Cround crews at LAX prep an American 777-300ER for its flight to SYD.

Ground crews at LAX prep an American 777-300ER for its flight to SYD

Previously, I discussed the process and reasoning for using miles for an economy ticket on an American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER from Los Angeles to Sydney. In this story, I am going to share the actual flight experience, and discuss if this was the right call… or a huge mistake.

FLYING AMERICAN DOWN UNDER: Before the Flight

American Airlines Flight 73
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Sydney Airport (SYD)
Equipment: Boeing 777-323ER
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:50pm (actual 10:21pm)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 7:55am+2 (actual 7:31am+2)
Scheduled Flight Time: 15 hours, 5 minutes (actual 14 hours, 9 minutes)

The day came, and we headed out to dinner before going to LAX to catch our evening flight. While taking our dinner at a leisurely pace, I checked on our flight status and realized that I had confused the departure time as being 10:50pm instead of 9:50pm; fortunately I caught my mistake with enough time to rush through our meal and still make it to the airport comfortably.

At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, LAWA Director Deborah Flint, and Qatar's VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with LAWA Director Deborah Flint, His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, and Qatar’s VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein (L-R) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways held a press conference on Tuesday to highlight the carrier’s entry into the Los Angeles market, with His Excellency, Qatar Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, providing his insights into the new service, as well has having some choice words regarding what he views as an unwarranted attack on his airline by the three big US-based carriers. AirlineReporter was on hand to live-tweet the event, and Al Baker did not disappoint.

A surprise anniversary party at 40,000 feet! Karen got to wear the Emirate's singature uniform hat. Mayb I should have to cut the glare.

A surprise anniversary party at 40,000 feet! Karen got to wear Emirates’ signature uniform hat. Maybe I should have too, to cut the glare.

“Mr. Slutsken, would you and your wife please join us in the lounge at the back of the cabin?” asked the Purser, our flight’s senior cabin representative. She had a big smile on her face as she stood beside my business class seat in the Emirates A380 on our flight from Dubai (DXB) to Rome (FCO). I looked back at my wife; we both wanted to be right beside a window, so I was in seat 9K and Karen was in 11K on the remarkably quiet upper deck of the Airbus.

This was the second leg of our special anniversary trip. We always try to do something new for every fifth year, and this was our 35th anniversary. It doesn’t really matter when in the year it happens, so we had planned a trip to Italy in October, months after our actual anniversary date. We wanted to fly business class, and after much research and expert help, we decided to go the long way to Italy. We cashed in a whack of Alaska Airlines and hotel points for reward seats on Emirates. It would be our first time flying the airline, and also our first time in Dubai. Using Emirates’ Dubai Stopover Program, we were able to break our itinerary to spend a few nights before continuing to Rome.

An American Airlines 777-300ER (N720AN) bound for SYD pushes back from Gate 41 at LAX.

An American Airlines 777-300ER (N720AN) bound for SYD on the inaugural flight pushes back from Gate 41 at LAX.

Less than a week after covering American Airlines’ launch of their new Los Angeles-Sydney service, I found myself onboard Flight 73 on a last-minute holiday down under. The route featured American’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER, with my personal-favorite business class seat. In spite of holding status on both American and Alaska, which would entitle me to at least a little bit more leg and elbow room in coach, I willingly (!) chose to sit in a regular economy seat for a 15-hour flight… and managed to survive.  A feat made even more impressive (or harrowing, depending on your point-of-view) by the fact that I was accompanied by my wife.

Now, I’d like to claim credit for taking one for the AirlineReporter team and be able to gloat for making the trip, but I’m not as magnanimous as my colleague JL, who flew a Spirit Airlines Bare Fare “for science.” There were very strategic, practical, and self-serving reasons for booking seats behind the curtain instead of in front of it.

I’m splitting my experience into two parts: first, about why I chose economy (this time), followed up with my actual flight review of American’s economy service to Sydney.