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I’ve written several posts recently about a round the world trip that I am trying to plan for sometime this spring.  Details are still being worked out, but the basic idea is flying Cathay Pacific (using American miles) and Emirates (using Alaska miles).  Something like this


While normally I prefer saving up my miles and don’t mind economy, on these longer flights, I wanted to splurge and fly my wife and I on 2 of the most aspirational first class flights.

Finding award availability

Emirates availability on Alaska is actually not that bad, but finding Cathay Pacific first class availability is really tough.  You have to book right when the space opens, or you pretty much have to wait until you get to really close in to the date of travel.  I’m not sure I can wait that long before making plans, but luckily American has a few things going for them.  First of all, you can put an award on hold for up to 5 days, and American also allows unlimited changes to the ticket with no fee (even for non-elites!) as long as the origin and destination remain the same.

So my plan was to take advantage of the increased business class availability on the routes between Chicago or Los Angeles and Shanghai China to book the outbound leg.  Then, if first class availability opens up (on either Cathay or Japan Airlines), it’s a simple process to just pay the extra miles to upgrade from business class to first class.

So how important are lie flat seats?

The reason I ask is that the Chicago-Shanghai route is flown by an American 777 plane with the old-style angle flat business class seat.  Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-Shanghai route is flown by a new Boeing 787 which has the new style business class lie flat seats.  This is the same style of business class seat that we flew on our flight from Rome to New York last year.


Seats 2D and 2G on the new American business class seat

The lie flat seats made the trip super nice, but I wonder how we’d be able to sleep on an angle flat seats.  Plus, living in Cincinnati, it’s SIGNIFICANTLY more convenient to fly via Chicago.  Here’s an idea of what we’re looking at, for a sample date


Fairly reasonable, right?  On the other hand, if we want to fly via LAX, this was the best routing I could come up withamerican-business-shanghai-lax

Involving a red-eye flight AND a hotel overnight in Los Angeles.  Now in this particular case, I am hoping to not fly EITHER of these routes, but there’s something about me that really likes to have SOMETHING booked, so in a worst-case scenario, we at least have a backup plan.

What do you say, readers?  Which option would you choose?  How important are lie flat seats?

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