Help me decide which British Airways flight to take…

As part of a trip I have planned for a couple of months from now (I’m being intentionally vague, so stay tuned), I’ll need to book a one way ticket from London back to the US. I’ve decided I want to try out British Airways first class using American miles, and being the “maximizer” I am, plan on flying to the west coast of the US and then booking a separate, cheap ticket back home on United.

While I’m at it, given that American is also partners with Alaska Airlines, I figured I’d add a segment in Alaska Airlines first class to Seattle, just so I can write a quick review of Alaska (since I haven’t flown them before).

Anyway, my two practical options are either to fly London to Los Angeles to Seattle, with an overnight in Los Angeles, or London to San Francisco to Seattle, with an overnight in San Francisco.

Both routes have award availability, though I can’t for the life of me make a decision. Here are the factors playing into my decision making process:

Going via Los Angeles:

  • Based on the recent trend, there’s not a very good chance of getting the new first class product, though my trip is only in a couple of months, so that could change.
  • Seats 2A & 2K are available, which are the best seats on the 747 when traveling alone
  • Not-so-great airport hotels near LAX
  • As ridiculous as it might sound, flying from London to Los Angeles in British Airways first class just seems like a more fun city pair than flying from London to San Francisco… anyone know what I mean?
  • The Alaska Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Seattle offers a meal service, as opposed to San Francisco to Seattle, which is a snack service. It’s not significant in and of itself, though the main reason I’m connecting to Seattle is to experience/review Alaska’s service, so it is a small consideration

Going via San Francisco:

  • So far this year, the route has been operated by British Airways’ new first class product just about every other day. Of course the trend can change, especially since this trip is only in a couple of months.
  • Seats 2A & 2K are occupied, so I’d have to settle for a different seat
  • Since I’m spending the night, when it comes to airport hotels, I far prefer the Hyatt Regency SFO to anything at LAX

Thoughts? What would you do, all else being the same?

Filed Under: Advice, British Airways
  1. LHR-LAX because it’s longer than LHR-SFO, maximizing my time spent in F. Plus my F flight from LAX-SEA would be longer than SFO-SEA.

  2. Go to LAX. Then, to maximize Seattle AS first class, go direct from LAX to YVR and stay the night at the YVR Fairmont.

  3. How important is it to you to have a possible “brush with fame”? I would think odds are much better going to LA as opposed to SF. Two years ago Paris Hilton and her entourage walked right by my wife and I at Tokyo Narita – only for us to find out she was on our same United flight to LA (albeit she was in F and we were in C). Not a big deal to us, but it made for interesting small talk!

  4. FWIW, as AS MVPG75K, there is nothing special or unique about AS’s west coast F service besides boardroom admission. If you really want to experience the most of AS’s F service, I would recommend you to try them on a transcon flight or one of their Hawaii flights. LAX-DCA always has decent F availability at the low level…

    If you are sure that chances are good you will get to fly in the new BA F by flying to SFO [based on the current trend] then I would shoot for that, because I was told that the new F seats blows the old F seats…

    Besides, that, you are in this for the unique flying experience not the hotel experience, so base your decision based on maximizing your flying experience šŸ™‚

  5. Well if you go SFO its just a quick BART or Samtrans ride to your favorite hotel.

    Book a ticket to SEA maxing out the 24 hr rule the next day and enjoy your 4pm late checkout at the IC.

  6. “As ridiculous as it might sound, flying from London to Los Angeles in British Airways first class just seems like a more fun city pair than flying from London to San Franciscoā€¦ anyone know what I mean?”

    No, I don’t.

  7. As a former Bay area resident and a current LA area resident, I say – no contest, Bay Area!

    1) Transportation to SFO from the city is much more hassle free in the Bay Area vs. LAX. No real reason to stay at the airport in SFO unless your flight is very early
    2) Many more restaurant choices in SFO. While LA has good ones, it’s a major cab ride to them
    3) The bay is gorgeous. Even if you only have 30 minutes before dinner, a walk by the bay is gorgeous.
    4) The views in SF are gorgeous.
    5) Better chance of getting first class according to you.

  8. LAX due to better weather, less chance for delays. And you seemed to be okay with the Crown Plaza there, or even the Century City Intercon, which is not that far away. I personally love the LAX Sheraton Gateway, but I know you are not a Starwood person. And as you said, you get a fuller experience on AS.

  9. If you want to share the cabin with people in baggy sweatpants and oversized sunglasses – LAX all the way!

  10. Having flown LHR-LAX in F many times. My vote goes for LAX. Maybe you prefer LA for the celebs onboard, or plain and simple, its a sexier route!!

    As someone already mentioned. The Intercontinental in Century City is not too far away, otherwise the Sheraton is ok. The Westin and Renaissance both need to be refurbished! But there are still ok hotels off Century. The Hilton offers the best views of both the north and south runways šŸ˜‰

  11. Coins said ‘ anyone know what I mean?’

    You don’t even have to explain. Most of us understand the reference!

  12. LAX sounds like a better option all around, and the 2 seats are available. Yummy, They are also my favorites on the 747, except Singapore with its sole 1. The best. Take your chances on Los Angeles Ben.

    Good luck.

  13. If you go to SFO, stay at the Hyatt downtown and travel via the BART. You will waste more time going to and from the airport with the Hyatt shuttle bus, and there is nothing to do out there anyways.

  14. Definitely LAX. Your aim in taking Alaska Airlines is to rate their service. The positives of LAX and SFO on British seem equal, so get the best experience on Alaska to give a more full review.

  15. The danger in BA is the strike and not being able to absolutely confirm you will get their new service.

    How many AA miles are you redeeming one way?

    Great LA hotels available at 70 percent off via jetsetter, voyageprive and tripalertz as well as 4 star hotels by the airport (9 times out of ten, Westin or Sheraton) for $40-60 ai via hotwire and priceline.

  16. Can i be this lucky. Beginning of April i am flying first class from ORD to LHR on BA 294 which is the 747-400. Any way so i checked out the seat map and its a High-J meaning 70 business seats also checked out the economy seating and this has rows 54 and 55. Now according to there are only 4 aircraft with this configuration all of which have NF. Reg numbers are G-CIVF, G-CIVG, G-CIVH and G-CIVI. Im still a while out and i know alot can change but fingers crossed. Last flight out of ORD in first was an old 777 just after the refitted started so i wasnt lucky that time.

  17. If you come through LAX, I will take you out to dinner somewhere good and talk about your F experience šŸ™‚

  18. I’ll take the opposite opinion here – experiencing “new” BA F seems to be much more likely with SFO – and much more notable than experiencing AS F LAX-SEA. So I’d go with SFO. I don’t think that lucky is really celebrity focused which is the advantage of LAX.

  19. What about PHX-LHR? It could be interesting to take the only international flight from an airport, the flight is almost as long as the LAX/SFO options, and there are great hotels within 20 minutes of the airport. The lounge kind of sucks, but the whole experience is kind of fun as you are sitting there waiting to board one of the only widebody flights in the entire airport and definitely the only one going east of Boston.

  20. Oh NM, I saw that you are flying out of LHR. Then definitely try the LHR-PHX flight (my biggest concern was the quality of the lounge, but that is a non-issue now). I bet the loads won’t be as high in F as they will be on SFO/LAX and your flight PHX-SEA will be longer than LAX/SFO-SEA so you can really get a good idea about the Alaska experience.

  21. LAX, both for the chance to review the full AS First service and, far more importantly, for easy access to In-N-Out Burger! šŸ™‚

    (I haven’t had a Double-Double for almost two years now and am absolutely fiending…)

  22. You’re going to use miles to fly to the west coast and then *buy* a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast? Um, how is that maximizing anything? You’re reducing the value of your miles with these shenanigans.

  23. @huh – yeah, there is a cool factor. What route do you think would have a celebrity on it? LHR-LAX or LHR-SFO?

    Not “pretty stupid” IMO. Are you from SF? Did he offend you?

  24. 1K: What are you, 12? “Ooooh I’m so cool, I sat in the first class cabin with Alec Baldwin!!”

    I know Lucky is young and everything, but that’s pathetic. And Overrated is right, it’s also pathetic to fly to the west coast and then buy a return ticket to the east coast just to maximize the”cool” experience.

    Grow up people.

  25. Oh sorry everyone, I was just being a bitch earlier. I guess I just realized that I wish I could travel like Lucky! I’m so sick of Southwest…look what a DOUCHE BAG it makes me. I should really start flying some international first class…

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