February 11, 2009
My work will be taking me to New York over the next few months, as a project we sent out a proposal for in August was finally approved last week.
In the budget, we had set aside $2000 for travel between Los Angeles and New York, but thanks to the economy and competition along the route, we will be able to pay for three or four trips.
Right now, round trip airfare between LAX or SFO and JFK can be had for as little as $235, if you pick the right days and right flights.
That comes to a Cost-Per-Elite-Qualifying-Mile of less than 5 cents, which these days is quite a deal for domestic travel. Add a stop in San Francisco for $10 each way, and earn an extra 337 (or 500) miles, depending on your status!
With open seats up front, that means a good chance of flying United’s P.S. business class for ten hours for less than $300 and an upgrade instrument or two. Not a bad deal if you ask me!
January 28, 2009
It took more than a year since they began converting United Airlines’ international fleet to the new business and first class seating, but on my last trip, I finally got to experience the new business lie-flat seats. I guess that’s not so bad of a record, since only 13 of their 21 767’s and 11 of 24 747’s have been converted–and none of the 49 777 planes which fly the LAX to London route.
My bottom line impression is that the seat is a great step up from the old-school, cradle-style business seats they had before. The cushioning makes the seat even more comfortable than Lufthansa’s rock-solid First Class product. The AVOD is a nice distraction, even if the content is lacking.
But there are a few caveats…
I am an average-sized fellow. Anyone with a waistline more than 36 inches might find it difficult fitting into the narrow, lie-flat seats.
Second, you can have the best hard-product in the skies but if the soft-product, such as food and flight attendants, are sub-par (as I had on my FRA-SFO return), then even the best experiences can be soured.
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to make an extra stop (or two) en route to try to get on the new product, and cannot wait until the full fleet gets converted.
January 13, 2009
The United Flyertalk Boards have been buzzing for months over the perceived difficulty of upgrading flights recently. At issue is the fact that United has fewer Business and First class seats on their newly-configured 767 and 747 planes, and don’t really know which planes will fly which routes until just before departure, so they are holding back on upgrading people until the last minute.
This can be frustrating for folks, especially in cases like mine, where the whole purpose of flying is to use my Systemwide Upgrades before they expire at the end of the month.
Last night, my upgrade to Business Class cleared on the return portion of the flight–from Frankfurt to San Francisco. That’s great news, but I am still in economy for the outbound SFO-FRA come Thursday. Currently, they’re still selling 9 business class seats and there are fourteen empty spots on the seat maps, so it will be a close call for me… Wish me luck!