Oneworld Megado at American Airlines and Systemwide Upgrade Giveaway

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Congrats to Tom A. who won the British Airways goody bag and 13,000 Avios points! His BA redemption tip was: “Los Angeles to Honolulu: Avios: 12,500 points and $10.70.” I’ll be in touch to arrange prize delivery shortly.

I already shared some of the more lighthearted moments from our day at DFW on the Oneworld Megado, but I thought I’d also give you a rundown of the full roster of the day’s activities since there was a lot to see, do and learn while we were at American Airlines’ Dallas headquarters. Plus, I’ll be giving away two systemwide AA upgrades, an AA gift card and an Admirals Club day pass so read more about that at the end.

Later this week: Behind the scenes at Boeing and exclusive tours of Cathay Pacific and Qantas jets.

Hyatt Regency DFW

Pretty standard Hyatt Regency room

After my unscheduled arrival from LHR-DFW aboard British Airways, I checked into the Hyatt Regency DFW. The hotel is huge, but nice, I thought, with several restaurants and a lot of activity in the lobby. For a standard room, mine was average sized with a king-size bed, an armchair and ottoman, a work desk, a chest of drawers with a flatscreen TV on top, and a separate bathroom that was actually pretty small and poorly lit, with just one sink and a walk-in shower.

Work desk (no electrical outlets) and the flatscreen TV.

A few of the downsides were that there was no electrical outlet anywhere near the desk (that I could find), so if you don’t have  good battery, you can’t work there. Also, no minibar in the room, and like I said, no bathtub. By far the worst thing, however, was how bad the internet connection was. The hotel was literally a blackhole of internet – my Verizon Mifi didn’t even get service, which is the #1 way to stress out a full-time blogger. I talked to a lot of other Megadoers who had the same issue. For this reason alone, I’ll never return to the hotel (but appreciated their hospitality for the event).

That evening I met Eric and the Seatmate Contest winner Conor down in the lobby to attend the opening night reception, which was hosted by Hyatt. We heard a humorous presentation from Hyatt’s head of the Gold Passport Program, Jeff Zidell, who also told us about the chain’s upcoming spring promotion. Then the new head of American Airlines AAdvantage, Suzanne Rubin, introduced the slew of American executives in attendance, which was a pretty impressive showing.

The American Airlines Pitch

Arriving at American Airlines' CR Smith Museum near DFW.

First our group was taken to a small amphitheater and shown a few AA promotional films about the AAdvantage program, Oneworld partners, and the airline’s past initiatives to increase redemption options on partner airlines and non-airline partners (still waiting to redeem those systemwide upgrades on  partners!). One thing that a lot of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with was AA’s n Air Awards that create flexible (somewhere between MileSAAver and AAnytime) award redemption offers for elite members, but only on domestic flights. If you follow me on Twitter, I was live Tweeting most of the interesting information:

Fun Facts

Most lifetime miles ever earned by one person: 77,560,592

Most miles ever redeemed by one person: 61,845,000

Most segments flown in 2011: 271

Most miles flown in 2011: 1,033,694

Total miles earned by all participants during the Megado: 5,308,399

That’s a lot of time in the air, even by Megado standards!

AA’s New Aircraft

The planned entryway into the 777-300's on order, with a self-serve snack bar meant to be more welcoming.

We also heard from the airline’s Director of Marketing, Rob Friedman, who told us that the airline is expecting the beginning of delivery of 460 new aircraft this year, including new 737’s, the first 777-300’s and Airbuses as they try to build the youngest, most efficient fleet in the world at the moment.

He also showed us pictures of the airline’s new flagship classes including business class seats that look like Cathay Pacific’s new ones, and first class suites with 17-inch screen, USB plugins and power ports, plus (finally!) a 6’8″ lie-flat bed I might actually be able to stretch out in! Coach is going to have thinner seats for more passenger space (supposedly) and 9-inch monitors in every seat back.

AA's new flagship business class. Looks a lot like Cathay Pacific's and a big step up from the current business class.

He also mentioned AA’s Flagship Check-In program at LAX with expedited, escorted check-in for first class passengers on three-class planes and international flights, as well as putting WiFi on more of their planes. Right now 300 have it with the goal of putting it on all 737’s and MD80’s by the end of 2012, and all 757’s next year.

The new first class suite. Can't tell much about it yet, but looks like a sleeker model of the current version.

Technology Improvements

Next up was Andrew Watson, the VP of Customer Technology. He told us about the airline’s plans to make their agents more mobile by giving them handheld tablets and PDA’s to serve customers’ airport needs on the fly, and an exciting new function of AA.com that will allow customers to book British Airways flights directly on the site by the end of Q1 2012 (and possibly Qantas, Royal Jordanian and Finnair soon after).

Water Rescues and Emergency Exits

As you could tell from the pictures in Saturday’s posts, Conor, Eric and I had a lot of fun during the afternoon at CR Smith. At various points we got to participate in the following flight attendant training activities:

-Learning to use the emergency exits in a 767 complete with instruction calls. Lifting the doors isn’t as easy as it looks, although in most cases flight attendants will do the lifting, but I found it good to practice in the rare chance I do ever need to assist in an evacuation.

Preparation I hope I never have to use: jumping down the emergency slide.

-Sliding down a 767 emergency slide–you go really fast and have to cross your arms and brace for impact at the bottom.

Making it into the raft one by one.

-Watching Megadoers who had won a bidding auction for charity participate in a simulated water rescue. One of the participants went in a full suit and tie to get the full experience. I watched from afar, but it was good to watch them not only all enter the raft, but also put up the protective cover and learn about all of the different emergency supplies they keep onboard.

Is that fire outside the safety-training 757 set!?

-Testing out a 757 module that simulates turbulence and a cabin fire, which was good training and even a little bit stressful. Lesson learned: you should actually pay attention to the safety briefings – even if you are a frequent flyer.

AA's practice flight simulators for training pilots on various aircraft. Each one costs about $15 million.

-Watching pilots training on how to fly various aircraft in AA’s high-tech simulators.

AA's Services Operations Control room, lots going on here from monitoring weather and routing flights to handling crises

-Visiting the Systems Operations Control room (well, the crisis room that overlooks it) and learning about how the airline’s systems controllers are in touch with every plane in the sky and on the ground on various routes and how they handle issues like my plane at LHR not being able to fly — rerouting equipment, passengers and flights.

Contest

I’m giving away the two American Airlines systemwide upgrades I was given because of the London plane mishap. These upgrades are eligible on any coach fare – so you’ll purchase a flight and I’ll apply them (there are no fees). Each upgrade will work one-way for one person from either economy to business class or from paid business to first class. Second place prize is a $50 American Airlines gift card and third is an Admiral’s club lounge pass.

You have three ways to enter:

1) Comment on this post with an example of how you are a points/miles geek. (For example “I check my frequent flyer mile balances more than my bank accounts”)

2) Follow and Tweet me with the American Airlines route that you’d use your systemwide upgrades on if you won

3) Like Me on Facebook and comment on my wall and repeat one nugget of information from in-flight safety announcements that stands out to you the most

I’ll randomly assign a prize to each entry method and announce winners on Wednesday at 8:30am EST with the next Megado post.

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