Best intra-US airline for business class

I’m travelling to the US next August to see the solar eclipse. So I need to book flights, business-class flights, and they’re starting to become available.

My thought is to travel to Washington DC or some other east coast airport on a transatlantic carrier and then travel on to Cody, Wyoming on a US carrier. Two weeks later I’ll need to travel from Phoenix to Washington and then back to the UK. I don’t know if my tour group has any flights planned between Cody and Phoenix. I specify Washington because I want to spend some time there visiting the sights and particularly the Smithsonian. I think I’ll do that at the end of the trip.

Cattle-class seats are a trial due to the short seat pitch, so I’ll need business-class seats. And since the eclipse won’t wait, I’ll need - at least on the outward journey - a reliable airline. With which carrier do you suggest I book?

The airport in Cody, Wyoming is Yellowstone Regional Airport. Delta and United are the main carriers (Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines through Salt Lake City, Utah; United Express through Denver International Airport).

You will fly cattle car class from Denver or SLC into Cody. You don’t want to fly into Cody. Fly into a bigger airport such as Billings, MT, and drive the 90 minutes to Cody. Otherwise, expect up to 24 hours just to fly from Washington, DC, to Cody. It’s not the distance, it’s the connections.

Why Cody? There are much bigger airports all along the eclipse path. Also, Cody is a mega tourist center (Yellowstone NP) and accommodations are probably scarce, if not already gone by now, during the eclipse.

I think you need to think this through a bit more and offer us more information.

The main tour starts in Cody, and we will be visiting Yellowstone and other national parks. We visit Yellowstone before the eclipse, others afterwards. I’ve opted to extend my tour to see some observatories.

There are some differences between the various airlines and the amenities offered in business class, but for the most part I don’t think it is worth suggesting that one airline has such an advantage that it’s worth limiting your shopping to that airline. It’s like asking if you should rent a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry: sure, there’s differences, but they are basically offering the same thing. My suggestion would be to simply search on price.

You should also be aware that premium economy class seats are quite common on major carriers – basically as wide an an economy class seat, but usually with about 5 inches more legroom. The price difference between premium economy and business class can be substantial, so depending on your comfort level, that may be something to think about. In very rough terms, a one-way premium economy ticket that you’re looking at might be in the range of $500. I wouldn’t be surprised if a business class ticket between the two destinations would be closer to $900. Again, just in very, very rough orders of magnitude here.

Sounds like an exciting trip - Yellowstone in summer is absolutely magnificent. That whole region is, really.

from your first link:


Cody is in Wyoming. Wyoming is in the Rocky Mountains, not the American Midwest.

As I posted earlier the only commercial airlines flying into Cody are regional airlines of Delta and United. Flights are probably very limited for each airline (a couple a day).

Because I’m not flying from London - and travelling business class to boot - I have to arrange my own flights. Which is why I’m asking here.

Is there a train I could take? I rather suspect that a taxi would be expensive.

OK, it looks like you answered some of my questions about the tour. Where are you flying from?

As Duckster said, Cody is only serviced by two airlines, Delta and United, so you really don’t have much of a choice. From what I can tell the United service from DEN is seasonal and they don’t have that schedule published into August 2017 so all the flights I’m seeing come up on Google Flights are through SLC either all on Delta or a combo of another airline from DC but with Delta on the last leg between SLC and Cody. It also looks like the regional jet Delta uses on that leg is all economy, so no first/business/premium economy choice anyway, but that leg appears to only be 1h:20m so tolerable in economy.

The price for a 1-way from SLC to COD is $150 for Aug. 18 (and surrounding days). SLC also has direct flights from AMS and CDG with their partners KLM and Air France. I’ve flown Business Class on AF and would recommend it, but I don’t have a basis for comparison with other trans-Atlantic carriers.

Sorry, I must have accidentally deleted that: I’m flying from Aberdeen.

Oh well.

Cody, WY, is in the American West. Wyoming is really cowboy country. Dirty pickup trucks, horses, blue jeans. The real Wild America.

Back to basics:
[li]When do you arrive in America? Which airport?[/li][li]When do you leave America? Which airport?[/li][/ul]

First off, the answer to the question of “can I take a train” in the US, is virtually always no unless you are going from a suburb into the associated major city, or between major cities. What public transit there is from small cities is virtually all via Bus. As far as airline choices, it looks like you basically have none - Delta through salt lake city, or nothing. You really don’t want to fly one airline from Washington->Salt Lake City (with stops probably, as SLC is a delta hub), then Delta to COD.
If you fly into billings there seems to be some bus/shuttle services available, see Billings airport shuttle and bus service to/from Billings Logan Airport (BIL)

If you absolutely have to have business-class all the way through, you’re only good choice is to fly from Washington to a major airport served by airlines that fly full-size jets on those routes.

Along the path of the eclipse, the closest along the path would be Portland, Oregon; Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; and Nashville, Tennessee.

But if you need to meet in Yellowstone, your best bet is to fly to Denver or Salt Lake City, and stuff yourself into a small, regional plane for the final part of the trip.

There is no train service to anywhere near Yellowstone.

His best bet is to fly from SLC to Cody. Cody is in the middle of nowhere. The cost of ground transport from Billings to Cody is probably the same as the flight costs from SLC to Cody.

Aw shucks. Surely there’s always one train station, with the track curving off into the distance? :slight_smile:

Both are flexible. But I want to visit Washington.

You need to backtrack your travel arrangements.

What date/time does your tour start in Cody? Then backtrack available flights into Cody from SLC. In turn that tells you when you have to fly to SLC from Washington, DC in order to make the SLC connection to Cody.

Without more specific travel information, it looks like you need to overnight in Salt Lake City, in order to make the correct flight to Cody in order to start your tour in Cody.

That said, I strongly suggest you arrive in Cody one to three days before your tour begins and take advantage of touring the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum. You can take two full days just to tour the museum.

Business class is virtually non-existent for intra-us flights. It’s first or coach for almost all flights within the continental US with the possible exception of coast to coast direct flights from major cities like LA - NYC.

Yes, but the track is being used by grizzled prospectors with a handcar.

Airlines in the USA do not have business class on continental domestic flights except on a few prestige routes like New York City to Los Angeles. Domestic first class is similar to international business class, but even that may not be available on a flight into a tiny destination like Cody.

The quality of first class varies route to route and even plane to plane. But IME even the worst first class seat is going to be comfier than the best coach seat.

If you’re entering the country by a DC airport, that’ll likely be into Dulles, IAD. If you’re entering via another city, day New York, then I recommend using DCA to arrive at DC; it’ll likely shave time off your trip if you want to stay and visit.

There are direct flights to SLC from IAD. Direct flights to DEN from both IAD and DCA.