When Things Go Very, Very Right

a group of green clovers

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Let’s face it; most of us in the miles and points world are exceptionally good at complaining. If we’re not complaining about the seats on aircraft or the food onboard we’re probably complaining about mileage devaluations and lack of award availability. It’s what we do.

But, every now and again, fate smiles kindly on our plans and, begrudgingly, we have to admit that we’re kind of lucky. These are good moments and play a big part in keeping us interested in the game we play.

However, if those are good moments, very occasionally we have an exceptional piece of luck that even the biggest curmudgeon has to admit is something truly rare. Those are great moments. This is a story of how a simple piece of good luck turned into a truly exceptional piece of luck and gave me a very cool experience that I may not otherwise have had.

The Backstory

I don’t get to do too may mileage runs nowadays. Spending as much time as I do in Europe means that the days of LAX-ORD-LAX for $125 (5 times in two weeks during a double EQM promotion) are behind me…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep an eye out for a great deal.

Back in July I found some good Europe – Los Angeles coach fares that I ended up booking to try out a few different routes and aircraft. Then, in November, I saw an alert posted by AirFareWatchdog, for some great Los Angeles – Dallas fares for January 2016.

I was only due to be in LA for 4 nights in the whole of January but I thought I’d check to see what dates these fares were available anyway.

The First Bit Of Luck

The truly great same-day-return fares were only available for 4 or 5 days in the whole of January but one of those days coincided with my trip to LA.

Los Angeles to Dallas and back for just $74.60! That’s 2,470 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) at 3.0 cents/mile and 4,940 Redeemable Miles (RDM) thrown in for good measure. It was a steal and I had to book it.

The Second Bit Of Luck

The next bit of good luck came when I went to book the flights. Not only were the flight times very civilized (8:35am departure from LA returning around 4:20pm), but the flights were being served by an American Airlines 777-200.

This may not seem that lucky to you until you find out that American was selling the flight as a 2-cabin aircraft. American Airlines’ 777-200 are normally reserved for their long-haul international routes and the older aircraft (of which this was one) have 3 cabins which include a First Class AND a Business Class cabin. This meant that, thanks to my status with American, I could select a seat in the Business Class cabin despite only paying for an Economy Class fare – that’s an international Business Class seat (albeit an old one) to and from Dallas for $74.60.

american-airlines-milage-run Normally I don’t get much luckier than that….but this time I did.

 The Luck Continues!

In early December I got an alert from Award Wallet to tell me that there had been a change to my flight. I’m always getting alerts from Award Wallet about one flight or another and, normally, these changes end up being something like a small (5-10 minute) schedule change and are of no interest whatsoever. But this time was different.

The alert wasn’t to inform me of a schedule change, it was to inform me of an equipment change.

99 times out of 100, when I already have a great aircraft on my route, this alert would be bad news. Ordinarily the aircraft would be swapped to something like a 757 or 737. Ugh!

But, like I said, this time it was different. The new aircraft on the route was an American Airlines 787 Dreamliner.

American Airlines Dreamliner 787-8

Now, there are two things you need to know:

  • Up to this point I had never set foot on a Dreamliner and, as someone who blogs about this stuff, that was a little bit embarrassing.
  • The chances of me flying an American Airlines route served by a Dreamliner any time in the near future had looked very slim indeed. The airline uses its 787s to New Zealand, China and South America and, as I have no plans to fly to any of those places (from the US) anytime soon, the chances of me getting to review the American Airlines product didn’t look good.

There was one downside to the aircraft swap – I was no longer in a Business Class seat, I was back in Economy Class where my ticket said I belonged. To be honest I didn’t care about that too much, I was just happy I was going to get to try out the 787 to see what it was all about.

When selecting my seats for the two back-to-back flights I decided to book an exit row seat and a regular Main Cabin Extra seat to see how they compared and to get some useful info to blog about). But there was to be one last twist to this tale.

The Cherry On Top

As an American Airlines Executive Platinum member I’m entitled to complimentary upgrades on all domestic flights (subject to availability) and, as if I hadn’t been lucky enough already, my upgrades both cleared the day before departure.

upgrade-list-american-dreamlinerThe upgrade list was 16 long shortly before departure

Believe it or not I seriously considered rejecting one of the upgrades so that I could review the Economy Class cabin of the 787 (which is meant to be very cramped indeed) but I couldn’t do it 🙂

I have no idea when I’ll next get to fly on an American Airlines Dreamliner so I couldn’t say no to a second trip up front. There wasn’t much choice left on the seat map by the time my upgrades came through but I did manage to snag two different types of seat – a backward facing seat on the outbound journey and a forward facing seat on the return – so at least I can compare the merits of both in a future blog post (look out for that in the next week or so).

Bottom Line

Wow I got lucky. Between being able to get such a ridiculously cheap fare and ending up at the pointy end of an American Airlines Dreamliner I think I used up a lot of my luck for 2016 – look out for a future post where my 777 gets downgraded to a 757 and I lose my upgrade in the process 🙂

Sometimes this game or hobby (or whatever you want to call it) can be very frustrating and it can feel like the airlines are eliminating all the great benefits and that the mileage loopholes are rapidly disappearing. It can feel like you’re losing the game. But, every now and again, something like this happens and it can remind you that there are still great deals out there and you can still really luck out…and that’s a nice feeling. It feels like a win.