Brussels Airlines award space is again bookable on united.com…the secret trick to dependable business class award space to Europe has been exposed.
Brussels Airlines space has played cat and mouse games on united.com over the last few years, appearing and disappearing before appearing again only to disappear again. Who knows how long it will be back this time, but this is important news for two reasons.
1. United reservation agents had been unable to see premium class space across the Atlantic
Brussels Airlines serves New York JFK and Washington Dulles from its hub in Brussels and though space was generous (bookable easily with Aeroplan or ANA), United phone agents could not see the space. Only through a process of long selling (detailed here in another context), could the space be confirmed and finding agents competent enough to long sell was not an easy process. This problem has now been solved.
2. Excellent winter/spring 2016 award space in business class
If you are looking to travel to Europe next winter or spring, Brussels Airlines space out of both JFK and IAD is quite generous. Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursdays seems to be the best day to travel out of JFK and Saturday/Sunday/Monday out of IAD (Dulles is not a daily flight).
United and Brussels both serve BRU from IAD (and United services BRU from EWR as well) so who is better? Both offer lie-flat seating in business class with Brussels offering a business class seat similar to Austrian Airlines, Aer Lingus, and select Delta aircraft. These seats are often referred to as coffin seats because feet room can be very tight. I personally prefer the UA seats to Brussels, but Brussels has single seats which may be preferred if you are traveling solo. Food is much better on Brussels and I found servcice to be oustanding on Brussels as well, though I have a lot more test cases on United.
Remember that United charges less for its own flights, so business class is 57.5K one-way on United while 70K on Brussels to anywhere in Europe. Both Brussels and United are 45K miles each on Aeorplan to western Europe and neither carriers have fuel surcharges (both UA and SN do if you book with ANA or Singapore).
The bad news is this space is going to get scooped up quickly and then won’t be back, just like every other carrier that has been added to united.com. But if you are in the mood to book 2016 travel now, be sure to check out SN for transatlantic, intra-Europe, and Africa travel.
How can you compare any UA C seat favourably over SN’s (or just about any of the new wave biz seats on the world’s legacy STAR or OW carriers)? Having flown both combos of UA’s dreadful seats (okay, the CO seat is almost comparable to the better carriers seat-wise but still 2-2-2 vs 1-2-1) what criteria are you using? The pmUA seat is indeed a coffin, or better, a sardine can. Not only is there no storage space and next to no table between seats, there’s no privacy if one is sitting on the aisle, since someone is always staring across at someone else, unavoidably. And have you ever tried to find work or storage space in this seat? Not to mention being in the window or middle seats and trying to get to the loo while the aisle seat is in full sleep recline position? Only BA has the nerve to squeeze 2-4-2 on its 744s and 777s, UA’s standard squish!
Having flown SN in biz, I’ve had no complaints about its roomy seat. And the box of Neuhaus chocolates given at the end of the flight is a nice classy touch!
DavidB — I did not sleep well on SN/DL/OS — not sure why, but that seat doesn’t personally suit me and is more constrained than the PMUA seat.
The box of chocolates on SN is a great touch and service/food are better overall.