while. I had been monitoring the passenger load on this flight for weeks, and Business had filled up more and more; the notification that I'd be sitting up front never came. I don't obsess over upgrades, but I certainly enjoy them, and this one I really wanted to score because this was going to be my first flight ever on American's new 77W, the one with the expanded and purportedly much-improved Business section.
The Economy section of American's new 77W
Upon check-in in Lubbock, I was number 4 on the upgrade list, and only three seats were available. It didn't look good at all, so I enjoyed my (upgraded) First Class hop to DFW. (In case you didn't know, American is the only carrier flying into Lubbock offering this premium cabin choice.) Once in Dallas I hung out in the Admiral's Club, thinking that this was going to be the place where the luxury part of the trip was going to end. I really didn't fret over it—after all, Economy is what I had paid for, and having been able to snag a seat in the "premium" Economy section, which offers something like 6" or 8" of extra legroom was already a benefit that would have cost extra dollars for somebody without the frequent flier status that I have earned by flying annually 100,000 miles or more on revenue tickets. Still, how cool would it have been to get to sit up front?
The three rows of "premium" Economy, with added legroom not just for the bulkhead
When I left the AC to go to the gate a few minutes before boarding, I was still #4—but now there were four open seats. I assumed that a paid Business passenger had contracted the measles or experienced an emergency C-section and just couldn't make it. But I didn't get my hopes up since measles sometimes turn out to be just a rash, and C-sections are overrated when it comes to missing a flight. But then I got to the gate, and I was on the "cleared" list. Wow! It was a bit like Christmas!
Tada!!! The Business section with individual pods
When I got on the plane, I couldn't believe the visual impact of the new Business Class section (there are also eight seats in First Class). All seats are now aisle seats, meaning you don't have to climb over somebody to go to the restroom or stretch your legs (and nobody climbs over you!). The seats are truly lie-flat, no longer the slightly angled ones that are much, much more comfortable than standard Economy seats but that give you the feeling of sliding down. The individual pods have large TV screens, Bose headphones wait for the passenger, and there is so much more space surrounding the seat. Honestly, this is like First Class on BA.
No more climbing over people, and the seats become flat beds

The plane also features a self-serve snack-and-beverage-bar (I never used it because I slept so well after dinner and a movie), and supposedly there is wifi even over the Atlantic—not that I would have used that either. American has really scored with these new planes. Of course, sitting up front is going to cost you about four to five times as much as sitting in the back, unless you have upgrade vouchers (as an Executive Platinum flier I receive 8 systemwide upgrades annually) or use miles plus $$$.
The entertainment and user-interface section of my pod in 12J
Well, I enjoyed the heck out of this flight. I had a great meal (scallops and shrimp),enjoyed fine drinks, watched a movie, and then slept soundly until a short while before our landing in London. Regardless of how often I have been upgraded, I still see it as a benefit, a true chi-chi. I pay only for Economy (who in his right mind would pay $5,000 for a plane seat?), and when I get upgraded I am just as excited as the first time I got to taste luxury.
BA's Galleries First in Heathrow's Terminal 5
The wine selection
And now I get to enjoy even a little more luxury here in Heathrow's Galleries First, where horses have lampshades on their heads and wine is stored in free-standing glass cases. Another hour, and I will continue on to Munich—this time in steerage. They gotta keep me honest somehow, right?


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