Introduction: Premium transcon service between Los Angeles and New York

San Diego to New York route map

01: Introduction: Premium transcon service between Los Angeles and New York
02: American Eagle ERJ-175 first class San Diego to Los Angeles
03: American Airlines Flagship Lounge, LAX
04: American Airlines A321T first class Los Angeles to New York (JFK)
05: Hyatt Times Square New York
06: Delta Sky Club, Terminal 4 JFK
07: Delta Airlines 767-300 business class (Delta One) New York to Los Angeles
08. Delta Sky Club, LAX
09: Delta Connection ERJ-175 first class Los Angeles to San Diego

I don’t think anyone would deny how good premium airline travel is getting to be – the industry has come a long (long) way since my first international business class flight from Chicago to Milan on Alitalia back in 2002, and back then, it would have been amazing for me to think that business class service could get any better. But it has. In more ways than I could have ever possibly imagined!

One of those huge improvements (at least locally here in the US) is that there are now five airlines competing tooth and nail to be the number one premium travel experience between Los Angeles and New York. There’s United with it’s P.S. service to EWR, and Virgin America, jetBlue, American, and Delta all fighting it out for JFK. Delta, American, and United have been offering a premium product between these two city pairs for years, but it’s only been recently that Virgin America and jetBlue have started flying the route as well.

That put more pressure on the big 3 to raise the bar, and both American Airlines and Delta have led the way and massively revamped their premium transcon service to international-quality levels. I’ve been watching this battle with great envy for a while now, so I figured that it was time that I experience those products for myself – just for the heck of it.

Luckily, the stars aligned and I discovered that I would have a bit of free time during the week leading up to Christmas. There were 9 whole days between my last day of work for the year and the day I would fly to Minnesota to visit my family for the holidays, so it was the perfect opportunity to take a quick trip.

Unfortunately, it would have to be quick as there were still a lot of things I needed to do at home that week and I didn’t want to cut my time too short. Therefore, a quick “out and back” trip was all I could fit in. Not exactly ideal, but I’ll take what I can get.

Obviously, I cashed in some credit card points to fund these tickets. I don’t even want to comprehend what the cost would be if I paid for this out of my own pocket, and besides – I would have a hard time justifying spending that much money for such a quick and pointless trip like this. San Diego to New York and back in less than 48 hours for no reason other than to fly? Yeah…I do love to travel but at least I’m aware that these kinds of trips are a bit pointless in the grand scheme of things. But hey – we have to do what makes us happy, right?

Here’s the full itinerary:

12/20/15 AA5960 first class San Diego to Los Angeles – ERJ-175
12/20/15 AA172 first class Los Angeles to New York (JFK) – A321T
12/21/15 DL419 business class (Delta One) New York (JFK) to Los Angeles – 767-300
12/21/15 DL5824 first class Los Angeles to San Diego – ERJ-175

Total cost for these tickets was somewhat reasonable. I used 95,000 AAdvantage miles (plus $5.70) for SAN-LAX-JFK, and 75,000 SkyMiles (plus another $5.60) for JFK-LAX-SAN. Not so bad – but not the best value either, I know. Still, I personally thought is was worth it as I’ve always wanted to try some of the modern transcontinental services between Los Angeles and New York. I did fly LAX-JFK-LAX business class on a United 767-200 in 1999 (pre P.S. days), but that was with the old recliner seats and nowhere near the levels of service that are offered on the route today.

I’m expecting pretty good things, so let’s hope I’m not disappointed with these flights!

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