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.
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.
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.
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.
The lounge has a shower room but I have never used it. WC's are located inside this lounge.
At about 30 min. before the flight I went to the gate and there was a long line forming already.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The purser did a great job of telling each F passenger with connections where to go for their respective flights.
American Airlines Admirals Club
San Francisco - SFO
Miami - MIA
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.
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