As many of you may have guessed by the title, I’m talking about aircraft with longhaul configurations that fly domestically. They can be a great way to upgrade into a premium cabin, and best of all upgrades are often easier due to the large size of the cabin. The ride isn’t necessarily bad in coach either, since many of the longhaul configured planes have TV’s in the back. Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of the widebody planes flying domestically. I’m not including Hawaii, since there’s typically a surcharge to upgrade those flights. If I’m forgetting any route, please let me know.
American: Love it or hate it, American is all over the plane when it comes to internationally configured planes. On their Flaghship route JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO, they have mostly three cabin 767-200′s, mixed with a few two cabin 767-300′s. Furthermore, they have three cabin 777 service MIA-LAX daily. Then they have ORD-SFO on 767-300′s, which are two cabin planes. Then there are those other random hub-to-hub flights which are three cabin planes, but American handles those differently. They seat elites in business class for free, although they only provide coach service. If you choose to upgrade it would be to three cabin first, which is a nice suite. Suffice it to say that upgrades are tough on those routes.
Continental: All of Continental’s 757-200′s are configured with 16 BusinessFirst seats, which they love to fly domestically. They fly them all over the place, from TPA-EWR (which is an easy upgrade), to IAH-LAX (which is a pretty tough upgrade), to EWR-LAX (which is an impossible upgrade). If you can secure one of these in a leisure market, by all means go for it. They also operate a couple of 767-200′s on EWR-IAH daily, although I’d assume those are tough upgrades given that they line up with the international bank of flights on both ends.
Delta/Northwest: I’ve been keeping my eye on the prize for a while now, namely the 777-200LR Delta is flying ATL-LAX right now as a repositioning flight for SYD. With fully flat beds it’s the nicest ride up front, although I can’t help but notice how full the BusinessElite seatmaps are, even for September and October, which means upgrades might be tough. I’m thinking it’ll be worth the gamble one of these days, though. They also have 767′s flying ATL-JFK, as well as a few other domestic hops with internationally configured 757′s, although they seem to switch those around frequently.
United: It’s pretty straightforward for United. They operate three cabin international aircraft between nearly all the hubs: IAD-ORD, IAD-LAX, IAD-SFO, IAD-DEN, ORD-LAX, ORD-SFO, ORD-DEN, and DEN-SFO. While the meal service is limited in business class on three cabin planes domestically, I’d argue it’s still a worthwhile upgrade, especially on the newly reconfigured fleet. They also have three cabin 757′s flying JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO, configured with 38 premium seats.
USAir: While the selection isn’t quite as extensive as with others, there are a couple of options for fun planes. USAir puts 767′s on CLT-PHL. While there’s no extravagant service on the 450 mile flight, it’s nonetheless nice to sit up front on an international bird (and no, I’m not talking about the birds Sully took down). They also stick the pride of their fleet (isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron for US?), the A330, on PHL-SJU. Hmmm, Ted vs. an A330 with Envoy class…. toughie.