Last week I got to try American Airlines First Class on the 3 class A321T again. I had been on the same flight in American Airlines First Class Domestic A321T (Review) last year before my journey to Doha with Qatar Business Class (Review) – that was a daytime flight and I wanted to try an overnight departure to try out this flight again.
I loved what American had created with this (still somewhat) new service and while both SFO and JFK airport showed delays when I checked in the agents promised that the flight would be on time later that night. Since I was hungry and never had a chance to try out the wine tasting bar at the American Express Centurion lounge I walked to the United terminal from Terminal 2. That should be only be a 5 minute walk but managed to walk the wrong way – which ended up taking me about 20 minutes. San Francisco only has a few connectors between terminals and between Terminal 2 and 3 you need to exit and clear security again. With TSA Pre that’s a rather easy task late in the day.
The American Express Centurion Lounge in San Francisco manages to serve just one entree but it’s made right there and usually convinces with great quality – I always like it. A few wine tastings later I made my way out security again and over to the Admirals Club. Boarding was on time as well and the gate agent scanned my boarding pass; and with a smile and said ‘ Have a great flight Mr. Jacobi’. That’s such a far cry from the grumpy United agents a terminal away who would rather get jaw surgery than smile and wish you a great flight.
The friendliness continued with a young, though experienced, cabin crew that simply wanted to provide exceptional service. All cabins were completely full this Sunday night (likely with many passengers getting an early start into the New York City for the week). The American Airlines First Class seat is the same as in the 777 for Cathay Pacific Business Class (Review). It’s a fantastic seat for the 5 hour flight and gives you enough space, privacy and comfort to lounge or sleep.
I asked about the food service and there would be a meal service right after take off and an abbreviated breakfast service with smoothies and cookies. I asked for pajamas and my question was greeted with a smile and I learned that this only happens in International First Class. The flight attendant would not snipe at me or try to be extra bossy – American customer service at its best!
We left the gate right at the scheduled departure time and the pilot would announce our route that night. He mentioned that this would be the only announcement and he would let us sleep. And so we took off into the rainy San Francisco skies minutes later. No drama so far!
15 minutes later drinks, nuts would roll through and a few minutes after that I had a lobster risotto on my table. I wasn’t really hungry but curios and it was good food. Not gourmet food but not bad at all.
After another Big Bang show episode I reclined my seat and made use of the comfortable blanket and the nice pillow. Seconds later I fell asleep. I woke up just 10 minutes outside New York City To my surprise there was no announcement yet (we were at 18,000 ft) and most people were still asleep. The flight attendants came by and wished good morning and served a smoothie and cookies. Again no drama!
At just about 8,000 ft the pilot would announce the landing and tables would be cleared. That took all but 2 minutes and everyone would put their seat upright. Landing was perfect as well into this crisp and windy New York morning.
I’m duly impressed by this flight – the airline industry is riddled with bureaucracy and policies that defy common sense (or any sense really). American Airlines has created a product that comes with zero drama, incredible friendly people that are knowledgeable and professional. The two airports also do their work and provide a decent terminal with TSA Pre lines and gate agents who try to help and not snipe at you for asking a question. If flying could be such relaxed every time I’d move into one of those planes!