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2021 Trip Planning USA West Coast

2021 Trip Planning USA West Coast

Old May 14, 20, 3:46 am
  #1  
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2021 Trip Planning USA West Coast

Hi everyone and my apologies if this is in the wrong forum - I'm a long time lurker and a relatively new poster!

I'm at the early stages of planning a trip for March 2021. So far, I have flights to/from San Francisco from the UK booked (I know, it's daft booking flights just now, but the deal was too good to pass up so took a shot) and I'm looking for a bit of advice on internal flights within the US as I've never experienced these before. We are looking at having a couple of overnight trips away from SF (at the minute I'm thinking Vegas and San Diego, but I might change my mind on the locations depending on what we want to do) but I wanted to know how easy it was to fly within the US? Also, is Domestic First class worth it, or am I better sticking with Economy? We will likely be travelling Hand Luggage only on these trips, although we may decide to take golf clubs with us too depending on where we go (I like the idea of going to Phoenix if we can get a tee time at TPC Scottsdale on the Stadium Course)

I typically fly BA (so oneworld would be preferred if possible) but from a quick look online, AA don't fly direct to Vegas or San Diego (they do fly direct to PHX which is where we would need to connect if going to either of these cities.

Any experiences of internal US flights would be greatly appreciated, along with any other possible modes of transport. I'm not really wanting to drive those sorts of distances again as we did a road trip in 2017 which was actually quite tiring as I think we tried to cram too much into the time we had.
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Old May 15, 20, 8:00 am
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BA was flying to San Diego from LHR pre Covid. I can't keep up with what is still on the books. I'm assuming you checked and that flight is cancelled now.

You don't need first class from SF to anywhere on the west coast if you don't mind sitting in the back for an hour or so. The flights (did) run multiple times a day from the airports in the Bay Area (SFO, OAK) to both Las Vegas and San Diego and are very reasonable. We'd usually take Southwest because the price point is usually terrific. Southwest is a good choice for the west coast and PDX. I did just take Frontier from SAN to LAS for $39 r/t. No luggage allowance for that fare, but it was just a quick 2 day flight.

That said, I'm going to move your question to the USA forum for further discussion.
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Old May 16, 20, 3:36 am
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I wouldn't recommend driving from SF to Vegas or San Diego at all. Those are both 8-9 hr drives with not much of interest to see in between, at least not if you take the most direct routes. I've done both and would not look forward to doing them again if I had to.

There are some very interesting things to see if you went out of your way a bit (Yosemite, Death Valley on the way to Vegas...or Hwy 1/101 on the way to SD), but that would definitely make it more of a multi-day road trip.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with Domestic First on those routes. Both are only an hour or so in the air. Although AA (oneworld) doesn't fly direct to LAS/SAN from SFO, Alaska does. I don't think they're supposed to be completely in oneworld by March 2021, but you can earn/use Avios on AS at least. As mentioned above, Southwest is another good option.
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Old May 16, 20, 11:42 am
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Originally Posted by econ View Post
I wouldn't recommend driving from SF to Vegas or San Diego at all. Those are both 8-9 hr drives with not much of interest to see in between, at least not if you take the most direct routes. I've done both and would not look forward to doing them again if I had to.

There are some very interesting things to see if you went out of your way a bit (Yosemite, Death Valley on the way to Vegas...or Hwy 1/101 on the way to SD), but that would definitely make it more of a multi-day road trip.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with Domestic First on those routes. Both are only an hour or so in the air. Although AA (oneworld) doesn't fly direct to LAS/SAN from SFO, Alaska does. I don't think they're supposed to be completely in oneworld by March 2021, but you can earn/use Avios on AS at least. As mentioned above, Southwest is another good option.
I did the drives in 2017, albeit that was a road trip so we were stopping off along the way - hence why I don't want to do the drives again.

The trip itself is still a long way off, but I was curious for folks views on flying within the US. We are looking to try and maximise the time we spend on the trips outside of SF and flying is going to be the quickest way to get around. I suppose my question should have been - are there any airlines to avoid when looking at locations to fly to on the West Coast? Either way, the information given so far is a big help so I will keep looking and see what I can come up with. After all, I'll need to book accommodation in SF first!!!
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Old May 16, 20, 2:41 pm
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Originally Posted by InfrequentFlyer1991 View Post
The trip itself is still a long way off, but I was curious for folks views on flying within the US. We are looking to try and maximise the time we spend on the trips outside of SF and flying is going to be the quickest way to get around. I suppose my question should have been - are there any airlines to avoid when looking at locations to fly to on the West Coast? Either way, the information given so far is a big help so I will keep looking and see what I can come up with. After all, I'll need to book accommodation in SF first!!!
I've flown Southwest many times on those routes and ones up and down the West Coast. It's a good option for the reasons mentioned above: plenty of filghts from all 3 Bay Area airports to LAS/SAN and in between, reasonable prices, & 2 free checked bags at least for now (including one of your golf bags).
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econ is offline  
Old May 18, 20, 1:57 pm
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I avoid Spirit and Frontier, definitely not flying Frontier again like ever. I don't know if either flies the routes you are looking at, but those are two I personally wouldn't bother with. I fly Alaska almost exclusively on the west coast.
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Old May 18, 20, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by MissJ View Post
I avoid Spirit and Frontier, definitely not flying Frontier again like ever. I don't know if either flies the routes you are looking at, but those are two I personally wouldn't bother with. I fly Alaska almost exclusively on the west coast.
And if you have Avios, you can use them for Alaska flights. You'd have to call BA as it's not bookable online.
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Old May 18, 20, 7:36 pm
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I have to agree with the earlier posts. I live in Nevada and for flying on the west coast Southwest and Alaska are by far your best options. I too would avoid Frontier. They will nickel and dime you to death. They're just not worth the hassle IMO.
Most flights are short enough that there really isn't any reason to fly business or first. Economy may not be the most comfortable compared to them but you're likely to only be flying 1-1.5 hours anyway.
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Old May 21, 20, 10:30 am
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In terms of flights, UA pretty well owns SFO and has the greatest number of nonstops from that airport. But there are two other airports to check out in the Bay Area - OAK and SJC. OAK tends to have more low cost options - think Stansted. Also SMF (Sacramento) is another option if you are going to be north of SF in wine country. Generally within California there are no drop off charges for rental cars, so a clever itinerary could be, for example, to start in SF, head north to Redwoods, Wine Country and Gold Country, then drop the car at SMF, fly from there etc.

In terms of flying up front vs at the back, upfront in the US has much bigger seats with more legroom but little to no food and doesn't get you lounge access. So it's worth it if you are a "Person of Size" but a waste of money if not. As to the experience of flying, it's truly awful. Starting with the security farce (you can easily wait an hour at SFO), the whole process makes no pretence to be anything other than cattle truck. So where it can be avoided by a drive, it's probably worth it. For example, LA to SF is only an hour's flight, plus two hours before plus 90 minutes getting to and from the airport, that's 4.5 hours. Alternatively, take a day and drive the coastal route on Hwy 1, one of the greatest and most beautiful drives in the USA

One of the greatest drives I've ever done was a road trip from the North Bay to near Phoenix, taking in Death Valley and some of the most extraordinary scenery - but it is a lot of driving.

My feeling with California is that it's a huge state, the size of the UK with nearly as large a population but a much more diverse geography. It has amazing natural features (deserts, high mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, Redwood groves, Yosemite (if you can cope with the crowds) etc. etc.). Choose what you like out of that lot. It also has extraordinary human geography - LA self-indulgence, SF leftover hippies, Silicon Valley and its contribution, Berkeley and Stanford universities and so much more. Again take your pick.

Finally, be careful how long you stay in SF. All my friends from Europe who've visited in the last few years have been interested in the City but appalled at the state it's in - covered with beggars and homelessness, with quite aggressive behaviour. A drug culture now out of control and dirt everywhere. Many of these friends live in London, so can cope with a degree of grunge, but nothing on the scale that SF offers.
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