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
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.
A trio of B737s of the US legacy carriers.
I parked my car and then took the shuttle bus to T4, where I collected my boarding pass from the self-service kiosks.
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.
On the other side, the tin can AA B738 is there.
Instead of heading towards the Admiral’s Club in T4, I’m going to swing over to TBIT to use the QF Lounge.
The FIDS at T4 before leaving for TBIT.
On my way to TBIT, a beautiful AA B788 is getting pulled into Gate 41 for the evening run down to GRU.
In the distance, you can also see a couple London bound planes: AA B77W to LHR and DY B788 to LGW.
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.
I grab some dinner and take a seat near the fire place area, which is a little bit quieter.
My dinner offering.
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.
After a shower, I grabbed some fruit and coffee for dessert.
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…
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.
AA ads as I head back to T4.
Heading down T4, the Admiral’s Club is upstairs in those windows.
This woeful lounge has been reviewed many times before, but the pitiful offering.
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.
My documents. I didn’t bother using the free drink coupon.
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.
My AA B77W is now visible, having arrived from MIA.
The view from Gate 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.
I snake into the back of the Priority line and make my way towards the beast.
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.
A view down the row, the seat pitch is 36” in MCE.
The IFE and remote.
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.
Pre-placed on the seat were a packaged pillow and blanket. The blanket is the same as that found in domestic F.
The FAs then began making their way through the cabin handing out headsets and menus. The menus are a nice touch.
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.
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.
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.
I went to the lavatory after the trays were cleared. Bare bones as you would expect on a US carrier.
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.
After the mid-flight snack, I opted to watch Thunderball in honor of Numero_2.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As trays were cleared and we began our descent into SYD, immigration forms were handed out.
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.
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.
Clearing customs, I stop by the ATM to pick up some AUD and then veer off towards the Airport Link train.
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.
The double decker train is clean.
I drop off my bag at the hotel and set off to explore SYD on a sunny fall day by 8:30am.
Qantas First Class Lounge - TBIT
Los Angeles - LAX
Sydney - SYD
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.
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