A while back I did the status challenge to become Executive Platinum with American Airlines. As Executive Platinum I get Systemwide Upgrades (SWU). That means I can book an economy class ticket and get confirmed for Business Class during the booking process. Same works if I book a Business Class ticket, then I will get upgraded to First Class. The problem with SWU is that you can’t always use them even that there are free seats in the next higher class, in which you would be upgraded too.
I had to go to Munich, Germany and I called the AA Reservation Hotline to use my SWU’s. The representative checked and the only option for my travel date to Germany was a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Frankfurt. My trip would originate in Seattle, WA and from there I would get also upgraded (to a Domestic First Class) and from DFW I would fly in Business Class to Frankfurt. The problem was I had to get to Munich. I talked to the representative and he booked me on another flight on Lufthansa from FRA to MUC. Since Lufthansa is not in the Oneworld Alliance, I was afraid of having to re-check my baggage in FRA and even pay for them again. I was surprised when I found out everything was included. I didn’t have to pay any extra money nor did I had to re-check my bags. I only had to go through customs and immigration at Frankfurt Airport and catch another plane to Munich.
The flight from Seattle to Dallas was on an Airbus A321-200 and as mentioned in First Class. It was a nice flight with good service but I was more excited about my international flight from Dallas.
Unfortunately the layover was so short, I couldn’t even make use of the Admirals Club in DFW and headed straight to the departure gate. At the gate I asked an attendant if I could pre-board to take some pictures of the plane and my seat before it gets crowded and I would interfere with the boarding process and worse, all the people would stand in my pictures ;).
The plane was a Boeing 777-200 (version 1) with three classes. American Airlines has another Boeing 777-200 (version 2) with only two classes. The higher class is Business Class for international travel and on domestic routes it is considered “First Class”. American Airlines also has a newer 777 with extended range, the Boeing 777-300ER. When you see a 77W during the booking process on the American Airlines website, you know it is a 777-300ER. The two other versions have the same labeling on AA’s website.