Review of American Airlines flight Miami Rio De Janeiro in Premium Eco

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA 905
Class Premium Eco
Seat 14J
Aircraft Boeing 777-200
Flight time 8:20
Take-off 01 Jun 16, 22:25
Arrival at 02 Jun 16, 07:45
AA   #54 sur 105 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 302 review
jetsetpanda
By 1445
Published on 5th June 2016
Hello from RIO and welcome to this latest FR.

My schedule would be as follows:

SFO-MIA in Y - will not report.
MIA-GIG in Y - you are here.
GIG-JFK in J - click here.
JFK-SFO in Y - depends if I get upgraded.


It looks like GIG is becoming a pilgrimage destination for me. Last year I visited this city twice (in Sept and Oct). This time I came with relatives and that meant a bit more planning and compromise.

I start with the boarding experience out of SFO where I was issued the connecting passes for my flight to GIG.

I requested a taxi to take us to the airport and once there we checked in at the Priority counter because on person in the party had requested a wheelchair. I was helped by the most indifferent agent that I have ever encountered during check-in. There was an issue with the documentation for one member in our group and despite providing proper documentation, she took the paperwork back in the office to consult with someone. It took about 10-15 min. and when she came back she did not even thanked us for waiting or apologized for the delay. She proceeded to check us in and issued the boarding pass mentioning that we might run into this situation when we return from GIG. I told her that we have dealt with this issue previously returning from several different countries without a problem and was then handed the boarding passes. At that point i mentioned that I requested a wheelchair and she said something like "oh I didn't see that but it is here" and immediately paged for assistance. This experience was a stark contrast to her co-workers working by her side who at least wished customers a good trip and smiled. Although she was not rude, the whole check-in process was utterly apathetic to this EXP member.

We all received "TSA Pre-Check" on our boarding passes and went through security quickly and painlessly. No need to take off shoes, belt or get the computer out of the luggage. We stayed at the Admirals Club in SFO for about half and hour and then boarded our flight to MIA which left on time.

On arrival into MIA, the crew did not give out connecting information so we had to ask the agent or check the boards upon arrival. This was the first time in all my SFO-MIA flights that I recall not hearing such announcement because a big percentage of passengers on this flight are usually on their way to somewhere in South America. Even if gate information was unavailable, the FA should have mentioned that when taxiing to the gate. I hope that this is a one time "off" incident and not an indication of further service deterioration, although this comes as no surprise from a recent change in my reservation.

I am the type who occasionally checks on my reservation to make sure everything is in order. A few weeks before the trip I noticed that the configuration of this flight in premium economy went from a 3-3-3 layout to a 3-4-3. Up to that point Y+ was spared from the torturous 3-4-3 layout of the rear Y cabin but not anymore. As a result of this reconfiguration, the bulkhead row became 2-4-2 resulting in only 2 sets of seat pairs for people traveling together in that cabin. This new layout is not featured in "seatguru" or AA sites yet. Kind of sneaky to make this change without an announcement (which will no doubt affects AA negatively) or advise the customers holding a seat in Y+. The only positives are the 2 sets of couple seats and the aisle seats behind what would have been the third seat in the front row, which gave those seats ample room making them in effect another "bulkhead" seat. I was the beneficiary of that as you will read later.

Upon arrival in MIA we headed to our connecting gate and sat for a few minutes before boarding. We forgo going to the club since we would not have enough time to relax in it and would rather be at the gate for pre-boarding. There was 1 agent when we arrived but eventually more showed up as we got closer to boarding time. They were all pleasant and professional which is always a welcoming sight in a major hub like MIA.

Gate.

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Because of my party who requested a wheelchair we had access to pre-board . There was another passenger with wheelchair along with 2 individuals being escorted by Customs.

Upon boarding there was a FA at the galley but he failed to greet us. I thought that was blatantly rude, especially towards the elderly couple who boarded first.

Seats.

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Bulkhead seats.

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View from 14J.

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Eventually boarding proceeded with the rest of the passengers and an announcement was made that it was going to be a full flight. At one point I saw 2 people holding a glass of pre-dept. sparkling wine and orange juice past me. I wonder if they avail themselves of the unattended tray of drinks destined to J passengers while passing through the galley.

It was now 22:25 and there was no sign of the aircraft moving. We sat for about another 30 min. and finally an announcement was made for the crew to get ready for departure. There was never any communication by the cockpit about the reason for the delay.

Take off

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Dinner service started with chicken or pasta and drinks. It was the usual lackluster typical dinner that can only come from a cost cutting U.S. carrier - small salad with lettuce and a few shreds of carrots as appetizer, a reheated frozen food main dish and a bag of chocolate brownie for dessert. At least there was a wedge of industrial cheese and crackers. I ate the salad and after a few bites of the chicken I left everything else on the tray.

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Appetizer salad.

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Chicken with rice.

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Wrapped roll.

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Mood lighting

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Service was good with smiling and attentive FA's. During the meal distribution i requested a cup of hot tea for my seatmate. The FA apologized that he did not have any hot beverages on his cart but after the meal service he delivered it as promised. i suspect that they might have been short of crew members because usually there are 2 FA's in charge of the cart and this time only 1 person did the whole beverage service on my side.

There was a good selection of movies to choose from but I just browsed through a couple of titles without really getting into any particular one that I liked. AA seems to offer a "live chat" feature on their entertainment system now.

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Drinks were placed in the galley and when I inquired about small bottles, the FA offered a big one for me which was greatly appreciated.

The cabin was plunged into darkness and most people were sleeping. As we got closer to GIG, the lights were turned on 1 hr. before arrival and the breakfast service commenced. It is now a hot flat top muffin (less quantity) served with yogurt and orange juice. I had a cup of tea and did not touch this continental offering at all.

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During the tray collection, the FA accidentally spilled some coffee on my pants when the retrieved the tray from the passenger in front. He immediately stopped what he was doing and went to the j class galley to get a cloth towel for me. Later on he offered me some wine but I declined since I don't really drink and settled for another big bottle of water. This FA was really good to me and spoiled me throughout the flight by going out of his way and even gave me amenity kits.

We arrived a few minutes later and there was a cart to pick up our wheelchair passenger. The only problem was that only the person requesting the wheelchair could be on the cart and the party had to split. We couldn't do that due to some possible language issues so an actual wheelchair was brought and an attendant took us together to immigration & customs. On the way there, at least 3 different attendants were in charge of our wheelchair since there was a shortage of agents. Sometimes we saw an attendant handle 2 wheelchair passengers at the same time. In the end, we ended up with the attendant that we got from the beginning since he relieved his co-worker right after immigration. The whole situation was comic to say the least. I did not feel infuriated because it was no use to get angry. I just rolled with the punches.

Upon arrival I pre-ordered a driver through Ocab via Mozio. Originally I requested the driver to wait for us at 08:00 but we ended up clearing Customs at 09:00 because of the wheelchair situation and 2 other flights arriving at the same time. When we exited Customs (which now requires you to pass through Duty Free upon arrival), our driver was waiting with a sign that had my name. In my confirmation email from Ocab it stated that the driver will keep track of my flight in case of delays like these so you had to enter your flight information before finalizing your booking. The ride from GIG to my hotel in Catete cost me USD 25 or EUR 22 including taxes and tips.

The driver was very professional and talkative. At first we spoke in English and later in Spanish when he learned that I could speak it fluently. Eventually he confessed to me that he had a French background when we got into a conversation about the influence of the French in Brazilian history and how this is seldom acknowledged on Brazilian texts. I felt like asking if he thought the same about Catherine of Medici's contribution to French gastronomy, but I reminded myself that my life was at the hands of my driver at the time and it would have been wise to refrain from any provocations, however harmless or superficial they could be.

It took us approx. 2 hrs to arrive to the Windsor Florida hotel where we were staying. This was partly due to heavy rain at the time, construction work and commuting traffic. The hotel was very accommodating and gave us an early check-in so that we can settle and rest.

*** BONUS ***

Windsor Florida

The hotel is supposed to be a 4* but it felt more like a 3.5*. It is located in a safe residential neighborhood convenient to the metro, restaurants and supermarkets. The staff was professional and willing to please, which is the most important asset of this property.

Lobby.




Pool with view to Christ the Redeemer.




Room with refrigerator (but no iron nor ironing board).




On the first day we crashed and decided to have dinner at the buffet restaurant of the hotel. Buffet featured a decent selection and the beef was not overcooked which can often happen in buffets. Desserts were nice.


See more

Verdict

American Airlines

7.8/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment9.0
meal/catering5.0

Miami - MIA

7.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Rio De Janeiro - GIG

7.6/10
Efficiency7.0
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

The cabin change came as a surprise and it's disappointing to see Main Cabin Extra go to a 3-4-3 layout. The only positive as I mentioned on the report are the pair of "couple" seats and the aisle seats on the sides of the second row that feature plenty of room to stretch.

Cabin crew at the front was not the best, but the ones working in the back were solid.

Catering is really cheap and AA would do itself a favor and enhance the offerings in Y.

GIG is going through some last minute "fine tuning" before the Olympics. At the airport and in the city I saw construction going on at a fervent pace. I hope they can finish up on schedule.

Related

17 Comments

  • Comment 351727 by
    Numero_2 6140 Comments

    Thank you for sharing Adan !

    It was a "diet flight" for sure. ;)
    Too bad that AA can't offer a decent catering in Y. But it's another reason to fly business class instead. ;)

      0
    • Comment 351748 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      "It was a "diet flight" for sure"
      - Always the case when you fly a U.S. carrier in the back. It sounds ironic in a way. ;)

      "Too bad that AA can't offer a decent catering in Y. "
      - Someone from an inflight catering website mentioned to me that my meal looked similar to what US used to offer. If you consider where the current management team at AA came from you wouldn't find this surprising.

      "But it's another reason to fly business class instead. ;)"
      - Still with AA or with a foreign carrier? :P

      Thanks Clement for your comments.

        0
  • Comment 351750 by
    TheWindowSeat 20 Comments

    Beautiful trip report and very nicely presented ! It just goes to show that no matter how modern the aircraft,how lavish the inflight service and how great the seats,if the Cabin Crew do not welcome you onboard properly and do not smile and are not helpful,all the hard products are meaningless ! Can I ask please,if you were one of the first to board ? If so, sometimes the crew are not ready to start welcoming as they have not been told by the ground staff that passengers are on the way !

      0
    • Comment 351879 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      Hi TheSkyLion and thank you for your kind comments.

      The human touch is an important factor that can set similar companies apart. To answer your question I was one of the first ones to board, right behind an elderly couple. I understand that crew can sometimes be caught off guard, but there is no excuse to just ignore passengers once you see them entering the aircraft. A quick hi to acknowledge someone's presence is common courtesy. What was so offensive in this case is that the this flight attendant was in the galley, saw the first wheelchair passenger get onboard who was helped by a ground crew and then went back to whatever he was doing.

        0
  • Comment 351763 by
    KévinDC TEAM 3897 Comments

    Thanks for this new report Adan! Apathetic agents like that seem to be more common at AA than other carriers IME, thought thankfully, the exception, and not the rule.

    We missed each other at MIA by a few days. I was there earlier in the week!

    "On arrival into MIA, the crew did not give out connecting information"
    - AA is no longer doing onboard connecting gate information--it was recently announced.

    I'd heard that they were going to start putting in 3-4-3 in the first cabin of the retrofitted 772s which would include MCE. This is the first report I'm seeing of this. I suppose this means that MCE on the 77W will go to 3-4-3--probably when the real Premium Economy class is installed.

    The meal looks typically blah. DL does waaay better in the Y catering department. And even UA had been making improvements. AA is the last of the US 3 not making any effort on Y catering.

    " AA seems to offer a "live chat" feature on their entertainment system now."
    - IME it works on some aircraft but not others.

    What a pathetic breakfast. Not even a hot breakfast sandwich like there used to be.

    Overall a very mediocre experience in Y. AA may be getting better and better in the premium cabins, but they seem to have made Y a total afterthought.

    Thanks for sharing!

      0
    • Comment 351881 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      "We missed each other at MIA by a few days. I was there earlier in the week!"
      - Connecting through on your way to PTY?

      "AA is no longer doing onboard connecting gate information--it was recently announced."
      - I missed that.

      "I suppose this means that MCE on the 77W will go to 3-4-3--probably when the real Premium Economy class is installed. "
      - If not sonner.

      " AA is the last of the US 3 not making any effort on Y catering."
      - Yet they are the only U.S. carrier that allows meal reservation for premium passengers. You can tell where its priorities lie.

      "IME it works on some aircraft but not others."
      - Do you chat with strangers? ;)

      " Not even a hot breakfast sandwich like there used to be"
      - I think this was DL.

      Thanks Kevin.

        0
      • Comment 351958 by
        KévinDC TEAM 3897 Comments

        Yep! Went through MIA on the way to/from PTY.

        "You can tell where its priorities lie."
        - Definitely, especially now with the introduction of EQDs, economy flyers matter less and less

        "I think this was DL"
        - Nah, DL would have a real breakfast with omelette, sausage, and potates etc on a route like this. This was on AA in Y last year from HKG to DFW

          0
  • Comment 351817 by
    indianocean 4428 Comments

    Seems that you are not the only passenger to have bad experience with ground staff in MIA. It also seems that it happens all the time. Ugly airport, terrible staff.

    Excellent legroom onboard. Weren't you bothered by the trolley, cabin crew or even passengers walking in the alley?

    "Appetizer salad."--> but not appetizing.
    "Chicken with rice."--> dreadful.

    "Buffet featured a decent selection and the beef was not overcooked which can often happen in buffets. Desserts were nice."--> that's the Adan I know (lol)

    Thank you for sharing Adan.

      0
    • Comment 351884 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      "Ugly airport, terrible staff."
      -I try to avoid arriving into MIA from an intl flight and that is why you see me go through JFK on my return.

      "Weren't you bothered by the trolley, cabin crew or even passengers walking in the alley?"
      - Surprisingly I never had an incident with any of them . By the way, 25D on BA's A380 is just like that since the space in front is an escape from the crew rest area.

      "that's the Adan I know (lol)"
      - i have more steak pics coming up. ;)

      Thanks for your support and comments Bernard.

        0
  • Comment 351908 by
    SMilano 1299 Comments

    MIA doesn't look like a nice airport...

    Like many carrier now, they aren't making any effort in Y for the comfort or the catering... It's getting more and more low cost even for the majors...

    Always a pleasure to read you
    Thanks for sharing !

    See you

      0
    • Comment 351951 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      Thank you very much for your comments Sebastien.

      Legacy carrier need to separate themselves from the LCC and not compete on price only. There is a segment of the market that is willing to pay a bit more to get quality as evidenced by the popularity of the Premium Economy cabin. Then you have airlines like JL SQ, TK and SQ whose Y put the rest to shame.

        0
  • Comment 351944 by
    KL651 3365 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    Well, I'm not surprised that MCE also went the 3-4-3 way, after all it's just Y class with more legroom.
    However, what a nice change from the old seats with the tiny IFE!
    The catering seems to be better on TATL flights vs LATAM flights though the latter are usually longer.
    Is Rio safe enough so tourists can visit unaccompanied?

      0
    • Comment 351952 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      Thank you for your comments Etienne.

      Yep, I guess this new configuration is not surprising.

      Each person experience things differently and what is one man's garbage can be another one's treasure. Having said that I I felt relatively safe walking alone and sometimes at night in Rio. However, I make sure that I research the places where I do these thoroughly and stay alert in unfamiliar surroundings.

      Rio gets a bad rap due to its shaky economy and instability. Although crime happens as evidenced by the recent robbery of Spanish athletes while walking around picturesque Santa Teresa, i wonder if these people were wearing watches or dressed in a way that would attract attention. If anything I have found "cariocas" to be extremely friendly and open people. For example, I was taking taxis most of the time during this trip and never had one single bad experience with the cab drivers here. They were always polite and some of them extremely warm who went out of their way to make sure that you had a good time in the city. Most importantly, they were honest and never took any long routes in order to take advantage of me. This is a stark contrast from other "safer" places like Las Vegas. So yes, i would highly recommended Rio for the solo traveler, but do exercise caution just like in any other big metropolitan city.

        0
  • Comment 351964 by
    NGO85 1564 Comments

    “depends if I get upgraded.”
    - lol

    “Although she was not rude, the whole check-in process was utterly apathetic”
    - Apathetic best describes a lot of my AA experiences with ground staff. This situation in particular sounds pitiful especially completely overlooking the wheelchair request.

    “not an indication of further service deterioration”
    - they are pretty consistent on LAX arrivals of rattling off the connecting gates during the taxi. This is probably a crew dependent problem versus a global AA problem.

    “I wonder if they avail themselves of the unattended tray of drinks destined to J passengers while passing through the galley.”
    - I wish I was that brazen^^ They are so tempting just sitting there…

    The catering on your flight is so different than the routes to Oceania which have suddenly mimicked the QF catering decision to cut out all the fluff and only serve larger mains. The arrival meal is just pitiful and the overall experience was pretty lackluster.

    I find your rating of crew a little on the generous side based on your overall experiences. I understand the spill was handled well, but the rest of the service didn’t seem like a 9.

    Also, this is some crazy MCE cabin and is nothing like the ones on the B77Ws. Where was your tray table and IFE if the seat was missing in front of you?

    Thanks again for a very nice report Adan!

      0
    • Comment 352061 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      Hey Michel.

      Well, I was #1 on the upgrade list for JFK-SFO and it did not clear, so no FR on the last segment. The gate agent was nice enough to say that she will get me if there were "no shows".

      "This is probably a crew dependent problem versus a global AA problem."
      - I think you are right. Sometimes you can tell the attitude and service based on the hub.

      "The arrival meal is just pitiful and the overall experience was pretty lackluster."
      - AA got the Latin American market covered. They can afford to be lackluster.

      " I understand the spill was handled well, but the rest of the service didn’t seem like a 9."
      - In the back the crew was friendly, talkative and things were done with a smile. I was also offered some wine and desserts from J but I refused. ;)

      " Where was your tray table and IFE if the seat was missing in front of you?"
      - You had to pull them out from the side, just like bulkhead seats.

      Thank you for your comments Michael.

        0
  • Comment 352059 by
    Rl 777 624 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Not the best experience even from the start :(.

    What's the point with Y+ if it's still 10-abreast?

    I'm glad the service from the FAs was good. I guess you were not impressed with the meal at all and I can see why.

    Thank you for the absolutely wonderful bonus!

    Have a good one, see you!

      0
    • Comment 352066 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2093 Comments

      Thank you RI777 for commenting.

      The food from AA in Y is the worst of the 3 U.S. carriers. Everything gives the impression of cost cutting.

      GIG is a spectacular city and there is a big bonus in the next FR. Stay tuned.

        0

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