Because getting there is not fun.

Upgrades for my upgrade

Thu, 2008/03/20 - 11:13 by aargh

My passport has picked up its fair share of stamps, with most of my transatlantic travel involving Paris. Those of you who have flown through Roissy/CDG know that AA hardly considers it a key business hub. Admirals Club? Yes, though typically a hike from the gate. Arrivals lounge? Not as of my last check. Aircraft? Old 767-300s, aka 763s. Compare this to the modern 777s that grace Heathrow and you may turn a shade of green...

AA's choice of aircraft weighed heavily in my choice of cabin over the years. I tried to like business class on that route, I really did, but I felt it was doing a half-hearted attempt to impress. It offered little beyond the larger seat and more, though not necessarily better, food. To compete with other airlines that provided seat-back entertainment centers -- in coach, no less -- AA passed out portable DVD players and upscale headphones.

No thanks, I said, I'll stay in coach.

(Hearing my pal The Fat Plat boast of Air France's business class accomodations, it's almost enough to make me switch airlines. Note to AA: once AF gets better US partners, let's have a little sit-down, shall we?)

I recently decided to give AA's biz class from Paris another try, and managed to crack a weak smile. The seats struck me as larger and more modern. The food? Sure, my salmon was a little tough, but it was salmon, dammit, and at cruising altitude. I've had worse in fancy restaurants.

-and lo and behold, the seat-backs boasted entertainment systems. They looked like a bolted-on after-thought, but it's a step forward, right?

A step forward, yes, but not quite the full distance. I was still riding in a creaky 763 that looks as old as I feel. Bathrooms? Same size as in coach. Those fancy video screens? Hardly fixtures. Imagine my surprise as flight attendants collected them as part of the pre-landing ritual...

Overall I was satisfied with the experience. It was better than the last time I had tried. Better than a seat in coach, by any stretch of the imagination. Was it worth the upgrade cost? Absolutely. Would it be worth the four-figure, full-fare price on a future voyage? Hmm...