Welcome to my latest report from our recent trip to San Juan, PR! Due to some pending immigration issues, my husband and I opted to do a "domestic" vacation this year and hopped down to this hidden gem for 9 days.
I had gone back and forth about going down on JetBlue or on AA as the prices were comparable and as our home airport (RIC) is so small, we always have to connect. After discovering that American files a A332 as an island hopper (which we also experienced CLT-PUJ a few years ago), the decision was quickly made to fly AA so we could experience the PMUS Envoy cabin.
As I slept most of the way on our PHL-SJU flight, I don't have enough pics for a report…
SJU was a refreshingly efficient airport! We arrived only two hours pre-departure and cleared the Agriculture Pre-Screen. Though PR is a US territory, produce and farm products can not be transported back to the mainland.
Priority check-in was swift. Our Agent had offered to switch us to a later connecting flight from PHL-RIC since this SJU-PHL flight was running about 20 minutes behind. We still had over an hour connection time in PHL despite the late incoming aircraft…in retrospect, should have taken her advice ;) We normally route thru CLT which I now know as a second home…PHL was a very new experience.
TSA Pre-Check screening was a breeze…
A fun surprise was the ability to shop duty free on a "domestic" flight. Because of Puerto Rico's territory status, you can buy all the duty free goods you want when flying back to the mainland….needless to say, we took full advantage of this and had two boozy bags of goodness as our new carry ons!
There is no longer an Admirals Club at SJU; rather, an Avianca Club ran by Priority Pass. AA has no reciprocal agreement with the club at SJU nor am I currently carrying any credit cards/memberships with Priority Pass. And, with just over an hour to burn, we decided to skip paying for the club and to just relax. I took a walk around the terminal to see what was going on…
Lots of Island hoppers..
Got intrigued to see what all of these small airlines in D terminal were all about…
Would have been fun to take one of these guys out to Culebra or Vieques…
I quickly discovered that all of these inter island airlines were using American's former "D" terminal…and it was an eerie flashback to retro AA land… If I'm not mistaken, this is left over territory from Eastern when they operated a small hub here.
When I saw this retro gate, I was reminded of the ticket agent from Home Alone… #90sAA
Found the Admirals Club!
Buzz me in….?? I actually LOVE that they point out a dress code… #noyogapants
Let me dump my kid off…
Flight ended up pushing back at 13:55 instead of the scheduled 13:15…Philly may get tight…
So, let's get the fun part of this report going…let's talk about this "refreshed" J Cabin…
This former Envoy cabin was clearly redone by an interior decorator fresh out of a prison-based decorating program…the former bright faux-wood panels in the front and back of the cabin had been replaced by drab gray, just like back in Y. Makes the cabin look much smaller…I always found the faux-wood finishing as the Envoy cabin really cozy…but perhaps some other geeks out there will enjoy this Brutalist interior.
Compare the same cabin before the refit…
The former lighter blue seat covers were replaced by a more standard gray with hints of white and red…I do like these a bit better than the former…if for any reason they don't show stains.
The rest of the suite remains pretty unchanged….
In suite controls…
Seat controls…and my beloved Envoy faux wood… still there on the side table…
Oh well, even though I feel like I'm in a flying bunker, its still a comfortable suite.
Pre-departure drinks were served in the standard plastic AA cups…
In flight magazine variety…
Drink and meal orders were taken by a pleasant group of FA's while Y boarded.
Decided to check on my bags using the app while enjoying some Tito's…funny…my bag was loaded on the plane even before it arrived in SJU from PHL…whatever…
When I stood up to stow my gratuitously boozy duty free purchase, I about slipped… Wondering what it was, I looked down. Apparently during the refit, they forgot to glue down the carpet in my suite..
In-flight safety video started shortly after push back… Is it me or is there something very Stanley Kubric about people donning oxygen masks in futuristic airplane seats surrounded entirely by mirrors….its like "Hello, Dave…you're looking Oxygen deprived…."
…and then the IFE system promptly crashed after a very small lapse in power to IFE & seat controls…
The in flight service started about twenty minutes into flight with a fresh round of drinks and warm mixed nuts.
IFE, power and internet came up shortly afterwards.
I generally watch my own movies and listen to my own music on flights…but I do love having the moving map up in front of me. As I've mentioned in previous reports, the screen in this suite is not much bigger than those in Y and the touch screen capability is more like a punch-the-screen capability. Always use the remote…
Was going to try out the live TV but it was more fun enjoying my drink with my vacation playlist :)
With one of my credit cards, I get 20 in flight internet vouchers per year. Even though this was a short trip, was going to use one, primarily to send snaps to friends of me enjoying a boozy flight.
Yeah, the internet never came up the entire flight…FA's had no idea what was wrong. It wasn't a necessity anyways. Until certain social media apps with location services functionality work on board, its not a big deal ;) The public announcement banner never went away and you couldn't click off of it. Even tried with my iPad.
At least the meal promptly arrived which was very much enjoyed. This meal leaned on the better end of AA catering and presentation…
Steak with horseradish sauce, a healthy portion of quinoa, crisp asparagus, salad, shrimp cocktail and a sourdough roll. The meat had a bit of pink in it still and was surprisingly moist. The horseradish sauce added a nice additional level of flavor. When paired with the quinoa on the fork, it was delightful. Very satisfied! Key lime cake was served for desert…
After meal, I got a refreshed drink and did some reading to enjoy the rest of our flight.
Seat in full bed mode….
Since this was a domestic flight, no pillow and just the standard fleece blanket.
Took a few trips to the lav and noticed on the last trip that the old US Airways carpet still in the crew rest area….awwwwwwww
We arrived an hour late at 6:05 primarily due to traffic around PHL.
When I stood up, I noticed my carpet issue had become even worse while the seat was in bed mode…
After a great flight, we got to run to our connecting flight in "F" terminal (we arrived in "A"). There was only 15 minutes to get there…and I wasn't particularly worried about my one bag making it as it was literally full of dirty clothes. Note: if you have a tight connection in PHL, do NOT take the shuttle from terminals A to F. It runs at an absolutely STUPID slow pace. As in 3 mph. We arrived to our connecting gate to watch our flight pushing back.
A quick trip to the Admirals Club got us on a later flight to PHF (Newport News) about an hour from our house. Our bag made it to my front porch in Richmond before we made it home that night :) I'm glad it made its connecting flight…
American Airlines Admirals Club
San Juan - SJU
Philadelphia - PHL
Except for the delays and having to interact with PHL Airport, this was a great flight. I will avoid connecting in PHL in the future as that place is just a mess of traffic that prohibits most activity from happening on time. Though CLT is always at risk for summer storms, I've never missed a tight connection there.
I think the refit of the old Envoy cabin is not on point. Some effort could have gone in to retaining the bright and airy feel it had before.
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