best first/business airline for the miles?

Apr 6th, 2008, 07:59 PM
  #1  
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best first/business airline for the miles?

I'm planning a trip to Europe and will be using miles for business/first class tickets - I know that the seat class of different airlines can vary greatly and would appreciate any feedback on what would be the best deal.

Continental - First Class - 100,000

Delta - Business Elite - 90,000

Northwest - Business - 80,000
ledbett49 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2008, 08:35 PM
  #2  
 
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IMO Continental is the best between Continental & Delta. I have never flown NW overseas, so I cannot comment on them. Mostly, I fly Continental...very nice, great service. I flew Delta once, and it was just okay.
jewela is offline  
Apr 7th, 2008, 04:26 AM
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I have to ask: Which FF program are you trying to use? The award amounts look like Alaska?

But, you could also be confused by the Continental award charts. They can be confusing, but the rule is Delta biz = 90k miles, KLM biz = 80k miles, and everyone else = 100k miles. And all of the awards are for business class, as Continental does not offer an International First class cabin - the BusinessFirst name is a pretty bad joke.

Among the airlines you mention, I have only flown Continental and Northwest in biz (will fly Delta next week). To be honest, there isn't a great deal of difference between the two. The Northwest seats are lie flat (at an angle) versus the recliner style on Continental, but I would think that you might find a 50/50 split as to preference between the two. Catering is pretty similar between the two, as are service levels. If you are connecting, I would say that Detroit, Minneapolis, and Amsterdam are all better connection options than Newark.

I have heard that Delta is pretty similar as well. Some recent positive reviews of the food and wine. The major complaint is about the width of the 767 seats, which is only 18.5". Others say that, if you aren't too wide, this is a non-issue.

Whether using Continental miles or Alaska miles, you could also choose KLM or Air France, with KLM being 80k with Continental and 100k with Alaska, while Air France is 100k with both. I would definitely rate KLM a little below any of the other options, though they are still fine. Air France is pretty well-regarded, but I have not flown them in biz.

With Alaska, you also have the option of AA, which should be competitive with the above carriers at 90k miles. You could also choose BA, but 120k miles is a pretty big premium over the other options (though the product is better). And with Continental, you have the option of Virgin Atlantic, which would likely be the best business class product you will find across the Atlantic, and worth seeking out.

So, if you are using Alaska miles, then I think Northwest is a good choice, given the savings of the mileage. If you are using Continental miles, then I would try to get on Virgin, or otherwise pick on schedule.
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 7th, 2008, 05:22 AM
  #4  
 
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Just a clarification - CO's product is known as BusinessFirst and is similar to DL's BusinessElite with some differences noted by travelgourmet. We've flown CO's BF a few times and consider it a top notch product - good service, very good food, nice amenities, very comfortable seats, and IFE is good as well. Haven't flown DL in several years so don't have recent experience to pass along.

We have relatives that fly NW often (some are in MSP), but all of them prefer CO to NW.
dfr4848 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2008, 05:44 AM
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Which carrier's miles are you using?

What's your origin/destination?

Are those the choices you've been given based on availability?
Patty is online now  
Apr 7th, 2008, 06:48 AM
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We've flown CO's BF a few times and consider it a top notch product - good service, very good food, nice amenities, very comfortable seats, and IFE is good as well.

I guess I should clarify my comment that the name is a joke. BF is a perfectly acceptable business class product - I wouldn't put it up there with Virgin or BA or some of the Asian carriers, but it is competitive. What I do find a joke is to suggest that it approximates true International First Class.
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 7th, 2008, 07:06 AM
  #7  
 
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If it is Alaska miles then I would confirm availability for the "cheaper" carriers ASAP - in my experience obtaining NW seats for 80K miles is a very rare occurrence; more often the only availability I can get is on BA, with its punishing high redemption rates.
Gardyloo is online now  
Apr 7th, 2008, 08:13 AM
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Used Continental's BusinessFirst to and from Europe last year and felt the service and food were EXCELLENT, especially for the price (wasn't using miles).

The presentation was refined and well-coordinated and i felt it was impressive.

I really hope you are fortunate enough to GET a choice of which airline to use which is always nice.
Dukey is offline  
Apr 7th, 2008, 07:15 PM
  #9  
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Wow - thanks for the great responses - I would be using Alaska miles for the tickets for a flight to Ireland...the trip is still a long ways out so I have plenty of time secure seats.
ledbett49 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 03:05 AM
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Where would you be flying from?
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 8th, 2008, 09:12 AM
  #11  
 
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I've flown all three, and I would rate them Delta, Continental then NWA. I've had luck with friendly Delta flight attendants and good service....
Debi is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 05:19 PM
  #12  
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I would be flying from Seattle
ledbett49 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 05:37 PM
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From SEA, if you have the choice, take NW non-stop to AMS. Faster and you spend more time in a business-class seat rather than a domestic FC across the US.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 12:23 AM
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I agree with rkkwan. If you are flying from Seattle and can get on the Northwest flight, then it is the way to go. When you pony up for a premium international ticket, you want to maximize the amount of time you spend in an internationally-configured seat.

Plus, you can save 20k miles.

And the product is pretty darn good - it is a mistake to confuse NW's domestic product with their international one. I had one of the best airplane meals (for what that is worth) I have ever had in NW biz, and generally have found the food better conceived than on CO, though CO does a more elaborate presentation. The wine will also be a significant step-up from what you see on CO, which has a notoriously weak wine list. And I find the seating very comfortable.

Of course, all of this may be for nought, if you can't get availability. In which case, you will have to take what you can get.

So, now knowing where you are flying from and which program you are using, I would rate your options as follows:

1. NW, for the reasons above.
2. AA, as it gives you more time in Int'l biz than the others.
3. DL, because it saves you 10k miles.
4. CO
5. BA, which has a great product, but the mileage requirements are just too high.
travelgourmet is online now  
Apr 9th, 2008, 06:56 AM
  #15  
 
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I would add Air France to the list somewhere between NW and CO. If you can get AF SEA-CDG, that would also maximize your time in an intl business product, but the mileage cost is higher at 100,000.
Patty is online now  
Apr 9th, 2008, 07:26 AM
  #16  
 
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Your right about AF. I guess I would slot it in at 2-1/2.
travelgourmet is online now  

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