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American Airlines First Class Shuttle Review

A convenient, comfortable, and cost-effective way to hop through the Northeastern United States.

In a very, very crowded field of competitors all vying for the customers who transit the lucrative Northeast Corridor, American Airlines has perhaps the most robust offering.  Just about every hour on the hour for fifteen straight hours — from 6am to 9pm to be precise — every single day, you can fly AA between Washington, New York, and Boston.  It couldn’t get more convenient than that and, if you’re running late to the airport, no worries!  You can just get on the next flight without changing your schedule too drastically.  This level of flexibility is great for the business travelers who frequent these routes, and the comfortable seats and relatively cheap fares are just icing on the cake.

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On perceiving “good” value

The most recent review published on The Higher Flyer evaluates international business class onboard American Airlines’s now-retired fleet of Boeing 767s.  There’s nothing particularly exciting nor noteworthy about the experience, but with lie-flat seats, direct aisle access for all passengers, and upgraded dining options on offer, your expectations for a product marketed as “Flagship Business” are likely going to be met but not exceeded.  It delivers all that you could want in decidedly-average fashion, but because the fares are prohibitively expensive, it’s nearly impossible for me to recommend it.  When compared to significantly cheaper, if not better, alternatives, it’s the textbook definition of a terrible deal… although some might disagree with that assessment.  There’s an inherent ambiguousness to higher flying reflected here, and that poses an interesting question:  what makes a “good value” good?

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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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Unpacking the state of the U.S. airline industry and how it affects higher flyers (Part 2)

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the sixth 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 5, 2020 — builds on the most recent’s, as it further describes how current trends in the U.S. airline industry (as named by Skift) affect passengers.  Other topics include Ellen on the seat recline debate, more remarkable news about the effects the coronavirus outbreak is having on the travel industry, and a fun challenge for you bargain hunters out there.

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Unpacking the state of the U.S. airline industry and how it affects higher flyers (Part 1)

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the fifth 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 February 19, 2020 — explores how current trends in the U.S. airline industry (as named by Skift) affect passengers.  Other topics include ways to make unbearable flights more bearable, whether or not metal credit cards are tacky, increased fallout from the coronavirus in the travel industry, and a new lounge on the way at Washington Dulles.

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Arriverderci, Air Italy!

The Daily Flyer

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “The Daily Flyer,” The Higher Flyer‘s 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 February 11, 2020 — covers the fall of Air Italy, as well as coronavirus flight cancellations, a hot take regarding the Global Entry ban in New York, and a surprise announcement from Uber.

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Top 10: Ways to fly higher (and get more value from your money!)

Spending lots of money without getting any tangible pleasures in return isn’t fun, no matter how important a purchase might be.  Nobody likes saving and then subsequently dropping thousands of dollars to, say, repair the roof.  A leaky ceiling sure is problematic, and you’d save a bit on heating costs in the long run, but no one is getting hyped about buying new shingles.  That necessary investment can’t compare to the thrill of driving a luxury car straight off the lot, or better yet, flying around the world in first class.

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What’s the difference between Basic Economy and regular Economy?

Bargain-hunting higher flyers might, while planning their next adventures, come across airfares that are so good that they’re too good.  Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier (in)famously offer such cheap prices, but they also inundate their customers with fees in order to generate additional revenue.  That’s to be expected, but sometimes you’ll see legacy carriers like American, Delta, and United selling flights at prices comparable to those low-cost rivals.  While such deals might look particularly enticing — especially when you consider that these three have better reputations than Spirit — you have to be wary of the catch(es).  These discounted tickets, known as basic economy fares, are heavily restricted and can seriously hurt your ability to fly higher.  But but but!  If you know what you’re getting in to, they can also represent outstanding values.

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What’s the difference between Economy Plus and Premium Economy?

The most common question I get from THF Consulting clients is:  “what’s the difference between economy plus and premium economy?  There is none, right?”  While the names are quite similar, they’re not interchangeable; in terms of quality, the latter is miles ahead when it comes to the hard product… and in theory, the soft product too.  The two nevertheless are better than regular economy, but that’s not always clear on paper.  In order to maximize your purchasing power as a traveler/your higher flyer potential, it’s important to be aware of those differences so that you always know what kind of airfare you’re buying.

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