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The Higher Flyer

American Airlines 767 Business Class Review

A recently-refurbished plane remains retro thanks to an underwhelming premium product

Across its expansive fleet, American Airlines features eight different kinds of business class seats.  Naturally, as you might expect, some are better than others.  On one end of the spectrum you have excellent reverse herringbones found on its Boeing 777s and 787-9s.  On the opposite end, on its Boeing 767s, you have staggered seats that would’ve been state-of-the-art 15 years ago.  Of the these two extremes, they share unlikely commonalities:  AA installed them on its planes only as recently as a few years ago, and it typically charges comparable, astronomically-priced fares for both.  If the airline brings the goods — so tasty dining options and warm, amicable service (among other things) to complement a comfortable chair that reclines 180 degrees — then it can get away with this pricing model.  If it doesn’t, well, such a poor value isn’t “higher flyer” and it probably isn’t worth your time.  By those metrics, the business class experience on AA’s 767s is, while more pleasant than economy, probably one to avoid.

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Waiting for Life

Photo of the Week!

F 7.1; 1/80; ISO 100; 79mm.

Shot at Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Back to Life

Photo of the Week!

F 5.6; 1/250; ISO 100; 135mm.

Shot in Hong Kong.

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Reaching new heights of social distancing

Photo of the Week!

F 6.3; 1/250; ISO 100; 135mm.

Shot at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport in Charlottesville (duh), Virginia.

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Oh, the White House…

Photo of the Week!

F 4; 1/125; ISO 100; 40mm.

Shot on the west side of the Washington Monument — looking northward — in Washington, DC.

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Navigating Madrid-Barajas’s Terminal 4

How far is too far to walk?

It feels weird to be writing a review — even if it is just a mini-review — of walking through an airport.  There’s hardly anything noteworthy (let alone higher flyer) about these experiences, but Madrid-Barajas’s Adolfo Suárez is a special case.  Its Terminal 4, which serves as the home base for the Spanish flag carrier Iberia, is big, beautiful, and kinda controversial.  The building’s aesthetic is top-notch, but the sprawl of it can be overwhelming.  If you’re flying out of Madrid, well, you’re going to want to prepare for it more than you otherwise would… hence the reason for The Higher Flyer to publish a guide!

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Stillness in Washington

Photo of the Week!

F 4; 1/160; ISO 100; 18mm.

Shot at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC.

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Coronavirus claimed FlyBe. Who’s next? What’s next? That remains to be seen…

The Daily Flyer

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Welcome to the eighth edition of “The Daily Flyer,” The Higher Flyer‘s daily newsletter gathering up and summarizing some of the day’s most important happenings in the world of airlines, hotels, award points, and other travel-related things.  Today’s feature — for March 18, 2020 — covers the fall of FlyBe, the role of coronavirus in the collapse, and the future that this outbreak could bring.  In addition, read on for coverage of a a political thought piece (of sorts), a follow-up to United’s repeatedly revised refund policy, and an amusing play on negative Yelp reviews.

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Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Review

For better and for worse, an embodiment of both “premium” and “economy”

Most passengers on Cathay Pacific’s long and ultra-long haul flights have to cram in to too-tight seats in the backs of the planes for hours upon hours.  What miserable fates they have!  Fortunately there’s premium economy, which serves as a pain-easing option for some.  You’ll pay more for such relief, sure, but at least the increased comfort comes in the form of a generously-pitched and padded recliner, and what the airline claims to be improved meals, and better, more-attentive service.  Cathay’s offering is no bargain though; it costs more cash than a modestly-priced upsell, and so the return on investment should be abundantly apparent all the time.  That’s regrettably not always the case.

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