Review of American Airlines flight San Francisco Miami in Domestic First

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA 931
Seat 6E
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 05:43
Take-off 04 Sep 15, 14:15
Arrival at 04 Sep 15, 22:58
AA   #73 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 326 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 2479
Published on 7th September 2015
Hello and welcome to this series that marks the beginning of my quest for EXP (Emerald status) with AA. My schedule is as follows:

SFO-MIA in F – you are here
MIA-GIG in J – http://flight-report.com/en/report-11541.html
GIG-JFK in J – http://flight-report.com/en/report-11573.html
JFK-LAX in J – http://flight-report.com/en/report-11630.html
LAX-SFO in F – http://flight-report.com/en/report-11655.html



AN OFFER THAT I COULDN’T REFUSE

As some of you know last year I decided to leave AA’s Advantage frequent flyer program in favor of BA’s Executive Club. In November I got a taste of what flying with BA was like and I was not fully convinced. To start, using LHR as a connecting hub proved to be a frustrating experience with a very involved and time consuming security protocol, so much so that I almost missed my connecting flight to CDG. In addition the catering was far from being top notch for such a renowned carrier and the latest devaluation of Silver members was the last straw. Good thing that I did not put the effort to get to that level when the announcement was made.

Then it all started with a surprising and unexpected email from AA a few months ago offering tier status at insanely low mileage qualification. The catch was to fly by Oct. 9 and using partner carriers was allowed. I began to search for trips and found that Brazil (either GIG or GRU) had the cheapest long haul fares. As luck would have it, I still had my Brazilian visa that was good until 2020 so this was a good opportunity to use it. My first ticket to GIG in Sept. was USD 850 and the second one in Oct. went down to USD 630. I added a short SFO-PHX in Sept. to complete the balance of 30,000 miles needed.

photo AA letter

Friday morning I woke up early and went to the gym. Afterwards I ran some last minute errands and then by 12:00P I was dropped at the airport. This was a holiday weekend and things started to look busy when I arrived. I checked in at the Priority desk and a nice agent helped me out. After issuing my boarding passes she invited me to stop by the Admirals Club and that is where I went right after security.




Admirals Club.

I was welcomed with a warm smile by the friendly agent and stepped right in. It is always a pleasure to come back to this lounge and I personally think that the SFO one is one of the nicest in the AA system. It is modern, well lit and has a very relaxing atmosphere.




I checked the buffet area and there were 2 kinds of soups by the bar - Chicken Coconut with Lemongrass OR Vegetable Minestrone. I tried the first and it was delicious without being too salty. I accompanied it with a few crudites and olives.



The only negative thing that I found about this lounge is that right when you walk in, there is a small reception desk facing you and then a few feet from it there is another desk facing inside. When a line starts to form, the agents at the desk facing in have to get the passengers on line to go there since it is hidden from passengers' view.

photo DSC07076 (1024x553)

One more thing that I should mention is that there are very good views of the tarmac, especially the UA side. However, if you plan to take pictures, the windows has this dot background making it very difficult to take any decent pics. Consider yourself warned.

photo DSC07073 (1024x683)


The lounge has a shower room but I have never used it. WC's are located inside this lounge.

photo DSC07080 (1024x711)photo DSC07082 (1024x683)


At about 30 min. before the flight I went to the gate and there was a long line forming already.

photo DSC07086 (1024x673)

The agent boarded wheelchair passengers first and then invited F and elite status ones to follow. Two FA's were by the front door greeting passengers while another one positioned himself at the last row of the F cabin. A big pillow and duvet (the ones used on intl. flights) were already placed on each chair. It's good to see that the red horrible blankets for Y are no longer used, at least on this flight.

photo DSC07087 (1024x701)photo DSC07089 (1024x588)

Pre-departure drinks were offered from a tray and it was just water. Once the door closed and we were airborne, the FA started with the meal service. Meal orders were taken and the choices were Pasta OR Chicken with a red pepper and olive tapenade. I tried ordering a special meal and they were not available. Only JFK-SFO/LAX flighs and intl. long haul ones offer special meals. I guess AA's two choices cover the whole spectrum of dietary needs. If AA plans to do that, then at least offer 3 meal choices in F.

Hot towels and earphones were delivered quickly, and hot nuts soon followed. I had a half orange juice and half cranberry to go with the nuts.



Since there was only 1 FA doing the service, a trolley was used in order to expedite the process. I overheard the FA say that the basil that was loaded for the pasta actually turned out to be parsley, so she apologized to those passengers who had the pasta.

My tray consisted of 2 shrimps with cocktail sauce for appetizer (boring), a meager salad with a small ball of mozzarella and a few tomato pieces and olive for garnish, balsamic vinaigrette as the only choice for dressing and the main dish with dog vomit next to it (quinoa polenta). Speaking of the main dish, it was covered with this sort of tapenade and not a sauce. It actually did not taste too bad, but the idea of mixing polenta with quinoa doesn't sound quite appealing.

Napkin had a button hole.



The bread basket consisted of pretzel or French bread. I was curious as to what the French bread was since I have never been offered that type of bread before on AA. Was it a ficelle? perhaps pain aux lardons? I was getting excited when I was offered this. A regular white roll with higher pretensions?

photo DSC07106 (1024x683)

After the meal service I had an ice cream sundae with hot fudge, chopped nuts and whipped cream. I read a book about the process of creativity that bored me to death and I decided to leave it on the plane.

photo DSC07113 (1024x683)

Later on the snack basket was passed around and I noticed that a few passengers from the back started to use the F WC throughout the flight. At one point the FA asked one of the passengers to wait behind the curtain and not to crowd the F section. I believe in equality for everyone, but when you allow passengers from Y to constantly come up to the F cabin to use the WC, it's like opening a can of worms and inviting trouble. The guy who waited behind the curtain was getting upset that he had to wait there and accused the FA of being rude to him. She handled it very well and diffused the situation professionally.

Before arrival into MIA, the basket made a round again and this time I decided to have a cheese plate with some nuts at the insistence of a FA.

photo DSC07115 (1024x683)


The purser did a great job of telling each F passenger with connections where to go for their respective flights.
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

7.9/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.0

American Airlines Admirals Club

7.5/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services7.0

San Francisco - SFO

8.9/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Miami - MIA

8.8/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

An average flight with a not so exciting catering. FA was friendly and I thought she did a good job of calming the upset passenger and telling each passenger in F about his connection. Too bad that only water was offered as pre-dept. drink.

Flight arrived earlier than expected which gave me the chance to run to the Admirals Club and take a shower before my overnight trip to GIG. it turned out to be a long night because my flight was delayed for 2 1/2 hrs due to mechanical. I was fearful that the flight was going to cancel and was getting nervous, but good thing that it never happened.

Information on the route San Francisco (SFO) Miami (MIA)

20 Comments

  • Comment 145933 by
    Caribel 114 Comments

    Muy informativo el reporte. Aprecio tu enfasis en balancear el ojo critico con comentarios detallando los momentos de buen servicio.

    Espero la pases muy bien en Rio. Siento que soy brasilero despues de crecer viendo las producciones de Globo. Mis amigos oriundos de alli siempre me han tratado como familia.

    • Comment 324590 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Gracias por tus comentarios Caribel. Mi integridad como reportero en FR se basa en mi objectividad. ;)

      Los brasileños son gente cálida y amistosa por lo general. Rio es una ciudad maravillosa como se la conoce. Lamentablemente uno siempre tiene que ser precavido, tal vez más que en otras ciudades, pero vale la pena visitarla ya que tiene muchos encantos únicos.

  • Comment 145944 by
    K2World 1786 Comments

    Thank you for this report.
    The price in J is very low, or is it usual for this route ?
    You were given earphones, so I guess you were also given a tablet ?
    Nice to see a blanket and a pillow.
    Ice cream sundae, yummy, I really like them.

    • Comment 324593 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Hi Kevin - the price for the tickets were in Y. My outbound was upgraded by a friend using a systewide upgrade and the return with 25,000 miles from my account and a USD 350 fee.

      Lately there were some cheap fares in J but originating from Brazil but these were mistake fares that were taken out quickly. However, the dollar is getting stronger and there are good prices if one looks for them.

      No tablets because this flight is not considered a true transcon per AA. In the past there were but not anymore.

      Ice cream are special treats, specially with U.S. carriers.

      Thank you for your comments and visit.

    • Comment 324618 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Salut mon cher agent.

      ..at least you received this incredible AA challenge offer because you left them
      - I feel the love. :P

      30 000 miles to be Emerald can't be refused for people like us
      - Just like hitting the lotto. ;) People like us cannot be easily defined. Some call us travel gurus while others see us as mileage whores.

      The lounge is pleasant but the food and beverage offer is really too poor
      - Better than what it used to be. At least no more packaged things and we have soup. Light choices for the healthy traveler. :P You must admit that the offering at the U.S. lounges is moving in the right direction. Now that UA's CEO is out, perhaps the new one will introduce more positive changes and set a trend among competitors. That a change that a lot of others will like.

      Your LH bag is not on strike ? ;)
      - Never with me. You understand sentimental value, don't you?

      The food doesn't look appealing at all
      - Quinoa polenta is such an innovative and forward thinking concept, right? The new meets the old. :P Wait until you see the food that I came across on my intl legs and in Brazil.

      At least you had a top notch crew
      - Not for long after this trip.

      Stay tuned and thanks for your comments as always.

  • Comment 145984 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10635 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    With plenty of gorgeous pictures as usual

    Even if your BA/BAEC experience was not conclusively, at least you received this incredible AA challenge offer because you left them

    30 000 miles to be Emerald can't be refused for people like us ;)

    The lounge is pleasant but the food and beverage offer is really too poor

    Your LH bag is not on strike ? ;)

    The food doesn't look appealing at all

    At least you had a top notch crew

    See you soon for the next leg

  • Comment 145996 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    The seat doesn't look too bad from your pictures.

    There could have been at least one other option for the pre-departure drink IMO.

    Catering wasn't top-notch but not dreadful either, pretty average.

    Overall it looks like a pretty standard flight on AA.

    See you on the next one!

  • Comment 146003 by
    indianocean SILVER 6586 Comments

    Despite the fact that the AA lounge is nicely decorated thanks to the (fake?) trees, I'm sorry to say that it remains an US lounge. Nothing to write home about and still the unfashionable carrot sticks...

    The hot towels are still crap and thin.

    Catering onboard is underwhelming.

    I think I can already congratulate you for your top tier status.

    Muchas Gracias Adan.

    • Comment 324636 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Salut Bernard.

      I'm sorry to say that it remains an US lounge. Nothing to write home about and still the unfashionable carrot sticks...
      - Sometimes a pig with lipstick is marginally more acceptable that one without. ;)

      The hot towels are still crap and thin.
      - If UA was able to change this, why can't AA? I am not holding my breath because when I flew on the long haul intl. flights, I saw a few modifications that I did not like. You will read about them next.

      I think I can already congratulate you for your top tier status.
      - Not yet, but thanks. I signed into AA and was GLD yesterday and PLT today. I still need more miles to reach EXP., but it's getting closer.

      Thanks for your support Bernard.

  • Comment 146049 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4958 Comments

    Coming up to ExPlat level to take away my upgrades, eh? haha :-P
    I didn't know they were still doing challenges to ExPlat. I'm assuming this was a targeted offer, since you used to have status, and that this is not a public offer.
    This series is looking very promissing, with, I'm thinking a report on a retrofitted 772.
    I've always thought the Admirals Club in SFO was nice too--for an Admirals Club, that is.
    Only water for pre-departure drinks? Not even OJ? I really don't get why AA is so lazy about PDBs. They are so inconsistent about it. Sometimes they'll do just water; sometimes water and OJ; and sometimes, water, OJ, and champagne. And US FA's still do full open bar for PDB, like DL.
    The meal looks kinda meh for such a long flight...isn't this supposed to be the new improved domestic F catering? I haven't flown a meal flight in Domestic F lately so have not tested.
    When I sit in coach, I never use the F lav unless I'm blocked by a cart. I think it's rude. Not to mention that FA's make an announcement to use the lav in your own cabin. Once the trickle of Y pax coming up to F starts, it turns into neverending torrent. I get super ticked off when I'm in F and have to wait behind 2 or 3 Y pax to use the bathroom. Unless the passenger was blocked by a cart, I don't see why he was upset. Not to mention it's agains Federal regulations to congregate by the forward lav/galley...so the FA was totally right to tell him to stay behind the curtain.

    Looking forward to the rest of the series!

    • Comment 324648 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      As long as we are not one the same flight we can co-exist harmoniously. :P

      This promotion was indeed targeted and intended only for the recipient. Over at Flyertalk.com, I have read about people trying to sign in with the code but were not successful if they were not targeted.

      Only water for pre-departure drinks? Not even OJ? I really don't get why AA is so lazy about PDBs. They are so inconsistent about it.
      - One of the weak points about AA. Yes, only water was offered.

      The meal looks kinda meh for such a long flight...isn't this supposed to be the new improved domestic F catering?
      - Apparently not on this segment. I couldn't order special meals because they were not offered for F pax. I wanted to try something different and see if I had better luck getting something decent. These two choices are supposed to satisfy the other dietary requirements. If not then you can bring your own meals.

      When I sit in coach, I never use the F lav unless I'm blocked by a cart. I think it's rude.
      - People with manners and consideration are the exception these days. Gosh, I sound like an old person saying this.

      Thanks for your visit Kevin.

  • Comment 146060 by
    pititom GOLD 10250 Comments

    Thanks for sharing !

    Looks like the service is degrading. I can't believe they would not give an personal entertainment system on such a long flight. On this line, you're really better off flying the B777 or the A321.

    So not a great flight at the end but with an easy Emerald status at the end, why not ;) This is also my primarly reason to fly AA ^^

    • Comment 324680 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Bonjour Thomas et bienvenue.

      I am not convinced that AA is going for great. The recent changes in catering that they implemented were probably to silence the high amount of complaints that they have received from their elite members that used the old AA as a point of reference. This new management team from HP comes from a LCC background and mentality, so at the end of the day if they can save a penny they would do it.

      It doesn't make sense that when you try to improve domestic premium catering, you let your intl. one slide. AA used to have a great reputation among Latin American travelers and a lot of these are paid customers up front, especially those from Brazil which is a BRIC country.

      Some of us do not consider AA a final goal, but a means to get to it. We do what works best for each of us.

      Thank you for your visit and comments.

  • Comment 146096 by
    jules67500 GOLD 4612 Comments

    Thanks for sharing !

    I'm ok with you. This lounge is maybe the best of AA's lounges, even if it's only a carrot club :)

    I would also quit BA for a 30k challenge ;)

    Service is really disappointing. No IFE on a 5:30hrs flight, no way ! AA's logic is Bring your own ^^

    I'm gonna read the next one ;)

    • Comment 324752 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Thank you Jules for your comments.

      No IFE on a 5:30hrs flight, no way ! AA's logic is Bring your own
      - I believe that there was something playing in the overhead monitors, but I brought my own book so did not pay much attention, but it was not on demand. This flight used to have tablets before but now has been re-classified as not truly transcon.

  • Comment 146184 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this series with us Adan!

    I added a short SFO-PHX in Sept. to complete the balance of 30,000 miles needed.
    - Now the truth comes out about that random day trip to SkyHarbor.

    What is up with the trees in the lounge? Maybe they should have bought shorter fake trees that weren't touching the ceiling.

    there are very good views of the tarmac, especially the UA side. However, if you plan to take pictures, the windows has this dot background making it very difficult to take any decent pics.
    - Sounds like a corporate strategy to me. You must shield your customers eyes from that lowly carrier.

    The starter and salad definitely look generic to say the least. The chicken doesn't look terrible, but I agree with you. That pile of throw-up just kills my mood to eat. Is a single tray service common on a flight of this length? If the flight is over 5 hours long, it should be a coursed meal to try and drag out the time, especially on a day flight with no IFE. What did the FAs do for the whole flight, just sit in the galley? I think for regional Asian flights, the cut off is 2.5-3 hours for most carriers. Once they get to a 3 hour flight, it is a full coursed meal.

    The forward lavatory issue comes up sometimes. I'm with you, I don't have a problem with letting all passengers use the forward lavatory on a narrow-body. When you have to go, you have to go, but it shouldn't be a constant flow of people in and out, which becomes very disruptive. It is also carrier dependent. MU seemed very strict and shooed people back, but NH seems to allow it for children and elderly.

    • Comment 324780 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Now the truth comes out about that random day trip to SkyHarbor.
      - Make that 2x. Once to qualify for BA's Bronze and the other for AA's EXP. ;)

      Maybe they should have bought shorter fake trees that weren't touching the ceiling.
      - I was thinking fake monkeys and toucans to make it a rainforest theme.

      Is a single tray service common on a flight of this length?
      - It didn't used to. Salad/appetizer was served first, then the main dish and finally the dessert cart with made to order ice cream, cheese plate or a cup of fruit. Of course, this was pre-merger AA.

      Thanks for your comments Michael.

Login to post a comment.