Now I’m not a fire and brimstone blogger, but I’ll try to justify why my First Class splurge was a great opportunity. Which I wouldn’t have to do if I hadn’t spent so much time saying why I don’t fly first class. See, in general, I value seeing more and spending less. But I wanted to explain the thought process behind booking this ticket and explaining a scenario when I actually would want first class.
First off, I wanted to. Right? It’s not a logical decision. I didn’t need to, and it brought no profit or benefit. But it’s almost entirely about having a new experience.
Think about it. Cathay Pacific was selling the oneway flight from Bangkok to New York (via Hong Kong) for something like $16,000. $16k for a oneway! Because you get a big freaking suite.
While I do not need this and for the most part, I would consider it a waste as I still have a lot of places on my bucket list… it’s a bit of a rush. Personally, I did not come from money. Staying in a motel was a splurge. Heck, flying at all was a very rare (one time) splurge as a kid.
The pure irony of the situation is humorous enough. But the fact that we get to experience something that only the elite experience, is insane. So for the sake of new experiences and comfort… obviously, we shelled out 67,500 American Airline miles.
What I realized is that while I had previously never personally flown a first class flight this long, the booking process was harder. Not but 2 or 3 years ago I remember checking flights to Asia and seeing First Class award space. Now… I found none. Granted, it was pretty last minute, but that’s how I’ve always done things.
So when it opened up I had an impulse buy. 4 days out two seats showed up on the day we wanted. I guess this is why businesses have sales… I had to buy before they went away. Or so it felt.
But I knew going into it that flying first class was not going to go down in price. Actually, it was a great deal.
Look at the other first class prices for the same route:
- 130,000 – United
- 105,000 – Air Canada (+ fuel surcharges?)
- 80,000 – US Airways
- 100,000 – ANA (+ fuel surcharges)
- N/A with Delta, but business class would be 70,000 – 175,000 (+ fuel surcharges)
I’m thinking 67,500 miles is not a bad deal.
Also consider that devaluations are a very real possibility. I mean, US Airways hasn’t devalued recently but they will also be AA soon.
Basically, it can’t get better than 67,500 miles. Infact, it will get worse.
I mean, eventually it will get worse. They will all devalue. Now granted, the devals come because it’s easier than ever to earn miles. So it’s not all problematic.
Still, right now seems like the best time to earn and burn, or be a miles collector at all. Redemptions are going to get worse, but earning are extremely easy! The only thing that I could see getting better with time is availability. Availability is pretty bad right now. I’m a flexible flyer and I didn’t see any First Class flights in a very large window.
Even the other day a friend was looking at flights from Hong Kong to Paris on Cathay and did not see anything on points but saw tons of seats for sale. Across the board, availability isn’t the best.
As long as it’s easy to earn miles (which I actually assume it will be getting easier for some, and stay easy for most), and until massive devaluations happen, availability will suck.
All that to say, we did it because:
- It’s an experience we’ve never had that’s crazy cool.
- Earning is at an all time high, but…
- Availability is bad, yet we found tickets.
- 67,500 miles is a steal that may go away.
Now again, the goal is not to preach of an AA devaluation. I don’t really think like that too much. Largely because they are all always devaluing. Period. Thus, you should always be earning miles to burn. They are not collectors items.
So we burned.
Was it worth it?
I’m glad I got to try it. On a practical level, I’d be just as happy with business class. Honestly. Heck, while I do like the herringbone business class style (like Air New Zealand Business Class), I do prefer sitting next to my wife.
So I’m not sure if this is some kind of first world problem, but…
The problem with my first class suite was that I was so far away from my wife, even though she was in the seat next to me. I couldn’t even see her if I leaned out the door of the suite.
It was big enough that she could sit next to me. And we did eat a meal across from each other. But still. Business class is enough.
A good business class provides a bed (the most important part for a long haul), decent food (for an airline), and plenty of space. Truly, I would be just as happy with business class. It’s just that first class was only 15,000 miles more, and a lot more space. That false concept of “value” caught me. The next time I really want the bed in the air experience, I’d go business class.
But also, I find that if I’m just going to Europe, economy is perfectly fine. I did have two terrible long haul experiences. The first was coming back from Asia two years ago. I stayed up all night so I could sleep on the flight… and that didn’t happen. So I stayed up all day, then night, then up the entire flight (despite trying to sleep and being tired), and then I was in transit all day in the US (going from JFK to LGA, LGA to DFW, DFW to IAH and then driving to my parents’ house). I was dead.
The second terrible but similar experience was going to LHR, having a long layover, and then going to South Africa.
All that to say, flying a really long flight like South Africa via London, a bed would have been fanfreakintastic. But I honestly slept fine on our recent NYC to Dusseldorf flight in economy.
Really longhauls, yes. 8 hour flights, for sure I’ll fly economy. That’s my $.02.