Today, I'd like to share with you a recent flight I made from New York back to my home city, Paris. It's actually the last part of a long routing I will fully report in French at a later time. But I wanted to premiere this one in English as the product may be of higher interest for the American audience (well, I imagine so) : the new AA Business Class on retrofitted B767-300.
It all starts at JFK Terminal 8, where AA provides a dedicated check-in for the Priotity passengers. It happens behind the glass walls on the right (the agent in front of it checking eligibility first).
After a terrible security line (as always in JFK, it seems), we are airside and head to the lounge. The flight is booked Business but thanks to our Emerald status (with British Airways), we have access to the Flagship Lounge (used also for International First Class and Flagship Transcontinental flights).
It's not that impressive (thinking of the Delta Terrace Lounge, for instance) but it has ample seating, large windows and all the expected amenities.
One of the amenity I needed the most at the time was a good shower. Shower rooms are roomy and clean. The white badge by the towels is to re-access the Flagship part of the lounge.
Back to the lounge, checking the homepage of our favourite website :) before heading to the buffets.
It's afternoon tea, consisting of scones, mini sandwiches and sweet tartlets.
Liquors are fine but the wines are not on par with a First / Flagship lounge's list (I nevertheless really liked the Kimmel).
Our visit to the lounge was actually short, it's now time to head to our gate.
We arrive when the priority line has almost finished boarding and the main one is starting.
Our Boeing for tonight's flight received both a retrofitted cabin and a oneworld livery.
And here's the cabin. The seat is a Thompson Vantage, making the cabin very similar to Delta's on the same aircraft.
My seat, 1J. I'm not travelling alone but as we got rebooked on this flight just a few hours before, we had no other choice than splitting. It's a good seat anyway as it is privative, offers a window view and is protected from the aisle by the block. The seat behind is as privative but one seats a bit away from the window and in direct contact with trolleys or pax in the aisle.
Also, first row receives extra legroom due to the galley configuration. As you can see, IFE were not fitted in this cabin, tablets (already present on some AA flights) becoming the norm for this aircraft.
The cabin has been prepared with a comforter and a pillow on the seat, and water and amenity kit in a rack.
The tablet I was talking about, replacing the IFE, is already placed behind the tablet.
A view of the legroom and seats commands (it's a fully flat bed…of course).
My friend is in 6D (but will later swap for a window with a couple who has been assigned 6G/6J) and again you can see that not all seats have been made equals. D has a wider tablet protecting from the aisle, while F has a smaller one and is not so protective.
Boarding continues (only one jetbridge has been fitted so all Y pax will go through the cabin).
The menu has already been placed on the tablet during cabin preparation, so I'll browse it now.
The service for this transatlantic night flight (I don't really like these flights, as they are too short) is simplified. No choice for appetizer and the possibility to skip apéritif and have everything served at once.
I can't find anything really appealing in this menu to be honest. And I doubt the presence of real saffron in the pasta ;)
I will skip the breakfast (FA will inquire about that when taking orders for the dinner) but still, I find it meager to offer the choice of hot or cold breakfast.
Wine card is from the US, but for the Champagne of course.
Champagne that I will take as a welcome drink (in a plastic cup…) is being offered, while jackets are being stored for J passengers.
Back to the wine list, I note the choice of two dessert wines.
The amenity kit features retro artwork from companies that are now integrated in American, and can be re-used for mini-tablets / phablets.
Mine is TWA and as you can see, it's really complete (mask and socks in red give a little Santa Claus look though ^^)
Orders for the meal are taken prior to departure but will be interrupted by the pushback.
Safety video will be broadcast on the main screens while we taxi to the runway.
The good thing is that the tablets are made available from the beginning and can be used during taxi. Nevertheless, the front electrical outlet is de-activated and the back one (by the rack) only is activated, so that passengers can't have the wire impeding their way out, if needed.
As always on AA, the headset is a perfect noise-cancelling QC-15 from Bose.
And having the tablet up and running during taxi is a very good thing as we have 15 planes before us (Captain will announce a 25 minutes time before we can take off).
I've watched a good bit of my (depressing) movie when it's our turn to hit the runway.
Bye bye JFK…
After take-off, we are free to put the tablet back in front (but I should have also switched the plug too…) and flight attendants start the service.
Oshibori first ; very nice scent.
And before the first round of drinks arrive, I spend some time with my friend, now in 6G. As you can see, airshow is broadcast on the main screen, as this is the missing feature of the tablet.
And I'm back to my seat when the tables are prepared. My flight attendant is extremly friendly and eager to help, but mixed up the table clothes with the napkin (too short for the table). Later, we'll talk a bit and she will explain that it's her very first international flight (explaining both great attitude and small mistakes ^^).
Apéritif will be served from the galley (Jack'n Coke for me, with warm nuts), but after that, an ugly trolley will be used for the meal.
Imposed appetizer and salad come in a tray, completed by a choice of bread (in a basket) and drinks. Plates are nice, but glasses are improper for wine.
Frisée and strawberries for the salad, don't expect my support for this !
Quinoa and beetroot mix wasn't appetizing on the paper but it's pretty good. Too bad the rocket leaves seem to have spent too many hours in the trolleys…
Cheesebread has nothing to talk about.
Not much effort is put for the condiments presentation ; and as said before I find the glass improper, but the Sauvignon is quite good.
It may not look so but the halibut was delicious, and the tapenade (sort of) spicy as I like.
The ice-cream for dessert was good, but it's a bit too repetitive on every flight I take with American.
Cabin lights are lowered during the dessert, and I'm just checking the games offered on the tablet, not actually playing the Hangman ;)
Cabin is cleaned up without the trolleys, letting passengers go back and forth to the restrooms and getting ready for the night.
And so will I. View of my seat in bed position.
I'ts very comfortable, and although I'm 61, I have enough space to fully stretch (this may come from the extra legroom on the first row).
I will have a good night sleep and will skip the morning service. I wake up when the captain informs the crew of the 20 minutes timeframe remaining before landing, and I'm pleasingly surprised that nobody tried to wake me up before. Nevertheless, both headset and tablets have been removed during my sleep.
I tidy up my seat and request a coffee and orange juice, if still possible.
As we are indeed already flying low, over a typical North-of-France country land.
Nevertheless, my order will be fulfilled. The coffee comes in a plastic cup ; the flight attendant explains me that because it's hot, I may not have drunk it before she has to take glasses away, and I may keep it during landing this way.
We are also given a fast track coupon for immigration in Paris.
And we finish our decent in a nice clear sky, over the typical twists and turns of the Seine river.
And typical landmarks of Paris : La Défense, Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse Tower and '98 World Cup Stadium.
But also the finest examples of ghetto architecture from the '60s and '70s.
And a freshly painted strip at LBG airport for the soon-coming Paris Air Show.
Here we are, back to France. And that can be seen around ;)
And we arrive at Terminal 2A in CDG, home of most oneworld companies. It looks like pax from ORD may not have enjoyed the new seats today…
Last view of the cabin : we'll be disambarking first and flight attendants will make sure to block the Y cabin during this time.
Bye bye 1J, I had a great sleep :)
The flight in general was very good, and the last surprise is an empty immigration at CDG.
In just a matter of minutes, we'll be in the train to the city.
Thanks for reading !
American Airlines Flagship Lounge - 8
New York - JFK
Paris - CDG
Cabin is a major update from the angled lie-flat previously fitted on this aircraft. But I don't give the maximum points because all seats are not equal. Even if I was lucky this time.
The crew was very good, especially my flight attendant. She made a few beginner's mistakes but nothing important.
Diner was average. The fish was excellent, I liked the Champagne and the Sauvignon offered, but that's it. Service in tray, with a trolley, with a lack of choice and a meager breakfast offering, made the whole thing quite average.
I liked the tablet, and it was loaded with lots of movies, series and games. Airshow was available on the mainscreen and everything could be used during taxi and take off. It's positive. Also, there is nothing more like a broken IFE or repetitive resets, as I believe they have extra tablets in stock.
We took-off late due to congestion in JFK but got the time back during the flight and arrived on the hour.
So, this is a major evolution of the AA product, but not a revolution.
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