I’m Flying Economy More and More.. and Loving It!

Four years ago I told you about my so-called travel life. It isn’t all suites in the air and on the ground.

Two years ago I even shared my renewed appreciation for coach.

Well I’ve been flying more coach recently. See the Most Valuable Way to Use Miles for Domestic Flights.

The truth is – under the right circumstances, it isn’t bad at all.

Although I get that my circumstances are not the same as the median traveler’s.

I’ve got a day trip (miles and points-related, so on my own dime). I used British Airways Avios for the 612 mile flight, 9000 miles roundtrip instead of spending $650.

I finally got Global Entry a year ago, so i don’t have to rely on my elite status to qualify for TSA PreCheck. This morning the PreCheck line was longer than the regular and priority lines (which were both the same).

Though I had booked through British Airways, I added my American Executive Platinum number to the reservation. I often get pushback from US Airways trying to do the same when flying Avios awards on their flights (of course I can do it myself at online check-in) so I just have them add my Known Traveler number to the reservation. BA assigns me premium seats on US Airways anyway.

I left home 75 minutes prior to flight departure. Without even a rollaboard that was 30 minutes early than I needed to, so I grabbed purchased breakfast in the lounge for $6. The American club now has free yogurt. I used it instead of the US Airways club next door because they know the drill on my free drink chits (I redeem for bottled water) via my British Airways Silver status.

I went down to the gate and saw something interesting.

Every upgrade request had been accommodated! That’s something you do not see often on airlines with unlimited complimentary upgrades.

I asked whether there might be any open seats, figuring I’d plead for an upgrade as an Executive Platinum on an award ticket. But first was full.

And I did not mind one bit. American’s ‘main cabin extra’ seating with additional legroom is perfectly roomy for a two hour flight.

With a middle seat open next to me, this was actually better than first class, or at least it’s better than US Airways first class since the seat pitch is about the same!

I even felt like I was in US Airways first class, since as a 100,000 mile flyer I get a complimentary cocktail and snack when flying coach. (The M&Ms I figured I’d save for later… not breakfast!)

While I don’t want to fly this way on an overnight flight (though I’m fairly convinced of the merits of ‘angled-flat’ business class seats), there’s really nothing at all wrong with it.

I’ve even got internet. What could be better in life?

I’m flying US Airways more and more, they have a ton of short haul flights up and down the East Coast from my base of Washington’s National airport. They don’t have the extra legroom seats in coach. That makes a difference, but up to New York or down to Charleston that’s perfectly fine.

And I’m still terribly spoiled, I do not want to fly US Airways coach across the country.

But more and more frequently I’m giving coach a shot, because the economics just work out. If I’m going to hit my 100,000 paid qualifying miles anyway, then on trips that aren’t being reimbursed cheap economy awards booked with British Airways points are a real option for me.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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