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.
Delta Boeing 747-400 tail seen from a Dreamliner – Photo: David Parker Brown
This week, Delta Air Lines announced a major change to their Skymiles frequent flier program, while many in the industry speculated was coming. The changes to the Skymiles program will see an end to their current (and, some would say, traditional) points earning process, to now be a revenue-based model.
Similar to airlines like Jetblue, Southwest, or Virgin America, it no longer comes down to how far you fly, but rather how much you spend.
As of January 2015, Delta will move from a “1 mile flown = 1 point earned” model, to a new revenue-based system where for every dollar you spend on your airfare you will receive 5 points (though they are still using the term “mile” for some reason). As with the current program, the higher your elite status, the more miles you get as a reward. By using a co-branded Delta credit card, you can earn yourself a few extra points as well.
But we wanted to share our opinions from both the perspective of a miles and points junkie (Mal) and someone who doesn’t really care about miles (David).
McDonnell Douglas MD-11, N1767A, Approaching r/w 27L, London, Heathrow,
At a time where airline’s frequent flier programs are becoming less friendly with higher charges, more miles required to redeem free flights, and more restrictions, American Airlines has decided to try something new and make it easier for its fliers to redeem their miles.
American Airlines is now allowing passengers to easily redeem one-way tickets for half the miles a round-trip ticket takes. This will open up many more options for those that only need a one-way flight, but wasn’t able to easily or cheaply do it with their miles. This should also make it easier to find a free seat on an airline. For if a person was booking a round trip “miles flight” and one of the legs had no more free slots, the entire itinerary would be denied. Now, it allows more flexibility.
Airline analysts think American Airline’s move will help to booster their AAdvantage membership by millions and will cause a ripple effect to other airlines, forcing them to follow suit. This should bring up revenue for additional passengers who want to build up their miles and also via partnerships with hotels and rental car companies who purchase miles for airlines.
It took about a year for American Airlines to make the changes to their system to handle the one-way ticketing and they expect it to take another year before seeing other airlines providing direct competition. Source: MSNBC Image: Bonedome