Airline questions - please help

Old Dec 4th, 2004, 07:47 AM
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Airline questions - please help

I am trying to arrange our air transportation, and am having trouble. Hope someone can answer some questions.

We need to go from San Francisco to Beijing, and then return from Bangkok to SF. We will be doing a land tour and cruise in between.

We actually live in Philly, but can use air miles to get to SF (and visit children).

Are there any airlines we shouldn't use? Is Air China okay? EVA? Other?
If we can afford business class, is it important? Air China business class seems much cheaper.
Is United - or another airline - okay enough to take coach? (I sometimes get a knee problem.)

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Sylvia in Philly
saglassman is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 08:02 AM
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If you can fly Business Class, you'll find that it really makes a difference on a flight this long. It should be no problem to book an open jaw ticket (into Bejing and out of Bangkok). Note that it won't cost you much more to fly in and out of Philly rather than using your frequent flier miles. If you have United frequent flier miles, see if you can use them for an upgrade to Business Class. Or, if you are a Premier or Premier Exec on United, see if you can get Economy Plus seats, as this will make a difference in your comfort.

Eva Air has Evergreen Deluxe seats which are Business class sized, for just a few hundred dollars more than coach.

Air China has a history of some safety problems. I don't know what their recent track record has been, but I prefer to avoid them.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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There are a lot of questions in your post, and I agree with Kathie in her answers. Just want to add a few things.

First, like Kathie said, the cost of your ticket from PHL to Asia isn't much different from SFO-Asia. So, cost-wise, it'll be similar if you were to visit your children on a seperate trip. However, the flights from SFO to Asia are going to be shorter, especially since there are non-stop SFO-PEK service, and one-stop service from BKK. From PHL, you'll add another transfer, or you have to go up to NYC.

EVA is a Taiwanese airline, and they certainly don't fly to Beijing. From SFO to PEK, you're talking about 3 flights (stopping in Taipei, and then changing airline in Hong Kong), instead of a non-stop.

Air China has good safety records in the last decade or so. But there's certainly nothing to speak of in terms of service and entertainment. No personal video screens, movies are decade-old, etc...

In terms of schedule, UA is your best bet, with service to PEK and BKK. Coach is always tight. And if you can afford business class of course it's much better. But tens of thousands of people fly in coach across the Pacific everyday, so it's apparently tolerable to some. It's your money, your choice.

As Kathie says, if you can get UA's Economy + seats, then you'll have about 2-3 extra inches of legroom.
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 08:55 AM
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rkwwan, it's a good thing you're following up on my posts, as I'm so jet-lagged, I didn't even think about the issue of Eva not flying to Beijing!
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 06:52 AM
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Thank you both for your help.

It put me on a different track. You're absolutely right - it's just as easy and not much more expensive to go from PHL and make it "open jaw."

Now I'm checking out the options. I think we will avoid Air China; there are many other choices.

Thanks again.

Sylvia
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 07:54 AM
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Here's another choice that may make sense.

ANA (All Nippon Airways) have a Premium Economy cabin on its 747 service between JFK and Tokyo. [They also fly 747 from LAX, and 777 from SFO & IAD, but no Premium Economy.] Wider seats with legrest, 8-abreast instead of 10. It should be priced below most business class seats.

They fly to Beijing and Bangkok non-stop from NRT, so it's a reasonable choice. And you earn UA's Mileage Plus miles.

The only downside is that you have to get up to JFK to get that flight.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 08:26 AM
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While you are looking at the open-jaw ticket, you ought to check on making it a roundtrip with a stopover. United can make a roundtrip PHL to BKK with a stopover in PEK by booking you on their partner Thai between PEK and BKK. Probably would be less expensive than the open-jaw + one-way.

On ANA an MP member would earn 50% of miles if ticket is part of air-inclusive tour, 70% of actual miles on discount economy, and 100% only on full fare economy.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 08:34 AM
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I think the OP is doing a cruise/tour between Beijing and Bangkok, so he can't do a roundtrip.

As for ANA, I don't know how they're going to credit UA miles with the Premium Economy seats. Probably 100%, but no more, as Business is only 125%.
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Old Dec 5th, 2004, 09:35 AM
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Doh!

For Premium Economy the fare would be full fare economy, so it would earn 100% of the miles.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 11:06 AM
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Because of all the input from you guys, I found out that United has a Premium Economy with more leg room for much less than Business Class. And - there is also a discount for seniors.

United would be very good from Philly (if they don't go bankrupt) so I'll make a few more calls and then book.

I never would have known about the Premium stuff without your help.
Thank you.

Sylvia
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 02:05 PM
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I hardly ever fly UA so I could be wrong, but I thought E+ seating on UA was only available to elite or full Y fare passengers and you can't actually buy an E+ ticket unlike other airlines with premium economy sections.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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UA's "Economy Plus" seat is the same seat, same service as coach, but with about 2-3 inches more legroom. It's reserved for people paying high economy fares, as well as Elite Mileage Plus members. As full-fare coach is often more htan double the price of discount coach (i.e. around $1,500-1,700 to Asia, compared to $600-800), it's definitely not a good deal to pay that much for just that extra legroom. And on UA's 747, you still won't even get a personal video screen.

True "Premium Economy" services on the likes of EVA, British Airways, SAS, Virgin, Singapore or ANA are much more than that. The seats are wider (usually 8 across in a 747, vs the usual 10), and often you can better entertainment, better food, etc. Those are probably worth the extra cost. UA's "Economy +" is nothing like that.
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Old Dec 6th, 2004, 06:26 PM
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yah.. I think they really fudged up on the desision not too make a real economy + section. the current seats offer basicly NOTHING and cost more then EVA's premium seats. if UA would of put in true busness class seat too asia I would of been using them a long time ago.. UA has just about the best routs in asia and my home town is one of thier smaller hubs
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