Mar092016

Review: AA 734 Las Vegas to Philadelphia First Class and AA798 PHL to Amsterdam

I refer to the long-haul economy flight experience as getting into the zen of frequent travel. I transport my mind to a far away place while the aircraft desiccates me half-way across the globe.

Honestly, economy flight reviews are hard to write. An economy flight is generally something simply to endure. I spend most of the time focused on looking out the window or watching a movie or listening to music or resting and little time taking photos of the plane or even thinking about the features of the plane.

Now that I think about it, I was in First Class for the A321 four-hour flight in mid-February on my way to meet up with Kelley in Philadelphia for our American Airlines flight to Amsterdam. The lack of seat recline or a foot rest made the First Class flight seem like an economy class flight.

AA 734 A321

AA734 First Class on A321 aircraft

The food was unmemorable on my Las Vegas to Philadelphia flight. I had a can of Heineken, maybe two beers during the flight. There was no IFE system on the aircraft. You have to provide your own device to watch movies. I spent much of the flight snapping photos from Nevada to Colorado on a clear sky day before the cloud cover obscured the eastern half of the country from Colorado Springs all the way to Philadelphia after dark.

 

The strong jet stream whizzed the plane across the country in about an hour under the scheduled 4.5 hour flight time. Kelley’s flight from LAX was scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia 25 minutes after my flight. AA #734 LAS-PHL arrived so early that our arrival gate was occupied by another aircraft. We waited for nearly 30 minutes on the runway. I saw Kelley’s plane arrive from LAX and park at her B gate. She was already off the plane by the time I walked from the C gate where we parked to meet her at the B gate. We headed to the British Airways First Class lounge at the A gates of Philadelphia PHL airport before boarding our flight to Amsterdam 90 minutes later.

Loyalty Traveler – PHL lounge reviews British Airways First and American Admirals Club (Feb 16, 2016).

AA#734 Las Vegas to Philadelphia was the first flight segment of my return portion of a $422 round trip Amsterdam – Las Vegas ticket I purchased January 5, 2016. I flew the outbound portion Amsterdam to Las Vegas on January 30.

American Airlines #798 Philadelphia to Amsterdam B757 Aircraft

On AA #798 Philadelphia to Amsterdam, I gave Kelley my system wide upgrade Business Class seat and I flew economy class. Honestly, there is so little I recall about the flight.

Kelley would have probably been disappointed in the business class seat if it had not been nine years since she last flew international business class. I was disappointed to see the seat after having flown the American B777 London to Los Angeles flight two weeks before. There are certainly better flight options when seeking international business class seats, but this was the flight that worked best for our travel dates and budget. I burned two AAdvantage Executive Platinum SWU international upgrades for January’s B777 LHR-LAX and February’s Las Vegas to Philadelphia to Amsterdam flight on the B757. Not bad for a $422 American Airlines ticket.

Kelley does not remember the Amsterdam flight meals, although she told me the service was good from American Airlines flight attendants. The B757 seat does not fully recline and she felt there was little separation between her seat and the passenger next to her. The foot recline did not come up high enough for her comfort. She found it a hard seat to sleep in on her side.

She does not watch movies or drink or listen to music during flights, so little useful information for readers from her flight experience.

In economy class I crashed for about three hours of the 7-hour flight. The flight was not crowded with an empty middle seat next to my aisle seat. The jet stream gave us an early arrival in Amsterdam too.

The only anecdotal evidence I can give that her experience was better than mine is I was ready to sleep once we arrived at the Radisson Blu Amsterdam at 1pm in the afternoon and she was ready to walk the city.

Flights like these remind me why I stopped spending the money years ago to be a 100,000 mile flyer in the quest to earn free international business class upgrades. My focus is much more on the destination and the hotels where I will stay during my travels and not so much on the flights to get there. That is why in 2016 I will probably only go for American Airlines 50,000 miles Platinum elite status for the benefit of Oneworld Lounge access on international itineraries.

My January 30 AA flight from London Heathrow LHR to Los Angeles LAX on a B777 was a high quality flight experience. The B757 for Philadelphia to Amsterdam got us where we needed to be on the day we needed to be there for a low cost. This is not a flight you want to spend business class miles to buy.

Loyalty Traveler – Review: AA LHR-LAX 777-300ER Business Class using my first SWU upgrade (Feb 8, 2016).

For my flight back to Amsterdam in February, Kelley got to fly Business Class from Philadelphia to Amsterdam on my AAdvantage SWU upgraded ticket and I got to fly Kelley direct out of Monterey, California to LAX, PHL and Amsterdam for 20,000 miles + $5.60 on all AA operated flights.

I purchased three Amsterdam to Las Vegas return tickets in January. Our flights back to California from Amsterdam were Kelley’s first ticket and my second ticket for Amsterdam to las Vegas at $422 round trip each.

The return flights to California were all upgraded to business class for both of us on an old B777 from London Heathrow to Chicago ORD and a domestic ORD-LAS flight. I actually have notes on that international flight. It had problems. More on that story to come.

Monterey to Amsterdam February 2016 trip report

1. Allegiant Airlines low cost nonstop flights between Monterey and Las Vegas.

2. SLS Las Vegas, Starwood Hotels Tribute Portfolio

3. American Airlines LAS-PHL in First Class

4. PHL lounge reviews British Airways First and American Admirals Club

5. American Airlines Philadelphia – Amsterdam Business Class and Economy Class Seats Comparison

6. Radisson Blu Amsterdam location is perfect for poke and toke

7. Hotel Review – Amsterdam Radisson Blu Hotel

8. InterContinental Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam

9. Hulp! Albert Heijn only accepts Maestro cards. How do I get one?

10. 75th Anniversary of the Amsterdam Strike 1941 against Nazi persecution of Jews.

11. Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam

12. W Amsterdam HotelAfter drinking up at W Amsterdam rooftop bar, go downstairs for toilets

13. Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam

14. Oude Kerk AmsterdamSecond most famous dead woman of Amsterdam – Saskia Rembrandt’s gravestone in Oude Kerk Amsterdam.

15. American Airlines Flagship Lounge London Heathrow

16. American Airlines London LHR – Chicago ORD business class

17. The Venetian, InterContinental Alliance Resort

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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