What do you get for $8,000?
In the travel sphere, that’ll buy you 16 round-trip transcon flights, if you make your purchases judiciously.
Or you could splurge and book yourself a round-trip ticket on the single most expensive domestic flight currently available for sale: first class on American, between Los Angeles and New York.
These are the flights featuring American’s new A321T (“T” for Transcon) planes, specially outfitted for coast-to-coast service and now flying 13 times daily on the New York-Los Angeles route, and five times a day on the New York-San Francisco route.
In the first-class cabin, the seats (10 inches wider than standard coach seats and fully lie-flat) are arrayed in a one-by-one configuration, so there’s never a seat between you and the aisle. Each seat has its own 15.4-inch touchscreen monitor with access to hundreds of movies, TV programs, and games. The audio comes to you courtesy of Bose Noise Cancelling headsets, not those cheap plasticky jobs. The amenity kits feature Akhassa products. The meals are multi-course extravaganzas, complemented by high-end liquors and espresso. And your ticket gains you entree into the Admirals Club lounges.
That’s what it looks like when a U.S. carrier pulls out all the stops. And for the moment at least, it defines the high end of the domestic travel experience.
Unless the comparison is with the price of renting a private jet, it’s hard to justify the ticket price in a value-for-dollars sense. But then most of the travelers buying those $8,000 tickets won’t be paying for them out of pocket.
If your travel expenses aren’t subsidized by your company (or a trust fund), there is a more affordable way to experience first class on American’s A321Ts. Although seat availability appears extremely limited at the restricted award levels, it’s possible in theory to book a roundtrip Transcon flight in first class for as few as 65,000 AAdvantage miles. Unrestricted first-class will set you back at least 170,000 miles, almost enough for seven coach roundtrips.
If all this gives you the bug to fly first class and you’re not an American loyalist, consider JetBlue’s new Mint service between New York and Los Angeles. It may be more comparable to American’s business class, but the seats are fully lie-flat and the meals are restaurant-grade. And the $6,000 you’ll save will more than compensate for any minor downgrades from American’s service.
Reader Reality Check
How much would you be willing to spend to upgrade your flight experience?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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