Background: I began planning this trip in late January. We had such a wonderful time in Vienna in 2019 in December, we thought we’d experience France during the Christmas Market season. My spouse, Linda (GOAT traveling companion), and I have made multiple trips to Europe but only two during December. We love the European Christmas: the festive decorations on store fronts with greenery and lights, the creche scenes in the cathedrals and churches, the couples, families, and colleagues that gather at the markets for the crafts, food/drink, and entertainment, and just flat-out experiencing another culture. We had plenty of miles saved from the pandemic non-travel period and so we were able to cash those in for United’s Premium Economy class on the outgoing and the same class for me returning with Business class for Linda. This would be the first time we traveled Premium Economy so we were eager to check that class out. What I didn’t know when I booked those tickets in late January was that we would travel that class to London in August on an impromptu trip. Premium Economy gave you a little more leg room than Economy Plus and had more of a recline. The class on the plane was three rows of a 2-4-2 configuration just behind United’s Polaris Business class. There were a few other perks but the extra space was most important to us as well as the side-by-side seats.
Our seats on the outgoing London leg we were in the last row of the PE cabin while the outgoing December trip our seats would in the second row. In comparing locations, we felt the second-row seats gave us a bit more breathing room while the seats on the last row felt a little more cramped. Down side of the second row was that the folks in the 4 seater first/bulkhead row had their TV screens in front of them instead of on the back of the seat so I, being on the aisle sea, had a direct view of one of the bright screens which made it hard to sleep. Not that I sleep much on the plane. Would I fly Premium Economy again for a transatlantic flight? No, because I promised Linda that if we ever flew to Europe again, we’d both fly Business 😊 Seriously though, was the PE worth the extra $500 roundtrip instead of regular economy? I’d have to say, yes. Economy Plus was $400 more roundtrip than Economy so for an extra $100 roundtrip it would be worth it for the extra leg room, slightly more recline, and the two-seat row configuration.
Routing: I wanted to spend time in France and the Alsace. What I discovered was that United flew to Basel which was a 43-minute train ride from Colmar, one of the cities we did want to see. I also discovered the museum in Basel housed some Holbeins so based on that, we decided flying in to Basel was a good idea. I did more research on Basel and realized that there was plenty for us to see and do. Based on our flights with miles, Basel worked out. We were originally supposed to fly SFO- LHR-Frankfurt-Basel, but when United sent me a note about a time change, I saw this as an opportunity to suggest the SFO/Frankfurt/Basel route which to my delight, was accepted by United and processed. This is not the first time when a United schedule change has allowed us to get a more direct flight…one that would have originally cost more during my initial booking. I do my homework before calling United so I suggest the routes I’d prefer. So far it has always worked out.
(One Xmas we were scheduled to fly from SFO to Houston to Charlotte, NC and then we were going to drive to Asheville for a few days. Our flight was cancelled out of Houston once we arrived and, on my request, United scheduled us from Houston to Charlotte and then flew us directly to Asheville where our luggage was waiting for us!)