This series will cover a quick trip out to LAX. The ticket was purchased for $247 roundtrip in Y. UA was a little bit more expensive at $270 and I didn’t check WN(ex-HOU)/NK’s fares. This route is heavily monopolized by UA, who operates 10+ flights per day IAH-LAX mainly on wide-bodies (internationally-configured B789s are no strangers to this route). AA has more modest operations, with 3x daily service on ERJs operated by Compass Airlines (American Eagle). For the outbound, I picked the early morning flight that would get me into LAX by 9am. Returning, I picked the afternoon flight to get back to IAH at a reasonable hour. The flights were upgraded from Y to F using six 500-mile upgrades, which both cleared 72-hours prior to departure. This leaves a very simple routing:
I arrived to IAH by car at 6:00. AA leaves from Terminal A, which can be called the “domestic others” terminal (yes, Canada is considered our 51st state and is serviced out of the domestic terminal). Terminal B is UA Express, Terminal C is UA domestic, Terminal D is “international others,” and Terminal E is UA domestic/international. Walking into the terminal from the parking garage you can see the carriers that operate out of IAH’s Terminal A.
Up to the check-in lobby.
A merger of what most people associate with Houston: Beef, NASA, and oversized Texas flags.
The AA check-in area was buzzing this morning. I wasn’t checking bags so I used the kiosks to quickly reprint a boarding pass since I checked in at home.
Thankfully, AA has a Priority AAccess line at security otherwise things would have been getting dicey. The line was close to 200 people long for security, but I was able to quickly bypass the long line and cleared TSA within 5 minutes. FIDS reaching airside. You can see that all 3 carriers that operate IAH-LAX have flights around 7am. If your eyes wander further down, you’ll see IAH-MIA is operated by AA at both 7am and 8am.
Almost everything was still closed in the dining area after security except for Starbucks, which had a very healthy line at 6am.
Terminal A is not easy on the eyes, but a new AA Admiral’s Club is being built right now.
It’s still very dark outside, but I’m able to get a couple of decent shots.
AA A321 in US livery.
American Airlines, AA 5931 Equipment: Embraer ERJ-175 [N213NN, delivered September 2015] Departure: 7:00 (ATD: 7:25) Arrival: 8:58 (ATA: 8:39) Flight time: 3:14
I arrived at the gate around 6:25 as boarding was getting ready to commence.
Boarding started right on time and I was down the jetbridge quickly.
A blurry shot boarding. There are only 2 FAs on the ERJ-175s, so both FAs were retrieving jackets from already boarded passengers when I entered the plane.
My seatmate is already in her seat, so here is a shot of Rows 2 and 3.
Seat pitch is standard for F, a hand’s distance from your knees to the seat in front of you.
The blankets were preplaced in the seat.
The slide-out cup holder from the middle console.
The right armrest contains the tray table.
The FA came quickly to my row and welcomed me onboard before taking my PDB order. I just asked for a glass of orange juice.
The plane quickly filled up (last passenger boarded at 6:46). A view of the cabin as we wait for pushback. F load was 10/12, Y was announced 100% full. AA seems to be competitive with UA to fill up its cabins.
NK A320 getting pushed back for service to LAX.
AA A320 in US livery getting towed to a gate.
The seatback contents.
American Way and its American Eagle fleet information.
Safety card for this ERJ-175. I love how Compass Airlines still has its old logo from when it was owned by NW and operated NW Airlink flights. Compass Airlines also operates flights for DL in LAX, SEA, and MSP.
After sitting for 20 minutes, the pilots finally came on at 7:05 and said that they had just finished their last minute paperwork and we’d be pushing back shortly. UA B739 taxing by.
As we push back, the FAs do the safety demonstration. Taxing out to the runway past the AA operations.
A very common sight at IAH: a sea of 5 UA Express ERJs taxing to the runway.
DL’s early morning operations are also departing.
It will be 15R today.
Our GEs come to life and we are quickly up into the air on a cloudy day in IAH.
We soon reach blue skies.
As we level off, the FAs are released. The FA asks me if I’ll be joining them for breakfast and what I would like to drink. I confirm I’ll take breakfast and request coffee. She says the coffee will be a couple of minutes so asked if I wanted anything else in the meantime so I took a glass of water first.
Hot oshibori were distributed.
No linens were laid, the meal tray as delivered. This flight was listed as “continental breakfast” on the website. This was a little perplexing since the flight time is >2 hours and the flight departs during meal hours. That said; I do not generally like hot breakfast items on planes, so this actually looks like a very full tray. An excessive amount of granola, raspberry yogurt, banana, milk, Danish, and a cheese plate.
I ate everything except for the Danish. A decent breakfast offering and surprisingly filling. I was skeptical of the continental breakfast before the flight, but was satisfied with the meal that was offered. Coffee was regularly topped off by our very attentive FA.
After the meal trays were removed, mints were distributed.
The cabin mid-flight.
The FA regularly came down the aisle checking on us. She asked if I wanted anything else to drink so I took a cup of tea to sip on while I did my crossword puzzle.
The downside of the ERJs is that there is no IFE, which is a bit of a problem on a 3+ hour flight. You can access AA’s WiFi, but there is no media to stream for free. I just used aa.com to check the flight status.
Crossing over West Texas.
About 2-hours into the flight, the FA came around with the snack basket.
Passing over the Chino Mine near Santa Rita, New Mexico. An open pit copper mine.
The Rockies are less impressive in New Mexico, but still beautiful.
We crossed directly over PHX; I can only see Scottsdale and Paradise City from my window.
More drinks were offered 2.5-hours into the flight, which was accompanied by a second pass of the snack basket. I declined snacks, but took a coffee.
Near the Arizona/California border.
Reaching the LA basin, we cross the San Bernardino National Forrest. The snow-capped peak is Mt. San Gorgonio.
Redlands and San Bernardino.
Looking back at Mt. Baldy as we cross over Pomona and Ontario.
Heading towards Downey, you get a nice view of the early morning fog that sits in the LA basin. It almost feels like you are landing on a lake.
Downtown LA as we are now aligned for our approach into LAX.
I found this amusing. This church must know that it is directly under the approach to LAX so painted its parking lot to advertise its “Faith Dome.”
The sprawl of houses in South Los Angeles.
Traffic jam on the I-405 heading towards I-10.
The famous In-n-Out Burger for spotting.
We touch down 20-minutes early into LAX.
Crossing the runway, you can see a DL B738 starting its turn to the north if you look very closely.
The pair of VA B77Ws spending the day sunbathing before their return to Australia at night.
We taxied along the active runway so I tried my best to get some take-off shots as we slowly made our way to the Remote Terminal. Battling the sun was difficult.
The masterpiece of the day was barely catching this QF B744 lifting up.
AA ERJ tails at the Remote Terminal.
We pull in next to our twin.
Deplaning, the FA thanks me for flying. Fuselage shots stepping outside. Our pilot followed me out to do his inspections and gave me the stink eye when he saw me taking pictures.
The line to catch a bus from the Remote Terminal back to Terminal 4.
I made sure I stood by the door in order to do some more spotting.
DL B752 in ST special livery.
After getting dropped off at Terminal 4, it's down the escalators to head towards the baggage claim. Advertisement for the new Fast&Furious ride, how this series has survived this long, nobody knows.
Moving walkway to the exit.
I exit towards rental cars, where I will catch a bus to pick up my car.
I will leave off this series here as I begin my stay in LAX; I’ll pick up next time for the return to IAH.
Houston - IAH
Los Angeles - LAX
A strong performance by AA made for a very comfortable flight. The E-Jets are really comfortable, the service was extremely attentive, and we got there early. The catering was above average IMO (others may feel a hot dish is expected, but I prefer cold breakfasts), but the lack of IFE on long flights is a problem AA should address with tablets.
Cabin comfort: Brand new and clean E-Jet. The seats are comfortable in a 1-2 configuration. I thought about sliding into the empty 4A seat, but didn't feel crowded with a seatmate. The huge windows on the E-Jets is also a bonus.
Crew: Very good. The F cabin FA looked really tired and I don't blame her, this LA-based crew was probably working on little sleep. She wasn't full of smiles, but was extremely attentive and polite. I have to tip my hat the ERJ crews, having 1 FA work 10 F passengers and 1 FA work 60+ Y passengers is a formidable task.
Meal and catering: The continental breakfast was a decent offering and was more than enough food for me. Very attentive drink refills. Two passes of the snack basket later in the flight. Overall, a good performance by AA.
Entertainment: No newspaper offered and the standard seatback literature. No IFE on 3+ hour flight. AA should give out tablets on long flights operated on regional jets.
On-time performance: Left a little late, but landed 20-minutes early.
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