The weekend before last I completed two mileage runs in my quest for Platinum status on American Airlines. It was a bit like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day in that I flew Los Angeles-Dallas-Los Angeles on consecutive days making it feel like deja vu, although they weren’t the exact same flights each day. Two flights were in economy and two in first class.
Day 1, Flight 1: June 11, 2011 AA2428 LAX-DFW 757-200 Seat 22C
American’s check-in at LAX is more pleasant than United’s in more ways than one. The heightened ceilings and layout is far more appealing, and the soft-product, if you will, has so far been friendly, efficient and courteous by both the American agents and contracted AirServ employees. After a quick check-in (to re-print my boarding pass to add to my collection of saved stubs), I made my way up the escalator and through general security in about 10 minutes.
It’s new for me not to have lounge access (okay not “new,” instead it’s been a long time), but I enjoyed walking around the terminal and planespotting the heavies over at the Bradley Terminal. I grabbed a coffee and light snack since the only offering onboard in coach for the less than three-hour flight would be light snacks. Boarding time arrived and I was in Group 2. Again I was greeted by name upon having my BP scanned, something rare even on United as a top-tier elite.
I was expecting the same tight seat pitch as American’s 737-800s, but was pleasantly surprised with at least an extra inch on the 757-200. Again I noticed the lack of “rush” to close the doors early vs. United’s visible & urgent boarding procedure. Although the flight was full and doors closed maybe a minute or two prior to the scheduled departure time, we were on-time.
Drink service was offered twice and I greatly appreciate that American offers both Coke and Pepsi products, as I prefer Pepsi when offered the choice. The flight attendants were friendly and the captain made a couple of landmark announcements during the flight, including pointing out the smoke from the Arizona fires. We landed and made our way to the D terminal.
Day 1, Flight 2: June 11, 2011 AA2473 DFW-LAX 757-200 Seat 4B
The D terminal is very modern with plenty of shops, restaurants and facilities including free computer stations complete with complimentary internet access. I left the secure area to again re-print my boarding pass at a kiosk in the lobby and was offered the choice to upgrade to first class for $135. My eyes glazed over and before I knew it, I had swiped my credit card and selected a first class seat. All for the sake of needing to blog about American’s first class service, of course. 😉
Security lines were incredibly light and there was virtually no benefit to having Priority Access, but I did take advantage of my newly upgraded perk. Knowing I’d have dinner in first class, I grabbed a light snack and coffee. When boarding time was called I was lingering near the Priority Access lane and was among the first few onboard.
I settled into seat 4B and forgot to mention I picked it because I knew American’s order of taking meal requests uses the FEBO method (Front to back on even numbered flights, back to front on odd). Rows 5 and 6 were already showing as occupied, so 4B was the next closest to the rear of the cabin. Full service pre-departure beverages were offered and I simply had water, no ice. Hydration is key when you frequently fly.
The standard post-departure drink service, meal orders, warm nuts & hot towel offering occurred with precision. I opted for the chicken dish instead of pasta and was impressed with not only the chicken, but salad and vegetables as well. Dessert consisted of ice cream with fruity & chocolaty nuggets. Delicious.
The 757s still use the horribly antiquated television monitors for video entertainment and I instead immersed myself in my MacBook. American’s blanket is unimpressive and cheap, but no worse than United’s recently downgraded domestic first class blankets. We arrived on-time in Los Angeles and I made my way home.
Day 2, Flight 1: June 12, 2011 AA2416 LAX-DFW 767-300 Seat 3A
Once again that irresistible upgrade offer appeared on my kiosk screen and my lack of self-control took over so quickly that I had a boarding pass for first class in moments. It, too, was only $135. Since I now could use the priority security lanes, I made my way over to the other escalator in American’s Terminal 4 and was quickly through security. (Side note: While I understand the premise of those who opt-out of the body scanners, I am probably one of the few bloggers who has decided to not make a statement and just deal with the scanners, as I did on this occasion.)
I was among the first few to board when first class was called and I settled into my very comfortable first class seat, which is the same angled lie-flat “shell” seat as American’s international business class product. Pre-departure beverages were offered and I went with orange juice. Another on-time departure found me airborne quickly.
Again having selected a seat nearer the front of the cabin (FEBO), I had my selection of an omelet or fruit & cereal selection for breakfast. I’ve grown tired of egg dishes for breakfast on United, but was curious to compare them against American’s offering. It proved unremarkable and dry, as is the case with United’s. I appreciated the airshow on the monitors showing flight data and the usual entertainment videos were also aired. Once again service from the flight attendants was professional and friendly. All staff interactions I’ve had with American Airlines have impressed me very much so far. Well done, American. We arrived on-time and once again taxied into the D terminal.
Day 2, Flight 2: June 12, 2011 AA 2455 DFW-LAX 737-800 Seat 19C
I again exited the secure area to reprint my boarding pass and had the upgrade offer appeared, I was confident I’d turn it down this time given the first class meal would simply be a snack, and especially since I had already spent enough on upgrades this mileage run. I did step outside briefly to get some fresh air, but it was a hot & humid day, so quickly went back inside and through security. There are, of course, kiosks inside the secure area, but since I geek out on airport layouts I like the full experience of the lobby areas, too.
I usually don’t care much for cologne, but I did end up stopping by the duty free shop for a free sample spritz of smell-good to freshen up. I generally do that when traveling internationally, but I know it can be incredibly offensive to fellow passengers so I am very light with my usage.
I grabbed lunch and then made my way to the gate. I was in group 2, so was able to stow my laptop bag in the overhead. Yes, it is normally appreciated to put smaller carryons under the seat in front of you, but knowing the seat pitch on the 737-800s I wanted as much room as possible so used the overhead. When I do stow my bag under the seat in front of me, I’ll generally move it behind my legs after takeoff to give my legs some room to move.
The flight was uneventful with the standard coach drink service and light snack options. Having eaten earlier, I simply had another Pepsi. The flight attendants were again incredibly friendly and seemed more professional than many of those I’ve experienced at United. With American’s Executive Platinum perks for 100,000 mile flyers being as good and sometimes better (Systemwide upgrades) as United’s 1K program, I just might (again… might) consider changing loyalty. Only after I hit one million miles with United, though. I’m far too vested in Mileage Plus to stop now.
We arrived on-time at LAX and I made my way to my usual parking garage & drove home feeling great about my weekend flying American. Finally, here is a video recap of my two-day run featuring many more photographs and a few video clips including an air-to-air shot of an American MD-80 on a similar flight path to mine. Enjoy!