Off to Shanghai today on an empty one!

To take advantage of American’s double elite qualifying miles promotion for the month of January I’m off to Shanghai today for a mini-vacation (aka mileage run of sorts). My upgrades cleared for all flights, so I’m quite the happy camper on an $1,100 fare where I’ll be earning over 40,000 elite qualifying miles and redeemable miles.

I’ll be taking American’s fairly new Los Angeles to Shanghai flight, and can’t help but notice how darn empty it is in first and business class. I’m used to empty premium cabins on foreign carriers that don’t make upgrades and award tickets easy, but I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a flight on a US airline this empty up front.

No seats are assigned in first class (the two seats that are blocked are pilot crew rests):

And only 14 of the 37 business class seats are assigned:

As always, seatmaps aren’t necessarily an accurate indication of loads, but in general if a seatmap is empty, the flight is empty.

I’m curious how full the flight ends up after non-revs. Shanghai in January mid-week probably isn’t too hot of a destination for most non-revs, so maybe first class will stay empty and the crew will have an especially pleasant flight.

I also have to mention how awesome Admirals Club agents are. When I checked in at the San Francisco Admirals Club this morning the agent said “now Mr. Lucky, are you already registered for the double miles promotion we’re running through the end of the month?” Entirely minor, but at the same time it’s nice to see an employee that actually cares about customers (which is more common than not at Admirals Clubs).

Filed Under: American, Mileage Runs
  1. Have a great flight out of LAX! I’m flying via ORD (in business cabin). Let me know if you want to meet for a cafe con leche in Xintiandi.

  2. SFO is my home club. They know my husband and I go off and do turns during these promos. Last time we were through a couple weeks ago, they made sure to ask that we were registered for both promos.

    The SFO AAngels are some of the best in the system (specifically the ones who got brought up once they closed SJC!)

  3. One of the reasons the flight is empty is because of Chinese New Year. Most offices are closed until the end of the month. You may or may not actually notice how quiet(er) Shanghai is, with most people spending this week in their hometowns.

  4. This is probably due to CNY (Chinese New Year) which is Monday Jan 23rd. Most factories and corporations are closed this week. There are very few business travelers to China this week.

  5. Ben, Enjoy your Shanghai trip, enjoy the area, if time permit you need to try their soup dumpling…it is very yummy but very hot (not spicy hot) so becareful.

  6. On the other side of the coin, I flew PVG-SFO last Friday, the last workday before the holiday (think equivalent of Wednesday before Thanksgiving). The UA 77Q, with seven revenue seats, had seven full-fare F paying customers. In business, 16 of the 40 seats were taken by Global Services members on paid business fares. Not a single person was an upgrade from C->F or Y->C.

  7. @ Carberrie — I’ll be seeing you!

    @ TheBeerHunter — Totally agree, they’re fantastic.

    @ Charlene — Is that just their name, or are they actually made of lions’ heads?

  8. Must have just missed you at SFO lounge. On my way to ORD for MR. Francisco (Frank) who works there is amazing as are all of the ladies the in the morng.

  9. You’re hitting the end of the chunyun period. There will be a lot of people traveling, just not in your direction (and mostly at train stations but airports should still be at their busiest).

    +1 on the foods that people have been recommending. I can recommend some restaurants as well if you’re interested.

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