american airlines

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I Hope US Airways Doesn’t Ruin American’s Culture

Don't eff this up

Don’t eff this up

Being on a Delta flight today made me realize I’ve quite gotten used to the style of Delta. Everything from the blue seat covers to the logo to the service offered by the flight attendants. There’s a certain no-nonsense, practical attitude that just feels right – it’s what I like most about travel on Delta metal.

That being said, I’ve quite warmed up to American Airlines over the past year. I think their upgrade policies are a lot more lenient than Delta’s, and as an Executive Platinum later this year, I really look forward to putting that to the test. Although it’s a bad comparison, I’ve been Silver Medallion on Delta and have taken all sorts of flights: hub, non-hub, short-haul, mid-haul, direct, etc. Never once have I received an upgrade. Compare that then, with the free upgrade I received on American over Christmas with no status and on a discount economy fare. How did I do it? I asked. Nicely. I’ve tried that with Delta a few times, and they laugh and roll their eyes cuz it ain’t gonna happen.

So, to the point. I’m warming up to American. But the things I see in US Airways, I don’t like at all. I know they have crazy generous routing rules with their Dividend Miles award redemptions, but what about service at a basic level? They feel stingy to me, nickel-and-dimed to death, and the markets they serve are places I don’t consider destinations. If I stick with American instead of Delta, I may connect in Charlotte or Philly every once in a while. I just hope US Airways doesn’t ruin the generous and attentive vibe that American has worked really hard to develop over the past few years.

I love that most of American’s FAs are “career” flight attendants. They run a tight ship, and I like that. They are also eager to serve snacks and meals in biz and first cabins, and overall just feel more open. I really dread Doug Parker stepping in and removing a lot of the things customers have gotten used to, introducing more fees, and overall cheapening the “New American.” I also hope US Airways simply fires all of their phone agents instead of combining them with American’s responsive crew.

Not to say American is all roses. In NYC, it’s a competitive market, obvi, and American loves to fly little regional jets out of LGA and JFK. Why, I’ll never know. They also don’t have a lot of transfer partners (I’m thinking Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards here). And their Admirals Clubs are set up to make you spend money, whereas I feel Delta is freer with the booze and snacks. Little things. But it’s the little things that end up mattering the most, right?

I’m cautiously watching from the sidelines as Delta implements a revenue component to their status program, and as American’s will undoubtedly take a few blows when it fully combines with US Airways. It’s not a question of if, it’s one of how much. Until then, I hope the “New American” doesn’t become worse.

I also cannot freaking wait to use Avios on the places US Airways flies. 2014 will certainly be interesting for the FF community.

Dilemma of the Day: Which Caribbean Island?

St. John, USVI

 

Just what the subject says. As part of the signup bonus for the shiny new British Airways Visa Signature that I got during my recent App-O-Rama, I will soon get at least 75,000 Avios – and hopefully 100,000 Avios. They’re great for short hops or some mid-haul jaunts under 1150 miles. The caveat is that they can only be used on places where Oneworld has routes. So no Philadelphia, no Burlington, no Portland (Maine), no Albany… surprising, right? But then I pulled up the American Airlines route map and the British Airways Avios Calculator to see where all I could go on the East Coast. My eyes drifted toward the equator, and I saw St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, and St. John just sitting there all lined up like a row of temptresses.

For 20,000 Avios R/T in economy, American will fly me to:

  • St. Thomas (STT)
  • St. Maarten (SXM)
  • St. Kitts (SKB)

But NOT St. Croix (and St. John doesn’t have an airport). I haven’t experiment with other islands yet, but I did notice it was the same rate to Cancun, though I’m not really interested in going there. Even though it’s not a short- or mid-haul, 20K R/T to visit the Caribbean from New York is pretty good, right? And it’s much less points the further south you start out from. Which brings me to my dilemma. Which Caribbean island should I visit first? I’ve been to none of them and don’t know where to start. I know they’re all probably amazing, but which one is best for a beginner? The research continues, into the islands as well as into the value of Avios.  I’d love to go sometime between April and June.

This redemption really got the thinking when I saw it, so I thought I’d share. It might be old news to some, but sure brought a warm feeling to imagine those bright, sandy beaches. Really liking Avios right about now. And open to ideas!

Thinking of doing an American Airlines Status Challenge

So I got in on the awesome fares to South America during American’s great fares that emerged around Valentine’s Day. I’m going to Easter Island, Chile in May. So excited. Round-trip in business/first class was a touch over $1,000. Check out this sweet itinerary:

There...

There…

and back...

and back…

 

So now I’m thinking of doing a status challenge on American Airlines.

You only need 10K points to get Platinum during a challenge, but there are reports that 20K will get you Executive Platinum.

Points are calculated as miles flown * fare class.
So 15,088 * 1.5 = 22,632.

Here’s the info I found:

Challenge (AA) – FlyerGuide Wiki

Here are the LAN earning rates, by class, on American:

http://aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/earnMiles/travel/airlines/lan.jsp

And the miles calculations:

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 1.43.03 PM

 

I’ll also get 25K+ redeemable miles for another free domestic R/T at some point in the future based on the fare classes.

I’ve read that an Exec Plat status match is $250 – well worth it for the unlimited domestic upgrades and the 8 system-wide upgrades on ANY fare class. I’ll also earn 2 500-mile upgrade certificates on this trip (one for each 10K points earned), too.

So when I saw the fare and trip for the first time, I thought:

• EASTER ISLAND
• Exec Plat Status
• Eight system-wide upgrades
• Two upgrade certs
• Free domestic R/T
• and all in biz and first class

Can’t beat that with a stick.

I think there are still goes good fares to Buenos Aires and Santiago. You can play around on the Matrix and see what comes up.

matrix.itasoftware.com –> such a good tool.

American’s giving Delta a run for their money (literally) with this one! Excited to experience their premium products. And if all goes according to plan, I may switch the bulk of my flying over to American. At least until the ahem, MERGER goes through.

Thoughts, anyone? Are my calculations correct?