International Economy Class Trip Report, Coming Right Up…

Almost every time I post a trip report someone asks me why I never write reviews of international coach. The simple answer is that if I can avoid coach, why wouldn’t I? That’s one of the beautiful things about this hobby — we can often fly first class for less than we’d pay for coach.

The truth is I don’t remember the last time I flew international coach. It’s something I never take for granted and am extremely grateful for, though at the same time I’d like to think I’ve “put in” my miles. I’m 23 and have flown north of three million miles, so I think my rear is justifiably sore enough to seek out flat beds whenever possible. If I had any more crow’s feet at my age I’d be running an aviary.

The last time I’ve flown international coach must have been close to 10 years ago, I believe on Condor from Tampa to Frankfurt, back when they still had a smoking section. My mom’s a smoker and would always book us in the first few rows of the smoking section, figuring it would “smell less like smoke” up there. What she failed to consider is all the selfish morons that booked the non-smoking section and would literally stand in the aisle by the first row of the smoking section and puff away for half of the flight. Oy.

Anyway, one of my favorite perks of being an American Executive Platinum member are the eight systemwide upgrades I get annually. I’ve yet to have one not clear, though I have a trip this week where my upgrade is still waitlisted and business class is sold out, so it’s very likely I’ll be sitting in the rear. I actually booked this ticket way in advance and at the time I booked, only a handful of seats were taken in business class and coach was almost empty, so I have to imagine I’m right at the top of the upgrade list. Damn impressive if American actually sold all those business class seats — good for them!

Fortunately — or unfortunately for you guys, depending on how you look at it — it’ll be on a 777-300ER with wifi, so you can bet I’ll be “sharing” my experiences the entire way (so be sure you’re following along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook). On the plus side, at least I’m in Main Cabin Extra, which is about as pleasant as coach gets, in my opinion.


In the likely event I do end up in coach, any special requests? I may even make a video of the experience, if that’s something you guys would enjoy.

Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you guys if you send bad upgrade karma my way and hope it doesn’t clear…

Again, ultimately coach isn’t a big deal, but it’ll certainly be a new experience for me, given that the last time I flew it internationally was back in the days where I wore velcro shoes (or something like that). 😉

Filed Under: Travel
  1. :popcorn:

    To be honest, I’d be more interested in an economy class trip report from you than another one in first! I think you need to take one for the team. 🙂

  2. I had a SWU not clear on a LHR-LAX flight this year. First time ever, so it does seem like they are selling more J seats in the 777-300

  3. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but only 25% of my SWUs have cleared for the last two years. Hell, one flight I had to pick a connection through CDG instead of LHR to have one clear. Already burned 2 for domestic shorthaul for a friend (I know, I know) and currently sitting on 4 that will probably go unused by 2-2014.

  4. Having a no-smoking zone on a plane is like having a no-peeing zone in a swimming pool.

    You are taking a bullet for the team, thanks! Is it one of those 10 across sardine cans?

  5. @ beachfan — It is, except on the 777-300ER Main Cabin Extra only has nine seats per row, so is a bit more comfortable.

  6. Lucky,
    Now that you are taking one for the team, may I suggest 2 options
    either the 1st exit row in the middle seat of 3 or the last row of MCE; that is 16E or 19E for a real life experience.

    If you REALLY want to take one for the team, consider row 44 E/G on the 77W
    I did that last row on Y- on LH from IAD-FRA once in a 747 and lived!

  7. “I may even make a video of the experience”

    ummmm what really are you expecting? flying coach internationally isn’t some huge sacrafice. you’ll live. relax

    not sure how interesting a video will be considering i’d say everyone here has done it quite a few times

  8. I survived in AA Y when my SWU didn’t clear – despite of being #1 on the upgrade list. Ironically, I needed someone to show up, instead of no-show, for them to upgrade me, and that didn’t happen.

  9. If it’s not a full flight, hopefully the gate agent can lock you a full row all to yourself! If you get a full row, it would be great to see the best economy bed you can make on your own. Safe travels!

  10. Is this related to the cheap GRU fares you posted not too long ago?
    In general I’ve been able to get 3 seats in the last row of MCE when flying to Brazil… not quite a flat bed, but it does the trick 😛

  11. Please be sure to bring a set of your 1st class PJs and change into them for the flight. Would be interesting to see the reaction from your fellow passengers. I think a lot of people who have never been lucky enough to ride up front don’t even know those things exist.
    Also maybe you could bring some Hello Kitty gear.

  12. Don’t forget a food report. I don’t think I had a school lunch which ever looked so bad as a Y dinner.

    If you reallllly wanted to take one for the team you’d take 44E on a 763. Pretty much like 44E/G on a 77W except no IFE, no wifi, and no AC/DC power. Yay!

  13. THE HORROR! Flying like many of us have to… I generally like your blog and have fun dreaming what it’s like to fly biz/1st, but this post sounded pretty self-entitled.

  14. It’s like getting a shot. You’re going to dread it, but it’s very survivable 🙂

    Stock up on sleeping pills.

  15. Wow. Speechless. Good luck back there… I am going to love to hear all the updates. I am sure they will be comical.

  16. Please make sure to get pictures of the turndown service and by all means do not forget to snap a few pictures of the wine list. Is there a shower in the back of AA’s new 777-300ER? If so, obviously we would love to see that too.

    How exciting! 🙂

  17. Main Cabin Extra is NOT Coach, Lucky! If you really want to take one for the team, I agree with Jon – head back to one of those other rows that 80% of the passengers are in, and tell us how much you love the “new AA” then!

  18. C’mon!!!! If you really want to have a coach class experience get a 14-15 hours flight to Asia in a middle seat in the middle row with 5 seats towards the back of the plane. Put your fancy first class PJs, sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!!! Also, make sure you visit the bathroom after around 11 hours into the flight. That is what I call a coach class experience. LOL!!!!!!!

  19. That smoking experience sounds like a nightmare. Definitely add me to one of the people who would be interested in reading about your experience in coach. Especially because coach experiences (read: comfort) vary so much!

  20. I forget that people used to smoke on a plane. So how did we stand it?

    I also forget that Lucky is only 23. (Where is the “living in a hotel” update, btw?)

    A sore rear reference? I know there’s a funny line there somewhere but I’m not touching it. (Er…let me rephrase that.) 😉

    How do I know your fans at American Airlines will get this upgrade to clear. It would be a fun departure, however, to read your observations about economy class.

  21. Hah! And you didn’t even mention the worst part of the flight: landing in GRU!! Best of luck!
    It’s tough for us Brazilians, and I can’t imagine how bad it can be for someone who doesn’t speak Portuguese.
    For a full coach experience, try getting something to eat in GRU, but not on the lounges.

  22. Can’t wait for your report, Ben! You’re one of the best trip report writers and I’m looking forward to reading it. Video would be great also.

  23. Main Cabin Select is not the true Coach experience. Especially these days. I have been flying Coach for years and have seen the product deteriorate dramatically. Increasingly shallow pitches, narrowing of seats, disgusting poorly maintained and overused bathrooms — you name it — it’s a nightmare to travel. And most Coach flyers fly just under enough times and miles to warrant accumulation of enough points for upgrades or elite status.

    And I agree with Joe — Come back and fly with the rest of us. then you will see why we are always tweaking you.

  24. Lucky, select an exit row seat and see what happens. You might get a very unusual video. When I was in Brazil last year, flying domestic TAM, one of our group was evicted from the exit row cuz she couldn’t speak Portugese :-).

  25. Lucky, for some reason, I have a good feeling about this – I think you won’t have to take one for the team! Enjoy!

  26. You’ll probably get to check-in and the computer will read the number of miles you have and be like “DOES NOT COMPUTE!” and will violently shake with smoke bursting out of the sides, and out pops a first class upgraded boarding pass. Lol

    It’s a great idea, and although I understand you don’t have to, but your flying life is the minority flying life, it’s artificial. Surely, you must be interested in having a first-hand experience of how Economy has evolved and updated, after all for a plane with 440 seats, about 370 of them are probably experiencing Economy. That’s like when I was upgraded to Business on a flight, apart of me was annoyed, because I specifically chose to fly that airline to know what the Economy flight was like, and I never got to experience it, after all that. YES, RECORD IT, UPLOAD IT!

    On a separate note, you are my age?!!?!?! Holy crap, I feel so unaccomplished. I don’t even own a credit card haha! I wish there was an Australian version of you to help me select the best credit card to get, you wouldn’t happen to give global advice?

  27. Wait, u r taking a coach flight? But will you please accept my friend request on facebook since I don’t have twitter and Instagram.

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