AA or BA to OSL

Mar 6th, 2014, 02:49 AM
  #1  
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AA or BA to OSL

We are thinking of flying Business ORD to OSL roundtrip via LHR in June and are looking at AA and BA flights, including codeshare. If price is similar, which company would we be better off booking with in terms of getting AAdvantage miles, rebooking on the fly if there is a problem, seat comfort and service? Not sure if there are other considerations. Thanks!
ovenbird is offline  
Mar 6th, 2014, 06:29 AM
  #2  
 
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AA doesn't fly to Oslo, so any flights from London to Oslo will be on British Airways planes, even if they carry a (codeshare) AA flight number.

You can fly on either AA or BA planes between ORD and LHR. It won't make any difference in terms of mileage earning. If you choose AA planes, you'll be either on a 767-300 with 2-2-2 seating, or a 777-200 with 2-3-2 seating. The seats are basically the same - angle-flat seats with fair amount of personal space. If you choose the middle pair on the 763, both passengers have access to the aisle, convenient if one person is laid out when the other needs to go to the loo. In-flight entertainment on the 763s is a Samsung tablet; on the 772s there's a video monitor in the seatback in front of you.

In terms of service, most frequent users (me included) feel that business class on the 763s usually has slightly better service than you get on the 772s, mainly because there's no first class on the 763s and the ratio of cabin crew to passengers is higher; by comparison the business class cabin on the 772s is much larger and usually very full.

One disadvantage of using AA over the water is that AA lands at Terminal 3 at Heathrow, so you'd need to transfer to Terminal 5 (BA) for your onward flight. This isn't hard, but it can be a little time consuming.

If you choose BA for the transatlantic portion, you'll be either on a 777 or a 747. BA's business class product, called "Club World" for longhaul and "Club Europe" for shorthaul, offers lie-flat seats in business class, in a curious forward/rear facing layout that has window passengers facing the rear of the plane, while the person next to them faces forward. Thus you can look at your companion face-to-face over a little dividing wall that raises for privacy. The downside is that when seats are reclined, the person at the window needs to be quite acrobatic in climbing over the aisle person, often even harder than comparable cases when both seats are facing forward (as on AA).

BA's in-seat entertainment system is good but not hugely different from AA's.

I've found service in BA Club World to be somewhat hit-and-miss. On some flights the cabin crew are incredibly attentive; on other occasions it's seemed like they had more important things to talk about in the galley than serving passengers. I've also found the food to be variable - sometimes great, sometimes meh.

A big advantage of using BA over the pond is that you'll arrive at Terminal 5, so just a security check and you'll be released into the T5 shopping mall. BA's lounges at T5 for business class passengers are huge and very comfortable.

The big downside to using BA is that you can't pre-select your seats without paying a big additional fee, or waiting until 24h before the flight to select them for no fee. Yes, even in business class. By comparison, AA lets you select seats for no charge when you book. (Note you'll have to either pay or wait for seat selection for the Oslo flight in any case.)

Lots of words, but if it were me I'd go with the AA 763 to London, and pre-select the middle pair of seats. However if you want the 180-degree "lie flat" experience, and are willing either to take pot luck or pay for seat selection, then BA is your game. In that case I'd opt for the 747, and sit on the upper deck. If you want to pay for seat selection, and if they're available, pick seats 62 A/B, 62 J/K, or 64 A/B/J/K on the upper deck. These seats allow the window passengers to get past the aisle passengers without disturbing them. A window on the upper deck of the 747s is a special experience.
Gardyloo is offline  
Mar 6th, 2014, 07:11 AM
  #3  
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Wow Gardyloo, thanks so much for the very thorough analysis of these flights! I think we're leaning toward AA right now based on your recommendation. Fingers crossed seats will be available. I don't think changing terminals will be that big of a deal unless the flight to LHR is delayed.

Another consideration I thought of is using my AAdvantage mastercard to pay for the flights would give me a bundle of extra miles. But if we booked via BA I would use a different card which has no foreign exchange fees, thus losing out on those miles.

Thanks again!
ovenbird is offline  
Mar 6th, 2014, 07:45 PM
  #4  
 
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This is easy. BA business class is better than every AA plane except for the AA 777-300. It really isn't even close. I would never take an AA flight over BA except for the AA 777-300 (if you can get this plane run to get it, as it is great). The difference in seat comfort is night and day, doubly so for overnight flights, where AA's old-style seats are laughably inferior.

BA will also give you an easier transfer because you don't need to change terminals.

If something goes wrong, BA stinks. And BA's business class food is usually pretty bad. But business class is all about seat comfort and on that front the BA product is so much better than the AA ski-slope seats that you should always take BA.

I should note that I completely disagree with gardyloo about getting out of window seats on BA and think it is significantly easier than doing so on an AA plane.

Ask the question in 3 or 4 years when AA has entered the 21st century in terms of seat design and the answer may be different, but for now AA offers a relatively poor product.
travelgourmet is online now  
Mar 7th, 2014, 06:30 AM
  #5  
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Thanks for your input, travelgourmet.

As it turned out we booked BA flights because the price and schedule worked out the best. Sounds like both BA and AA have good and bad points. Guess we'll see how BA flights and service are for our trip.
ovenbird is offline  
Mar 7th, 2014, 06:52 AM
  #6  
 
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Sounds good.

I should note that, while I like to pick apart the BA product and I do think the food is pretty bad and that the service recovery in irregular operations is poor, I still fly them a fair bit (I'm taking them Saturday night in fact). The seats are quite comfortable. I'm sure you will have a good flight.
travelgourmet is online now  
Mar 9th, 2014, 07:09 AM
  #7  
 
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Thought I'd bump this back up to show what AA's refurbished 767-300 business class hard product looks like. According to the article it starts flying JFK-ZRH in April, with more planes/routes on the way. No idea how fast the deployment will occur.

http://www.airlinesanddestinations.c...vice-in-april/
Gardyloo is offline  
Mar 9th, 2014, 08:27 AM
  #8  
 
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Basically the same product as Delta uses on their 767s (Delta has already finished installation). It is a decent product. At seat storage is limited and the footwells are very narrow except for the bulkheads. But it is pretty comfortable, the side table is nice, and the seats right against the window are nice when traveling alone.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jun 17th, 2014, 06:48 AM
  #9  
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Back from Norway and BA flights went well. Upper deck in the 747 was really nice and we'd do it again...even with the difficulties of getting in and out of a window seat, and the terrible old pixelated entertainment screens. Unfortunately both 62 and 64 seats were taken when I booked.

The only glitch was on the return when we connected through LHR T5. We spent our time in the north BA lounge and had to almost sprint to our gate when it finally was posted 25 min. prior to the gate closing at C54. Oh well, we worked off some of the extra food we'd eaten on this trip!

Thanks to all for the helpful advice!
ovenbird is offline  

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