Hello Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by this review, the first installment of my latest journey.
It has been clear for several years that the American Airlines Advantage frequent flyer program was out of sync with the other major US carriers. It has remained very generous on the redemption side while the others have had significant devaluations. Smart money was on a correction coming sooner before later. It was with this in mind that I decided to structure a grand adventure and cut deeply into my AAdvantage miles inventory.
Always keen to enjoy a new (to me) airline experience I decided to build the trip around American's two Middle East miles partners Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways and specifically the First Class cabins on each carriers' A380. I secured a seat on EY's AUH-JFK flight but for the same 90k miles I could extend this so I made it DEL-AUH-JFK-LAX with the last leg on American Airlines. To get to DEL I found CDG-DOH-DEL on QR with the CDG-DOH on the A380. The final piece was how to get to Paris. I had read a lot about BA First Class and almost none of it was positive but I had to find out for myself. I was able to find SNA-PHX-LHR-CDG on American and BA with the PHX-LHR segment in First on the 747.
Of course all of the above routing took ages and many searches to come up with the best match that put me away from home/work the least. After I book an award I'm always going back to tinker and see if I can improve the experience. I was fully expecting some Z inventory to open on one of the BA LAX-LHR flights but it never happened. At one point I was very close to abandoning BA for an LH award in First ex. SFO but I decided to stay with BA and form my own opinions.
The final tally was SNA-PHX-LHR-CDG for 62,500 AA miles, CDG-DOH-DEL for 40,000 AA miles, and DEL-AUH-JFK-LAX for 90,000 AA miles.So 192,500 AA miles lighter, I was off.
It is quite a luxury to fly from my backyard airport, John Wayne Airport - KSNA. A $7.00 Uber to the airport is a great way to start a trip. I usually son't include the connector flights in my reports but I decided to give it a try this time.
For some reason AA.com wouldn't check me in online. Upon arrival at the airport I attempted to use the kiosk and also received an error to see an agent. I approached the First/Premium check in position and there was no wait. I said hello to the female agent and presented my passport and confirmation email. She didn't great me in any way. After a long pause of typing she said, "You're on some kind of watch list." I was able to check in for my BA flights so I thought to myself that this was incredibly specious information. Eventually, and with no other communication, she presented me with my boarding pass(es) for SNA-PHX and PHX-LHR. Ah, it's great to be back on American Airlines, what service!
With pre-check I was through security and in the Admirals Club in 5 minutes time. It was at this point that I heard one of the best airport announcements I can remember, "Attention in the terminal, if you just left checkpoint A and you're missing your shoes please return to checkpoint A." My goodness.
The Admirals Club is very compact and quite crowded but it's quite bright and airy.
The food offering are as meager.
Nothing at he bar really appealed to me so enjoyed a cold beer.
I went down to the gate to get a look at the aircraft.
The gate louse were in full force.
Boarding for First was called and I negotiated my way to the front and made my way down the jet way.
I was among the last F passengers to board and the flight attendant was standing at the divider between First and Economy and she had just closed the bin above my seat that also extends into Economy. I asked if it was full as that is usually why they are closed. She said no, she closed it to save the space for F passengers. I thought this was very thoughtful. I was able to stow my roll aboard near my set as a result.
The cabin was very well broken in.
Boarding was complete and we pushed back on time if not several minutes early.
The taxi to 20R is very quick from Gate 8. Holding for a UA A320.
Strong takeoff and noise abatement maneuver.
Beautiful evening over Newport Harbor and Lido Island.
After departure over the Pacific Ocean a 180 degree turn and east heading.
Beverages were offered promptly with the snack basket to follow.
The service was very attentive and drink refills were offered but declined. The 40 minute flight leads to decent rather quickly. Sunset over the desert.
We parked at a high number A gate and the short flight was complete.
American Airlines Admirals Club
Santa Ana - SNA
Phoenix - PHX
The horrid AA agent wasn't reflective of the entire experience. The check in area was spacious and not crowded.
The lounge staff was fine and offered standard greetings and smiles. The complementary bar and food offerings are very minimal.
The in flight service was as good as it can be on a 40 minute flight in the US. Drinks and snacks were offered on multiple occasions including pre-departure.
Thanks for stopping by and please stay tuned for my very first BA First Class experience.
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