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Do redemption seats "devalue" the First Class product?

Max Samuels

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Before reading this - BREATHE! This is not my opinion – it is a QUESTION. And I am not the first person to ponder this – I thought this a great forum for a sensible (?) discussion…

Recently I was reading about AF or LH (or maybe both) that do not allow First Class seats to be fully redeemed as rewards – and upgrades are only made available 7 days or so before, and only the most senior super-duper flyers are eligible. Even QF codeshare on AF has ZERO F inventory (which is weird as they sell the QF/AF combo usually with a QF A380 in the mix). So in essence, to fly in First on AF one must:

1) Buy a First ticket
2) Buy a Business ticket and upgrade, and only if senior FF member

Now I do realise that AF only has 4 seats in its F cabin, so much of this has to do about maximising revenue I imagine, but I also wonder – the choice to limit even upgrades to only “elite” members – does this have anything to do with brand protection?

The reason I ask, is some time back I wrote about my friend from Dapto (QF Bronze) who saved all their FF points and redeemed EK F to Dubai… and they weren’t impressed. He kept saying it “wasn’t as good as I expected”… and when I asked “what did you expect?”, there wasn’t an answer….

Perhaps, if one makes the jump from a QF Dash-8 straight to EK A380 F, and sees nothing of what is in between, they get no appreciation of what they are experiencing? Maybe as mere mortals we need to spend years trying to peer behind the curtain, dreaming of the day we move forward (or upstairs)?

Anyway, I wonder if that plays into the thinking of airlines such as AF, and has anything to do with their choices. Because, to me it seems that QF’s FF program is for the masses, and that it is possible for anyone to save up flybuys and buy an F ticket. But AF, it appears, has gone the total other direction; their product is exclusive in every sense of the word – buy it, or don’t have it (unless you are a very good customer).

Ok let me take my Valium now… give it 20 mins to kick in before the tirade begins!
 

drron

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Probably nothing to do with exclusivity but more the French attitude that there is no one as good as a French man or woman.
Have flown AF J and wasn't impressed.
Now to other F offerings.JAL,NH and SQ have been generous in their F award availability and I doubt that it has affected the F standard.And on their 777s SQ have only 4 F seats.JAL and NH 8.

Now AA has gone the other way.In the noughties and the first few years of this decade you could virtually always get sAAver F awards on AA.We did so many times and always enjoyed it.Never had a bad FA.But now they only release F awards as anytime at twice the sAAver rates.They do release the cheaper F awards 1-2 months out if few F paid seats.This means at about 1 month out from the flight nearly every day has the cheaper F awards available.
 

Max Samuels

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Probably nothing to do with exclusivity but more the French attitude that there is no one as good as a French man or woman.
LOL. AF F is supposed to be excellent however. Almost every review online is simply gushing.
I was hoping to get a reward seat next year in F on the QF codeshare but it is not possible, hence the origin of this thread. I think I am going to (wait for it, breath...) have to PAY for the experience :-(
 

Max Samuels

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Now AA has gone the other way.In the noughties and the first few years of this decade you could virtually always get sAAver F awards on AA.We did so many times and always enjoyed it.Never had a bad FA.But now they only release F awards as anytime at twice the sAAver rates.They do release the cheaper F awards 1-2 months out if few F paid seats.This means at about 1 month out from the flight nearly every day has the cheaper F awards available.
I have noticed that AA Flagship First on the Transcon flights (LAX-JFK & SFO-JFK) is never available. I have looked and looked and looked and it is NEVER there. Hence I have paid cash for it when I am there in December... but is Flagship First a different cabin and a different fare class??? Does anyone know?
 

trooper

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Recently flew NH ORD-NRT in F... (Lifemiles redemption) and it was every bit as good (better in some ways like bigger screen etc) as my CX F experience (opup) and WAAAY better - naturally - than the BA flight I did up front. I would find it hard to believe that NH F was affected in any way by that airline allowing redemptions relatively generously. If it has been it must have been bloody amazing before! ;)
 

drron

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As I said I had a very recent award flight in F on JAL.I rate it as my best flight ever.I doubt the cabin crew on AF would be able to match this JAL crew.
Reported in my TR.It begins at the top of this page-posts 41-47.
 

MEL_Traveller

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But AF, it appears, has gone the total other direction; their product is exclusive in every sense of the word – buy it, or don’t have it (unless you are a very good customer).
While Lufthansa does make awards available to partners (close in, sometimes as little as 1-2 days before departure), they do have advance saver rates. I think you need to book at least three weeks before to take advantage of them. IIRC around the AUD6000 mark ex Asia.

Air France also has 'reasonable' prices ex Asia - around AUD9000 return to Europe in F. That's on their new 777 config. You can book in a long connection in Paris before your onward flights to take advantage of the AF lounge and ground handling :)
 

oz_mark

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Anyway, I wonder if that plays into the thinking of airlines such as AF, and has anything to do with their choices. Because, to me it seems that QF’s FF program is for the masses, and that it is possible for anyone to save up flybuys and buy an F ticket. But AF, it appears, has gone the total other direction; their product is exclusive in every sense of the word – buy it, or don’t have it (unless you are a very good customer).
Keep in mind that aspirational rewards feature in a lot of loyalty programs - and for those that could only get F as a Reward (e.g. me!), it can help drive loyalty to the program.
 

Max Samuels

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Yes the Transcon flight has separate first and J cabins.
I meant are "First" and "Flagship First" different fare classes? Surely they must be... because Flagship First costs almost 4x as much as regular F..... or is Flagship First just never discounted?
 

Max Samuels

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Here is the AA explanation.

So a definite benefit if you are American as domestic F flights don't give you lounge access.
If an OWE I doubt it would be worth it as you get lounge access anyway and you wouldn't need extra EQM's in Aadvantage account.
Looking at the AA site, Flagship First seems to use real First Class fares "A" and "F".
Regular First class uses Business class fares "J","D","I"... which makes sense I suppose. You need to have them all with a 3-cabin aircraft..... so I guess the confusion comes from the fact that their domestic "First" product actually uses Business class fares.... So if i have an "I" class ticket, on a regular domestic flight that is called "First Class", but on the 3-cabin aircraft it is called "Business Class"... so confuse
 

MEL_Traveller

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... but is Flagship First a different cabin and a different fare class??? Does anyone know?
different cabin absolutely. And a very nice one. Much better than the 2-2 cabin immediately behind it for business class.

It’s distinguished primarily by route... the transcons. The 321Ts fly other routes and the forward cabins are sold as standard F (business class).

While US airlines still call the front cabin ‘first class’ both AA and UA now treat it as a business fare. Makes things easier for connecting flights, and saves airlines from having to award the extra points if it was ‘F’. This change came in a couple years ago now.

Just OT for a second on the lounge access... several unhappy folk the other day at the Polaris lounge in LAX... they’d arrived off the 93 with onward connections on United First. Not allowed entry to the lounge. I don’t think any of them actually understood why.
 

Max Samuels

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different cabin absolutely. And a very nice one. Much better than the 2-2 cabin immediately behind it for business class.

It’s distinguished primarily by route... the transcons. The 321Ts fly other routes and the forward cabins are sold as standard F (business class).

Just OT for a second on the lounge access... several unhappy folk the other day at the Polaris lounge in LAX... they’d arrived off the 93 with onward connections on United First. Not allowed entry to the lounge. I don’t think any of them actually understood why.
I am flying Flagship First later this year SFO-JFK..... looking forward to it - the 1-1 lie-flat bed config looks awesome - very private-jet like. It will be interesting to see how they make the same aircraft that JQ use look like something that is actually luxurious.....

Can I expect better than QF? There are lots of AA haters on here so it is hard to get an honest opinion...
 

Max Samuels

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It’s distinguished primarily by route... the transcons. The 321Ts fly other routes and the forward cabins are sold as standard F (business class).
I thought the 321Ts were built specifically for those routes?? Are you saying you could get lucky and end up in one of those even if you booked just "regular" first?
 

drron

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A regular F fare domestic on AA is sold now as a business code so if crediting to QF you now only get J SCs.
I was an AA fanboi.But the reason I am no longer is because of their loyalty program which has gone from one of the best to one of the worst.

On flights our experience is much of a muchness with QF if flying domestically in the premium cabin.Don't fly Y.
Long haul internationally I prefer the AA seats in J and F-just suit me.I find the crew to be more consistent than QF-in a good way.
 

MEL_Traveller

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I thought the 321Ts were built specifically for those routes?? Are you saying you could get lucky and end up in one of those even if you booked just "regular" first?
Sure, in between the transcons they fly select shorter routes. I flew JFK-DCA on one. Just a short hop, until we had a ground hold of a little more than an hour. I can’t remember exactly, but I think the front cabin was sold as regular domestic F, and the business cabin was Main Cabin Extra. So plenty of lucky folk (or rather, they probably planned it that way).

I like AA. So you don’t get a bowl of pumpkin soup and slice of sourdough on the shorter flights (Qantas), but you do get a (usually double) drink of choice, good service, and good seats. On domestic flights where they do offer meals you can choose your main, and some are pretty good (like the charcuterie board).
 

Max Samuels

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A regular F fare domestic on AA is sold now as a business code so if crediting to QF you now only get J SCs.
Ah now that makes sense..... I wondered why my SC earn in "First" on AA has def gone down the past few years!! I suppose had I paid attention to the fare class I would have noticed but I just accepted that "first" was FIRST!
 

Max Samuels

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Sure, in between the transcons they fly select shorter routes. I flew JFK-DCA on one. Just a short hop, until we had a ground hold of a little more than an hour. I can’t remember exactly, but I think the front cabin was sold as regular domestic F, and the business cabin was Main Cabin Extra. So plenty of lucky folk (or rather, they probably planned it that way).

I like AA. So you don’t get a bowl of pumpkin soup and slice of sourdough on the shorter flights (Qantas), but you do get a (usually double) drink of choice, good service, and good seats. On domestic flights where they do offer meals you can choose your main, and some are pretty good (like the charcuterie board).
Oh yeah I am total AA fan - haven't had a complaint (nothing that wouldn't happen on any other airline, at least) Trans First seems like an awesome product. When you consider that what they charge LAX-JFK o/w can be similar to what QF charges SYD-PER in J on a 737.... no comparison at all really...
 

esseeeayeenn

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Verging on OT but I just tried to find details on QF's arrangement with AF (including which lounge in CDG we can use) and it is impossible to find anything on the QF website. There is no lounge listed in Paris at all. Relevant because the La Première Lounge at CDG is one of the closely guarded benefits for AF F PAX and on my short list of lounges I want to try. I have been trying to find a paid seat in F on the QF/AF codeshare SIN-CDG and so far, no luck. I don't know if this is a question of availability or if it isn't offered on the code share.
 

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