American Airlines » First (short haul) » User reviews
Class rating 6.4
- Boarding 6.7
- Seat for sitting 6.6
- Seat for sleeping 1.8
- Service 7.1
- Entertainment 2.7
- Food & drink 6.3
- Punctuality 7.6
- Baggage 6.8
- Of course, your ratings vary widely for different classes. Choose one below for full details.
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New York JFK - Orlando
Class: Domestic First.
This flight was part of a greater itinerary mixing business for my partner and pleasure for both of us catching up with friends in NYC well as a short detour to the Orlando theme parks before visiting South America. Our routing was JFK - Orlando. Then MIA - BUE- Santiago - MIA - JFK. We were using AA on all sectors except MIA - Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires - Santiago where we would use LAN (a new airline for me!).
Reservation/before the flight: The flights were booked on AA.com. A great website, neat, tidy, looks good and more importantly great functionality. Allows you to book your flights, select your seats (no fee) even select your main course meal. It also offers the facility to hold your reservation for free for 24HRS before paying which is great if you happen to stumble across a bargain fare but have to check with the mr/s before going ahead and booking a non refundable ticket.
AA.com even offers more flexibility for domestic flights. For example, 24 hours before your flight you can go onto AA.com and change to any other flight departing that same day on the same route with seats available for a fee of $75. Or you can go standby for a flight the same day for free.
Online check in was available although as we had bags to check in and had already selected our seats at the time of booking we decided to just leave it and go 'retro style' and check in at the airport desk.
The day of departure we received a text message from AA with a flight status update (on-time) as well as our departure gate. Handy.
At the airport: All AA flights depart from Terminal 8 at JFK which is more or less exclusively used by AA. It was actually an impressive facility. Seemed relatively new, was modern airy and pleasant. Be warned though, unlike the 'airport shopping mall' that LHR is, Terminal 8 definitely sticks to purpose as an airline terminal and restaurants and other eating venues are thin on the ground. It has a nice 'Premium Check In' area that was very quiet. There was no line and we were seen to immediately.
I am not a 'morning person' and as is usual when we have an early morning flight we arrived within the skin of our teeth - well to be honest we were actually beyond the -60min cut off to check in with bags but the AA check in agent didn't mention it. She was obviously not a morning person either and the pleasantries were minimal. However she was polite and efficient, gave us our boarding passes with our selected seats, tagged our bags and wished us a pleasant trip.
A short wait at the fast track security lane and we were through to the airside area.
The lounge: As we arrived late we didn't expect to have time to visit the lounge but once airside we still had 45mins before departure so we decided to check out the Admirals Club lounge that was closest to our gate which was a kind of satellite pier to the main terminal. AA offers three lounges at terminal 8. The Flagship Lounge (F class transcontinental or long haul international flights, OW Emeralds) and two Admirals Club lounges (OW Sapphire, long haul J class or paid Admirals Club members). It's worth noting that unless you hold OW FF status you will not be eligible for access to any lounge when flying F domestically - unless you are flying in F or J on the JFK-LAX/SFO 'transcon' routes.
I have to admit my expectations were not high. I've been to some dire Admirals Club lounges. The common themes with all A.C are paid for alcoholic drinks (although Sapphire/Emerald status gets you two drinks vouchers) and paid for food. I'm happy to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the JFK venue.
It was large, well spaced and designed, modern and quiet. The furnishings were very nice and it afforded nice views over the tarmac. Minus the free booze and food it could have been any airlines quite nice J class lounge. Coffee comes from a flask, juice from a jug and snacks were limited to pretzels, apples and some muffins. But it was a delightful place to spend half an hour, the wifi was quick and free and there were showers, a business centre and kids corner if you needed it. As well as food to purchase and a well stocked bar if you wanted to use those two free vouchers.
- The aircraft: We were flying on a two class domestically configured 757. This 757 had been fitted with the newer style F class domestic seats. The aircraft is definitely an old workhorse and was showing it's age in areas but was well maintained internally generally.
- The Seat: The First Class seats are configured 2x2 and are numbered rows 1-6 AB-EF. They are upholstered in blue fabric and unlike the European carriers they are 'proper' short haul fixed J class recliners. Each seat had a table in the armrest and a small cocktail table that folded up from the front. There is a manual recline and as well as the seat back reclining a small way the seat pan also pulls forward. I managed to snooze relatively easy though I'm not sure if I'd want to sit in one from LAX to HNL for near six hours. I would avoid row 1 as it has the least legroom if that is important to you.
- In flight service & catering: Pre departure beverages were offered. There was a choice of orange juice or water (in plastic glasses) although the Purser who was distributing them mentioned to all the F class passengers 'I also have a pot of fresh coffee on in the galley if you prefer'. Nice touch. After take off one of the crew came through to take meal orders (or for the case of those that had made their selection online, confirm their orders).
No menu was distributed but the choice was breakfast quesadilla or cereal with milk. In honesty, the idea of 'breakfast quesadilla' didn't initially appeal. But it was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had on a flight. Catering was impressive and for all the stick the US carriers receive domestically, AA could definitely have given any of the European airlines and even some of the Asian carriers lessons in the food department.
The tray consisted of a side of fresh fruit, a selection of hot bakery items (croissants muffins and 'biscuits' - a kind of scone) as well as the main. It was scrambled eggs with chopped bacon in a flour tortilla with a few slices of chorizio and breakfast potatoes on the side. It was really tasty and worked very well. Juice and coffee accompanied (coffee served in full sized mugs!). Trays were cleared and we were left for some time before the crew offered us further drinks before landing.
Crew: In my opinion, the crew were great. They were all female and the youngest was mid thirties. They do have a certain informal, no nonsense approach about them but you can sense they feel a pride to work for AA and a genuine desire to please the passengers. There was certainly no gushing over their First Class passengers but they worked very efficiently, were polite and always asked 'can I get you anything else'. It is definitely down to personal taste.
I prefer the informal approach, I like that they will even indulge in a little bit of cheeky banter if prompted. One thing that is certain is they do not have a notion of a 'uniform'. When I boarded I though it was strange that a passenger was asking another passenger if she could hang his coat. It wasn't until she came to confirm our meal order that I realized that the 'passenger' adorned with her own scarf, wearing a cardigan and arms covered in bangles and other bling was actually one of the crew.
IFE: Bulkhead and ceiling mounted screens showing some sitcoms as well as audio channels.
Verdict: The flight was a real pleasure. It really did feel a 'premium experience' which often does not feel the case when flying J class within europe. The seat is vastly different to 'coach'. The food was exceptional for such a short flight. And the flexibility even for a non flexible ticket (same day flight change for $75 and free same day standby) are fantastic ideas!
Flew from Fort Lauderdale in domestic First Class, but the experience was far from first class. Check in was seemless, but when I got to security there was no priority lane which I find to be poor. In addition there were only two security lanes open in total so the wait to get through security was 45 minutes.
When I finally made it through I saw the flight was delayed an hour which is the norm for flying on a Sunday evening in the US. Not to worry I thought as I'll head to the lounge. So I looked and looked and looked for it and couldn't find one. So I asked an AA attendant who told me that there isn't one. I was gob smacked - how can you sell a premium service and market one of the advantages as being lounge when there isn't one. I asked why there was no lounge and was advised there was no room! I decline to post my reply. So off i went to the bar and kept my receipts for forwarding to AA as a request for repayment (not heard back)
Boarding was good and was offered champagne. When it came it was in a plastic glass not glass. This was a shock as glass would be cheaper, more environmentally friendly and is more of a first or even business class product. IFE was a joke. There were 2 small over head screens showing NBC sitcoms and of the 13 radio stations only 5 worked. Thankfully I had my iPad.
After takeoff we were served with a selection of warm nuts and wine which were both nice. Then dinner was served with more drinks, both of which were good. Dessert was home made cookies, which I doubt were homemade but they were nice. I told the flight attendant this, who gave me one more and one for later as well as more wine. Regarding the flight attendant, she was great. She'd been doing the job for more than 20 years and it showed. She was friendly, chatty yet highly professional.
All in all the experience was below par and hopefully the merger with US Airways will result in changes being made to make the service a good shorthaul business class product otherwise people will go elsewhere.
This is the third leg of a seven-sector trip. Already completed: Cathay 777 HKG to LHR and AA 767 to DFW. Now, AA1912 to Charlotte, North Carolina on an MD80.
CHECK-IN, IMMIGRATION & SECURITY
Since this was a connecting flight, these details are covered in my previous trip report.
After rechecking my bags, I took the Skytrain to Concourse C and headed to the Admiral's Club lounge, which I can access due to my oneworld emerald status. I was given a drink voucher, and queried this since I had checked on the AA website and understood drinks were complimentary. The staff politely explained that what they called "well drinks" were complimentary, and that therefore I could have anything off the bottom shelf, but items from the top shelf required payment or a voucher.
On going to the bar I looked at the menu and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favourite white wines - Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, which is wildly overrated but nonetheless lovely to drink - listed on a premium menu. Unfortunately, I was told, this didn't come under the voucher system, since it was available only from a self-service dispensing machine (!). I settled for a nondescript Chardonnay.
There was plentiful seating in various configurations, with many seats suitable for solo travellers. I chose a seat with its own side-table and a view over the apron, and a nearby power point, and logged on to the complimentary wifi to try it out. It operated at a decent speed, so after checking that out I settled down to do some reading. There were no boarding announcements, so I periodically checked the screens - or rather, screen. Although there were screens dotted around the lounge, each was only a single screen scrolling through a large number of flights (Dallas is a major hub for AA) so if you just missed your page it could take a long time to scroll through.
BOARDING & TAKE-OFF
Eventually I headed to the gate, in time but relatively late in the process. I have had bad experiences with late boarding on US domestic flights before, where passengers load their bags into the first overhead bins they find, regardless of where on the plane they are sitting, so was a little concerned. However, I managed, with the assistance of one of the flight attendants, to find enough space fairly quickly.
I had chosen seat 3E in the First Class cabin, an aisle seat (it is a 2-2 configuration) on the basis of seat plans on Internet sites which indicated that it had extra legroom, despite being a bulkhead seat, but was disappointed to find the legroom was not as good as I had thought it might be. Next time I would not choose the bulkhead seat.
The crew were very friendly, and one of the attendants came to me as soon as I had settled myself, and offered ... well, let's just say. she made an unintended and slightly embarrassing double entendre, which we quickly laughed off, and corrected herself by offering me a drink. When I asked what was available she said I could have any selection from the bar, which was welcome as I am more accustomed to the more limited Asian "champagne, water or juice" approach to pre-take-off drinks. Feeling rather tired, I opted for the caffeine-and-sugar Coke option, which arrived quickly, was consumed even more quickly, and swiftly replaced.
The flight was considerably delayed because the pilot was apparently unable to find the plane, which didn't bode well for him finding our destination airport, but about half an hour later he did turn up. I have experienced similar issues before. Clearly, in America, one is subject not only to delays resulting from late arrival of your own aircraft, but also that of other aircraft whose crews clearly have very short turn-around times themselves.
The crew continued to be most attentive during the flight. They took orders for "cocktails" before taking off, and delivered them very swiftly after, with a large bowl of warm mixed nuts. Unfortunately being a rather elderly plane, there is no in-flight entertainment on this aircraft, not even audio or a main-screen film, so I settled down with my newspapers and iPad and entertained myself. Nor was there a meal service.
The seat was also rather old-school, but comfortable enough and reasonably spacious, apart from the legroom issue I mention above. I was lucky enough not to have any neighbours, although this is possibly because other passengers had done better research than me on the legroom! However, I took advantage of the extra space to spread my belongings onto the neighbouring seat.
The remainder of the flight was uneventful, but I would again mention the friendliness and attentiveness of the crew, who really made an effort to ensure everyone was well attended to.
Our late departure, unsurprisingly, translated into a late arrival - about an hour behind schedule. It was a reasonable walk to the arrival hall but there were several travelators. Passengers with limited mobility should, however, note that the carpeting was just thick enough to make pulling a wheelie bag slightly difficult so a wheelchair would be an effort, particularly since some sections were set at a slight incline.
My bag came through quickly, and a short walk to the taxi stand saw me moving towards the city very quickly after landing.
A few days follow before my next flight, to London via Chicago...
The off-plane experience was somewhat mixed, with a mediocre lounge and delayed take-off and landing. The on-plane experience also somewhat mixed in that the hard product was decidedly dated and not especially comfortable, but the crew worked well to counteract this. They were friendly and efficient, and so overall it was, if not special, a reasonably pleasant flight
I flew AA first from DFW to ATL, it was a through flight from LAX so there was no opportunity to pay to use the AA Admiral's Club lounge but I found DFW to have a wide choice of places to get food (including a fast-food court with McDonalds) and a TGI Fridays. There wasn't much in the way of shops (little more than tourist tat shops and a couple of newsagents).
Boarding was swift because first class passengers get priority boarding (together with AA platinum and servicemen/women in uniform). Seats are in a 2 by 2 configuration and there was plenty of leg room and good shoulder room. I'd pre-picked seat 5E in the aisle.
The flight was not full so there was plenty of room in the overhead lockers (unlike each of my previous 3 flights with AA where luggage had to be checked into the hold). The flight was only a couple of hours so it was a beverage only service, but these were plentiful and offered at good intervals. Pushback was on time and the flight itself was smooth. We got into ATL about 10 minutes later than billed, but were kept waiting until we could get to the gate.
There was no real in-flight entertainment other than a magazine. AA does offer wi-fi, but I found it to be patchy and they wanted to charge for it (which I thought was a bit off given the price I'd paid for the ticket).
First class passengers get priority luggage unloading and my case was second off the plane.
I'd travel AA first again if the price was right.
I flew first class from LAX to DFW.
The on-line check-in was easy to use but because my hotel didn't have a printer facility, I opted to print out the boarding pass at the airport. Check-in at the airport was straight-forward - the electronic desks weren't busy and it was easy to check in my luggage. If you fly first then there's no charge for checking-in luggage (unlike when you fly economy) and because I was flying on from DFW to ATL, I made a point of checking that the checked in luggage was checked on through to DFW without my having to pick it up at DFW.
Due to previous experience with LAX, I did opt to pay $50 to use the Admiral's Club lounge. This time when I arrived at the lounge I was told that they did not do audio announcements of boarding and was told that although I should check the board, it was generally better to head to the gate by the time specified on the boarding card. Unlike the last time I used the lounge, I did not get a voucher for a free beverage, although there was plenty of juice, water, coffee and tea for those who wanted it together with savoury snacks and biscuits.
I went down to the gate at the time shown on the card. The gate was crowded but boarding began quite promptly. Priority goes to first class with AA platinum frequent flyers and US servicemen/women in uniform.
I'd chosen seat 5B. The layout in first is 2 by 2 and the seats are leather and a lot like a European airline business class product. There was more than enough leg room for me (I'm 5' 4") and a large serviceman in the seat behind me seemed to have plenty of room too. Boarding completed quickly, although it was a full flight. They did run out of overhead locker space and checked in the latecomer's bags without charging for the same. First class passengers were given a choice of water or a soft drink prior to take off - I opted for a ginger ale.
Pushback was on time and take-off was very smooth. After take-off there was another drinks run and took orders for lunch. There was a choice of parmesan chicken or shrimp salad. I went for the salad, which was okay - the passenger next to me had the chicken which looked a little dry to me. Lunch came with a choice of wine and the cabin crew offered plenty of refills.
There was some turbulence on the flight and the pilots were slow to turn off the seatbelt sign after we came through it.
We arrived at DFW ahead of schedule and although the cabin crew made a point of giving out gate information for passengers waiting for connecting flights, my flight wasn't among them. When I asked a stewardess if she knew my gate number, she said that I wasn't on the list and advised me that I should make sure that my suitcase wasn't on the belt at baggage recall. Although my suitcase wasn't on the baggage belt and I checked with the ground crew who told me that it was going through to ATL automatically, it was an inconvenience that I could have done without because it did mean having to then get back into the airport through the TSA checks.
All in all, it was a more pleasant experience than AA coach but I'd only take it if there was an offer on the flight price because all you really get is a bit more leg room and priority boarding.
Joined this flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale having arrived three hours earlier from Heathrow on BA. Transfer to Terminal 8 went very smoothly, short line for Priority Access security and quickly to AA Flagship Lounge which was excellent in all respects.
Good complementary internet access, showers and an interesting choice of complementary snacks and drinks. The Gate was a welcome "healthy" 20 minutes walk away (worth noting if you are tight on time) and boarding was very well organised with F Class passengers promptly on board first.
The seats on this 737-800 were quite uncomfortable even though the space and pitch was generous in a 2-2 layout. I am 1.87m and I found my head was above the headrest. Later on, with the recline things improved.
A really delicious choice of bistro style meals were offerred on this 3 hour sector and the chicken salad I chose was very tasty and washed down with an equally enjoyable glass of well oaked Californian chardonnay.
The crew really made a big effort to make the journey comfortable. On time arrival, another good walk to the baggage reclaim where the priority bags were already waiting (really nice to see the tags actually made a difference).
A very good overall experience, aside from the seat.
Although I enjoy the quietness of the MD80 in the First class cabin, those planes are really getting old.
AA did a good job on this flight to Las Vegas, it was on time, the FA attentive and the food acceptable.
The only minus was the lengthy wait for the luggage to be delivered.
Had never flown AA before so was pleasantly surprised by my MIA - LGA trip in first class. Boarding efficient, seat comfortable for a three hour service and although the interior of the cabin was slightly "worn" have to say that the service and the meal was excellent. Arrived ahead of schedule - luggage on time - decent short haul service and pretty good value for money