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Gardyloo May 8th, 2008 06:54 AM

EXP members are also bound by C inventory limitations although there is supposedly some "hidden" C inventory on some flights, notably London-US or v.v. that is made available to EXP pax but no others. I have not been so blessed personally, but I use Expert Flyer so that I can bet on sure things.

C space on ZRH, FCO and CDG flights is very rare during peak months. Flights using 767 equipment (ZRH, FCO and most CDG) don't have first class, so they hold more revenue seats open for late bookers, rather than making them available for upgrades or awards.

As for sources for discount business seats on AA, good luck with that. Maybe if you're a Fortune 100 corporation who's willing to sign a big contract with AA (meaning in the millions) you can get a deal, but otherwise just join the queue. I don't know the ratio (presumably a deep dark secret with the airlines) but most business flyers don't qualify for big discounts because the volume from their companies doesn't reach the right threshold.

By the way, I can see business class availability from JFK to FCO and back on your dates using Iberia through Madrid, for $2700. Didn't check openjaws. You could credit your miles to AA.

The MAD flights and connections through MAD to Rome are quite comfortable. I prefer IB's business class product to AAs on transatlantic routes.

BeachBoi May 8th, 2008 06:58 AM

ExecPlats rule, there is NO DOUBT....They screamed long and loud enough to get the domestic upgrade system revamped..BUT, nothing is "given" away...If there are no "C" class seats available when one books a seat, then they too go on the waitlist.BUT, they trump everybody else on the w/l....That's not to say that there are no tricks to getting that upgrade, this time!!

yk May 8th, 2008 07:03 AM

I believe that if there are still open Business class seats open on the day of travel, they will turn those seats over to "C". My assumption is that AA would rather take the $300+25k miles from a economy pax than letting those Business class seats go empty.

Just so you know, if you go on the waitlist as a gold, you'll be in line after all the EXP, PLT, as well as the GLD who requested the upgrade before you.

Also, if you want any upgrade seats (even if there's just one), you need to let the agent know at the time of upgrade request that you'll take 1 seat. Otherwise, you'll never get an upgraded seat unless all 3 "C" seats open up at the same time. Most of the time, the "C" seats are released one at a time.

111op May 8th, 2008 07:45 AM

Thanks. The Iberia flights popped up on Kayak earlier, but I'm not sure if I want to pay $2700 to connect both ways. I had forgotten about the mileage accrual on AA. Let me take a look at the flight times again.

If you transit in Madrid to go to Zurich, do you need to go through passport control? I'd assume not.

Last summer I was upgraded to Iberia Business (free). I agree that it's quite nice.

How about Swissair's Business?

BeachBoi May 8th, 2008 07:58 AM

111op..."Swissair" is dead and buried..It's "Swiss International Air Lines LTD"....great reputation have not experienced myself.

111op May 8th, 2008 08:01 AM

The Iberia open jaw doesn't seem to be available anymore. Kayak is showing about $5000.

Also I've an additional complication. I need to buy an Economy ticket on the flights that my parents will take. So I've a few constraints I need to deal with.

Gardyloo May 8th, 2008 08:17 AM

I like IB's business class better than Swiss', mainly because the seats on LX seem harder and less ergonomic. YMMV.

By refusing to connect, you're really limiting yourself on upgradeable or lower-cost business class options, at least using AA miles or Oneworld metal.

As for hoping additional C inventory opens at the last minute, I'd imagine the waiting lists and priorities within the lists would be close to insurmountable at this point. Could be wrong of course; yield management people are not like us.

111op May 8th, 2008 08:28 AM

What would you people choose?

Buy 2 Swissair Business class tickets + 1 Econ ticket?

Or buy 1 AA Business ticket (about 5300) + 1 Econ ticket + use 180,000 miles for one Business ticket? With the AA method I'll still earn miles. What's the Gold accrual for Business class? I'll put the Business class seat under my name so that I can accrue the miles, but give the seat to my parents.

I think the Swissair option costs about 7000-7500.

AA costs about 6600 + 180000 miles. Plus I get to accrue miles.

I do think it's silly to pay $3000 to connect. Of course if I can claim a Business class seat for 90000 miles and I need to connect, I don't think that I'd complain.

Still with Swissair, we need to connect on the way back from FCO. But I figured that flying Swissair is probably better than Air India + Eurofly, which was the other option I cooked up (while dropping the Swiss visit). There would be no connections with that, but the chances that something will go wrong are also higher.

I don't understand the AA awards thing. If I go to LHR instead, I can actually claim First Class seats for 125,000 miles. Is there really that much inventory for London? That's partly why I decided to save my miles for a potential future First Class trip rather than spend 180,000 miles for a Business class seat on AA while paying for the other one.

111op May 8th, 2008 08:33 AM

In the meantime, to make things interesting, Iberia's Business for 2700 is showing on Kayak again. But there's a long layover and we won't arrive in Zurich until 6:30 pm or so. It looks like the earlier option costs about $5000 (on Kayak). I think Iberia Economy on these flights is about 1700 though. So much more expensive.

Maybe you guys can help me choose from the three options? :-)

travelgourmet May 8th, 2008 09:59 AM

<i>Is there really that much inventory for London?</i>

Yep. By my count, they have 5 flights a day from JFK and 5 from ORD. 2 from BOS, LAX, and DFW. 1 from RDU, MIA.

That is a lot of capacity.

As for the other options: Be careful with Swiss. If the flight is on an A330, the seats are pretty bad. I would not likely pay for them again.

111op May 8th, 2008 10:09 AM

I keep calling them Swissair -- I did read that message about the reorganization (people probably think I'm an idiot :-) ).

But anyway, according to Kayak, the Swiss aircraft is A332 both ways. Is this ok? The travel agent told me it's a 2-2-2 configuration and I said that I was going to do some research online.

The same travel agent quotes me 4500 for AA business.

Now, if I go for AA, I think that I save over 1000 upfront in cash, but I'm out 180,000 miles.

I'm thinking that it makes sense for me to claim my miles on AA first class some day -- maybe to LHR? That ticket is over $10,000. It will take me a very long time to accrue this kind of mileage. And I'll never think about spending 10,000 on a first class ticket. Miles are of course another matter.

What do people think of this thinking? Does this sound like the right thing to do?

111op May 8th, 2008 10:13 AM

Ok, I've checked Seatguru. 332 is 330 but there're two versions -- with 2 classes and 3 classes. So this is bad?

Hm.... Maybe I should fly AA Economy then.

Do let me know since it is a lot of $ to be spending. I guess I can tell my parents that people online tell me to save my money for something else. :-)

yk May 8th, 2008 10:21 AM

JFK-LHR is 7 hours. Why a regular person (not celebrity, not multi-millionaire) would pay $10K for a first class seat is beyond me.

I'd rather use the 125K miles for a US-Asia FC award.

No one can answer the question for you. Do you want to spend the $ or do you want to spend the miles?

Gardyloo May 8th, 2008 10:48 AM

If it was me, I'd save the miles for an occasion when you can get more for them.

Then I'd buy coach round trips on AA to London, picking the morning flight so that you could sleep in a bed that evening near Heathrow, then take a morning flight the next day to your final destination. This goes a long way to reducing (or eliminating) jetlag, you can get a Priceline hotel room (3 or 4 stars) near LHR for under $100 a night, and use all the savings for upgraded accommodations in Europe.

The flying won't be all that comfortable, but from the east coast to London it's a short enough flight that it's tolerable compared to trying to &quot;sleep&quot; on an overnight flight.

If you have elite status (Gold or above) on AA you can pick the best seats in coach to make it even easier. Usually the morning flights are easier on that score, too.

travelgourmet May 8th, 2008 10:54 AM

The problem with the Swiss A330 is not the layout. Indeed, 2-2-2 is just fine. And there is enough space around you and between you and the seat in front. Service is excellent and the food is good. Very good wine and booze. Nice lounge in Zurich, which is a great airport.

The issue is the seats themselves. They are just not comfortable, at all. The legrest isn't long enough and doesn't come up far enough. The recline is too shallow. And the seat itself is kind of hard. My boss booked us on them last year, despite my pleas to get us on BA. After we got off the flight, he apologized to me. I wish we were the only ones that felt this way, but my understanding from what I've read here and on FlyerTalk is that at least quite a few feel the same way.

111op May 8th, 2008 10:54 AM

As I said, flying to London is not an option. Plus I'm not sure if layover in London will make it a more relaxing experience for my parents. I'd rather get it all over with all at once.

I think that for me, it's a choice between the Swissair option and 3 Economy tickets on AA (which is around 1500 per ticket right now -- which is expensive). The cash difference is about 3000.

I think if Swiss is somewhat comfortable I'll probably go for it, but if it doesn't sound that good, then probably it's better for me to save the money. Also AA is non-stop both ways.

So do people think the Swiss flight is worth the 1500 extra over AA? I know that's also hard to answer.

What's US-Asia FC? Is that US-Asia First Class? And that's also 125K miles?

I like the idea of cashing in a lot of miles for something unique that I'd not dream of paying.

It's funny. After spending so many days looking at astronomical fares, I start thinking that Economy at 1500 to Europe is &quot;cheap&quot;....

111op May 8th, 2008 10:58 AM

Thanks. So it sounds to you, travelgourment, the Swiss seats are not worth it?

Actually the description reminds me of my AA experience in Feb, when I was also upgraded (free -- but they initially refused to even check me in!). I didn't like the seat either, but I think there was a problem with my footrest and since I was upgraded for free, I didn't complain.

yk May 8th, 2008 11:00 AM

&lt;&lt; What's US-Asia FC? Is that US-Asia First Class? And that's also 125K miles? &gt;&gt;

travelgourmet May 8th, 2008 11:05 AM

Worth it is relative. To some, even a bad business class seat is worth it, to avoid economy. My point is just that it was, by far, the worst business class seat I have sat in, trailing, NW, BA, CO, KLM, Delta, and SAS.

It is still better than coach, but if I am shelling out that kind of money, then I would prefer to spend my money elsewhere.

111op May 8th, 2008 11:09 AM

That's interesting. Why does India cost 180K?

Out of curiosity, travel, where does AA fall in this spectrum? I've only tried Iberia and AA, and I agree with Gardyloo Iberia is much better.

Hopefully I can settle this soon and move on to hotels. I'm sure that that will be interesting also....

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