My Trip to Sao Paulo Brazil on the New American Airlines 777-300 in First Class

by on April 2, 2013 · 32 comments

in American, Trip Reports

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Tonight I’ll finally be checking out the American Airlines brand new 777-300ER aircraft from JFK to Sao Paulo, Brazil and thanks to AAdvantage miles, I’ll be enjoying all 4,745 miles in their new First Class cabin. I also reached out to AA to let me on the plane early to snap pics of all cabins, so follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from their premium new aircraft that has gotten rave reviews so far.

AA 777-300ER

AA 777-300ER

I booked the one-way ticket a couple weeks ago for 125,000 AA miles and $2.50. While I generally try to book MileSaaver awards which would have been 62,500 miles, I didn’t have much flexibility on this trip and really wanted to be one of the first people to write about their First class cabin. I’ve been checking award availability on routes with the 777-300 (JFK-LHR and JFK-GRU) and it seems that American has been holding back upgrade space and MileSAAver awards up until the last minute. I guess they are seeing solid demand for the product so kudos to them for being able to make money on their new investment, though it’s bad for those trying to get SAAver awards or to upgrade. For my return flight I wanted to try out the business class cabin, but decided to book a paid trip back because I need to start racking up more Elite Qualifying Miles to re-qualify for Executive Platinum. Right now I’m waitlisted for an upgrade, but space looks good. Worst case scenario I fly in the Main Cabin Select in a prime bulkhead window, which wouldn’t be the worst thing since there are no trip reports of that cabin either. Though I’m really hoping the upgrade goes through!

(American graciously invited me on a comped press trip to London in business class a couple weeks ago, but I turned it down because I personally would rather redeem my own miles and not have my readers think the review was in any way influenced by the freebie.)

My AA award ticket reservation, flying First Class on the new 777-300ER for 125,000 miles and $2.50.

My AA award ticket reservation, flying First Class on the new 777-300ER for 125,000 miles and $2.50.

Business class Saaver awards are available on some flights, which means you can book with Avios: 50,000 and $2.50 each way.

Business class SAAver awards are available on some flights, which means you can book with Avios: 50,000 and $2.50 each way.

While shopping around and seeing what my options were, I saw that a seat in Business on the same flight would have cost me $3873.20 and a seat in First flying was $4,374. Even though I wasn’t about to shell out that kind of cash, my 125,000 AA miles allowed me to sit in a seat that many others probably paid for -  at about 3.5 cents per mile in face value. Not bad- even if it is a AAnytime award. I am still crossing my fingers that a MileSAAver award becomes available pre-departure and I can reticket and get 62,500 miles back!

Back in January of 2011, I flew First Class on AA’s 777 Flagship Suite from Buenos Aires to JFK which I felt was a mediocre experience, so I’m hoping my flight tonight will be much better.

Rows 2 and 3

Rows 3 and 4 in AA’s 777 First Class Cabin on my 2011 flight from Buenos Aires to JFK.

AA's new 777-300ER First Class seat.

AA’s new 777-300ER First Class seat which I’m sure I will thoroughly enjoy tonight.

This is my first time traveling to Sao Paulo and I’ve got a bunch of really exciting events lined up. I have several friends who live in the city and I’ve been very active with amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and got invited to their Inspiration Gala on Friday night honoring Pele and Fergie, which should be an amazing event raising lots of money for a good cause.

My time in Sao Paulo is short, but if you have any recommendations, let me know! I’ll be doing a full flight report and hotel review so stay tuned, but in the meantime make sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the trip. Tchau!

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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  • Arruda, D.

    Hello, and welcome to Sao Paulo! As a Brazilian TPG reader who was born and raised in Sao Paulo and still lives in the city, I would recommend some Brazilian Food at Dalva e Dito, Alex Atala’s (D.O.M.) newest restaurant; or, for some unforgettable japanese sushi, Jun Sakamoto’s omakase (call to make a reservation and ask to seat at Jun’s counter); or Italian food at Fasano or, finally, some delicious Brazilian barbecue at A Figueira Rubayat. Have a nice stay!

  • Don

    How long are you in Sao Paolo? Schedule a meetup…

  • cg

    Go to Sky Bar ontop of Hotel Unique

  • Yev

    Some of my friends will be at the Inspiration Gala as well! Enjoy! It’s gonna be tons of fun!

  • AKold

    Kudos for not taking the freebie. I’m sure paying 125K miles was a difficult thing to stomach but I hope readers appreciate it. And I hope a MilesSaver award opens up with enough time to change it easily.

  • Saverocity

    Brian, I think you have enough credibility to take the freebie and give an impartial opinion. I know some of the readers are jackals, but if you keep going in the way you are then there is no need to worry about these things.

  • Santastico

    Brian!!! I am also a frequent reader of your blog and although Brazilian I live in the US. However, I am in Sao Paulo this week with family on vacation so feel free to reach me by email if you want any tips during your stay. I am taking this opportunity to visit the most amazing restaurants of this incredible city. Go for Italian, Arabic, pizzas and of course meat. Once you try you will be coming to Sao Paulo very often.

  • thepointsguy

    Appreciate that, but I also have plenty of miles and even though a free flight wouldn’t sway me, perception is reality and I know I’d be skeptical so id rather play on the safe side! I have no judgement of other bloggers who do take freebies, but it’s just not for me at this point

  • Thomas

    You’ll want to get a car service. Transportation is a nightmare and English is not very common.

  • Jamison

    hope you’re staying at the Sheraton Sao Paulo or Grand Hyatt! have a great time

  • Chris

    It’s good that you do not have judgement of others since you already took free travel from delta and Hyatt. I don’t have a problem with you doing it, but not if you act like you don’t do it when you have.

  • thepointsguy

    When I took that trip in June of 2011 I disclosed it publicly and since I haven’t since I realized its not worth the reputational risk.

  • R B

    I went to SP several times last 2 years on business.

    Grand Hyatt is really nice but the area is kind of dead.

    Hotel Unique is really nice, next a the local ‘Central Park’. The sky bar and its pool are must see. The gym and interior pool with the ‘slide’ revealed the kid in me :)

    Avoid the Renaissance Marriot nearby Paulista.

    Clubs: D-Edge is one of the most respected clubs for house/techno if you like that sound.

    Sushi: coworkers took me to a fantastic & expensive sushi nearby Faria Lima & Leopoldo Couto…Does anybody know the name?

  • AAdvantage Geek

    Have fun and hope your SWU clears!

  • JP Cross

    Hotel Emiliano is amazing from the japanese spa to rooftop helipad. I strongly recommend staying there. The Sheraton was a bit disappointing, particularly after Emiliano.

  • Anon

    We may have knocked you as “The Shill Guy” for the Chase thing, I respect you greatly for not taking the comp, unlike some other bloggers. Kudos!

  • yhd


    Sao Paulo is an amazing city, and has some of the best food anywhere. EVERYTHING tastes so fresh and natural compared to the GMO foods in the U.S. Little known fact is that SP has the largest Japanese population outside Japan, so the sushi and yakitori etc. is amazing. You can’t miss good sao paulo pizza (unlike anywhere in the world) you should try a milanesa, calabresa (similar to but MUUUUCH better than pepperoni) and a portugesa (with egg, but don’t knock it till you try). Most US flights leave at night and the marriott by the airport offers a day rate if you want to go rest/shower/change and take the free shuttle to the airport for a relaxed night flight. Also try the brazilian churassco, which is everywhere. However, Japanese and pizza are highlights of SP in a way that is hard to describe until you experience.

  • bradsteven

    I don’t see anything wrong with accepting a comp as long as you do a good job of disclosing it. All of your reviews do a good job at remaining impartial without holding back criticism where it’s due. You should enjoy the perks of your notoriety! :)

  • thepointsguy

    As a food, both sushi and pizza are added to my list of things to do.. thx for the recs!

  • thepointsguy

    I’ll enjoy the perks of my skills, which is having more than enough points and miles than I have time! ;-)

  • thepointsguy

    Neither.. stay tuned ;-)

  • thepointsguy

    Fingers crossed.. after flying down in First, I can’t bear to sit in Coach- even if it is “Main Cabin Select”!

  • Santastico

    Mori Sushi in the Jardins area has the best “all you can eat” in Sao Paulo. Otherwise try Guekko or Kinoshita. Pizza has to be at Braz or Carcamano. Best bar is the Skybar at Hotel Unique.


    Santastici is correct in saying go to Mori Sushi in Jardins, loved it! Also, hit up a restaurant called Spot, it is in a business district, but has fantastic food, service and mojitos (yes, mojitos). You can get a caipirihnia anywhere. Also off the beaten path if your friends have time have them take you to the São Paulo Mercado. It is a phenomenal food market and historic building. There you MUST try a Mortadella sandwhich with a chopp (draft beer). You will thank me later for it if you do. My friend lives in a great neighborhood called Vila Madalena. It is up and coming with a bunch of great shops, galleries and cafes. The MAM in Ibuerapera Parque is also a great place to see along with te Niemeyer designed concert hall across from it. Also try to go to the MASP, which is on Avenida Paulista. Another great museum. Enjoy Sampa is one of y favorites cities. This being so because of having some great Brazilian friends who live there.

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  • Peter Bunyan

    That seems like one of the best problems to have. I’m trying to get down to Colombia to do some volunteer work, but I’m finding I have more med school application fees than money. But, if having too many excess miles is causing you duress, I’d be willing to take some off your hands. =)

  • hans

    Well, good thing you weren’t in economy. I took the same flight in the 10 across economy cabin. It was truly hell on earth. The seats are a bit narrower than a 737!! Cramped, narrow aisles with food carts constantly knocking into you. Can’t tell you if the center was better, but my husband complained less and I got hit in the face twice from flight attendants swinging their arms in the aisles as they served mini meals. My husband is 5’10″, 165 lbs, and I am 5’4″, 120, so we are neither tall nor fat and that made this all the more ridiculous. I heard American will convert there 777-200s to 10 across as well.
    It was a good use of your miles, and a reminder for me to never book a flight with American. Nothing changes with this airline.

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