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AA international flight - business class on one leg, but which one?

AA international flight - business class on one leg, but which one?

Old Jun 27, 10, 11:03 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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AA international flight - business class on one leg, but which one?

We are planning an AA miles trip to Central Europe with our 1.5 year old daughter, but only have enough miles to fly business on one leg. As a result, we are trying to figure out which leg we should book in business and which in coach . . . so we thought maybe we could solicit some opinions.

A few brief tidbits:

1. Our flights will be as follows (Departure: MIA-LHR-PRG; Return: WAW-LHR-MIA, with an overnight at LHR)
2. A bit about our daughter. She has flown two domestic flights so far (MIA-SJU and MIA-LAX) and has been great on both. She slept the whole flight for both legs of MIA-SJU. She slept 3.5 hours of the departure leg of MIA-LAX, and a little over 2 hours of the return leg from LAX (mainly because she was woken up by an announcement).

That being said, the big pro we see for business on the departure trans-Atlantic flight is use of the Arrivals and AC lounges at LHR during the 6 hour layover, but the main con is that she would likely sleep in her car seat in coach for most of the flight.

The main pros we see for business on the return trans-Atlantic flight is that our daughter will likely be in our laps/want to roam since she will be most likely be awake for more of this flight (so we may not need a seat for her) - along with the extra attention due to the better flight attendant/passenger ratio. The main con we see is that we won't have a need for the AC lounge since we will be overnighting in London.

Any insight and help would be greatly appreciated. Our daughter has been a good flyer so far (knock on wood), so we feel comfortable bringing her into the business class cabin (knock on wood again!).
akrobat is offline  
Old Jun 28, 10, 9:28 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Programs: US Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hertz 5-Star
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Are you cashing in your AA miles to fly on AA metal or to fly on an Oneworld partner metal? If flying on AA metal, what is the craft (i.e. 777)? If flying on Onewold partner metal, what is the craft?

It is my preference to fly on the European-based or Asian-based alliance (i.e. Star Alliance, Sky Team, Oneworld) partners' metal since they usually have much better first class and business class products and services than the US based airlines. For example, AA has angled lie-flat seats (Passengers often find these seats to be extremely comfortable for relaxing and working, but not conducive to sleep when in the fully reclined position because of the awkward angle) in business class; whereas, British Airways has lie-flat seats (These seats always receive high accolades for being comfortable both as seats and beds) in business class.

Based upon your comments of
she would likely sleep in her car seat in coach for most of the flight
, she will have her own seats on these flights.

If the outbound flight leaves MIA after 6:00 PM, I will select coach since she will sleep throughout the flight. However, depending upon her car seat, it could be uncomfortable for her to sleep 7 - 9 hours in it. Even if you are flying on AA metal with those angled lie-flat seats, it will be more comfortable than her car seat. It will be my preference for the child to sleep throughout the flight so that I can get some sleep instead of walking the aisle to sooth the child.

she will be most likely be awake for more of this flight (so we may not need a seat for her)
I can't speak about AA rules for reward travel but based upon my experiences with with other airlines, I don't think that you can get three reward tickets for the outbound segments and two reward tickets for the return segments. Even if you could, you will have to pay a lap child fee on AA since the flight is international and that will be 10% of the highest fare in the class of travel plus taxes. Also, there could be an issue getting the outbound segment in BC and the return segments in economy. In the past, I had no trouble in getting FC for the outbound and BC for the return; however, there were problems when FC or BC were not available for one of the legs.

along with the extra attention due to the better flight attendant/passenger ratio.
Don't expect extra attention from the FAs on US-based airlines unless the FAs like young children. If you get it, that will be great. If not, you won't be disappointed. In other words, set low expectations.

We have taken over 24+ flights with our 4-YO son starting when he was 2.5 MO old. On Asiana and Cathay Pacific, he was treated like a rock star or royallty by these airlines...they carry our carry-on luggage to and from the plane down the jetway; they put our carry-on luggage in the overhead bins; they play with our son; hold our son if one of us had to use the restroom if the other one was eating or sleeping; they came by our seats every 15 minutes; etc. On LH, the service was above average. On US Airways, the service has been below average. One time, my wife asked one of the FAs if she could help her with the carry-on luggage and the FA says "it is against union policy...not in my job description".

Arrivals and AC lounges at LHR during the 6 hour layover
This is an advantage; however, the business class lounges could be full since they handle the BC passengers and the regular lounge membership members. When we were at FRA, we were flying FC on LH but the BC lounge was near our gate so we walk into the lounge and it was crowded...the attendant told us that it was worth the extra walk to the FC lounge where there was only a family of four in the lounge during our stay (about 2.5 HR) plus the food was outstanding compared to the food choices in the BC lounges.
ArizonaRoadWarrior is offline  
Old Jun 28, 10, 1:34 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Minneapolis
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If you have a six-hour layover in LHR, I'd vote for doing that leg in business. It really makes a difference being able to have somewhere comfortable for the layover. Plus if your toddler sleeps on the way over, you can enjoy the business class experience more.

For me, the flight back west over the Atlantic is especially tiring with a wakeful toddler, whether in business or economy
daregale is offline  
Old Jun 28, 10, 1:57 pm
  #4  
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Thank you very much for the replies. We are still up in the air, but are leaning toward BC on the return flight, but we have nothing to really base that on.

To answer a few of ArizonaRoadWarrior's questions:

When cashing in our miles, we would prefer to be on BA (or, as a backup, IB, since it is the other airline that will get us to our destination with only one stop) over AA on the trans-Atlantic flights, but we will take AA if that is our only option – for basically the same reasons you laid out, we had have great experiences in BC and FC with BA, IB and JL. BC and FC in AA has been good to us, but the international airlines service seems to be consistently better. If we take AA to LHR, we will be on a 777. AA to MAD would be a 767-300. BA to LHR would be a 747 and IB would be an A340.

We called AA before posting this question to make sure we could, in fact, do this. We were told that it is possible to book 3 coach on one leg and 2 business on the other (unfortunately, yes, we will have to pay the 10% lap fee, plus taxes, although the agent told us it would be 10% of the lowest fare – I hope she’s right!)
akrobat is offline  
Old Jul 2, 10, 11:05 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I've never split class-of-service, yet thinking about it, I'd choose Business on the longest segment you'd be awake on.
sbagdon is offline  
Old Jul 3, 10, 1:43 am
  #6  
 
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I would vote for the overnighter in Y. Babies do sleep comfortably in their car seats (really makes a difference) and if she does wake up, you wont have to deal with the wrath of your fellow business class passengers. It wont be a big deal if she's awake in business on a day flight.

I just wanted to address this comment;
One time, my wife asked one of the FAs if she could help her with the carry-on luggage and the FA says "it is against union policy...not in my job description".

I will admit that the comment was a bit crass but passengers are supposed to be able to handle the carry-on's they bring. I would say to them, go ahead and put them in the over head and then I would give them a push or hold other things... I've had passengers actually hand me their bags to put away. It is true that worker's comp can get sticky and they'll scold F/A's who are injured handling passenger bags.

I think she might have just been burned out with all the people dragging all sorts of things on board to avoid baggage charges and then expecting crews to put it all away for them.

Speaking of, when you fly the business seg, at least ask about an extra seat to put the car seat in (it can't hurt) but ask about stowing the car seat in the business class closet or overhead, if they have room. They still might insist you gate-check the seat. Just don't check it in as luggage at the counter. The airlines can be really rough on car seats which could compromise its safety when you use it afterwards, not to mention if your seat gets "rerouted"...
Eclipsepearl is offline  
Old Jul 8, 10, 7:00 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Mechanicsburg, PA, USA
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I haven't read all the replies yet but wanted to add my opinion based on my families experience. I would take business for the way home. (eur to us) The transatlantic nighttime really isnt' bad for a little kids - they are small, mostly will sleep in your lap no matter what as it is night time for them.

The return however is different - my kids are always awake. We needed the space when they were little - my dd never slept on our returns and was somewhat active (coloring, playing with stuffed animals, eating) I really appreciated the extra space as I was awake too!

Happy travels.
Tsukiji is offline  
Old Jul 12, 10, 11:53 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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I would lean toward business on the way home as well. Mine slept well on eastbound night flights no matter what class they were in, while the extra space when they are awake is a big plus.

On a side note, when I was a flight attendant we were forbidden to stand and hold babies for parents-- What we did do was sit down beside the baby while the parent went to the lav or whatever.
DeirdreTours is offline  

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