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DFW to FRA 2016: Book business or first? (award)

DFW to FRA 2016: Book business or first? (award)

Old Jul 21, 15, 4:47 pm
  #1  
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DFW to FRA 2016: Book business or first? (award)

I am going to book either first class or business for my father and I to Frankfurt from Dallas in May 2016, it looks like the current non-stop has the new business suites and they seem just as nice as first (we are using miles, btw). My worry is that if we don't book first and the plane gets changed, we may end up in the old business with the angled seats. Is it worth it to buy first, just to make sure we get the suites? It will be my dad's last trip to his homeland (he is older) and he really wants to make this special, I would be sad if AA ruined it with some plane change. We have very flexible dates, so that is not an issue. Any advice would be very appreciated. Thank you!
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Old Jul 21, 15, 5:59 pm
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Book F, if you get downgraded, call and get refunded the difference. That way you'll be covered either way.
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Old Jul 21, 15, 6:11 pm
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Welcome to FT.

Right now the DFW-FRA nonstop is scheduled as a 3-class 772 for May 2016. That means First will have the fully flat Flagship Suites but Business will have the older slanted NGBC setup.

If you want the nonstop and to avoid a slanted business seat, then First it is. Alternatively you could try DFW-CLT/PHL-FRA in business on the A330s, which have a fully-flat setup.

Also, if getting switched to a slanted business seat is going to ruin your trip, I might suggest avoiding AA all together. Next May is still light years away in the airline world, and with the merger, fleet integration, aircraft updates, etc., there's a high probability that what we see now in terms of TATL scheduling is far from final.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 6:10 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by smiley73 View Post
I am going to book either first class or business for my father and I to Frankfurt from Dallas in May 2016, it looks like the current non-stop has the new business suites and they seem just as nice as first (we are using miles, btw). My worry is that if we don't book first and the plane gets changed, we may end up in the old business with the angled seats. Is it worth it to buy first, just to make sure we get the suites? It will be my dad's last trip to his homeland (he is older) and he really wants to make this special, I would be sad if AA ruined it with some plane change. We have very flexible dates, so that is not an issue. Any advice would be very appreciated. Thank you!
If you want to make it special, fly LH F. Or frankly, F on any European carrier, even if it has a connection. AA F is nothing special these days.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 6:59 am
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Originally Posted by sts603 View Post
If you want to make it special, fly LH F. Or frankly, F on any European carrier, even if it has a connection. AA F is nothing special these days.
This. And good luck finding any aa awards. Have you found award space already? If I were you I'd look into AB or IB - their J is probably better than aa's F.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 7:30 am
  #6  
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I have found space in May, I was going to book today. Can I book on other airlines with my reward miles? When searching it only shows BA as on option (sorry I am new to all this).
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Old Jul 22, 15, 7:55 am
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Thread's title has been updated to more accurately describe its contents.

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Old Jul 22, 15, 8:25 am
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If you want to fly on oneworld partners other than BA (and AB?), then you can call. For a trip like this, I'd spend the extra few bucks for telephone ticketing, but avoid BA because of the carrier fees. Personally, I'd take my chances with the 3-class 777 in F on AA and the direct flight, even if it won't be up to international carrier F standards. Any other oneworld carrier will require a connection (unless AB does DFW-FRA?) DFW- FRA might be a little too far for the 763 range, so you wouldn't have to worry about that particular downgrade, and as someone pointed out, if it becomes a 77W you still get the flat bed and possibly some miles back.

One last piece of advice; if you book F using miles, check your reservation frequently starting about a month before you leave. AA has been known to change seat assignments and on occasion, change class of service for international F travel, although judging by anecdotal experience that has seemed more likely to happen on 77W flights to London Heathrow.

Finally, you can't use your AA miles for LH F, unfortunately.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 9:00 am
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Originally Posted by iplaybass View Post
If you want to fly on oneworld partners other than BA (and AB?), then you can call. For a trip like this, I'd spend the extra few bucks for telephone ticketing, but avoid BA because of the carrier fees.
It's probably not going to be easy finding 2 F seats TATL on an AA flight in May, as OP reported. One can't make AA F awards materialize out of nothing if they're not being offered.

Originally Posted by smiley73 View Post
I have found space in May, I was going to book today. Can I book on other airlines with my reward miles? When searching it only shows BA as on option (sorry I am new to all this).
Yes, but AA and BA are the only airlines with first class across the Atlantic that you can book with your miles. BA charges a significant fuel surcharge (on the order of several hundred dollars per ticket). That being said, if this truly is supposed to be a special, once in a lifetime occasion and you have the extra cash, you could enjoy the BA F experience over having to fly AA in coach on an award (though the short London-Frankfurt flight will be in a plane where business class is really coach seats, empty middle).
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Old Jul 22, 15, 9:43 am
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Originally Posted by no1cub17 View Post
This. And good luck finding any aa awards. Have you found award space already? If I were you I'd look into AB or IB - their J is probably better than aa's F.
Seriously?!?!?!?! Both AB and IB have a nice flat hard product, but the soft product is pretty bad. AB tends to have decent crews but IB's crews are often lazy and rude to passengers. Both AB and IB's meal service is closer to premium economy standards than J.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
Seriously?!?!?!?! Both AB and IB have a nice flat hard product, but the soft product is pretty bad. AB tends to have decent crews but IB's crews are often lazy and rude to passengers. Both AB and IB's meal service is closer to premium economy standards than J.
Seriously!?!!?!? Have you sampled any of AA's delectable offerings recently? Haven't flown AB, but IB J was perfectly adequate. Food and service were fine, with excellent wines and cava upon boarding. Maybe it's just me but I'd just as soon not waste an extra 25k miles on AA F.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 4:12 pm
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The likelihood of DFW-FRA remaining a 772 for May 2016 is pretty slim IMO. Moreover, the chances of it still being a 772 with the old F cabin are even slimmer. As all JV/ATI TATL has to have lie-flat J before the end of the year.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Fanjet View Post
The likelihood of DFW-FRA remaining a 772 for May 2016 is pretty slim IMO. Moreover, the chances of it still being a 772 with the old F cabin are even slimmer. As all JV/ATI TATL has to have lie-flat J before the end of the year.
This.

I would not bank on either the aircraft or the configuration with the upheaval going on in the fleet right now, with the merger, additions and retirements, and reconfigurations.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 5:18 pm
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AA is "supposed to" have lie-flat J seats across its entire TATL fleet by the end of the year, however by looking at the pace at which the 777s are getting refurbished, I highly doubt it's gonna happen.
Even worse, AA still hasn't released details on the 757 refurbishment.
I'm not sure what happens if AA fails to keep up with the JV contract for lie-flat J seats, but I don't think AA is gonna hit the goal by the end of the year.
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Old Jul 22, 15, 5:25 pm
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Originally Posted by smiley73 View Post
I am going to book either first class or business for my father and I to Frankfurt from Dallas in May 2016, it looks like the current non-stop has the new business suites and they seem just as nice as first (we are using miles, btw). My worry is that if we don't book first and the plane gets changed, we may end up in the old business with the angled seats. Is it worth it to buy first, just to make sure we get the suites? It will be my dad's last trip to his homeland (he is older) and he really wants to make this special, I would be sad if AA ruined it with some plane change. We have very flexible dates, so that is not an issue. Any advice would be very appreciated. Thank you!
By then, the all JBA (AA, BA, IB, AY) transatlantic flights should have lie-flat seats in business class, so it should be scheduled on equipment with these seats.
There's basically three options as to what can happen to this flight come the beginning of 2016:

1.) The route will get a refurbished 777-200 ("77D") with two classes of service. The J product on these is vastly improved with all-aisle-access lie-flat seats and pretty much state-of-the-art. However, given the way-behind-schedule of AA's 772 CIP program, aircraft swaps to an old three-class one are very common.

2.) They'll put a refurbished 763 on it. Business class on these is decent, but not special: you'll get a lie-flat seat with all-aisle-access. It's not as spacious as the 77D, though - the seats are pretty narrow and don't work that well for above-average-sized people especially those with large feet.
3.) It goes 787, which personally I think is rather unlikely.

This flight went from 763 to 772 and back four times since I started flying the route on AA regularly some five or six years ago, most of the time with very little notice - so I would not count on anything.

Personally, I would book F and see what happens just to be on the safe side. I could see availability on a few days next May.
You can always downgrade in case it gets swapped out to a two-class plane, or opt to be rerouted via LHR, where F continues to be available if you don't like the aircraft on offer that day. AA are actually pretty good about this, and have rebooked me twice before on this route when planes were downsized.

If you would consider connecting itineraries or only see availability with connections, you can:

- fly to LHR on AA and connect on BA. There's several DFW-LHR flights a day, and at least one of them is scheduled to be operated by AA's flagship 77W, which has F and a really nice business class seat. The other two flights currently are scheduled on 777-200s, and the chance of getting a refurbished one is probably highest on this route.
Disadvantages: The connecting flight on BA is nothing special at all, and the transfer experience in LHR (you need to change terminals) can be a real nuisance. Also, there's higher taxes/fees, as LHR is an expensive airport to transfer in plus the BA YQ surcharge on the intra-European segment. Also, you run the risk of getting an unrefurbished 772 as equipment substitution, so I'd book F just in case...

- fly to LHR on BA F and connect on BA. While BA's business class is nothing to write home about, their F cabin is nice. The connection experience in LHR will be good and - especially if your dad hasn't ever flown premium before, the whole journey will qualify as "special". You'll have access to the Concorde Room lounge in LHR, and the transfer experience is much nicer ona a BA-only journey thanks to not having to change terminals.
This carries very high fees/surcharges, though.

- fly to MAD on AA or IB and connect on IB or LAN (the LAN flight is a 787 with a real nice business class cabin that continues to FRA after making a stop in MAD from SCL. If the timing works and there's availability, go for it). You will need to call AA to check availability - IB flights are not displayed on aa.com. Business class on IB is OK, and fees are not outrageous.

- make a domestic connection to PHL, CLT or MIA and fly to FRA from there on the legacy US Airways A330-200 (PHL, CLT) or an AA 763 (MIA). The US Air experience may not be "special" but the seat is very nice (a somewhat more budget execution of the same seat AA chose for its 77W planes with all-aisle access, good privacy and space). This has very low fees.
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