BOOKED: Emirates New First, Air India Business, Swiss Business, TAP Business

Filed Under: Travel

I’ve done an insane amount of travel planning the past few days, and I’m excited to share all the details. I realize the past couple of months I haven’t tried some of the cutting edge products that have been introduced, but I plan to knock out all of them in the first two months of 2018.

A couple of days ago I shared the details of the ticket I booked that included travel in China Southern business class, China Eastern first class, Singapore’s new A380 business class, and most importantly, Singapore’s new A380 Suites. I’m so excited for that trip, though I just booked another trip that I’ll be taking before then, which I’m equally excited about.

This latest trip I booked has me flying Swiss’ new business class, Air India’s business class, Emirates’ new first class, TAP Portugal’s new business class, and more.

Here are the details:

An epic journey to Colombo for 75,000 Aeroplan miles

I needed to get to Colombo (for reasons I’ll explain below). At this point I’ve flown or have booked flights to review most transpacific premium cabin products. So as usual, I spent hours and hours looking at various routings before finding something I liked.

Specifically, I found a routing from San Francisco to Zurich in Swiss’ new 777-300ER business class, and then from there flights to India in Air India’s 787 business class, connecting to Air India’s A321 business class to Colombo. It’s no doubt the long way to go, but it seemed like a fun way to experience some new cabins.

Most programs wouldn’t book that as one award, though this is where Aeroplan comes to the rescue, as they let me book the whole thing — from San Francisco to Zurich to Frankfurt to Delhi to Colombo — in business class for just 75,000 miles. The best part was that there were no fuel surcharges, given that they don’t impose these fees for travel on Swiss and Air India.

Swiss’ new business class product looks quite good, as I’ve only reviewed first class on their new 777s, and business class on their A330s.

But to be honest I’m most excited about reviewing Air India. I’ve only flown first class on Air India, which was interesting, so I can’t wait to see what business class on their 787s and A321s is like.

Emirates’ new first class to Brussels

Emirates’ new first class has been available on flights to Brussels and Geneva since early December. Unfortunately we won’t see these cabins on many planes anytime soon, as Emirates isn’t initially reconfiguring existing planes with these new seats.

Emirates has also been blocking award seats in their new first class, meaning the only way to try it is to pay cash. That’s the whole reason I’m positioning to Colombo, since the best first class fares are available out of Colombo.

So while it’s still a lot of money, I managed to book a one-way first class ticket from Colombo to Brussels for ~2,500USD. It would have been a bit less than double the cost to fly roundtrip, but in this case just flying it one-way seemed like the best option.

My flight from Colombo to Dubai will feature Emirates’ standard 777-300ER first class, while the flight to Brussels will have the new first class. That means within the next few weeks I’ll be able to do a head-to-head comparison of Singapore’s new Suites and Emirates’ new first class.

Getting from Europe back to the US

There aren’t many premium cabin products between Europe and the US that I haven’t yet reviewed. So as I started looking at options between Europe and the US I saw award availability on TAP Portugal from Brussels to Lisbon to Newark. This flight should feature their new business class.

Though I’m also oddly curious to see what the Brussels to Lisbon flight is like, and if they actually offer service, unlike on my last TAP Portugal flight.

Bottom line

I’ll be taking this trip really soon, and am so excited. Obviously the highlight of this will be Emirates’ new first class, though I’m also oddly excited to fly Air India business class. Thanks for reading, and of course for making all of this possible. I’m blessed to be able to do this for a living (and pinch myself every day), and I owe it all to you guys.

Comments
  1. Somehow, I had missed your earlier TAP post. I had the exact same thing happen in September on a TER-LIS flight (which isn’t short), only I didn’t even get a cup of water. No service whatsoever despite paying for business class (which of course doesn’t provide any legroom, so 100% waste). TAP twitter person said that when they are short a crewmember, they “focus on safety.”

    After that, I wasn’t looking forward to my TAP flight LIS-BOS, but it was delightful, a truly excellent biz choice for a transatlantic trip.

    So, I’m going to guess that your BRU-LIS trip is crummy, and that LIS-EWR is great. We’ll see.

  2. Almost every travel planning post you talk about how 3k is “a lot of money” but you end up spending it any way. Clearly it is not a “lot of money” to you. So why not just book and leave all these qualifiers out?

  3. I have a layover in Colombo en route to Male in a couple of days. Would be cool to see you in the corner of the lounge typing away at your MacBook 🙂

  4. You have such a strong moral character, but still you go out of your way to fly an airline that just very recently screwed you over. Why?

  5. Nice trips coming soon ! Don’t hesitate to send me a message if you need infos or want to meetup in Brussels, it’s my home town. It would be a pleasure if i’m around at that time.
    Gilles

  6. Lucky, your enthusiasm and excitement come through in your posts. Thank you for them – they allow me to live vicariously. A Happy 2018 (one with lots of travel featuring lots of new products) to you!

  7. Excited to read about the new TAP product – just booked it myself for July.

    @ejb – The seat map on their site literally changed in the last 3 days from the old to the new (for summer travel anyway), even though SeatGuru still says it’s the old one.

  8. @ Gabriel Aguila — Hmmm, the seatmap for my flight shows the new business class. I know they do last minute swaps sometimes, but do you think it’s just totally wrong, or…?

  9. @ Carl — The alternative was to take a transpacific flight from the US to Colombo, which is why I said that. Sorry, I realize that might have been confusing.

  10. He’s not out there to be some king of dignity, he’s just creating new reviews out there which we can read and enjoy.

  11. @ C.I. — It’s a fair point, though I’d answer in the same way I answer for any other airlines. I don’t let my personal situations with or thoughts on airlines get in the way of reviewing them. It’s the same reason I have no problem flying airlines like Saudia. Even though I strongly disagree with politics, I still think it’s my job to review them.

  12. @ Jettyboy — Fair enough, I’ll try to do that. This blog has grown significantly over the years and does quite well, and booking these kinds of tickets is a perfectly justifiable expense for me nowadays. However, at heart I’m still the same person I was a decade ago, who would be horrified at ever paying cash for a premium cabin ticket. So that genuinely does reflect my feelings when I book these tickets, but then I realize that it’s still the right thing to do.

  13. Hi Lucky. Is Swiss business class availability generally good via Aeroplan? Same as with United? (SFO is my home airport). I’ll be taking a trip to Europe in September and would love to try a new product. Thanks!

  14. @ Matt — At times it is. It’s generally pretty readily available, especially close to departure. Further out it can be tougher, especially out of SFO.

  15. @Lucky Literally just got off Tap Portugal new business class this morning from Bos-Lisbon. Impressed by the seat definitely snag one of either the throne seats or the true window seats by the window, nothing extradorinary but a solid lie flat seat and decent comforter/bedding. I would say the wine was good/very good for business class, but food could use some work amuse Bouche and soup(was only Luke warm and not good) were definitely below average, but main and dessert(ice cream) were both good and decent side salad with it too. Meal service was a little slow for a short red eye so Didn’t wake up for breakfast slept through it. If you have any other questions about it feel free to email.

    Was going to suggest you review it today actually as I was definitely impressed especially compared to your review of their old business class from 2014.

  16. @Matt – I just booked a trip on SWISS business class out of SFO next October. There were a decent number of days to choose from.

    Lucky, are you going to spring $200 for a throne seat??

  17. @Jordan: A warning. I booked SWISS with Aeroplan miles in October, flying in April 2018 SFO>ZRH>SIN and I paid the $200 (per leg!) for throne seat 4A.

    A couple of days ago, I got an itinerary update from Aeroplan (though I couldn’t see what had changed)- and saw that my seat assignments were changed from throne to standard. I called SWISS immediately – and was pretty shocked at the response from them, which was that I hadn’t paid for the seats. I advised the agent I had a receipt from SWISS and she said I’d better check with my credit card company to be sure I’d paid – with a tone that suggested I was somehow at fault. I knew I had paid, but I hung up and went online to find the transaction date and ID, then called SWISS again. I got the same brusque agent – though this time, after putting me on hold for several minutes, she managed to get me back into the seats I’d paid for in October.

    I called Aeroplan and has been my usual experience, spoke with an extremely friendly agent who indicated that the only change to my itinerary was arrival in ZRH went from 15:50 to 15:45 and that sometimes such changes caused the seats to be re-assigned. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any fix for this – though at least now I know I need to keep an eye on my seat assignments with SWISS. As much as I’m looking forward to this flight on SWISS, my interaction with their CS team was certainly not one I would describe as pleasant.

  18. @Steve – no snark. Just pointing out a “writing tic”. Lucky seems to have taken it in the spirit it was intended.

  19. I remember your review of TAP Portugal – a glass of water, 1 per person. Labor dispute or not, I’ll never fly with them because of that. Looking forward to your reviews of the other products on your itinerary though!

  20. We flew Air India business class on the 787 from Singapore to Delhi last year and it was…fine.

    The food was not great – economy level for sure

    The service was charming – two very senior cabin crew, man and woman, who seemed to like their job

    The seat was like any other 2-2-2 forward facing seat – comfortable with little privacy, though we were a pair and the cabin had only a couple other people, so a non-issue

    The cleanliness of the cabin was poor. For such a new aircraft the seats were filthy, and really starting to age (and the colours are gross, IMO)

    Transiting Delhi was not my best airport experience, to say the least.

    All said, while I wouldn’t actively search for Air India award space, I wouldn’t necessarily avoid them if the routing was decent enough.

    Have fun! Looks like a great trip!

  21. Al i can say is that in my experience on TAP was great, i got decent meal on my flight from OSL to LIS, their i connect and flew further to New York on the new business seats witch are great, i think you gonna like it. 😀

  22. Congratulations on your bookings! Finally some exciting reviews ahead for us and some nice fly time for you, Lucky!

    Just my 5 cents: I still don’t think Emirates new 1st class on Brussel or Geneva route is justifiable! Such a lovely product should be there for those on routes longer than 8 hrs. But that’s just the brain talking as it makes sense. I’m aware that for some reason Emirates business figures are not made based on common sense thinking.

  23. @lucky new Tap business class ti The US is only from lisbon to boston and lisbon to jfk The “old” business classe is from Lis to Miami and to Newark

  24. Heading to Colombo next summer to position to try the new EK F. But heading to Geneva, not Brussels (like you’re doing and TPG Zach did). Maybe you chose the latter destination to make an interesting flight back home. Seat 1E? That’s what I chose. Guess we will find out.

  25. Ben — EPIC use of Aeroplan points indeed. Also eager to hear your review of Swiss on SFO-ZRH in the new 777-300ER! Hopefully you’ll like ZRH more this time…though sounds like you won’t be able to avoid the dreaded E Gates 🙁

  26. The new TAP Portugal J is that interesting flight, I see. I scrolled past that part too fast on my mobile to the Bottom line and comments section, duh. And I see you then finally fly Qsuites. Very curious about that review too. Oddly, I’m least curious about, compelled by the new Singapore F and J.

  27. Good luck with AI. Nice newish 787s (if your are on one of those) but with torn seats and rubbish (maybe hit and miss) service. Intl on an Indian carrier in business class has to be 9W (jet). Economy domestic has to be one of the low cost carriers. Domestic business class again 9W

  28. Interesting trip. I like to fly through DEL as a transit passenger frequently. A nice airport and at least I find the transit area stress free and comfortable to navigate. The business class is fine in AI – basically like any of the biz classes on our American carriers, but without the attitude and bland food. I can say that AI definitely has one of the next economy cabins. I was very surprised and pleased with the room on board their 787s!

  29. Thank YOU Lucky – this blog has become an integral part of my mornings, and I’ve gotten into the daily habit of enjoying it with my coffee when I first sit down at my desk. It’s a leisurely way to mentally ease into the madness of the day ahead, and frankly I look forward to it every single day.

    I know it’s a labor of love, and I want you to know how much we appreciate the hard work you and the team put into producing all this content. Anyway, all my best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018.

  30. Hi Lucky, unfortunately there’s is no assurance that you will get the new J in the EWR route, as TAP usually does last minute changes in terms of which plane operates each route.
    However, there is almost 100% guarantee that you will get the new business class on the JFK and BOS routes, as those are the target-routes for their new business class.

  31. @JP in Chicago wellcome to the club. Instead of news – it’s this site I would check for interesting articles without necessary stress about other issues.

    @Lucky, wow once again, great use of points. Now, we cannot wait to see how it all works out. Safe travels!

  32. Re Swiss seat assignment: Yes, it is a common problem that they do not honour paid preferred seat assignments. The “thrones” are just one example, the other one are exit row seats (in Economy, which aslo attract an increased fee). Out of my last 6 segments, they honored it only in one case. And I’m still waiting to get the money back, because they now say that “all seats are equal, and you should count ypurself lucky you got a seat on the flight you booked”. Of course, if this was the case, they should not charge higher fees for some of them …

    The other issue you might face, is their “generous” C-Class catering intra Europe, which now consists of one (1) slice of cold cut (i.e. 10 grams) plus a small bun. Make sure you don’t overeat yourself 😉

    As you can tell, I’m pretty much done with them …

  33. @Lucky how did you go about booking the Aeroplan reward? Did you use the multi-city or one-way search option?

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