Q & A with American on their A321 Transcontinental Plans

Posted on: July 25th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

The other day American announced that the Boeing 767-200s they use on their JFK to LAX and JFK to San Francisco routes will be replaced with smaller, 3 cabin Airbus A321s configured with fully lie-flat seats in First and Business class. They also revealed their plans to offer Main Cabin Extra seating, in-flight wifi, and in-seat entertainment systems throughout the A321 fleet.

After the announcement, I was able to ask some followup question of Alice Liu, Managing Director- Onboard Products at American.

Question: On the transcontinental routes you’re going from the 767-200 with 168 seats to a plane with a little more than 100 seats.   That’s a big reduction in capacity.  Are you planning to serve those routes with more flights?

Our current 767-200 aircraft has 160 seats and the A321T will have 102 seats. Servicing transcontinental routes with a narrowbody aircraft is consistent with our major competitors who also currently fly narrowbody aircraft in these markets.  We will have more details on the frequency of flights and the number of A321T aircraft we plan to have in our fleet at a later date.

Question: American is reducing the number of 3 cabin planes on international routes, choosing instead to upgrade and expand business class, and your competitors have eliminated  3 class service on their JFK to LAX and JFK to SFO routes.  You’re choosing to think differently on these transcontinental routes.  What made you decide to keep the 3 cabin configuration?

American plans to be the only airline to offer a three-class configuration on transcontinental flights, and expects to be the only carrier to offer fully lie-flat seats in First and Business Class on transcontinental flights.

Using narrowbody aircraft in a three-class cabin configuration outfitted with fully lie-flat premium class seats, Wi-Fi and in-seat entertainment throughout on transcontinental routes allows American to significantly reduce cost while continuing to provide a truly premium experience for our high value customers.

Question: With fully lie-flat seats in the premium cabins and upgraded inflight entertainment options, the emphasis seems to be on an enhanced customer experience.  How are the JFK to SFO and JFK to LAX markets different than (let’s say) DFW to LAX?

We know New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are important business hubs, and many of our high-value customers fly coast-to-coast quite often.

While this announcement does impact our customers that fly transcontinental routes, we strive to deliver an enhanced customer experience to all of our customers.

Our narrowbody enhancements are just the latest in a series of investments we are making to renew our fleet, and the continued progress will benefit all of the markets we fly.

Question: Are you going to continue offering your entertainment on demand in-flight streaming video product?

Yes, entertainment on demand will continue to be offered on our 767-200s transcontinental aircraft.

In-seat inflight entertainment will be available throughout the new A321Ts, and we are currently evaluating the specifics of the entertainment options that will be available to customers.

Question: When will the first of the new A321 Transcons go into service and who gets it first?  LAX or SFO?

American intends to take delivery of these aircraft beginning in Nov. 2013 through 2014. We will have more details at a later date.

Question: Any chance that these new planes will have a new livery?

As you know the Airbus aircraft are composite planes meaning the exteriors cannot be polished like we currently do with our aircraft today.

We are evaluating how to address this in terms of the look and feel of the exterior of the aircraft and will have more details to share at a later date.

When I first learned that they would be replacing their 767-200s with the smaller planes, I was a little sorry to see them go. The big planes always excite my inner eight year old.

But after seeing the images and this video, my inner eight year old started daydreaming about flying through a night sky, across the country in a fully lie-flat seat!

A hat tip to Alice taking the time to answer my questions and to Laura A. at American for helping to make it possible!

Got Klout? Get free access to the SFO Cathay Pacific Lounge

Posted on: May 10th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

Cathay Pacific Facebook Page

(Editor’s note: I’m still uploading photos and video from yesterday’s American Airlines press conference, so please come back a little later today to read my related post.  I’ll  be giving away some goodies from the Swag Bag!).   

Klout is the online service that attempts to measure a person’s online influence. They analyze content from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and based on how people use and share that content, they assign an influence score (Seth Stevenson at Wired wrote a great article about the topic last month).

Back in April Klout released version 1.0 of their iPhone app and to promote it, they’ve partnered with oneoworld member, Cathay Pacific to give Klout users access to Cathay’s San Francisco lounge. From the Klout blog:

Today we’re announcing a great partnership with Cathay Pacific Airways that makes the benefit of taking your Klout with you even more obvious.

Starting today, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) visitors using the Klout for iPhone app need only show a Score of 40 or higher to enter the Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge.

Previously, the only way to see the inside of a Cathay Pacific Lounge was by holding a First or Business Class plane ticket. Now, Klout unlocks access to this amazing experience. This applies to any visitor traveling through the “A” boarding area at SFO’s international terminal, even if they aren’t a Cathay Pacific passenger.

If you don’t have a Klout score, you can sign up with your Facebook or Twitter identity. After you’ve created your profile, install the Klout iPhone App, and then head to Cathay Pacific’s First and Business Class Lounge located on Level 4 of the International Terminal.

Here’s a No Klout required tour of the new Cathay Pacific lounge via YouTube:

oneworld news: Cathay Pacific video tour of SFO lounges and foursquare contest.

Posted on: April 10th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

Back in December oneworld member Cathay Pacific opened a new First and Business Class lounge in San Francisco’s international terminal.

The lounge is built with the finest quality Carrara white marble & “China Black” granite, with warm bamboo wood finishes and panoramic windows offering an abundance of natural light. The reception wall is made of Venetian glass tiles by Fabbian of Italy, and backlit, to create a sparkling abstract impression of bamboo, whilst ensuring a consistent look and feel to the airline’s flagship lounges at Hong Kong International Airport.

To enable passengers to relax, there is comfortable lounge seating, including the innovative Cathay Solus Chair. Handcrafted by Poltrona Frau in Italy, the unique and popular Cathay Solus Chair is a specially built unit designed for our single customers offering a space to eat, work and relax.

There’s even a noodle bar offering freshly prepared Dan Dan noodles and won ton soup.

Here’s a video tour that was posted to YouTube last week.

To access the lounges, you’ll have to be traveling on Cathay Pacific in First or Business Class, or have oneworld Sapphire or above status, and through the end of April if you check in with foursquare you’ll get a free gift and a chance to win an upgrade:

We’re taking “check-in” to a whole new level in San Francisco! From now until April 30, passengers can check-in on Foursquare at Cathay Pacific’s First and Business Class Lounge at SFO to receive an exclusive gift and enter for a chance to win an upgrade on your next flight.

For more info, you can follow the details on Cathay Pacific’s Facebook page.

Targeted Double Elite and Double AAdvantage Miles Offer Extended: TX, IL, CA Residents

Posted on: March 13th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

Seeing Double, Whooper Swans, Martin Mere, Swan Lake Hide, February 2009

The Double Elite and Double AAdvantage Miles offer is back (actually, it never expired).

American is extending their offer to residents of Illinois, Texas, and California of Double Elite Qualifying Miles and Double AAdvantage Miles on flights between Chicago and San Francisco/Los Angeles, and Dallas-Ft.Worth and San Francisco/Los Angeles. This isn’t a big surprise considering that they and Virgin America are still aggressively competing on these routes.

One new twist to the offer: flights between Chicago and Orange County are included in this promotion.  Virgin American doesn’t fly between the two cities, but AA and United have both been offering some cheap fares on the route, so maybe this is related.

The bonus code remains the same, so no need to register again if you’ve already signed up for this offer.  Here are the details:

Offer Extended Through June 30, 2012. Now You Have More Time To Increase Your Mileage Balance and Qualify For AAdvantage Elite Status Faster

Award: Double Elite-Status Qualifying Miles. Double Flight Miles

Bonus Code: DEQ11

Dates: Book your trip and fly between October 27, 2011, and June 30, 2012

Offer: Reach AAdvantage elite status faster than ever with this offer and add to your mileage balance at the same time! Just book a round-trip ticket and fly on American Airlines between Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles, Orange County* or San Francisco or between Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles or San Francisco from October 27, 2011, through June 30, 2012. You’ll earn double flight miles AND double elite-qualifying miles, the miles that bring you closer to AAdvantage elite status membership – at an accelerated rate.

With so many choices, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to your destination and add more miles to your AAdvantage account:

Between Chicago and Los Angeles 10 nonstops each business day
Between Chicago and San Francisco 7 nonstops each business day
Between Chicago and Orange County 3 nonstops each business day
Between DFW and Los Angeles 18 nonstops each business day
Between DFW and San Francisco 11 nonstops each business day

Note: This offer is valid only for AAdvantage members with an address on file with AAdvantage Marketing programs in California, Illinois or Texas.

* Offer applies to travel booked and flown between Chicago O’Hare and Orange Country starting March 9, 2012 through June 30, 2012.

I’ve been curious about Virgin’s service and have wanted to try them just for fun, but not so curious as to give up the chance of an upgrade or the AAdvantage miles.  And with double elite miles and flight miles, there’s no chance of it happening.   Obviously, the marketing works!

Go here for complete terms and conditions.

Photo: Double
Credit: Gidzy on Flickr

New York to San Francisco: 1876, 1929, 1953, and 2012

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

My favorite domestic flights are those on American’s Boeing 767s between New York and San Francisco.

One of the reasons I like them, is that I think that they offer a great opportunity to use some of your AAdvantage Miles and maximize your redemption value when you upgrade to first or business class from a deeply, discounted ticket.

For 15,000 miles and a $75 co-pay you can upgrade to the next class of service.  It’s almost a six hour flight, and the one-way fare difference between the cheapest coach fares and first or business class is often between $1,500 and $2,200, so you’ll “earn” about 10 cents of travel value per mile.

Unless you’re traveling internationally, it’s a challenge to get that kind of return on your miles. You’d be hard pressed to redeem 12,500 on a domestic MileSAAver award and earn more than 2 – 5 cents per mile, so the mileage upgrade is a pretty good deal. And did I mention that it’s a six hour flight?

Between JFK and San Francisco, American uses two-class configured 767-300s and three class configured 767-200s.

My preference is business class on the 767-200.

Most people would probably prefer the larger, first class seat on the 767-300, but on the 3 cabin 767-200, American offers wifi and their Transcontinental Flagship Service.

Aside from the wireless internet and watching movies on the complimentary Samsung Galaxy tablets, American’s Flagship Service is like a throwback to another era in domestic air travel: printed menus with enhanced dining options, a long wine list, and made to order ice cream sundaes.

I’m fond of it for nostalgic reasons.

I guess that I’m a history geek.

And it’s for this reason, that on this route I never fail to think about, and appreciate, the fact that I’m able to make the journey between these two cities, across this huge continent, over immense plains, and the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, in just a few hours.

It’s a shocking accomplishment of human effort that in 160 years we went from stagecoach to an airline offering four flights a day.

So Sunday I was traveling on AA 179 and enjoying the flight (thanks to Henri and the great crew) and I started to think about all this. And out of curiosity, I did a little research.

Here’s how long it took to make the trip from New York City to San Francisco throughout the years:

Transit Times from NYC to SFO
Chart: Travel time from New York City to San Francisco

• Back in 1876, the Transcontinental Express made a publicity run to demonstrate the speed of travel along the first transcontinental railroad.

• In 1929, Transcontinental Air Transport (which would go on to become TWA) introduced a hybrid of rail service and Ford Tri-Motors to transport passengers from New York and San Francisco in just 48 hours.

• And from this page in a 1953 American Airlines System Timetable, there’s an express flight with only two stops (one in Chicago and another in Los Angeles) before completing the 12 hour and 25 minute journey in a Douglas Aircraft DC-7.  This was the last turbo prop large, piston engine, propeller-driven aircraft to be added to the American Airlines fleet. The next big order for aircraft happened just a few years later when American ordered the Boeing 707.

• And then there was my trip Sunday, on American Airlines Flight 179, a big 767-200: 5 hours and 51 minutes.

If I could travel back in time so that I could travel back in time, my first stop would be 1929…..I’d love to take a ride in a Tri-Motor.

Extra Business ExtrAA points for travel through DFW to San Francisco, San Jose or Fresno

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

extra

If you’re enrolled in the American Airlines Business ExtrAA program (sort of like AAdvantage Miles for small business), you can pick up some extra points if you travel though (or from) Dallas/Ft Worth to San Francisco, San Jose or Fresno:

In appreciation of your company’s business, we are excited to reward you with a special offer between now and April 30, 2012.

For U.S. Domestic1 travel to and from San Francisco, San Jose or Fresno via Dallas/Fort Worth, register using promotion code FEB12CALIFORNIA and earn:

• Triple Business ExtrAA points for travel on First Class or Main Cabin Full fares
• Double Business ExtrAA points for travel on Other Main Cabin fares

American has a rich and historic connection to California and is committed to offering a strong network and superior service. Your company’s Business ExtrAA points will add up quickly with this great promotion so don’t miss out!

Eligible First Class fares include fares booked in F, A, and P
Eligible Main Cabin Full fares include fares booked in Y
Eligible Other Main Cabin fares include all fares except those booked in E and T.

This isn’t a targeted offer.  From the terms and conditions:

To qualify for the bonus offer, the company must be based in the U.S. and enrolled in the Business ExtrAA program. Registration prior to travel using the FEB12CALIFORNIA promotion code now through April 30, 2012 is required.

Go here to sign up and for complete details.

***************************************

Deals We Like and Points, Miles and Martinis are teaming up to give away American Airlines discount codes!!  Go here to find out how to enter their contests.  

Photo: Extra hier gehts schnell
Credit: hmboo on Flickr

American Airlines adds more widebody aircraft to their domestic schedule

Posted on: February 9th, 2012 by: aadvantagegeek

American 767 on a murky day

I’m traveling this week and missed posting the results of Monday’s random drawing. So to start today’s post, Congratulations to worldtraveller2: you’re the winner of the new Marcus Samuelsson spiced nut mix!

Results of Feb. 7 random drawing

Because more than 200 American Airlines pilots decided to retire during the 4th quarter of last year, American had to reduce the number of widebody 767 and 777 aircraft on their domestic schedule.

Well, it looks like they’re bringing them back. Here’s a look at the widebody flights (all 767s) that were added to the schedule:

Dallas- Ft. Worth

Date From To Flight Frequency
2/9/12 DFW LAX 2431 1234567
2/9/12 DFW LAX 2439 12345..
2/9/12 DFW SFO 1937 1234567

New York JFK

Date From To Flight Frequency
2/9/12 JFK LAX 1 1234567

Los Angeles

Date From To Flight Frequency
2/9/12 LAX BOS 222 1234567

2/9/12 LAX DFW 2414 12345..
2/9/12 LAX DFW 2416 1234567

3/11/12 LAX HNL 287 1234567

2/9/12 LAX OGG 161 1234567
2/9/12 LAX OGG 253 1234567

Kahului Airport, Maui

Date From To Flight Frequency
2/9/12 OGG LAX 14 1234567
2/9/12 OGG LAX 254 1234567

San Francisco

Date From To Flight Frequency
2/9/12 SFO DFW 414 1234567

There were also some routes that saw a reduction in widebody service: Chicago and Miami each lost two flights from one to the other.

I was hoping they’d bring back the widebody service between Chicago and Dallas, that was one of my favorite flights.

American used to fly a Boeing 777 with a 3 class configuration that was sold as a two class configured flight. It was still standard coach service in the business class cabin, but AAdvantage members with elite status were able to reserve the roomier seats.

Anyway, go here to see a copy of the complete domestic widebody schedule.

Photo: American 767 on a murky day SFO airport
Credit: Bill Abbott on Flickr

Targeted CA, TX, IL residents: Double Elite Qualifying Miles and Double AAdvantage Miles on Virgin America Routes

Posted on: October 27th, 2011 by: aadvantagegeek

American and Virgin America have been battling it out in California, Texas and Illinois.  I’ve seen fares from my home airport (DFW) to Los Angeles and San Francisco drop to about half what they were a year ago, and both airlines have been offering big fare sales on the routes that they both serve.  

A couple of times this year, American has offered Double Elite Qualifying Miles and Double AAdvantage Miles in these markets.  The last such offer exired a few weeks ago, but starting today, they’re bringing them back:

Chicago or DFW – Los Angeles or San Francisco. Reach Elite Status Faster. Double Miles

Increase Your Mileage Balance and Qualify For AAdvantage Elite Status Faster Than Ever

Airline: American Airlines

Award: Double Elite-Status Qualifying Miles. Double Flight Miles

Bonus Code: DEQ11

Dates: Book your trip and fly between October 27, 2011, and March 31, 2012

Offer: Reach AAdvantage elite status faster than ever with this offer and add to your mileage balance at the same time! Just book a round-trip ticket and fly on American Airlines between Chicago O’Hare or DFW and Los Angeles or San Francisco from October 27, 2011, through March 31, 2012. You’ll earn double flight miles AND double elite-qualifying miles, the miles that bring you closer to AAdvantage elite status membership – at an accelerated rate.

With so many choices, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to your destination and add more miles to your AAdvantage account:

Between Chicago and Los Angeles 10 nonstops each business day
Between Chicago and San Francisco 6 nonstops each business day
Between DFW and Los Angeles 16 nonstops each business day
Between DFW and San Francisco 10 nonstops each business day

I have a few trips to Los Angeles lined up already, so I read through the fine print to see if this new offer applied to travel after October 27, but purchased earlier.  Unfortunately (for me), it does not. To qualify for this offer you’ll have to purchase your ticket on or after today. (Boo hiss, Boo hiss!)

You must be a resident of Illinois, Texas or California to qualify for this offer and registration is required in advance using pomo code DEQ11.  Go here to read the full terms and conditions and to sign up.

(Dan Webb has an interesting interview with Virgin America CEO over at Things in the Sky.)

“Five Days of Giveaways” on flights between San Francisco and Chicago and Los Angeles and Chicago

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by: aadvantagegeek

American is giving away prizes to lucky travelers on their Chicago/Los Angeles and Chicago/San Francisco routes.  From the press release:

American Airlines is giving customers five times the fun of flying with five days of opportunities to receive Admirals Club passes, a gift of AAdvantage bonus miles or other great prizes when traveling on select nonstop flights between Chicago and Los Angeles and between Chicago and San Francisco.
Between May 23 and 27, customers on one American Airlines flight each day, in each direction, serving the Chicago-Los Angeles and Chicago-San Francisco routes will receive a surprise gift to thank them for their loyalty. The giveaways include:

• $100 discount for travel booked on AA.com
• 5,000 AAdvantage bonus miles
• $150 voucher to use for booking on AAVacations.com
• Admirals Club guest pass and a voucher for $50 off a one-year membership

“For the next five days, American Airlines is giving a big ‘high five’ to our customers traveling on these popular routes,” said Rob Friedman, American’s Vice President – Marketing. “Whether you enjoy relaxing in one of our Admirals Clubs or racking up AAdvantage miles to put toward that long-awaited dream vacation, these giveaways are our simple way of saying thank you for flying with American Airlines.”

This promotion is in addition to the Double AAdvantage Miles and Double Elite Miles offer on those same routes.

In other news, Virgin American just started service between LAX and ORD and SFO and ORD…..

Virgin America comes to Dallas. American responds with Double Elite Miles and Giveaways

Posted on: November 30th, 2010 by: aadvantagegeek

Unicorn Chaser - Virgin America at LAX
Unicorn Chaser – Virgin America at LAX by J Brew on Flickr

(Editor’s note: the 15 Days of Give Aways has ended, but the Double AAdvantage Miles and the Double Elite Qualifying Miles promotion is still active.  Go here and use promotion code LASF2 when you register for this offer)

Virgin American starts service from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Los Angeles December 1 and San Francisco on December 6.  This is from the Virgin America website:

Flying without live TV, WiFi, leather seats, power outlets and food on demand is just plane un-American.

Ouch!

To fight back, American Airlines just announced that they’re offering Double Elite Miles on flights from DFW to LAX and SFO and introducing a ‘15 Days of Giveaways‘ promotion where passengers can win prizes. Here are the details:

American Airlines will surprise and delight customers flying between Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles or San Francisco this winter with a new promotion and prize giveaway launched today.

Between Nov. 29, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2011, American will reward AAdvantage members who fly round trip on nonstop service between DFW and LAX or between DFW and SFO with double elite qualifying miles and double flight miles. With this great offer, members can reach AAdvantage elite status faster and add to their mileage balance at the same time. To qualify, register prior to travel and obtain complete details at http://www.aa.com/15days using promotion code LASF2.

Additionally, between Dec. 1 and 15, American will introduce a ’15 Days of Giveaways’ promotion where customers on several mystery flights a day between DFW and LAX or between DFW and SFO will be selected to receive complimentary giveaway items including:

Avis Rent A Car Reward Day Coupons
Movie passes to see the new film “The Fighter”, courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Admirals Club One Day Passes
5,000 AAdvantage Miles
AA Vacations $100 Coupon
And more!

A friend of mine, a big Anchor Steam fan, is having a birthday in January. He’s suggested that a group of us all travel to San Francisco to gather together to visit the Anchor Brewery, and to celebrate his birthday at the Bourbon & Branch speakeasy.

I’ve heard so many good things about Virgin America that I’ve considered flying with them on this San Francisco trip just to see if they live up to their reputation. But now that American is offering double AAdvantage Miles and, more importantly, Double Elite miles, there’s no way I’ll give that up just to try Virgin. Yes, I am ashamed that I’m such a sucker for miles, but it’s not like Virgin offers enough flights from Dallas to enough cities that I’m going to switch and give up AAdvantage miles anyway.

I welcome Virgin and the competition they bring to Dallas. American has a vitrtual monopoly on the DFW market and it irks me that we pay so much more for fares than travelers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Atlanta, even Detroit.

Anyway, you have to register in advance of travel using promotion code LASF2.  Go here for details, terms and conditions.

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