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When Irregular Operations Go Horribly Right: Flying British Airways New First Class on the Oneworld Megado

by on January 26, 2012 · 23 comments

in American, British Airways, Trip Reports

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After a very busy first day on the Oneworld Megado in London and a night at the Hyatt Churchill, the Megadoers arose bright and early for the American Airlines flight back to Dallas.

When I got in the cab to get to the Heathrow Express, I noticed there was a voicemail from American Airlines – apparently the flight from London to Dallas was cancelled and I was reaccomodated. Weird – I loaded my AA iPhone app and saw that I was put on the British Airways nonstop flight, which left an hour later. However, it didn’t show was class I was in – originally I booked the discounted group business class rate and then won an auction to upgrade to First Class for $1,200. Would American honor that and put me in British Airways First Class?

I was one of the lucky ones. I assume because I am an Executive Platinum, they put me on the London-Dallas non-stop aboard a 747, though some other First Class passengers were downgraded to Club World Business Class and most business class passengers had to re-route on other airlines or via Newark, Chicago and Miami.

Killing an extra hour at Heathrow as a First Class passenger was a treat, since their Concorde Lounge is fantastic, with a full-sit down restaurant and great plane-watching views. As a First Class passenger you can guest one other person in, so a bunch of us hung out there before we dispersed to our different flights. I had a traditional English breakfast and some Taittinger Mimosas that helped me start off my long day of travel on the right foot.

English Breakfast at the T5 Concorde Lounge

Honestly, the only negative aspect of the journey was the disheveled “come one, come all” boarding process. There was a fast track lane for premium cabins and elite passengers, but it wasn’t well policed and it was blocked by the stampede of the chock-full 747 passengers who wanted to get on their way.

Borderline chaotic boarding

However, once onboard and I turned left toward the nose of the 747 to the First Class cabin, all stress dissipated. We were welcomed by a super-friendly Dutch purser and a bunch of us Mega Doers took our seats and kicked off the trip with British Airways’ signature cocktail, the Kir Royale.

My British Airways First Class seat--just as nice as I remember!

The overhead view of my seat.

The lunch service started once we were airborne and I had a salad with smoked tomatoes and a crawfish terrine to start, both of which were just so-so, but I really enjoyed my main course of duck and a deconstructed rhubarb crumble for dessert.

The fabulous duck I had as a main course.

I stretched the seat to its full lie-flat position, got about 6 hours of sleep, and woke up in Dallas ready for another day of the Megado.

Deconstructed rhubarb crumble...yum!

Do I think it’s embarrassing that this happened to American Airlines on their Megado? A little, but airplanes have mechanical issues all the time, and the AA and BA crews did their best and got all of us on planes (most of us in our original class of service) quickly—and the bottom line is, we all eventually got to Dallas today, though I was definitely one of the lucky attendees, and I got to experience another Oneworld partner airline rather than flying American the whole time.

Note: If you want to fly British Airways, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points at a 30% bonus until January 31, 2011 and Chase Ultimate Rewards points (from Sapphire and Ink Bold cards) also transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

The Kicker
American slipped a note under my door apologizing for the cancellation and notifying me that in addition to the miles and double EQMs I would have gotten if I flew AA, I’ll get an additional 25,000 miles deposited into my account and two additional systemwide upgrades.  Now that’s what I call proactive, stellar customer service!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • john

    Very nice. Do you think you were treated so well by AA since you were on the Mega Do or since you are a blogger? Obviously others with your status weren’t treated as well, as you said (downgraded to Club World).

  • Anonymous

    As a group we were totally treated better, which is to be expected since we were guests of the airline (though I paid my own way). I wasn’t the only one reaccompdated in first class-many other nonbloggers were in the first cabin with me. In fact Rick, The frugal travel guy, had to route via Newark, so no special treatment there. I think me being accommodated had more to do with being executive platinum and having been confirmed in first class on the AA flight

  • HikerT

    What’s up with the note at the end suggesting folks transfer 1:1 from Chase UR to fly first class on British Airways? Why would anyone in their right mind do that given the fuel surcharges and the massive devaluation of Avios? I could see the suggestion making sense in a post relating to short haul redemption, but in the context of this post what purpose does it serve other than to generate credit card referrals? Perhaps the title should read:

    “When Content Driven By Referrals Links Goes Horribly Wrong: Flying British Airways New First Class using Chase Ultimate Reward Points”

  • Anonymous

    I simply stated a fact that it’s an option (also Amex). If someone is reading this post and wants to try out their new product, they should know how to make it happen. And I’ll disagree that Avios are only good for short haul- the Travel Together companion ticket can be a huge value (even with fees) and upgrading from Premium economy to business can also be a great deal. Just because a redemption isn’t good for your needs, doesn’t mean the same goes for everyone else.

  • HikerT

    There are many other options to get Avios points. Why no mention of them? Why do referral links for Sapphire and Ink take priority over any mention of the BA card, particularly when the the companion ticket is a huge value for someone actually wanting to redeem on BA? The time isn’t necessarily optimal to apply for the BA card, but if I was advising someone re “options” I’d at least tell them to wait for the next 100K BA offer and go for the companion ticket.

  • maryj

    I would assume so…AA is NOT known for its customer service and has been known to actually treat customers quite shabbily even after they have been inconvenienced by cancelling flights, etc. Sad though, that the “haves” get more and the “have nots” get nothing…

  • Dalem

    Brian, jolly good show! Even although the fees are a bit steep, I would suggest that anybody with the opportunity to do this flight (or similar) do it at least once. The Chase 100k Visa for me and the wife + a pair of companion tickets made this a go for our family of 4 last summer. Our return was on BA001 – also a very nice flight if you get the chance.

    Hope you kept the PJ’s as a reminder.

    Cheers!

  • James

    nice to see you finally opened comments (odd they were closed)

    “Now that’s what I call proactive, stellar customer service!” you serious? come on man, don’t be a shill. Instead call it what it was. A smart move by AA to go over the top for bloggers and FT posters on a corporate event

  • http://twitter.com/johnmoorenow John Moore

    AA is looking to win you over from Delta…is it working?

  • Anonymous

    I think I was very clear that this wasn’t a normal flight- it was a charity charter/ PR event. Of course we were treated differently- and as a paying passenger, AA was proactive and hooked it up to every single person on the special charter. They didn’t have to be as generous, but they were.

    Do I think they should treat every flight the same? Absolutely.

  • Anonymous

    No- no one else in First class was a blogger (nearly the whole cabin was megadoers). Rick, The Frugal Travel Guy, had to get rerouted through Newark, which certainly wasn’t special treatment.

  • Anonymous

    I fly Miami-NYC- Los Angeles a lot, so AA’s schedules are much better and their upgrade policy for Executive Platinums internationally is miles better. And after touring Qantas’ A380 and Cathay’s 777 and seeing their first and business class products, I am excited to use the stacks of AA miles I am accumulating on First class. Delta doesn’t allow first class and most Skyteam business class is outdated angled lie flats. I have to say I’m starting to see the benefits of AA/Oneworld, but I’m not 100% sold.

    I miss Delta’s near fleetwide wifi the most and flying out of their terminal at Miami is much, much saner and nicer than AA. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up retaining Platinum on Delta and Executive Platinum on American, so I really don’t have to choose one or t he other at this point.

  • Anonymous

    I definitely kept the PJs! My second pair.

    Agree the fees are high, but its a great product

  • Gregorygrady

    Wow, I can’t believe you are so gullible to think they upgraded you cuz of great customer service or your EXP status. Don’t be so naive dude, they upgraded you cuz you’re a prominent blogger.

  • Herethere

    I recently received the same treatment the same treatment for a U.S domestic flight in which I was put on United and given back the miles i spent + more for flying with United. American Airlines has the best customer service of any U.S airline today…..

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  • Soddon

    I know AA has had some bad reputation in the past, but I’d like to say, I’ve had some really terrific luck with them being accommodating when travel goes wrong. I fly a fair bit internationally (to the UK mostly), but only recently did I switch over from Continental / United (Star Alliance) to B.A. (OneWorld). AA still has always treated me well in terms of getting me on overbooked flights during cancellations, upgrades as a thank you, etc. B.A. doesn’t give me upgrades, but they’re just fantastically more pleasant to fly with, even in steerage.

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