- I recently flew business class for the first time on an American Airlines flight from London to New York.
- The seat was more comfortable and private than I imagined, but the food wasn’t quite as luxurious as I expected.
- Here are all of the things that surprised me, and why I think people really splash out money or miles to fly business.
I wish I’d been smarter with air miles so I’d never have to fly long-haul in economy class again.
That’s what I found myself thinking as I settled into my first-ever business class seat on a recent American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK.
As a pretty frequent traveler across the Atlantic — I’m a Canadian living in London who makes the trip home regularly — the idea of splurging on a first or even business class ticket has always seemed beyond me, especially as I’ve only been properly collecting miles for under two years.
However, when I was offered an upgrade from economy to business class at the gate as I was boarding my eight-hour flight to New York, I jumped at the chance (despite the fact I was travelling with my boyfriend who, having booked separately, didn’t have the same option).
We took turns in the upgraded seat to see what flying long-haul in business class is really like — and there were a few things that surprised me.
As my upgrade happened at the gate, I can’t tell you what the business class lounge or priority check-in is like. As an economy passenger, I checked in on a screen (which took a while and involved more steps than most airlines) then took my bag to bag drop.
My booking had been placed on an SAU — Space Available Upgrade — list. SAUs can be added manually by the airline or are available to AAdvantage passengers who exchange miles in return for being added to the list. They only apply to the individual, however, so travel companions aren’t eligible.
Being on the list means that once you’re at the gate if there are empty seats going in the cabin class above you, you might have a chance of being offered an upgrade — but it’s not guaranteed. I got lucky and was surprised to be told at the gate that my assigned economy seat had been swapped for one in business class.
Here’s what the seat, one of 52 business class seats on board the Boeing 777-300ER, looked like when I boarded. There was a proper pillow and duvet waiting on it.
Here’s a better indication of pillow fluffiness and blanket thickness.