Booking the Trip: Skyteam-ing it to Europe and Back
Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington Dulles
Review: Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge Washington Dulles
Review: Air France 777-300ER Business Class Washington DC to Paris CDG
Review: Air France Business Class Lounge Terminal 2F Gate F30 (Schengen)
Review: Air France Business Class Lounge Terminal 2F Gate F50 (Schengen)
Review: Air France JOON A320-200 Business Class Paris CDG to Rome
Review: EasyJet A321Neo Economy Class Rome to London Gatwick
Trip Photos: A Brief Re-visit to Italy & London with a bit of Oxford
Review: Premier Inn London Heathrow Terminal 4
Review: SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow
Review: KLM 737-800 Europe Business Class London Heathrow to Amsterdam
Review: KLM 747-400 World Business Class Amsterdam to Toronto
Review: United Airlines 737-800 Business Class Toronto to Chicago
Review: United Airlines 737-800 First Class Chicago to Santa Ana
YOUTUBE: Air France: Washington DC to Paris CDG
YOUTUBE: Air France JOON: Paris CDG to Rome
YOUTUBE: EasyJet: Rome to London Gatwick
YOUTUBE: KLM: London Heathrow to Amsterdam
YOUTUBE: KLM: Amsterdam to Toronto
YOUTUBE: United Airlines: Toronto to Chicago
YOUTUBE: United Airlines: Chicago to Santa Ana
Hello everyone and welcome back to this next series of trip reports in which I’ll be flying to Europe for a couple weeks for some vacation. Booking this trip was especially fun given some killer deals I got which I’ll be showing you all of course. Without further waiting, let’s get to it!
So as is the case in most of my trips, I plan certain flights of my trip that I really want to fly and review, and then plan other “positioning” flights around those flights and that’s exactly what happened here. Sometimes the positioning flights make worthwhile reviews, sometimes they don’t. In this case, they did, but not as a part of this trip. While that may initially sound confusing, the explanation will help.
I needed to get to Rome around a particular date +/- 2 days and leave from London on a particular day to get back into Los Angeles. I was originally going to book with cash, but it occurred to me that Air France had released their promo awards for the winter and I wanted to jump on to review Air France and KLM’s business class products intercontinentally and within Europe.
For those unaware, Air France/KLM’s promo awards are basically award tickets that Air France sells at a discounted rate. You’ll see by the prices below that the rates shown are definitely a discount from what you’d expect.
Check these out:
So I looked at Vancouver first since that’s the longest flight to Europe from North America that was on this list, but none of the timings worked to my likings. So next I tried Washington DC and that worked out perfectly.
For 39,750 Flying Blue Miles, I can fly in Air France’s reverse herringbone business class product and sit right next to a GE-90. A win-win in my books!
So from there, I have a 9-hour layover in Paris Charles De Gaulle in which I plan to plane spot in their intercontinental terminal halls for a couple of hours and then head over to the Schengen side to review both of Air France’s schengen lounges.
Anyways so here is what my route looks like so far:
Now, given that I live in Los Angeles, I have to get to Washington DC somehow. This was one of my “positioning” flights.
So I just booked a red-eye on Alaska For $278 from LAX to DC. As always with Alaska, earning is distance based so I’ll earn just a little under 2,300 miles. Whereas on UA, for the same $278 flight, I would have earned roughly 1,300 miles and actually a lot less because the $278 includes taxes which isn’t a part of mileage earning. Anyways more on that later.
So now my routing looks like this:
So now the outbound flights are all booked. However since I am with relatives that live in the UK, I’ll be flying with them from Rome to London. Typically I would’ve flown a traditional airline like Alitalia or British Airways, but since they had already booked EasyJet from Rome to London Gatwick, I did the same:
At the same time, I’ll be able to have a review of a low-cost carrier I’ve been wanting to review for a very long time. So this will be a good opportunity to review this flight.
Now my route looks like this:
Finally the last part of this journey was coming back to the US. I wanted to book another promo award, flying on KLM if possible.
So after searching for the right awards, I came across this one:
I get to try KLM’s Euro Business Class flight over a short distance and then KLM’s World business class on their 747 over a longer distance which should be nice.
Now that I was back in Toronto, it was time to find a way back to the LA Basin. So I booked a one-way ticket on United:
Thankfully this would fly me right back into Santa Ana Airport which is the most convenient airport for me in the LA basin. Now I booked in economy, though a 1K status friend had some regional premier upgrades that were expiring and he wasn’t flying any time soon, so he applied them to my ticket which was nice so I’ll be on first from Toronto to Chicago and Chicago to Santa Ana. I believe the upgrades cleared instantly because my of my Star Alliance Status, otherwise you’d be on a waitlist. This is the route of the United flights.
So at last, my whole trip looks like this:
So here are the seats that I selected for all my flights:
I just wanted a window seat and I got the front most non-premium seat possible. As I said before, I’m showing the seat for this flight, but the review will be in another set of reports that I’m planning for a later time.
This next flight will be on Air France’s 777-300ER aircraft from Washington Dulles to Paris. On this route, Air France’s 77W is equipped with reverse herringbone seats which are among the best business class seats out there. At seat 11L, which is what I selected, I will be just in front of the giant GE-90 engines which is an absolute sweet spot for me.
This next flight is on JOON, which is a low-cost subsidiary of Air France. So it should be interesting to see how that goes. Below on the seat map, it shows me booked at seat 2F, but Air France collapsed the business class flight to only one row and I got move up to 1F therefore. Unfortunately, I only realized this after check-in time so I don’t have access to the updated seat map to show you guys.
Also given that this flight leaves at 5 and arrives at 7 PM, I’m hoping to catch the sunset by sitting on the right side.
EasyJet has a couple different seating sections on their aircraft. They have an extra legroom section which was about £30, an Up-Front section which was £27, and a standard section and that cost me £6.49. I’m sure the cost of the seats vary by flight length since that’s always how that has worked in my experience though I’m not too sure. I picked seat 11F which was a standard seat.
On this early flight, I selected a bulkhead seat 1F. Here there is no under seat storage but typically these seats have more legroom which is all I’m looking for, especially given that European business class seats are just economy seats with a middle seat blocked out.
This flight was operated by a 747, so I was excited to fly this flight. It’s always fun to fly in the nose of the 747. Now KLM’s 747 nose layout is a jumbled mess. There are some seats which are in pairs and others which are single seats. I had assumed I would not be able to pick single seats since I thought they’d be reserved for FlyingBlue elite members. I am not a FlyingBlue elite member and I selected the single seat 4A.
Now back in Toronto, the rest of the flights are United and I chose seat 1F for the first shorter leg.
And for the last flight from Chicago to Santa Ana, I will be in seat 3F. Originally I had picked 7F, however, as I said earlier, a friend had some regional premier upgrades that were expiring and he didn’t have any travel for some time, so he upgraded me on this 4-hour flight to Santa Ana, Awesome and thanks!
So on this trip, there are a few lounges I will be visiting or trying to visit for sure.
- Etihad First and Business Lounge
- Turkish Airlines Lounge
In Washington, Air France actually has its own lounge, however, it’s undergoing expansion between November of 2018 and March of 2019 so the lounge itself is closed. All Air France Business Class passengers and SkyTeam Elite passengers flying on Air France will be sent to the Etihad Lounge. All Air France La Premiere passengers, KLM World Business passengers, and SkyTeam elite passengers traveling on KLM will be sent to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse during the time of this renovation. So even though I was not intending on it at the time of booking, I’ll get a review in of Etihad’s lounge in IAD.
Additionally, I will also be visiting the Turkish Airlines lounge which can be accessed via priority pass. In any normal day, I could access this lounge with my Star Alliance Gold Status, however, my flight was on Air France, and you have to be traveling on a star alliance carrier to use your status to enter a lounge, but priority pass covered the rest of the basis anyways.
- Air France Business Class Lounge Terminal 2F Gate F30
- Air France Business Class Lounge Terminal 2F Gate F50
Air France has 2 schengen lounges that I will review. I wanted to check out their non-schengen lounges which are definitely way nicer, though AF staff wouldn’t let me 🙁
- Skyteam Lounge
In terminal 4, the terminal that KLM flies out of at LHR, Skyteam operates its own lounge there which I’ll be able to review prior to my flight.
KLM has a fantastic new lounge for its non-Schengen lounge. Unfortunately, on the day that I flew, there were very bad winds in Amsterdam and my flight arrived 2 hours late into Amsterdam as a result and I had to sprint to my next flight, therefore no times to check out the lounge. I flew on the 8th and that was the only affected day, January 7th was clean and January 9th was clean, the 8th was not. On the other hand, I was lucky as all other flights to Amsterdam for the day had been canceled.
I wasn’t too happy about missing out on a chance to check out the new lounge, however, there’s something to look forward to next time. Also the rest of the lounge will be done by summer 2019, so a full review for the next time, whenever that is.
As was the case with the previous flight, because of the winds, my inbound flight to Toronto was also really delayed and so I only had enough time to clear immigration, change terminals, and clear US pre-clearance and head to the gate.
Sadly there was no time for a look at the maple leaf lounge. But as is the case with the KLM lounge, there’s a next time to look forward to now.
Now I’ll be staying in a couple of hotels in this trip, though I thought I’d toss in a review of the last hotel which is the Premier Inn at LHR terminal 4 given that it’s a hotel lots use right before flying out of LHR.
The date on the hotel is wrong in the photo, however, the price is the same. You don’t get the same nice(r) amenities that you get in branded hotels like the Hilton next door to this hotel and the such, but for the price you pay, it’s an exceptional value. More on that in the actual review.
Earnings and Cost:
The first flight of this trip is from Los Angeles to Washington DC. With Alaska, unlike other US carriers, you earn miles per miles flown rather than per dollar spent. So the flight cost $278 and the distance was 2,288 miles so I’ll be earning exactly 2,288 Alaska MileagePlan Miles, and 1 qualifying segment.
Then for the second segment from Washington to Paris to Rome on Air France business, I paid 39,750 FlyingBlue Miles + $238.22. Of course, since this was a mileage redemption, I earned no miles for this flight.
The next segment was EasyJet from Rome to London Gatwick. This cost €188 which is roughly $212 as of November 2018. I probably earn miles for this, but I don’t think there are any useful partners nor would I find any use in Easyjet’s program, so I won’t even bother with the miles for this flight.
The next segment I paid for was the return segment which started with London Heathrow to Amsterdam on KLM Euro Business Class and Amsterdam to Toronto on KLM World Business Class. This was 39,750 FlyingBlue Miles + $448.03 in total. In general, I found the taxes and fees to be a little steep on this one, but given the near 50% discount on the usual award price, I surely wouldn’t complain. And once again, since I used miles for this flight, None would be earned.
Now, where did I get 79,500 FlyingBue Miles from? I transferred 80,000 miles over from Chase Ultimate Rewards into my FlyingBlue account at the time of booking after I confirmed the availability was not going anywhere, and surely enough, the bookings were available when I was booking. The transfer was instant too which I really like about Chase.
Then lastly, my United journey from Toronto to Chicago to Santa Ana earns me 463 MileagePlus miles, 2,163 Premier Qualifying Miles, and $86 Premier Qualifying Dollars.
Lastly, the Premier Inn hotel isn’t a part of any major hotel rewards program, so I won’t bother with the points.
Airline: Alaska Airlines
Route: Los Angeles to Washington DC
Flight Number: AS 1114
Date: 23 December 2018
Departure Time: 10:20 PM
Arrival Time: 6:15 AM (+1 day)
Aircraft: Airbus A321Neo
Airline: Air France
Route: Washington DC to Paris CDG
Flight Number: AF 55
Date: 24 December 2018
Departure Time: 6:30 PM
Arrival Time: 8:00 AM (+1 day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Airline: Air France JOON
Route: Paris CDG to Rome
Flight Number: AF 1404
Date: 25 December 2018
Departure Time: 5:00 OM
Arrival Time: 7:05 PM
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Route: Rome to London Gatwick
Flight Number: U2 8258
Date: 31 December 2018
Departure Time: 8:55 PM
Arrival Time: 10:35 PM
Aircraft: Airbus A321Neo
Route: London Heathrow to Amsterdam
Flight Number: KL 1002
Date: 8 January 2018
Departure Time: 8:40 AM
Arrival Time: 11:05 AM
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Cabin: Euro Business
Route: Amsterdam to Toronto
Flight Number: KL 691
Date: 8 January 2019
Departure Time: 1:30 PM
Arrival Time: 3:35 PM
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Cabin: World Business
Airline: United Airlines
Route: Toronto to Chicago O’hare
Flight Number: UA 582
Date: 8 January 2019
Departure Time: 5:40 PM
Arrival Time: 6:38 PM
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800W
Airline: United Airlines
Route: Chicago O’hare to Santa Ana
Flight Number: UA 2003
Date: 8 January 2019
Departure Time: 7:45 PM
Arrival Time: 10:13 PM
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800W
I hope you guys enjoy these flights and reviews upcoming. I sure am excited to write up these trip reports and create the YouTube videos. Stay tuned for the trip. There’s a good amount coming your way! Cheers!