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Starting in May, American will start flying from JFK to Madrid, Spain.  Let’s take a look.

Context – There are currently many ways to get to Madrid from the US from 7 different airlines.  Five of those airlines fly from New York: Air Europa, Delta, Iberia, Continental (although they fly from Newark), and now American.

AIR EUROPA, AIRBUS A330, EC-JPF, at JFK, New York, USA. July, 2009Air Europa – One daily flight to MAD leaving JFK 9:30 PM arriving in Madrid at 11:00 AM the next day.  The return flight leaves MAD at 5:20 PM and arrives in New York at 7:30 PM.  $812 round trip, flying an A330 wide-body, part of the SkyTeam Alliance.

Continental 757-325 N56859Continental – Two semi-daily flights to MAD leaving EWR 8:40 PM and 10:10 PM arriving in Madrid at 10:05 AM and 11:35 AM the next day, respectively.  The return flights leave MAD at 11:35 AM and 1:05 PM and arrive in Newark at 2:15 PM and 3:50 PM, respectively.  $1074 round trip, flying 757 narrow-bodies, part of the Star Alliance.

Delta Air Lines 767-332(ER) N194DNDelta – One daily flight to MAD leaving JFK 5:20 PM arriving in Madrid at 7:25 AM the next day.  The return flight leaves MAD at 10:10 AM and arrives in New York at 12:25 PM.  $1004 round trip, flying a 767 wide-body, part of the SkyTeam Alliance.

IBERIA AIRBUS A340 (A340-600), EC-IOB at JFK, New York, USA. 2009Iberia – Two daily flights to MAD leaving JFK 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM arriving in Madrid 7:10 AM and 10:10 AM the next day, respectively.  The return flights leave MAD at 1:55 PM and 5:00 PM and arrive in New York at 4:05 PM and 7:10 PM, respectively.  From $1006 round trip, flying A340 wide-bodies, part of the OneWorld Alliance.

American Airlines (AA) - Boeing 757-200 - N627AA - John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) - November 3, 2009 429 RT CRPAmerican – One daily flight to MAD leaving JFK 5:40 PM arriving in Madrid at 7:20 AM the next day.  The return flight leaves MAD at 10:00 AM and arrives in New York at 12:25 PM.  $1004 round trip, flying a 757 narrow-body, part of the OneWorld Alliance.

Conclusions – If we’re looking just at cost, Air Europa is the way to go.  They are almost $200 cheaper than any other carrier.  If we’re looking just as scheduling, your only option to Spain is a red-eye, however, you can fly pretty much any time of day on the return leg.  It is interesting that American based airlines leave Spain in the late-morning/noon-ish times, and the European airlines leave in the mid-late afternoon.  I can’t decide which of these is best for you.  The good news is that because there are so many options flown by three different alliances, you can use Delta or American miles to give yourself some flexibility (or, alternatively, earn American or Delta miles flying their European based counterpart).  Once again, loyalty will help you decide which flights are best for you.  Unless you only care about the cost of the flight.  Then, you should fly Air Europa.

Remember: It’s all about the little things.

Yes, you can fly to Frankfurt from almost all major markets in America.  And yes, if you need to, you can fly to Berlin on Delta.  But what about Munich?  No love from any American based airlines.  Until now.  Continental has started flying non-stop from their hub in Newark, NJ (also serves NYC) to Munich, Germany.  So, let’s compare the two.  Like always, I use similar dates through
Continental – Flying a 767-200, Continental’s flight leaves Newark at 5:30 PM and arrives in Munich at 7:40 AM.  Good times.  The return flight leaves Germany at 9:20 AM and arrives back in Newark at 12:35 PM.  Again, good times.  For a coach ticket, you will be shelling out $1429.  Business class, $1907. (less than $500 difference!)
Lufthansa – Flying A340s (Lufthansa’s standard long-haul jet), Lufthansa offers service from both Newark and New York-JFK.  The JFK flights are similar times as Continental’s offering, but the flights to and from EWR show some difference.  Leaving Newark at 8:10 PM (not a problem), you arrive in Munich at 10:10 AM.  A little bit later that could affect getting to a morning business meeting.  Coming back, though, there is the advantage of leaving Germany at 3:20 PM and arriving back in Newark at 6:20 PM.  From a business meeting standpoint, this is great.  You get half a day in Munich.  From a sleeping and jet-lag perspective, arriving back in New York later in the day will help you adjust.  Prices are the same for coach ($1429), and the business class service is the same price from Newark ($1907).  The price for business jumps to $3813 flying from JFK.
Conclusions – Price: same.  This means that if you have miles or a loyalty to one airline or alliance, go with it.  If you can afford the extra $500, business class can really make a more pleasurable experience, considering you will be spending 17 hours in flight, round trip.  The differences come in the schedules.  The Continental offering is not bad.  In fact, it’s quite good.  Lufthansa’s EWR offering is good and bad.  It’s good because of the return trip, but it’s not great on the way to Munich.  At the end of the day, though, the times are not that different.  The Continental service is not a game-changer.  Instead, it is a supplement.
Remember: It’s all about the little things.

The Wife and I had an AMAZING time on our honeymoon in Costa Rica.  Because The Wife had miles on American, we were able to fly first class the whole way for less than we spent on two dinners in Costa Rica (albiet, they were awesome dinners!).  We flew American from San Diego to San Jose through Dallas.

American has just announced new service from New York (JFK) to San Jose Juan Santamaria International in Costa Rica (SJO), starting on April 6, so I thought I’d do some comparisons for you, my eleven readers.

Context – Continental and LASCA (a subsidiary of TACA Costa Rica) already fly to San Jose from Newark and JFK, respectively.  American’s service will be the third hub to serve SJO, the other two being Dallas and Miami.  All three airlines will now offer one non-stop each way on select days.  Because of the difference in schedules, I will use the lowest available price in a given week from

American – Their JFK service will only be on Thursdays, leaving JFK at 3:35 PM and arriving in San Jose at 7:15 PM.  The return flight will leave San Jose at 8:35 AM.  But honestly, who wants to fly at that time from an incredible country like Costa Rica?  Especially when you have to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of time for international travel.  5:30 AM?  From a vacation destination?  Bad move, American.  Round trip fare wil set you back $353, although American charges $25 for your first checked bag each way.

LASCA – Their JFK service goes into San Jose on Saturdays and Sundays, but goes back to JFK on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  More options.  Cool.  Flight times, however, leave much to be desired.  Leave JFK at 6:10 AM (i.e.: arrive at the airport at 3 AM.  Great way to start a vacation.) and arrive in San Jose at 9:30 AM.  Return flight leaves at 6:00 PM and gets into JFK at 1 AM (i.e.: get back to the city around 2 AM if you’re lucky.  Great way to end a vacation.).  $377 for the round trip, but LASCA has no checked bag fees.

Continental – They actually offer daily service, although it’s from Newark.  Lots of options.  Lots of cool.  The flight from EWR to SJO leaves Newark at 5:25 PM and arrives at 8:35 PM.  Speaking from experience, that is a great time to arrive in San Jose.  Just enough time to go through customs, get to your hotel, and settle in.  Nice.  The flight back to EWR, however, leaves at 8:00 AM (same issue as American).  Gross.  Round trip will set you back $373 before a $25 charge for your first checked bag each way (save two dollars by pre-paying for the bag).

Conclusions – First, let’s look at price, assuming you will check a bag.  $423 for Continental, $377 for LASCA, and $403 for American.  Not a huge difference, but if price is a huge factor, go with LASCA.  Then again, let’s consider the schedules.  No airline has a great schedule.  Whichever airline you choose, you will have to deal with an early morning.  It is up to you as to whether you want to wake up early to get to your vacation, or wake up early on your way back.  Trust me: fly through somewhere else and avoid losing sleep for avoidable reasons.  You’ll want the sleep in an incredible place like Costa Rica.

Day 11 10

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