I’ve posted recently about coronavirus and its effects on our lives and air travel. In the next week or so, I’m going to switch gears a bit. In addition to more current events, posts will cover in a more abbreviated fashion some unreported trips I took before Covid-19 changed the world. Thanks for sticking with me.
In the summer of 2019, I was alerted to very good fares on American Airlines for Fall travel to Europe. One of these fares was to Milano, Italy. That trip in late October to early November 2019 has been covered in several posts. The other fare was for travel in premium economy to Majorca, Spain in early October 2019 for just over $900 (less than half of the typical cost). The cost of the flight to Milano was just over $300 — one of the best airfare deals I’ve found.
The great thing about both fares was being able to use Systemwide Upgrades available to American Airlines Executive Platinum members to convert those tickets to business class without additional charge. That turned a good deal into a great one.
At first I was surprised at being able to use Systemwide Upgrades on such low fares, and they cleared at booking. Usually they clear, if at all, a day or two before departure or often at the gate. It made perfect sense when I thought about it.
The reason the fares were low is American projected that demand for the flights would be low. Lack of projected demand gave American’s normally stingy revenue management department confidence that more than a few business class seats would go unsold. They were sure they could allow a few people to sit upfront with free Systemwide Upgrades without displacing customers who would have been willing to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of flying business class on this flight.
I was very much looking forward to Mallorca because my trainer and her boyfriend had visited in 2018. Their photos and stories were very enticing. The flight to Madrid was the first leg of the itinerary. I had a long layover and then a flight to Palma, Mallorca on Iberia Airlines.
American Airlines Flight AA94
The flight boarded at JFK Terminal 8, Gate 12.
The distance between airports is 3,589 miles, a short hop compared to Trans Pacific flights I’m used to. It was an overnight flight leaving around 19:00 and arriving at about 08:00 the next morning Madrid time.
The American 777-200 has 37 Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats in two business class cabins. Super Diamond seats are popular with airlines and passengers. My seat was 3A, a window seat on the port side in the forward cabin. These seats are about 21 inches wide and recline to a flat bed.
There was the usual pre departure service of beverages, menus and dinner orders, newspapers, and introductions by the flight attendant who was assigned to my side of the cabin.
Amenities were also standard for an American Airlines trans Atlantic flight — large pillow, duvet, noise-cancelling headphones, and amenity kit.
Diner service began less than 30 minutes after takeoff. I requested smoked brisket with gemelli mac & cheese for an entree to go with the appetizer and salad.
Dessert is my favorite part of an airline meal. The taste seems unaffected by the pressurized cabin and low humidity.
In addition to dinner and an arrival meal, there was an amazing selection of help-yourself snacks. I grabbed some to go with a movie.
Breakfast was served with 70 minutes to landing.
We arrived at Madrid as the day was dawning. The flight parked at at remote stand and passengers were bussed to Terminal 4S.
I had no complaints. It was a great flight. But I didn’t sleep much. I would regret that during the nearly 12 hour layover at MAD.