Argentina – Tango, Waterfalls, and Malbec

On March 22nd of this year, American Airlines put into effect a new mileage award chart that had some pretty significant changes. I was still sitting on quite a few of their miles and thinking about where and when I could go. So, on March 20th, I booked a trip to a part of the world that was on my list to go to while it was still a pretty good value. Tomorrow, I will start the trip by flying round trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. On the overnight trip down, I will fly first class for 62,500 miles and return in business class for 50,000 miles. By comparison, those trips now cost 85,000 and 57,500 miles, respectively, and would now be 30,000 miles more than when I booked. Very savvy move on my part, no doubt.

This will be a fairly quick trip as I will only be there for a week but have plans to get in a couple of stops in addition to the capital city of which I’ve heard many positive reviews. I haven’t packed yet, but suspect I will be going fairly light as the weather will be consistent and there will not be any formal occasions to worry about. Argentina is now coming into the spring season and weather looks like it will be in the mid-60’s to mid-70’s most days with a good chance of avoiding rain.

Voy a actualizar pronto de América del Sur!


Big Disappointment with American Airlines

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned I was able to secure an AA flight with their new business configuration with four lie-flat seats per row giving everyone aisle access. Well, big disappointment on boarding as we were in their old 767 configuration with six seats across meaning that the window seats have to get past the aisle passenger to get up.

The middle and far side seats on this old 737-300 config

The middle and far side seats on this old 737-300 config

These are not lie-flat seats, but angled seats in full recline and they don’t have individual entertainment screens which AA tries to compensate for by giving business class passengers a personal tablet with the entertainment offerings, but look how that looks in practice..

Two tray tables, the tablet, and the power cord have to move. More complicated once the meal is served.

Two tray tables, the tablet, and the power cord have to move. Even more complicated when meal is served.

If the window passenger wants out during the flight, it is a major operation on the part of the aisle passenger.

As of the day before the flight, the seating chart still showed the new configuration with me sitting in 3A. No one could explain why there was a change of equipment and there was no notice. Luckily, the guys who had 3B actually prefers the window so we traded so I could be on the aisle. I would much rather be bothered by the window passenger getting out than feeling bad for bothering the aisle passenger multiple times on the flight.

Am I crying about first world problems? Yes, maybe. But, these seats sell for around $3,000 round trip so expecting what was promised is not unreasonable, in my opinion.

I will point out that the cabin staff were excellent and all operations ran on-time. It was just a lousy piece of equipment relative to what I bought.

American Airlines – LEX – DFW Rountrip

Flight Review

It has been several years since I have flown on American.  I think the last time was a trip to Caracas, Venezuela due to their strong service to Latin America.  Even when I lived in Chicago in the late 80’s, I did not fly them as I was a United guy back then.  With all of the recent buzz about AA in the blog world, largely due to the OneWorld MegaDo, I was considering giving them a try but their trip into bankruptcy has given me pause.

However, I had quick trip to Dallas for a speaking engagement and my client booked me on AA direct from LEX, operated by American Eagle.  Both flights were on Embraer 140 aircraft with a 1-2 configuration.  The flights were pretty typical RJ flights and, unfortunately, neither plane had wi-fi.  I suspect a comparable flight on Delta, at 2 hours 15 minutes, would have likely had Gogo but there is no guarantee on that point.

Everything ran on time but the most noticeable thing to me was the attitude of the FA’s and gate agents.  Everyone I came into contact with was upbeat and friendly which contrasts with several reviews I’ve seen recently since AMR filed bankruptcy.  From my experience, one could not tell that was anything was amiss. 

I also had a chance to experience the Admirals Club at DFW by B5 gate due to my AMEX Business Platinum card.  While I was there for only a quick visit, I once again found everyone to be extremely cordial and helpful.  Based on this experience, I would certainly not hesitate to try them again a few more times this year.

Final Grade: A

Points and Dollars

The best part of the trip is that the client paid for it and I put 1,570 AA miles into my absolutely empty AAdvantage account.