BOOKED: 9 Airlines I’m Reviewing Shortly

Filed Under: Travel

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about 10 airlines I still want to review in 2019. As I explained, it has been a slow year of reviews for me due to my mom’s health situation. But I also want to make sure that I can get you guys the content you’ve been asking for.

So while my goal was perhaps initially a bit ambitious, since writing that post I’ve spent a lot of time planning travel… probably over planning. As part of that I’ve booked a few review trips that will have my experiencing almost all of the products that were on my list, and then some.

From that initial list I’ve already reviewed Turkish’s 787-9 business class, and my review of Virgin Atlantic’s A350-1000 business class will be up shortly. So here’s what you can expect reviews of in the next few weeks, as I’ll be flying all of these products between now and mid-December.

In no particular order:

British Airways A350-1000 Business Class

British Airways’ new business class Club Suites debuted on the A350-1000, and I look forward to flying that between Toronto and London.

So, how did I book? British Airways and Finnair have $1,500 one-way business class tickets from Toronto to Singapore via London and Helsinki, which net about 21,000 elite qualifying miles, by my math (which will help me requalify for Executive Platinum).

Finnair A350-900 Business Class

As part of the same ticket mentioned above, I’ll be flying Finnair on an A320 from London to Helsinki, and then Finnair on an A350 from Helsinki to Singapore. I’ve reviewed Finnair’s A350 a few years back, but am looking forward to seeing how the product is holding up.

This was booked as part of the same ticket mentioned above.

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class

To get back from Asia to the US on one of these trips, I’ll be flying Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 business class. I haven’t flown their A350-1000 before, and in particular I’m looking forward to seeing how their new soft product is, since they’ve been making changes to their service.

I booked this ticket from Asia to North America for 70,000 American AAdvantage miles one-way.

Hainan 787-9 Business Class

I’ve flown Hainan’s 787 business class before, though only their old product in a 2-2-2 configuration. In the meantime the airline has 787s with reverse herringbone seats, which represents a significant improvement. This is also a great use of Alaska miles, as you can redeem just 50,000 miles for one-way business class between the US and China. So that’s exactly what I did.

American 777-300ER First Class

I haven’t flown American’s 777-300ER first class in several years, and I want to see how the service updates have impacted the product. So I plan to fly American’s 777-300ER first class on their Dallas to Hong Kong flight, including checking out Flagship First Dining at DFW.

I booked this using a paid fare. For $1,600 I managed to book a roundtrip ticket from Miami to Beijing — the outbound is from Miami to Dallas to Hong Kong to Beijing in paid business class, and the return is in economy.

Then I used systemwide upgrades in both directions — so on the outbound I’ll be in first class, and on the return I’ll be in business class (though I’m only flying the return early next year).

The one-way outbound alone will earn me about 20,000 elite qualifying miles.

Air France A350-900 Business Class

Air France recently took delivery of their first A350-900. While I like the A350 in general, what makes this plane unique is that it features a new business class product for the airline, with the same seats you’ll find in United Polaris.

I booked this for just 32,000 Flying Blue miles one-way between Toronto and Paris using a recent Promo Award sale from the airline.

La Compagnie A321neo Business Class

The last time I flew La Compagnie was back when the airline started service about five years ago. The airline now has new A321neos featuring fully flat business class seats, and I’m curious to see how the product is nowadays. I managed to book a one-way ticket for under $700 using a fare sale.

Brussels Airlines A330 Business Class

I reviewed Brussels Airlines many years ago, but the airline has a new A330 business class in the meantime. This seems to be available on their route between New York and Brussels, and they at least sometimes have award availability in the westbound direction.

I booked this for 60,000 Avianca LifeMiles one-way.

United 767-300 Business Class

I’ve reviewed United’s new Polaris on the 777-300ER and 787-10, but this time I’ll be flying United’s new Polaris product on the 767-300.

This is interesting to me for a few reasons:

  • The plane has a massive business class cabin that takes up over half the plane
  • This might be the swankiest 767 in service
  • I’ll be flying United on a daytime Newark to London flight, and this will be my first time flying an eastbound transatlantic daytime flight, so I’m curious to see how I feel about that

I booked this using 55,000 Aeroplan miles, which I transferred over from Amex.

Bottom Line

I’m really excited to try these airlines, and hope you guys enjoy the reviews. By my count, the only products left to review from my original list are ANA’s new 777-300ER business class (which I hope to squeeze in, given that it may be the world’s new best business class), as well as TAP’s A330-900neo business class.

Which airline above are you most excited to read about? What should be next on my list?

  1. I know it’s off-topic, but I look forward for a review on the only intl’ first class product that you haven’t done yet, from Gulf.

  2. You still haven’t done the Qantas LHR to Perth, And weren’t you supposed to do the Gulf Air 787? And how about PAL’s A350? And Egyptair 787? And Air Algerie?

    There are also Aerolineas Argentinas, Caribbean Air and Cayman Airways. Not at all glamorous I know, but these are rarely reviewed and should be easy from MIA.

  3. Hey, try Singapore Airlines regional business class, flat beds even for a short hop.

    This one is easy, just find a good KrisFlyer spontaneous escapes deal that suits you, and pick a flight within the list that is operated by 787-10 (or regional A350)

  4. I just flew United 767 Polaris from IAH-IAD. The seat is tight!! However, so beautiful and represents a much better way to fly than the old United/Continental seats.

  5. ANA “The Room” and the “The Suite” top my wish list for review. Booking has been surprisingly difficult… anything inside 10 months out of JFK. Must wait out Olympics!

  6. Excited for your take on the BA A350. I’ll be trying it in December (LHR-YYZ) and have been looking forward to it since I booked back in March!

  7. @Lucky. How often does it happen to you that you book a particular flight to try out a particular cabin, only to find out that your aircraft is swapped to a different (most likely inferior) product. I am asking this because several months ago I booked an Avianca ticket on lie-flat A330, and then a month before departure they switched it to a recliner A319.

  8. Are you sure you have enough EQD for EXP? It’s 15k now not 12k and at first glance you have only about $3600 EQD booked in oneworld (BA x 20% + AA at 1x). Would be terrible if you suffer through a bunch of American just to come up short.

  9. How the (Finnair) product is holding up? With duct tape, lol. I believe they’ve been changing some panels and replacing them with more robust ones, as I haven’t actually seen duct tape in the J cabin in a long time.

    I find the Finnair A350 J seat exceptionally cramped. It will be interesting to read your review, especially as you can compare your experience to BA and CX. I flew CX A350-900 recently and found their reverse herringbone seats a lot more spacious than those of Finnair.

    Pro tip: for an average experience, do not choose a bulkhead seat on AY A359. Those have a larger foot cubby…

    The SIN flights are staffed with SIN based, outsourced cabin crew. I have positive experiences with them, but I seem to be in a minority there.

    Lastly, AY operates two daily widebody flights between LHR and HEL. I’m surprised you didn’t pick one of those, as the J experience is of course a lot better.

    Happy landings!

  10. Which route did you book for Hainan Airlines? I recently flew roundtrip out of JFK and both flights were initially showing as 1-2-1, but both ended up being swapped to 2-2-2 couple days before departure. So maybe I was particularly unlucky, but beware of aircraft swap on Hainan.

  11. Don’t you still owe us your MEA and Beirut trip reports?

    Also, you could also review Air France’s new A330 product, just for fun.

  12. @ Dominik — Ugh, how annoying! I’m flying Beijing to Boston, so am crossing my fingers. If it swaps to the old 787 configuration I might just cancel last minute and find another way to return to the US.

  13. Tap a330neo from Miami to Lisbon. London to Tokyo on ANA and then you can hit up another carrier on the transpacific flight.

  14. @ Pk — It’s a great question. The British Airways and Finnair itinerary earns 25% EQDs, unless I’m missing something, but you’re right about the American portion. Based on these flights alone I’d still be a bit short, but I also have some domestic flying coming up, and together that should get me very close to the remaining EQDs needed. I might just have to book a more expensive ticket on one flight, but it’ll be very close and I won’t be far off.

  15. @ Daniel B. — It happens far too often. It’s why I generally plan my review trips within a couple of weeks of departure, since schedule changes are mostly already loaded. However, last minute swaps do happen, and if I see any I plan on canceling those flights and figuring out a way to try another new product.

  16. Took the UA 777 from Gru to Ewr two weeks ago. Soft product was very average. Seats were only ok. I felt cramped and locked in to my window seat. So much effort to create privacy in the 1-2-1 configurations but to me this is now to the point of making it uncomfortable. The best part was the gel pillow.

  17. @Ben, I believe they have updated the seats on all the planes, although it’s not really an update, they’ve just changed some parts, like the box in your foot space that used to get kicked to pieces etc. Most people will probably not note the differences.

    The soft product is updated with new pillows (be sure to ask for a memory foam pillow at the beginning of the flight; they’re not for everyone) and blankets as well as new Marimekko amenity kits with Swedish L:A Bruket toiletries.

    The food has improved, but it’s not really on-demand like it is on Qatar. The menu states that the second meal can be requested at any time, but the main meal service is brought to everyone at once by default. They also have a warm hamburger as a mid-flight snack, but it’s probably not mentioned in the menu so you’ll have to know.

  18. @ Vasco there’s a youtube channel by the name of Kara and Nate, they have done an S7 review in business from Valdivostok to Seoul. Their channel is quite good actually.

    @ Lucky I am most interested in the UA 767 flight, particularly if you were to spend the next day in London and compare how rested you are vs. the usual red-eye transatlantic flights. Great work on booking all this travel in such a tight timeframe, looking forward to the reviews.

  19. Lucky, in the midst of doing that same mileage run (except its YYZ-BKK) on AY as I am reading this. Currently spending time in the AY HEL lounge (not bad, watch out for that 30 min timer on the shower, though!). I like the airport. Was so looking forward to the BA A350-1000, but it was a meh experience. They opted not to go with the tail (or any on-fuselage) cameras. What a pity. I think the tickets are issued on AY stock, so AY rules apply to EQD/M calcs.

  20. Hey Ben! Wanna grab a cuppa when you are in Singapore? Wanna hear your adventures. Dm me on insta @seeingtheworldinsteps

  21. TAP A330neo LIS-SFO was a good flight. They went all out with traditional Portuguese food, including octopus carpaccio. Sadly I returned via EWR.

    It seems they’re either putting all the US flights at remote stands or all the 330neo flights atremote stands at LIS so that gets fun. All of my connections (wide and narrow body to England as they are using one of the retrofits on the LHR route sometimes) were parked at gates with bridges to the terminal.

    The lounge in LIS is getting overcrowded more often IMO

  22. @David W – You can find them pretty easily on Google Flights, the fare has been available for quite a long time now. Sporadic availability in December and lots of availability January onwards. Routes via LHR, JFK, ORD then HEL. Also works ex-YUL, and to most AY destinations in Asia (SIN, BKK, HKG, NRT, KIX, PEK, CAN, etc.).

  23. CX award space is not always available to Alaska Air or any other program. I was recently looking for a return from HKG back to USA around Thanksgiving. On Asia MIles website, I found HKG-SEA on biz class (without the need to waitlist) but it doesn’t show it in BA for some reason. I ended up using 70,000 Asia Miles instead of 50,000 Alaska Miles. Good news is I’ll be flying the A350-900 on long-haul. I flew both CX’s A350-900 and A350-1000 in biz class in regional routes – solid hard product for sure. CX just rolled out the new dinning and new pads for biz class, and I tried them last month on 777-300ER long haul…definitely a better soft product now. Their lounges in HKG, TPE and YVR are still top notch!

  24. I do not care to be facing at an angle during take off and landing as so many Business and First Class seats are configured. The seats are big so I am able to sit in the seat straight ahead of the direction of the plane during takeoff and landing for my own comfort. Does any one else have this same concern?

  25. Why is nobody flying ANA’s first class suite? Seems that no one is mentioning how much better it looks than biz. Don’t quite understand especially when in miles it isn’t much more than biz when using Flying Club miles.

  26. I’m stunned by this revelation:
    “and this will be my first time flying an eastbound transatlantic daytime flight, so I’m curious to see how I feel about that“

  27. I’m flying the ANA 777 New First Class later this month, and am really excited! Perhaps I’ll share on Flyertalk given I haven’t seen a published review of it yet and I don’t have a blog set up (yet!)

  28. Flew the CX A350 last week to IAD. The seat and IFE are very good. Service was just OK at best. Maybe all of the good crew were fired for caring about Hong Kong’s freedom

  29. What about Singapore 787-10 business class???. A good idea could be to fly Singapore 787 or A350 regional from Singapore to Perth (5 hour flight plenty of award availability and great use of points). Visit Perth some great hotels and if you have time down south is beautiful and smiths beach SLH. Then maybe fly Garuda A330 business class back to Singapore via Indonesia great cash fares good for qualifying for Delta. Or fly Singapore 787 then A350 or Malaysian business or Cathay on the A350-1000 form Perth to Hong Kong and combine some trips freeing more time up.

  30. As usual Ben, you’re the most creative flyer out there, and can’t wait for all of these reviews! Thanks for the YYZ-SIN tip as well.

  31. Wow! Great article with tons of good ideas to learn from a master. This is great blog content. Thank you!

  32. Nice — can’t wait to read your reviews!

    One aspect of flying that I realize makes a difference is the level of NOISE in the cabin — the lesser the more refreshed I am. Apparently you can buy sound level meters on Amazon for $20 — I would be REALLY, REALLY, REALLY interested if you could record the noise levels (let’s say, on the pillow in the fully reclined/sleeping position) of the various airplanes and seat configurations. If you do so, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    It will also usefully *differentiate* your reviews, as I have not seen any bloggers doing so (I’ve only seen a vague article on the Wall Street Journal that alerted me to the issue).

  33. @Alonzo I flew the old ANA first class product last week and the old J product a couple weeks before that. I found the F experience much better, but the J flight was perfectly fine.

  34. im super excited for more reviews, but I have to say some of these products seem a little boring….how about Azul? Or ANA’s new business class?

    regardless, as always super stoked for the reviews! 🙂

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