Travel Dilemma - Settle For First Class?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by rodeojones, Aug 10, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350
    Wife and I planning a summer trip for next year and have a dilemma. Our top two ideas for destinations are #1 Europe and #2 Belize. We have enough points to fly economy to Europe or 1st class to Belize.

    We have never been to either country and have no experience on a long haul flight like Seattle (our home airport) to Europe in economy. Belize is much closer and we would be much more comfortable but Europe is our first choice.

    Is Europe in economy a daunting task or would it be better to fly comfortably to our #2 choice.
     
  2. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,038
    Likes Received:
    2,757
    Status Points:
    1,445
    What country in Europe were you planning on flying in to? What kind of layovers would you be looking at. In all honesty flying coach to most places in Western Europe is not a huge deal. I am a big guy and while BE or F would be nice I truly am fine in coach. Since there are two of you you could could look at plane layout and get seats that may limit your closeness to other passengers.
     
    anileze and edekba like this.
  3. Gardyloo
    Original Member

    Gardyloo Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,421
    Likes Received:
    4,431
    Status Points:
    2,470
    What mileage program are you using? Some (e.g. American, British Airways, Alaska, United) offer one-way mileage redemption, so you could "mix and match" class of service. For example, flying from SEA to Europe the overnight eastbound flights are usually pretty quick due to tailwinds, while the westbound flights (all in daylight because of the time difference) are at least an hour longer (and sometimes more) because now they're headwinds. So if your program allows, ride coach eastbound (you're probably not going to sleep well regardless) but business returning, when you'll be able to enjoy the amenities in the (long) daylight. Just my take.

    Belize in summer? Rain, hurricanes, bugs, airport delays. Meh. Again, just my take.
     
    anileze, edekba and boondr like this.
  4. Jenny & Curt
    Original Member

    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,571
    Likes Received:
    2,379
    Status Points:
    1,270
    Or, can you get a nonstop on the outbound, but stop (say, Newark, Philadelphia, DC, NYC) on the return to stretch your legs?
     
    edekba likes this.
  5. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350

    Montenegro. I haven't gotten down to the nuts and bolts to see what layovers I would be looking at. I'm actually looking into using a booking service for this trip since I will need to mix and match award programs and wan't to incorporate a free stop over.
     
    edekba likes this.
  6. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350

    I have burned through alot of my points the past year flying four to Hawaii and two first class in April to Ireland. All that to say our points are spread around with the most being in United (about 60k for each of us). Wife has 50K in Avios,

    Interesting idea about one way awards. I will have to look into that. I also like your idea about outbound in economy.
     
    edekba likes this.
  7. Gardyloo
    Original Member

    Gardyloo Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,421
    Likes Received:
    4,431
    Status Points:
    2,470
    The Avios are terrific for upgrades on BA but only one cabin, e.g. coach to premium economy, PE to business.

    I would probably look at opportunities (credit cards, even buying the miles) to increase the UA pot to 100K each and use them for business flights to Europe.
     
  8. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350
    Worked out a theoretical solution for Europe. Outbound in economy and inbound 1st class for two adults.

    SEA-NYC = 25K Avios transfered to AS.
    NYC-DBV = 60K AA miles. Wife has 40k+ and I can move 20K Chase UR points.
    DBV-SEA - 100K UA miles.

    I have 37K and wife 42K US Airways miles that I haven't even considered yet. But I don't think they offer one way redemptions.

    Thanks for the thoughts all, I will see what the booking service comes up with.
     
  9. skyvan

    skyvan Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,044
    Likes Received:
    3,688
    Status Points:
    2,045
    US Doesn't offer one-way but after they combine with AA it is possible they may offer one way redemptions.

    Also looks like your return price of 100k miles is actually only enough for business, not for first. It's an extra 17,500 per person for first one way.

    However it should also be noted that a trip to central america is also really on business class, except it will be a less feature packed business class, usually more on par with domestic first class, even if they sell it as first class. International business class however can be quite comfortable depending on the carrier you end up on.
     
    boondr likes this.
  10. eponymous_coward
    Original Member

    eponymous_coward Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,901
    Likes Received:
    2,975
    Status Points:
    1,470
    You should be able to do SEA-JFK-???-DBV all on one AA one-way redemption for 60K miles for two people (40K if you travel in the AA offseason between October and May), meaning you don't need to do anything with your Avios*, but AA is not a Chase UR transfer partner, so your math is messed up.

    What you can do is this: transfer 20K Chase UR to UA (boosting you from 100K to 120K) and redeem 2xY, SEA-DBV (60K each). A UA redemption round-trip would allow you a free stopover.

    I've flown Lufthansa longhaul to FRA from the West Coast in Y. I'll say it's... survivable. Truth be told I hated it- cramped 31" pitch seating, hot, dark flight. I much prefer DL's A333s in Y to LH's when I've flown Y longhaul (better pitch, in seat power, plane was cooler). I'm flying AA Y this winter (on the old, 9 across 772 to LHR, the 763 back from ZRH). We'll see how that goes.

    Incidentally- when you went to Ireland, you went to Europe. ;)

    *transfer? Avios cannot be transferred to Alaska Airlines miles. They can be used for Alaska flights, but not transferred.
     
  11. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350
    Good info...thanks.
     
  12. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350
    Ireland is April of 2014. :)

    Re: Avios and AS that's what I meant.
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,220
    Likes Received:
    61,766
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Thousands of people do it every day. They all manage to survive. It is hardly luxurious, but it is also a small part of the overall vacation in most cases.

    I've crossed the Atlantic at least 4 times in coach this year (JFK-FRA, LHR-EWR, JFK-VIE, IST-EWR). I also did DEN-NRT in Y. I had E+ (or equivalent) on all but the JFK-FRA flights which certainly helped, but none of them were so bad that it made the actual trip not worth taking.

    No flight ever has IME.
     
  14. MX

    MX Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    4,805
    Status Points:
    2,545
    I would love to go to Montenegro in any class of service. You can probably include an interesting layover on the way there and/or back.
     
    anileze and rodeojones like this.
  15. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,272
    Likes Received:
    2,732
    Status Points:
    1,425
    You've never flown long distance in a C130 apparently.

    ;)
     
    anileze likes this.
  16. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

    Messages:
    4,518
    Likes Received:
    8,756
    Status Points:
    7,270
    I've been to Belize. While we enjoyed our time there, I would rank everywhere I've been in Europe higher than Belize. I wouldn't call it underwhelming but I think plenty of places in Europe offer so much more, including Montenegro.
     
  17. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    No. I mean they sell the seat right? Yeah J would be better than Y ... but the destination should be a priority, not how you get there (imo).

    Ever since young i've done TPAC in Y all my life. Last year I did SFO - SEA - TPE - BKK in Bus. Yes it was cool to sleep comfortably, and eat non instant food. But then I flew Y back (BKK - HND - LAX) and it was fine. Yes J > Y but would have I taken the trip in Y if J wasn't available? yes.
     
  18. LAM

    LAM Silver Member

    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    280
    Status Points:
    475
    Go to Europe. As everyone else has said you will survive. I did EWR to DEL nonstop 13 hrs in one of the worst seats (window in front of the LAV) in 2010. Long story but my ticket for a business trip had to be rebooked 3 days before I left and it was summertime so there were limited seats left. I got the last window seat because I cant sleep on a plane without a window to lean on.

    I too am looking at a trip to the Balkans in late 2014 or spring of 2015. I have a friend who will be working in Sarajevo for several years and I want to combine a trip to see her and somewhere else close like Croatia or Slovenia.
     
    anileze and eponymous_coward like this.
  19. eponymous_coward
    Original Member

    eponymous_coward Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,901
    Likes Received:
    2,975
    Status Points:
    1,470
    I agree. I hated my LH Y seat and wouldn't book LH < C again, but as is obvious from the fact that I still fly Y TATL, it's not THAT awful to be in Y.
     
  20. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350
    Update:

    After talking with you guys I decided that emphasizing the comfort vs the experience was short sited. My wife and I talked and we reassessed our options and decided on Europe. Getting into Montenegro seemed to be a little more difficult then I wanted to tackle therefore we went with a modified option 1. :)

    I have read wonderful things about Belgrade and am a huge history buff. So I got online and began putting together a trip from Seattle to Belgrade with a stopover in Rome utilizing the wife and I's UA miles. This was my first award booking incorporating a stop over.

    Many bloggers have talked about the UA award tool and that it sometimes shows phantom flights or doesn't show partner awards (FFU recently wrote about this). I couldn't utilize the superior ANA award search engine so I settled into the UA tool knowing that I would need to double check things through out the process.

    I began with simply putting in SEA-BEG to see what some of the routings were. It was pretty ugly frankly. Multiple transfers, long layovers, etc. But it started giving me some ideas on routing possibilities and then I applied a concept that I learned here....search for individual legs. Wow...the options were much better. Wanting a stop over in FCO I began searching SEA-FCO and found an appealing SEA-FRA-FCO flight. I wrote down the details and got to my next leg, FCO-BEG. I found FCO-MUC-BEG route which was quick and got us into BEG around noon. Wrote the details down and began working on the BEG-SEA route. Found BEG-FRA-SEA and again wrote the details down.

    Now it was time to put the award together via the multiple destinations tab. Oddly, when searching for the FCO-BEG flight, UA was not showing the flight I found when simply looking via one way flights. I double checked and while seeing it from the one way booking tab, it was not there when trying to book it via the multiple destination tab. The options were pretty crappy and I really wanted that one FCO-BEG flight so I got on the phone and called UA. The minute the CSR answered the phone I knew it wasn't going to go well. I explained to him my predicament and all he wanted to do was argue with me and explain to me that I didn't understand the routing rules. I could barely understand him due to his accent and applying another piece of advice I found on this site...I politely hung up and called again!! This time I got a very nice fellow who was willing to help me put the award together.

    I have read before of peoples experiences seeing flights that the airlines can't see and this is exactly what I experienced. One of the issues I was running into was all the flights were on Lufthansa and the CSR kept saying he had to go to a back up screen to find some of the legs that I was seeing. At one point he said he could see the flight but was unable to ticket it had to put me on hold several times. Then he couldn't see part of the return leg from SEA-BEG even though I was starring at it. So he asked me to book the flight with a different FCO-BEG flight and he would manually change it. He also hoped the BEG-SEA would properly ticket since he could only see part of the leg.

    Long story short ticket booked no problem. He then manually changed the FCO-BEG flight that I could only see when checking via the one way option. I then did the entire process for my wife on her account and he again had to manually change her FCO-BEG ticket.

    This was a great reminder that looking at individual legs can open up many more opportunities and a helpful CSR can be a blessing from above.

    The best part!! For 60,000 UA miles and 174.00 in taxes (each), the wife and I will be flying to Italy and Serbia which would have cost us $4000.00 per ticket.

    I am sure there are things I could have done differently and more efficiently. I probably spent a few more hours flying then I needed to but I learned some valuable lessons and most of all, got to enjoy the tremendous sense of satisfaction of putting an award together.

    Cheers...
     
    free101girl, iolaire, MX and 5 others like this.
  21. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,220
    Likes Received:
    61,766
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Sure you can. ;)

    There are at least two ways to "beat" them at their game. One is to first search GMP-HND (or any other NH-operated route, but that's the one I seem to always use). At the bottom of that results page the "Use Star Alliance" button is enabled and you can then proceed as normal. The other option, if you use a browser which supports GreaseMonkey, is here: http://blog.wandr.me/2012/08/reintroducing-the-ana-partner-search-link/

    Sounds to me like you did a pretty solid job. Have a great trip! :cool:
     
  22. eponymous_coward
    Original Member

    eponymous_coward Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,901
    Likes Received:
    2,975
    Status Points:
    1,470

    I think you did great. Go have a blast.
     
    free101girl and rodeojones like this.
  23. rodeojones

    rodeojones Silver Member

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    178
    Status Points:
    350
    Great tip!! BTW...hopefully the pick pockets got what was coming to them and are in jail by now. :cool:
     
    free101girl likes this.
  24. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,220
    Likes Received:
    61,766
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Not a chance. They got their $60 and I've moved on.
     
    rodeojones likes this.
  25. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

    Messages:
    4,518
    Likes Received:
    8,756
    Status Points:
    7,270
    Sounds like a stupendous solution. Now, go find a way to earn some more miles so you can do it again. :)
     
    rodeojones and free101girl like this.

Share This Page