The night before I had a great stay at the Hyatt Place MIA Airport East which was located next to the airport by the NW 42nd Av. (Le Jeune Rd.) side. The hotel has a modern decor and the tastefully appointed room was equipped with a handy small refrigerator. I enjoyed a restful sleep thanks for the soundproof windows and the next morning I woke up with just enough time to shower and take the shuttle to the airport. Unfortunately I did not take advantage of the free breakfast that was included in the rate and in my haste was unable to take pictures of the property. The only image from the hotel was the view from my room facing the runway of the airport.
View from my room.
I arrived at the airport within 1 1/2 hrs before dept. and the security lines did not seem as overwhelming as in the past. I saw plenty of self check-in kiosks around the counter areas and agents were available to provide assistance. I quickly printed my boarding pass and luckily it was marked "TSA Pre-checked". The line was a bit long but it moved quickly since we did not have to take off our shoes, computers or belts.
Admirals Club by D15.
I paid a quick visit to the Admirals Club and this particular one was under renovation, so most guests sat outside in the "al fresco" section. A friendly agent checked me in and insisted in giving me 2 drink coupons despite my earlier refusal. She suggested me to get a bottle of water and I just couldn't say no to her thoughtful advice.
I headed out to the gate at 40 min. before dept. and I arrived at a crowded one. During boarding I was greeted by the purser who was at the door. On today's flight we had a last minute plane substitution and we went from a reconfigured plane to an old one with the angled seats and a 2-2-2 configuration. I was traveling with my mother and sister and it was a good thing that I checked the night before and noticed the change of equipment so I was able to assign them seats together. The system had automatically split them during the change and did not even sent a message about such change. Some people were caught by surprise and at one point I heard a passenger in the F cabin vent his frustration loudly within everyone's earshot. A supervisor had to come aboard in order to appease him and eventually the matter was resolved. He was adamant to have a specific seat with aisle access and I guess that he was assigned a window seat in the back during the plane snafu. I could sympathize with his predicament up to the point when he emphasized his importance as an elite passenger and proceeded to have a "meltdown" in front of everybody.
Lately I have been fortunate to have engaging seatmates during my travels and this flight was no exception. I sat next to an affable gentleman who turned out to be an EXP on a business trip and I caught his attention when I started to take pictures to document my report. We had a nice conversation about our favorite airlines and frequent flyer programs. I personally think that one of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling is meeting people that share one's interests and when you are able to establish a connection then the experience becomes even more rewarding.
Eventually the flight attendants distributed pre-dept. drinks consisting of sparkling wine, water and orange juice.
An amenity kit was already placed in front of the seat and to my delight it was the US Airways legacy one which I have always wanted to obtain.
After departure Bose headsets and tablets were distributed.
I don't recall receiving hot towels. At one point I went to the WC before the start of service so I might have missed it. Menus were then distributed and the flight attendant set a copy between the armrests and advised passengers to share it. This was something that I have never encountered before - perhaps another cost cutting measure of the new AA?
Orders were taken and the flight attendant acknowledged my pre-order of crab cakes. She also inquired about beverages and I asked for my usual 1/2 orange and 1/2 cranberry juice. Instead of having my drink mixed she gave me a can of cranapple juice with half a glass of orange juice along with warm nuts. It seemed odd that she did not mix it up.
Linens were placed on the tables and the appetizer plate with salad was delivered to each passenger. An assortment of warm breads (sourdough or wheat) was offered.
Char Siu duck with pickled vegetables and yuzu marmalade.
Salad with strawberries and palm hearts served with apple vinaigrette.
Crab cakes with jicama slaw and tomatillo poblano cream sauce. I thought that the main dish was satisfying. However, the cakes did not seem to fit quite right in its vessel.
Service was not soliciting and one had to ask for things. For example, there was never an offer to fill my beverage or bring a new drink once my glass was near empty. In addition, my seatmate had a problem with his tablet and I thought that the interaction with the flight attendant was somewhat curt. That is not to say that the crew was abysmal, just not as polished and caring as could have been.
After the meal service there was a choice between a cheese plate or made to order ice cream sundae. I opted for the cheese which was well presented and nicely portioned. Apparently dessert was not provisioned as generously as before because I asked for ice cream in addition to the cheese plate and the flight attendant apologized saying that they ran out of them. Also, my seatmate decided to eat at a later time and when he requested a cheese plate, he was given one from the "buy on board" in Y but was given a set of metal utensils.
Finally the meal concluded with the distribution of individual bottles of water.
At about 1 hr. before arrival, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were offered from a tray. There were no plates underneath and no drinks to go along with it. While I visited the WC, a basket of snacks and fruits were placed in the galley, but these were never passed around to passengers in the cabin.
Freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.
American Airlines Admirals Club (Concourse D)
Miami - MIA
Los Angeles - LAX
It was disappointing to encounter an equipment change at the last minute, but these things happen and since AA dominates the MIA-LAX market with the most nonstop flights, it can afford to make these changes with its captive audience. I can understand the disappointment from going from an individual lie flat seat with aisle access to an angled one next to a neighbor.
Service could have been more caring and engaging. I felt that the crew was robotic and just did what they were required to do. The little details and touches make a big difference and unfortunately in this case they were lacking.
The catering was fine and I personally enjoyed the appetizer and crab cakes, but when I saw my neighbor's portion and it seemed a bit burned, I was thankful that I received one of the good ones. In the past (old AA) it was never a problem to request both a cheese plate and ice cream together. The lack of full provision for dessert is disappointing from a customer's perspective.
We arrived a few minutes earlier at 14:41.
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