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.
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.
Istanbul-Ataturk Airport is Turkish Airlines’ home base
As part of our honeymoon trip, we managed to stretch one award ticket into eight segments around Europe. It took some research, but if you know the rules, you can push the limits and get the most value for your hard-earned miles and points.
This flight from Istanbul (IST) to Vienna (VIE) was the first leg of our European tour. We had previously flown from San Francisco via Paris on Air France, connecting to a regional Air France flight to Istanbul. After spending a whopping one night in Istanbul, it was time to head out for the next leg of our whirlwind journey on a Turkish Airlines Airbus A321.
Our Air France A319, parked at Gate L21 at CDG
We had purchased a Premium Economy fare to fly from San Francisco to Istanbul (IST) via Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) with a 60-minute layover. While I was looking forward to checking out Air France’s medium-haul Premium Economy service from CDG-IST, the carrier quietly eliminated the class on everything but long-haul flights and placed passengers into regular Economy. Not nice.
Fast-forward to our landing at CDG — our inbound flight on the A380 was delayed taking off from SFO and spent its time circling the airport grounds, finally docking 45 minutes before our next flight. Would we make it in time, or would we have to spend four hours waiting for the next flight and losing an entire evening in Istanbul?
An American Eagle CRJ-200 during boarding at LAX – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Occasionally, I’ll be as lucky as some of my AirlineReporter colleagues to be flying high in a premium cabin while being waited on hand and foot (see, e.g., David Delagarza’s vacation flight in first-class on ANA, or Jacob’s Pfledger’s mile-high shower on Emirates). But as most of us can attest to, sometimes (or most of the time) we have to schlep it to get to where we want to go.
My wife and I traveled to Europe for a two-week whirlwind honeymoon tour that included 10 cities in eight countries, as well as eight individual flights within Europe. We found a smashing deal from Delta to experience premium economy on Air France’s Airbus A380 to Paris. There was just one slight issue: our Air France flight took off from San Francisco, but we live in Southern California — over 350 miles away. The solution: flying in the much-maligned CRJ-200. What sort of life decisions did I get wrong to lead me to suffering this mighty indignity?