A primary mission on my blog is to sample as many business and first class products as possible. Only by actually experiencing competing products will I be able to authoritatively compare and contrast in my flight reviews.
I’ve tired some odd carriers over the years. Ariana Afghan Airlines, Biman Bangladesh, Pakistan International Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, and Uzbekistan Airways come to mind. But there are still a handful of “commonplace” carriers that I have yet to try. Here are five of them:
Although located right in my back yard, I’ve never flown Aeromexico on a long or short-haul route. I look forward to trying Aeromexico’s 787-9 business class on a future fight to Asia or Europe. I particularly like that Aeromexico has “redeyes” traveling west from Europe. Flights from Paris and London leave late at night and arrive early in the morning in Mexico City.
I have flown Air Canada business class before…in 2009. In fact, that seat, brand new at the time, is still present throughout much of the longhaul fleet. Yet Air Canada has introduced a new reverse-herringbone seat and refreshed the business class soft product. Plus, I’d like to check out the Signature Suite in Toronto.
My recent attempts to fly Air France were foiled: one trip by strike, one trip by a so-called “mistake fare” defense. But Air France tends to be quite generous at making business class award space available to its own Flying Blue members. Consequently, this is an airline I put many of my clients on but have never actually sampled myself. I’ve heard mixed reviews and know to avoid the angled seats on the A380 in business class, but the new 777-300ER business class seats look great.
Korean Air remains like a diamond in the rough. Although award space is not as generous as it once was, flying between the USA and Asia via Seoul on Korean Air represents an excellent use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
After Lucky’s dismal review of TAP Portugal, I’m not sure WHY I want to fly it, but it is the last Europe-based Star Alliance carrier that I have not flown transatlantic on. I did fly TAP from London to Lisbon in business class several years ago, but that was hardly a memorable flight.
Any other airlines you would like to see me review in the months ahead? Time is limited right now and I’ve found myself sticking to United (on track for 1K status once again…) lately. Even so, I love trying out new products and hope to at least knock a few of these products out soon.
I had one my best flights on AC from YUL-PVG. Maybe it was the service, the bedding, or what. I slept blissfully for 10 hours. I still love Korean, ANA, JAL and especially Cathay in J and F but AC still stands out.
Doesn’t AM operate some internationally-configured 789s from TIJ to MEX? Might be a good and cheap way to check it out if you’d rather use your miles for something else.
New York too I believe. Would like to be able to compare transatlantic business class, though.
Actually Air Canada‘s reverse herringbone seat is found on most of their longhaul fleet except for their A330s and 767s which still feature the older normal herringbone seat which I think was originally introduced in 2007 or 2008. Also I think the signature suite is only available for paying passengers and not those using miles for business class who will only have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge.
Hope to read your impressions on TAAG’s premium cabin.
One day. I love that visas are now available on arrival.
Awesome, a lot of people seem to hate AC, but my experiences with them have been really good. I’m taking Aeromexico next month so we’ll see how they do. My expectations aren’t great. I think two of the biggest gaps I want to close soon are KLM (it’s been over 15 years so a lot has changed) and Aeroflot longhaul. That’s been since 1988 and I’m pretty sure it’s a little different…
I love AC for short-haul travel. Those 1 or 2 hour flights are extremely pleasant with AC, and I can fly there with better and fewer connections. The larger regional jets have wifi and seatback entertainment, which is way more than some of the US regionals offer. The addition of OSS at connection airports has made the Intl-Dom connection process so smooth and quick.
Anything involving a twin-aisle jet or YUL-based crew makes me want to disown AC, however. Terrible service, product, and inevitable delays that AC will never take responsibility for are far too common. But, I guess this is all necessary if they want to keep their reputation as the national disappointment of Canada.
Flew AC 789 J SFO-YYZ-FCO on an AV award ticket. I found the seats to be very comfortable and the service to be cordial and friendly (more so on the SFO-YYZ flight, but that crew was more liberal with wine refills, so maybe I’m just jaded ;)). Flew LH 388 J on the tail end of the trip and was sorely disappointed in comparison to AC’s 789 product.
Give it a try, you’ll love it!
In my dozen plus AC J flights (a mix of domestic, transborder, and TATL) over the last couple of years, I’ve found the experience to be remarkably consistent. PDB and menus on every flight, multiple main course options, AVOD, and friendly crews. Perhaps frequent AC flyers find it monotonous? I actually like that their short haul flights are generally superior to US counterparts, but maybe that means that there isn’t much of a gap between AC short haul and long haul experiences. Their reverse herringbone seats are obviously better than the herringbones on the A330s and B767s, but even the latter are perfectly fine for TATL flights and transcons, not to mention a HUGE improvement over 8-across on UA or footsies on LH…
Since you are such a *A loyalist, what about EVA Air? They have the best TPAC soft product in J.
It’s a great product for sure.
Stop flying and risking your life. Flying isn’t safe and I wouldn’t recommend it. Take a boat or a drive if needed.
“[…] flying between the USA and Asia via Seoul on Korean Air represents and excellent use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.”
Isn’t it supposedly to be “an”?
Thank you. Fixed.
The Air Canada product is pretty much all reverse herringbone. A quick look on their website would have allowed Matt to verify it very fast… the backbone of the long-haul mainline fleet (60 aircraft – all 777 & 787) is all converted (and was done very fast – not at United’s pace…). The only aircraft not converted are 8 A330 and 6 B767 which will be retired/transferred (330) to Air Canada Rouge (767) as more 787 are coming online. Just don’t get stuck on a Rouge flight!
One of the thing I’ve always appreciate with AC is the consistency of the hard product. They’re fast to convert, and stick to 1 product compared to the big 3 legacy which are all over the place. As long as you stick to mainline, you’ll be just fine!
Signature Suite is great, but in airport where the SS isn’t available, the international Maple Leaf Lounges (abroad and in Canadian airport’s international terminals – the domestic and transborder (CAD/US) ones still need a bit of love) have undergo major renos with better spreads and products offered than most legacy airlines (fully staffed barrista, made to order counters, etc)
The SS admission policy is controversial but to have tried it, I’m happy they’re capping the number of users one way or another to avoid the overcrowding common to most lounges these days. It keeps the product top notch and allow to maintain it as it would just get downgraded if everyone with access to MLL had access to this one.
Isn’t the picture of the Korean air cabin you chose the 789 F cabin?
In terms of soft product (especially food and beverage) and lounges, AF is one of my favorites. Their older seats are angled flat, though that did not particularly bother me. They also have the only arrivals lounge at CDG. However, they ceased to be as price competitive some years ago, and upgrade (O) space has dried up. So I don’t fly them much anymore. I do, however, credit all my DL miles to AF, and plan to use them at some point on saver award space, which as you note still seems commonly available, at least for now. I hope the strike does not hurt them further, though. Last time, I thought they would lower prices and offer more upgrades to draw people back, but they did the opposite.
Shut down this blog. It is completely worthless and a waste of time. Drive or take a boat people. There is nothing for you here…
Also, you should save your points for when you really need them. Don’t risk your life! Who flies these days?
Is that you, UA Insider?
What happened to all the KE (and asiana) availability to and from the USA to Australia. It used to exist in abundance. I can’t find any seats at all now on either leg to and from Australia. Looking for July 2018