Review of American Airlines flight Los Angeles Sydney in Premium Eco

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA 73
Class Premium Eco
Seat 19D
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 15:20
Take-off 27 May 16, 22:50
Arrival at 28 May 16, 07:10
AA   #50 out of 113 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 483 reviews
NGO85
By 9352
Published on 7th June 2016
Background:

This series covers a quick mileage run down to Australia. To kick off AA’s new services from LAX to SYD and AKL, there were a series of fare sales. I jumped on a ~$700 fare over Memorial Day weekend. The routing was picked to ensure that I could leave Friday night after work and get back to LAX first thing Tuesday morning. Since the QF flight from BNE is the earliest arrival (6:00), the routing was picked to spend one day in SYD and one day in BNE. Returning from BNE was also attractive since QF still sends a B744 on this route and any chance to fly a Queen should not be passed up.

Part 1 – LAX-SYD [AA 73, Boeing B777-300ER, Economy] – You are here
Part 2 – SYD-BNE [QF 512, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 3 – BNE-LAX [QF 15, Boeing B747-400, Economy] – Here


Pre-flight:

I arrived at LAX around 5:00 and decided to make a brief pitstop at In-N-Out to catch the arrival of the evening heavies from Asia.

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MU B77W.

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AA ERJ-175.

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A trio of B737s of the US legacy carriers.

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AC A320.

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CA B77W.

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NH B77W.

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I parked my car and then took the shuttle bus to T4, where I collected my boarding pass from the self-service kiosks.

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Surprisingly, the lines at TSA were pretty short for Friday evening travel on a long weekend. Maybe the heightened negative publicity in the news surrounding TSA has urged them to pick up the pace a little.

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On the other side, the tin can AA B738 is there.

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Instead of heading towards the Admiral’s Club in T4, I’m going to swing over to TBIT to use the QF Lounge.

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The FIDS at T4 before leaving for TBIT.

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On my way to TBIT, a beautiful AA B788 is getting pulled into Gate 41 for the evening run down to GRU.

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In the distance, you can also see a couple London bound planes: AA B77W to LHR and DY B788 to LGW.

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TBIT.

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The lounge is run by QF, but a CX agent greets me and scans my boarding pass. The lounge is larger than the *A Lounge, but just a notch less fancy. Regardless, excellent for US standards. There is a bar and large buffet area. The lounge is quite crowded already so getting some clean photos is not an easy task.

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I grab some dinner and take a seat near the fire place area, which is a little bit quieter.

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My dinner offering.

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After dinner, I went to take a shower. There are at least 12 showers in the lounge, so I can’t imagine waits are a problem. The shower rooms are a little on the small side, but Aspar products were available.

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After a shower, I grabbed some fruit and coffee for dessert.

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This is when some groans were heard in the lounge, two announcements were made that the QF flights to SYD and BNE were both delayed to 2:50 and 3:50 departures, respectively. Sucks to be them…

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I packed up at 9pm and did a short walk around TBIT, the only planes that were near the lounge area were the pair of NZ B77Ws getting ready to head back to Oceania.

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AA ads as I head back to T4.

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Heading down T4, the Admiral’s Club is upstairs in those windows.

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This woeful lounge has been reviewed many times before, but the pitiful offering.

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I just grabbed a coffee in a to-go cup and left within 15 minutes. The only redeeming feature of this lounge is the top down views you get of the planes below, like the AA B788 to GRU.

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My documents. I didn’t bother using the free drink coupon.

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I went in search of a line-of-sight to my plane. Over at TBIT, there was now a trio of B77Ws of the CI, BR, and PR variety.

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My AA B77W is now visible, having arrived from MIA.

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The view from Gate 45.

photo 45




————————-

American Airlines, AA 73
Equipment: Boeing B777-300ER [N727AN, delivered January 2014]
Departure: 22:50 (ATD: 23:53)
Arrival: 7:10 (ATA: 7:26)
Flight time: 14:32


Right on time, boarding was called. At the first sound of the gate agent’s voice, everyone bolts to form a cluster around the gate creating chaos.

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I snake into the back of the Priority line and make my way towards the beast.

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Entering, a FA welcomes me on board, checks my boarding pass, and directs me down the aisle towards my seat. After the long walk through J, we arrive at the mini MCE cabin that is in 3-3-3 configuration. These 4 rows are special in that they are not 3-4-3 like the rest of the Y cabin. Complimentary access to these seats is one of the few perks of being an AA elite.

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Seat details.

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A view down the row, the seat pitch is 36” in MCE.

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The IFE and remote.

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The IFE is available immediately, they are predicting a 14h 13m flight time tonight, which will be an underestimation on this 7500 mile trek down to SYD.

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Pre-placed on the seat were a packaged pillow and blanket. The blanket is the same as that found in domestic F.

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The FAs then began making their way through the cabin handing out headsets and menus. The menus are a nice touch.

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Seatback contents.

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It’s 22:50 and nothing has happened yet. There is still some scrambling around by FAs and ground crew, which is never a good sign. An FA approaches me, and asks me about the seat next to me and asked me if I had seen that passenger. Both the Australian gentleman on the other end and I both say that we haven’t seen them. Apparently, I’ll be lucky tonight and get a no-show next to me. The flight was very full heading out and I counted less than 5 empty seats in Y. The captain also came on and announced that we are going to be having a 1-hour delay since there was some maintenance work being done in the cockpit and we needed to wait for the log to be signed.

I passed out at some point during the push back and didn’t awake until oshibori were being handed out.

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This was followed by a meal and drink service. I asked for the shrimp. My tray as received. It consists of just a main, a garlic bread roll, a dessert, and an 8-oz. bottle of water.

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The main unwrapped. The shrimp was obviously overcooked, but the seasoning on it was very good. The size of the main is a lot bigger than on UA, but the lack of anything else on the tray (like a salad) is noticeable.

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I went to the lavatory after the trays were cleared. Bare bones as you would expect on a US carrier.

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After sleeping for another 5 hours, I awoke in time for the mid-flight snack. The FAs came through and did another meal and drink service for those passengers awake. It was a cheese pizza (very salty) and the same gelato that UA serves.

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After the mid-flight snack, I opted to watch Thunderball in honor of Numero_2.

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During the movie, I took a little peek into the galley. They had juices and water out along with pretzels, chips, and some chocolate covered nuts.

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Movie snacks.

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I slept for another 5 hours or so after watching my movie. The mood lighting was turned on 1.5 hours prior to arrival. I like the two toned red/blue lighting that AA uses in Y since it is a nice homage to their American flag livery.

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As soon as the lights were on, I snuck to the galley to pour some orange juice so I wouldn’t get any nasty looks from the FA for requesting too many drinks. Oshibori were also handed out for this meal.

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I opted for the American breakfast. My tray as received. It has the main, a yogurt, granola, a muffin, and a little 6-oz. cup of Canadian water. It was over flowing on the little tray they give you.

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The main. The eggs were well seasoned, but the potato was very soggy in texture. I guess you can’t really expect much better from an airplane breakfast.

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The rest of the tray laid out. Lemon yogurt is a very aggressive flavor selection in my opinion. Also, the muffin was plain. It should have been a blueberry muffin or a bran muffin.

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As trays were cleared and we began our descent into SYD, immigration forms were handed out.

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We did a loop around the western side of SYD to land from the south. We had one of the smoothest landings I’ve had this year, I didn’t even feel us touch the ground; only the reverse thrust of those GE90s. We pulled into our gate next to a JL B77W and deplaned.

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Having done the required eVisa online to get the multiple entry 1-year visa available to US citizens, I used the ePassport self-service kiosks to get my immigration ticket. When I went to use the automated entry lines, I got an error message stating the photo they took did not match my passport photo. That kicked me over to the special assistance line. The immigration officer asked me questions for 5 minutes, scrutinizing the length of my stay in Australia and the nature of my visit to Australia. He reluctantly stamped my passport and handed it off to another agent who pulled me aside and spent another 10 minutes asking me more questions about what I’m doing here and why I am here. The questioning felt very uncomfortable and made me feel as if I was a criminal. They were very suspicious of someone flying 15 hours to only spend 2 days in their country and when they found out I was going to BNE on the second day, they were even more cautious and asked even more probing questions into my occupation and personal life. The entire situation was very uncomfortable and is a pitiful way for Australia to welcome tourists into its country.

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Clearing customs, I stop by the ATM to pick up some AUD and then veer off towards the Airport Link train.

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The train goes from SYD to Central Station in ~10 minutes and costs $17.40. The fare is really high for the distance, but the convenience is great.

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The double decker train is clean.

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I drop off my bag at the hotel and set off to explore SYD on a sunny fall day by 8:30am.
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Verdict

American Airlines

7.9/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering7.5

Qantas First Class Lounge - TBIT

8.9/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Services10.0

Los Angeles - LAX

8.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access6.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Sydney - SYD

8.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Solid performance by AA on this TPAC. Not going to wow you, but nothing that made me gripe about the flight. I find the overall AA experience to be a little bit better than UA, so they are doing well.

Cabin comfort: The new AA cabins are very sharp looking and I like their choice of the split tray tables. MCE was very comfortable and having an empty seat next to me helped on this 14+ hour flight. The only downside of the seats is that they are the sliding type where the seat slides forward during recline so you lose knee room.

Crew: A very normal crew. They were polite, professional and absent mid-flight.

Meal and catering: The menu is a nice touch (although I later heard the FA's comment to each other that they thought they weren't helpful since most passengers don't use them and ask them what the options are). The meals are following the QF meal offerings on this route, where there is a larger main, but no sides. The shrimp were a little rubbery, the pizza was on the salty side, and the plain muffin wasn't great. Other than those criticisms, an acceptable meal offering and better than what QF offers.

Entertainment: No newspapers offered. Standard seatback literature. No personal IFE. My IFE was glitchy and both the remote and moving map didn't work for most of the flight (hence the penalty on the rating). Otherwise, AA has good selection.

Information on the route Los Angeles (LAX) Sydney (SYD)

14 Comments

  • Comment 351990 by
    K2World 1932 Comments

    Thank you for this FR.
    So what time did you finally departed ?
    This flight is not as long as the DFW-HKG but I'd not like to seat that long on a 77W, hopefully you were sitting in this nice forward Y cabin with a extended legroom.
    Meals seem OK, nothing more.
    Hope you enjoyed your day in SYD :)

    • Comment 352079 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting^^

      "So what time did you finally departed ?"
      - 23:50, 1 hour delay, which is exactly what the captain announced the delay to be. We landed only 15 minutes late into SYD.

      "This flight is not as long as the DFW-HKG but I'd not like to seat that long on a 77W"
      - when you are sleeping, the time passes quickly ;)

      "Meals seem OK, nothing more."
      - For Asian standards not great, but when comparing AA to QF, AA offers good catering. And the catering on this route by AA is better than what AA offers on other TPACs.

      "Hope you enjoyed your day in SYD :) "
      - Fantastic city and fantastic weather (22C and sunny).

  • Comment 351996 by
    Numero_2 9991 Comments

    Thank you Michael !

    Une chance de ne pas avoir de voisin pour un si long voyage !

    Pour un vol de cette durée je trouve que le catering AA est vraiment limite en quantité : LX ou NH offre des plateaux plus garnis sur des vols plus courts !

    Les officiers d'immigration canadien sont autant tâtillons que les australiens. ^^

    • Comment 352080 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Clement, merci pour vos commentaires^^

      "Pour un vol de cette durée je trouve que le catering AA est vraiment limite en quantité"
      Le catering des AA est meilleure que le catering de QF, mais * A est toujours mieux que OW ^^

      "Les officiers d'immigration canadien sont autant tâtillons que les australiens. ^^"
      - Oui, les agents d'immigration canadien sont pires... The last time I was detained by border police was driving into Canada for Canadian GP in Montreal^^

  • Comment 352001 by
    SMilano 1292 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR.
    You were lucky that you had anybody on the middle seat, mote comfort is always good for such a long flight.
    The catering look ok for a long flight like this one.
    Sad you had problem with your IFE
    And sad too at the immigration.
    See you

    • Comment 352081 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thank you for your comments!

      "The catering look ok for a long flight like this one."
      - The catering is modeled after the new QF catering, I don't care for this style. The larger mains are nice, but they are usually not that much better quality. Two meals and a snack is really all you can expect on a long TPAC.

      "Sad you had problem with your IFE"
      - It looked like the problem was isolated to my seat. I used the moving map on the empty middle seat since mine was glitchy.

      "And sad too at the immigration."
      - For a country with such friendly people, it really is a sad way to welcome people into the country. The automated gates worked fine when I was leaving BNE, so it was just bad luck on my part.

  • Comment 352063 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    What a fantastic start to a flight report, absolutely stunning shots Michael! The weather seemed to be great!

    Great night shots at LAX! I always struggle with those.

    Interesting that they followed QF in the catering department, I presume it's only for the LAX-SYD-LAX flight?

    It's sad that the IFE wasn't completely functional all the time.

    That's the first time I've heard of lemon yogurt, interesting!

    I'm sorry to hear about the experience at SYD, not the best welcome at all....

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 352082 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for all your comments!

      "What a fantastic start to a flight report, absolutely stunning shots Michael! The weather seemed to be great!"
      - Got lucky, a nice break from the normal May Gray and June Gloom that LAX normally gets.

      "Interesting that they followed QF in the catering department, I presume it's only for the LAX-SYD-LAX flight?"
      - I've never seen catering like this before, so I think it was AA mimicking their rivals on these routes. I'd imagine UA doesn't offer special catering like this.

      "It's sad that the IFE wasn't completely functional all the time."
      - In all honesty, I really needed the sleep so it wasn't "that" inconvenient.

      "That's the first time I've heard of lemon yogurt, interesting!"
      - Interesting, but not in a good way ;)

      "I'm sorry to hear about the experience at SYD, not the best welcome at all...."
      - This is my worst airport immigration experience that I've ever encountered. Really quite a shame given how hospitable Australians are.

  • Comment 352070 by
    757Fan 595 Comments

    Great report, Michael. Looks like a very nice flight with AA. The food looks pretty good for Economy!

    I really like the look of those menus. That's a really nice touch, and I hope those are seen on other flights as well too. It's the small things in my mind that can make a difference on a flight.

    Interesting that your flight to SYD left relatively on-time, but the QF flights were both delayed. How frustrating for those passengers having such a late/early morning departure.

    Best,

    Matthew

    • Comment 352073 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for your comments Matthew!

      I think the menu/catering is specific for the Oceania routes. AA knows they have high competition with QF and elevate their normal TPAC product to be competitive with QF. Having direct comparisons of catering in Parts 1 and 3, AA had the better food. Overall, I would pick AA over QF on this route.

      "Interesting that your flight to SYD left relatively on-time, but the QF flights were both delayed."
      - I was a victim of this in Part 3. It seems like these planes get hiccups at JFK and struggle to get out of there on time, therefore delaying their departures from LAX.

  • Comment 352136 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    "I arrived at LAX around 5:00 and decided to make a brief pitstop at In-N-Out..."
    - Why not? Cheap tasty food with a great view. You can't ask for a better combo.

    "Instead of heading towards the Admiral’s Club in T4, I’m going to swing over to TBIT to use the QF Lounge."
    - You are a true AvGeek.

    "The lounge is larger than the *A Lounge, but just a notch less fancy. Regardless, excellent for US standards. "
    - The *A is supposedly handled by NZ. Do they show any indication of that? The Oneworld lounge has the distinctive QF chinaware and utensils.

    "I didn’t bother using the free drink coupon."
    - You know that you can redeem them for a bottle of water, right? Anyways I seldom use mine so what I sometimes do is hide them and stick around to see people's reaction when they find them.

    "My dinner offering."
    - Is that orange bag yours? If so you are matching it with your shoes. :P Those chunky utensils by QF are too "modern" for my taste.

    " These 4 rows are special in that they are not 3-4-3 like the rest of the Y cabin."
    - Enjoy them while you can. They will be replaced eventually with the dreadful 3-4-3 configuration.

    "The menus are a nice touch."
    - Printed menus in Y? I'm impressed! QF is sure giving AA some competition.

    "I passed out at some point during the push back and didn’t awake until oshibori were being handed out."
    - Did you check if you were flying AA? This is unheard of.

    " I asked for the shrimp. My tray as received. It consists of just a main, a garlic bread roll, a dessert, and an 8-oz. bottle of water."
    - Not the usual chicken or pasta? and you got an actual dessert, not some industrial brownie in a package. My jaw is almost hitting the floor now.

    "It was a cheese pizza (very salty) and the same gelato that UA serves."
    - Pretty good.

    "I opted for the American breakfast. "
    - For a flight of this length I wouldn't expect anything less for the second meal.

    "Lemon yogurt is a very aggressive flavor selection in my opinion. "
    - It's just like that famous octopus salad served by AZ.

    "The entire situation was very uncomfortable and is a pitiful way for Australia to welcome tourists into its country."
    -I've heard that Australia and New Zealand have the most aggressive Immigration agents anywhere.

    Thank you Michael for sharing this new series. Sounds like a very quick trip for such a long distance.

    • Comment 352580 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "Cheap tasty food with a great view. You can't ask for a better combo."
      - I'm always guilted into buying something so that I can use one of their nice tables with the umbrella to sit at. I like Imperial Hill better, but it's not the easiest spotting point to get to.

      "The *A is supposedly handled by NZ. Do they show any indication of that? The Oneworld lounge has the distinctive QF chinaware and utensils."
      - I've never seen the staff wear NZ insignia, so not sure about that. It's also like *A Lounge in NGO where the staff wear generic clothing.

      "Anyways I seldom use mine so what I sometimes do is hide them and stick around to see people's reaction when they find them."
      - One man's trash is another man's treasure ;) I guess redeeming it for a water bottle on a long-haul flight would be a wise choice.

      "Those chunky utensils by QF are too "modern" for my taste."
      - They are super wide and difficult to hold, or I just need to work on my eye/hand coordination.

      "Enjoy them while you can. They will be replaced eventually with the dreadful 3-4-3 configuration."
      - I figured this mini cabin was going to be ripped out and replaced with the new 2-4-2 W cabin.

      "Printed menus in Y? I'm impressed! QF is sure giving AA some competition." and "My jaw is almost hitting the floor now."
      - Based on Part 3, QF is not competition to AA, which is ironic. AA seems to have set the bar higher than what QF offers on these routes, shame it is not uniform to all AA routes. The AA catering on these routes is far improved over their normal offering, but I do miss the normal tray.

      "For a flight of this length I wouldn't expect anything less for the second meal."
      - Their breakfast was very full based on my US carrier breakfast experiences.

      "It's just like that famous octopus salad served by AZ."
      - I hope this never disappears, it is in their DNA.

      "I've heard that Australia and New Zealand have the most aggressive Immigration agents anywhere."
      - Canada too! But it was a very poor experience especially since if the automated gate worked, I would have never had to talk to an immigration officer and would have been on my merry way. I already had a valid visa, so the interrogation seems redundant to any background check on my passport needed to issue the visa.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Adan!

  • Comment 352671 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5362 Comments

    Looks like it was a perfect day for spotting at In-N-Out. Gorgeous planespotting, a great way to start out this FR!

    "Surprisingly, the lines at TSA were pretty short"
    - That is surprising, considering the TSA line at the AA Terminal in LAX is always super slow and long, even the Priority Access lane.

    The QF lounge looks great. QF lounges are generally good. Certainly beats the Admirals club.

    I can't ever really tell if the MCE seats on the 77W are actually wider than the regular Y seats, or are they they same seats, just in a 3-3-3 config instead of 3-4-3?

    The menu is definitely a nice touch and shows that AA is making an effort on this particular route. Too bad, they don't make the same efforts in Y on all routes.

    You sure were lucky to end up with a no-show in the middle seat. Being in MCE with the extra legroom, and having room to spread out, makes it about as comfortable as it can be in Y for such a long flight.

    Looks like AA is copying the QF Y catering concept on this route with just a large main and no sides. While I find the concept interesting, it is inconsistent to have completely different service concept on different Long-haul routes. Maybe they're experimenting with it prior to rolling it out system-wide. The concept, seems to work for QF and probably also leads to some cost savings with the simplified service.

    "I got an error message stating the photo they took did not match my passport photo."
    - That happened to me when I was connecting in SYD from AKL. I didn't have to go through immigration, but I had a long layover and wanted to go outside. Man did I regret it. The machine wouldn't let me through and I was just stuck there. I had to flag someone down who looked like they couldn't give less shits if they tried. The agent rudely sent me to the special assistance line where I had to wait for over half an hour because they were having computer problems. Seriously, if you're going to use technology to do people's jobs, make sure it works! Very unpleasant experience. So I feel for you.

    Don't ever watch the show "Border Security - Australia's Front Line" on Netflix, it'll bring back bad memories for you, LOL.

    Overall looks like a good performance by AA on this route. Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 355017 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "Looks like it was a perfect day for spotting at In-N-Out."
      - It's been really gray lately so I got lucky that day. Since it is so close to the airport, it is a nice place to just sit back in a relax.

      "Considering the TSA line at the AA Terminal in LAX is always super slow and long, even the Priority Access lane."
      - The PriorityAccess lane is almost as long as the normal line in the evenings when all the AA heavies are heading out. And then they taunt you with the PreCheck lines on the other side of the glass windows. So evil...

      "The QF lounge looks great. QF lounges are generally good. Certainly beats the Admirals club."
      - If you swing through LAX, well worth the visit, but you'd end up in the First class section of the lounge. The food offering and drinks were on par with the *A Lounge, but the ambiance is not as nice.

      "I can't ever really tell if the MCE seats on the 77W are actually wider than the regular Y seats"
      - I think that they are the same. I looked at this because I was interested too. It looked like the window seats both stuck out the same distance in both the 3-3-3 and 3-4-3 cabins, suggesting the seats are actually the same width.

      "The menu is definitely a nice touch and shows that AA is making an effort on this particular route. Too bad, they don't make the same efforts in Y on all routes."
      - It looks like an Oceania only market upgrade. I wonder what UA offers on the Oceania routes to compete with NZ. It's like the fancy menus that DL uses on the Asian market.

      "Being in MCE with the extra legroom, and having room to spread out, makes it about as comfortable as it can be in Y for such a long flight."
      - It was really comfortable. Plus, I had a bulkhead behind me so I never had to worry about someone hitting my seat getting up or poking as hard as they can on the IFE screen.

      "Maybe they're experimenting with it prior to rolling it out system-wide. The concept, seems to work for QF and probably also leads to some cost savings with the simplified service."
      - Is it really cost-saving? The portion sizes are noticeable larger and I like getting the larger main. Let's be honest, any salad in Y is not really going to be great so might as well just scrap it, lol. Even with the catering changes, the AA catering was overall better than the QF catering in Part 3. Those were a direct comparison and AA won hands down.

      "Seriously, if you're going to use technology to do people's jobs, make sure it works! Very unpleasant experience. So I feel for you."
      - About 25% of the people were getting rejected from the automated stalls. It is clearly a big failure from a technology point-of-view.

      "Don't ever watch the show "Border Security - Australia's Front Line" on Netflix, it'll bring back bad memories for you, LOL."
      - LOL, when I was telling this story to my friend, she mentioned the exact same show on Netflix. Glad to know Australians are so well known for their border security...

      Thanks for all your comments Kevin!

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