Review of American Airlines flight Chicago San Francisco in Domestic First

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA1459
Seat 6A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 04:40
Take-off 26 Nov 14, 18:25
Arrival at 26 Nov 14, 21:05
AA   #28 out of 68 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 507 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 3732
Published on 26th July 2015
Hi everyone,

This is the next flight in a series of flights with AA I took to San Francisco for a Friendsgiving–that's Thankgiving with friends :-)

I created a routing with an additional leg to maximize mileage and do a quick stopover in LAX for some planespotting at In-N-Out Burger.

Washington Reagan DCA - Chicago O'hare ORD, American Airlines, B737-800, First Class
Chicago O'hare ORD - San Francisco SFO, Amercican Airlines, B737-800, First Class [THIS REPORT]
San Francisco SFO - Los Angeles LAX, American Airlines, B737-800. First Class [COMING SOON]
Los Angeles LAX - Chicago O'hare ORD, American Airlines, B737-800, First Class [COMING SOON]
Chicago O'hare ORD - Washington Reagan DCA, American Airlines, B737-800, First Class [COMING SOON]

Here we are at Chicago O'hare, an airport that I don't particularly care for. I'm not a big fan of the 80's look of the terminal–I think it's time for a facelift.

Our flight to SFO is showing on time.

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The nice Christmas decorations distract from the ugly 80's interior.

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Some kind of garden in the airport.

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More Holiday decorations, viewed from the opposite side.

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And a little further down we're back to ugly 80's land.

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Our 737-800. I'm a big fan of AA's new colors–they look particularly nice at night.

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The FIDS at the gate shows boarding will commence in 1 minute…and it started exactly on time.

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After having experienced the new cabin with leather seats and PTVs on the DCA-ORD leg, I was a little disappointed to be back in the older cabin for this longer flight, but it does look comfortable.

One thing that DL does better than AA is that you can tell on Delta.com what kinds of amenities your aircraft will have. There are icons that tell you if your plane has PTVs or overhead monitors. On AA, it's a lottery; you never know what you'll get until you step on board and all this flight, I experienced ever variety of interiors on the 737 fleet.

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Despite the dated look of the cabin, the seats are quite comfortable with the best seat pitch of any Domestic First product, in my opinion. Having had the opportunity to fly Domestic First on all the U.S. legacy carriers (AA, US, DL, and UA), I have to say that AA has the best hard product. The pitch is more generous at 40 than the typical 38 (or even 37) on the other U.S. carriers. The seat recline is better and less invasive due to the fact that the seat bottom moves forward when you recline–this results in the seat back not coming as far back as a traditional recliner despite a more generous recline.This kind of reminds me of the recline in Air France Premium Economy.

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A 738 in old colors out the window.

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A California Sparkling wine for pre-departure drinks. This is also something AA does better than other domestic carriers. DL doesn't offer bubbly on domestic flights at all, except premium transcons marketed at Business class (DeltaOne branding) on JFK-LAX/SFO.

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De-icing during boarding.



We push back on time. The Safety video plays as we taxi to the runway.

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After takeoff, the chief purser passes through the cabin to take meal orders and offer before-dinner drinks.

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I asked for more bubbly.

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The FA came back around to check on drinks shortly thereafter and I got another refill :-)
I didn't catch the brand of the sparkling wine, but it isn't bad.

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We had pre-selected out meal choices on AA.com and the FA confirms out choices. This is a nice feature on AA which enables you to guarantee your meal choice.

photo AA Meal Selection 1photo AA Meal Selection 2photo AA Meal Selection 4

Warm nuts are served before dinner. This is another more upscale feature of AA when compared to others. DL used to only do a warm nut service in long-haul business class, but recently changed this for a bag of nuts, which is a shame.

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And here is the meal. A lot of AA Frequent flyers have been up in arms since some catering changes were made in September 2014 to align the AA and US catering. I would have to imagine that catering must have been really good prior to September 2014, because as a former Delta frequent flyer, I find this meal to be more than acceptable in Domestic First and generally better than Delta's domestic catering on a similar length flight. I have several trip reports in DL Domestic F where you can compare the catering. You don't normally get an appetizer on DL, just a salad; AA has both.

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The beef in mustard sauce is pretty good–it's not a good cut of meat by any means and it's overcooked, but that's to be expected when eating beef on a plane. Overall I found it tasty, and the sauce really made the dish.

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The only semi-negative thing I could say compared to DL is that DL FAs serve F meals directly from the galley. I find this to be generally more classy than serving meals from a cart like AA. DL used serve meals in International business class this way, which could take a very long time to execute the service. DL has also recently switched to carts in International Business, but continues to serve domestic F meals from the galley as the cabins are smaller.

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I was still a bit hungry and wanted to see if it would be ok to try the other meal option if there was any left. The FA has no problem getting us another entree and came back with the tortellini option, which was also quite good. Granted, it's hard to screw up a simple pasta dish.

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Ice cream for dessert.

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And some Bailey's for after dinner. I'm lactose-intolerant so I had to pop two lactaid pills, because as a Frenchman, I refuse to avoid lactose–if they had cheese, I would've eaten that too :-P

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I didn't really watch the movie so I don't remember what it was.

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The FA comes by regularly to fill drinks and offer snacks from the basket.

We fly over a rather large city. I'm thinking it's Denver.



After the movie, there are a few one of my favorite TV series, White Collar.

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The rest of the flight goes by quickly and before we know it, we're making out descent to SFO.

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The FAs hand out candies just before landing.

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Oddly, the cabin lights stay on during landing.



The welcome message plays on the overhead screens after landing.

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We arrived at the gate 10 minutes early.

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Welcome to San Francisco!



Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment.
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

7.3/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi5.5
Meal/catering7.5

Chicago - ORD

7.0/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

San Francisco - SFO

8.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

A good mid-con flight with AA. Because I pretty much exclusively flew Delta before, I did not know AA catering prior to the September 2014 downgrades, so to me, the catering was more than acceptable. AA has been making improvements to the catering since the initial downgrade in response to negative feedback about the changes from Frequent flyers. The FAs were professional and attentive.

Information on the route Chicago (ORD) San Francisco (SFO)

19 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 142612 by
    Rl 777 806 Comments

    Thank you for sharing another FR with us!

    Never been to ORD (Or to the USA for that matter) but I'm not impressed by the look of ORD from your pictures.

    Really like those night shots!

    Not really impressed by the plastic (looks like plastic) glass chosen for the pre-departure drink, they could have got you a nicer one IMO. However, the postive thing is that you got sparkling wine on this flight for the pre-departure drink.

    You were unfortunate to get the older cabin product on this 738, at least the seat seams comfortable with the good pitch.

    I like the presentation of the meal for some reason, looks even better in that light! The salad doesn't blow me away but the main looks good in my eyes.

    It's really nice you got a nice crew on this flight!

    Getting really pumped after reading this FR, flying ARN-DOH-BKK tomorrow on the B788 and A388 (with QR).

    I always enjoy reading your reports, they are always detailed.

    See you on the next one!

    • Comment 321862 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for your comment! Yeah, ORD is kind of blah. The Holiday decorations are nice though.
      In the U.S. Pre-departure drinks are always served in plastic while on the ground and then real glass is used in the air. I think it might be for safety reasons or just to speed up service since aircraft rarely spend more than 40 minutes for a turn at the gate before pushing back out again on domestic flights.

      Have a great trip to BKK! 788 and A388 is a great mix!

  • Comment 142633 by
    Travip 108 Comments

    Did you go to the CIP lounge Kevin?

    • Comment 321863 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for reading. No, I didn't get enough time for any lounges--just walked from one gate to the next basically. You don't get lounge access anyway when flying in Domestic First in the U.S. Only when flying premium cabins internationally. And I don't have a Priority Pass anymore.

  • Comment 142654 by
    SMilano 1292 Comments

    Thanks for sharing with us !

    A quite nice flight here with AA :)
    The catering looks better than just after the downgrade.

    AA will be the best solution now to flight in USA ? I think yes :)

    See you

    • Comment 321864 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for reading! Catering was perfectly suitable for me. AA has announced further improvements to catering coming on August 1st so I'll get to try it out soon when I go home to France for vacation in a few weeks. Yes, for right now, for me, AA is good for all my flight in the U.S.

  • Comment 142684 by
    Jetset 50 Comments

    I think Chicago O'Hare is the most beautiful airport in the United States from the ones I've seen. There is always some nice decoration. The presentation of the food also is pretty appealing.

    But I don't like the cabin design. It looks like a survival. But you seem to be satisfied with AA.

    It's interesting that the quality of your pictures impaired by getting closer to SFO. At the beginning they were absolutely astonishing (for me).

    • Comment 321865 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for your comments! I guess it depends on which Terminal at ORD you are talking about, but I find the AA Terminal drab. The Holiday decorations are really nice, though! I'm not a fan of the old cabin design either. The new cabin with leather seats and Boeing Sky Interior that I had on the DCA-ORD leg is waaaay nicer. The cabin was a little dark towards the end of the flight so the pics didn't turn out so great...plus I'm sure the amount of drinks I had played a part :-P

  • Comment 142692 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thank you for sharing another great FR Kevin.

    Warm nuts are served before dinner. This is another more upscale feature of AA when compared to others
    - Lately people have reported that the nuts are almost all cashews. Regardless, warm nuts are still a touch above the others.

    I find the salad pathetic looking and the sprinkles of white dust (or cheese) a sorry attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

    The beef in mustard sauce is pretty good--it's not a good cut of meat by any means and it's overcooked, but that's to be expected when eating beef on a plane.
    - You think this is an anglo thing? The beef I had on BA was cooked to death.

    I was still a bit hungry and wanted to see if it would be ok to try the other meal option if there was any left. The FA has no problem getting us another entree and came back with the tortellini option.
    - Did a FA go hungry because you took an extra meal? :P

    I'm lactose-intolerant so I had to pop two lactaid pills, because as a Frenchman, I refuse to avoid lactose--if they had cheese, I would've eaten that too :-P
    - I believe Asians tend to be lactose intolerant but I am not and I love cheese. Maybe it's your Asian side having a reaction or God has a sense of humor.

    We'll see what AA has in store after Aug. 1 when the new catering kicks in. At least I'll be able to see what will be served on JFK-LAX for breakfast and lunch and for dinner/breakfast in J from GIG-JFK.

    • Comment 321866 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for your kind comments as always!

      Lately people have reported that the nuts are almost all cashews. Regardless, warm nuts are still a touch above the others. -- it's true, but I don't mind. It's still more fancy than nuts in a plastic bag :-)

      You think this is an anglo thing? The beef I had on BA was cooked to death. - Yes, and an airplane thing--it's a combo. I've had overcooked beef on AF and other non-anglo airlines, but not as overcooked.

      Did a FA go hungry because you took an extra meal? - Hah! Yep...that thought definitely crossed my mind, but the FA was very gracious about it, so I figure they must have had extra left over meals.

      I believe Asians tend to be lactose intolerant but I am not and I love cheese. Maybe it's your Asian side having a reaction or God has a sense of humor. - Yes, something like 90% of Asians are lactose intolerant, so I'm pretty sure that's where I get it from considering my mother is also lactose intolerant. It is a cruel joke for a cheese-loving Frenchman to be lactose intolerant.

      Yes, we'll see what AA has in store for catering improvements on Aug. 1--from the few articles I've read it seemed nice, but not spectacular. The main thing was the return of an option for entree salads I think, which I guess used to be a big AA thing. I'll get to try out the new catering on 8/14 on my flight to Paris.

    • Comment 321869 by
      jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

      I'll get to try out the new catering on 8/14 on my flight to Paris.
      - So you will experience it before I do. My trip is not until the first week of Sept. At least you can take comfort that if the catering is not up to your expectations, there will be some great meals waiting for you in Paris.

      By the way, are you aware that AZ is offering a status match before the end of this year? Once I get AA's EXP I am tempted to do it.

      http://www.alitalia.com/gb_en/millemiglia/promo-millemiglia/promo-status-match.html

    • Comment 321870 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Yeah, but you'll probably publish your report way before I do, LOL. No I wasn't aware. If anything, I'd probably try to match back to DL, but don't have any desire to right now. AA EXP with oneworld Emerald status is way more valuable than SkyTeam Elite+ IMO

    • Comment 321871 by
      jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

      You are right, but AA's program is eroding and not what it used to be. For example, awards at the saver level are tough to find these days and there is no longer soft landing for elite members.

      In my opinion I think getting TK Elite in *A is even more valuable than SkyTeam or even Oneworld. The qualifications for renewal are very generous and seem relatively easy to achieve.

  • Comment 142821 by
    Caribel 113 Comments

    The voluntary pre-departure beverage service is poured on plastic cups to avoid the possibility of being fined by the regulatory aviation agency. The FA would have to pay thousands of dollars in fines if glasses provided by the catering service are in the cabin during taxiing. Plastic cups are considered stock supply, same as toilet paper, napkins and soap.

    • Comment 321995 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for the clarification. I was pretty sure it was a safety regulation as I mentioned in a reply above, but could not remember exactly. It's also helps to speed up the service on typically short domestic turns at the gate. I wonder if there is an exception for Long-haul flights because every time I have flown long-haul on Delta from the US, they have served pre-departure drinks in regular glass stemware.

  • Comment 149960 by
    757Fan 608 Comments

    Great report! American Airlines looks to have really improved their catering. The food looks great, and I also really like that AA offers a nice selection of nuts, over just the regular peanuts. Do they still warm them too?

    While I really like Delta's service, I think it's great that AA serves ice-cream on shorter flights like this one, and not just the trans-con flights like JFK-LAX.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Comment 328047 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5655 Comments

      Thanks for your comments! As a former Delta flyer, I find that the food is good too for this short of a flight. Seasoned AA flyers, however, will tell you that this food is downgraded from what it was pre-merger. So the catering must have been really good back then.

      Yes. the nuts are served warm. Sadly, DL doesn't even serve warm nuts in long-haul business class anymore, much less domestic First.

  • Comment 360912 by
    757Fan 608 Comments

    Great report, Kevin. I have enjoyed reading some of your past reports. This one makes me think I need to try AA again. I fly DL all the time, as I live quite close to MSP, but the food served on AA in F looks to be really nice on domestic flights, and looks better than some DL meals I've had in F. The nuts, ice-cream, and appetizers are all things served on AA, that are not served on DL.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Matthew

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