Review of American Airlines flight Richmond Dallas/Fort Worth in Domestic First

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA2324
Seat 5A
Flight time 02:55
Take-off 26 May 16, 20:15
Arrival at 26 May 16, 22:10
AA   #26 out of 71 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 526 reviews
lsmick3
By 1211
Published on 3rd June 2016
After months of anticipation, it was finally time for my husband and I to have a well deserved long weekend in Las Vegas! I had been excited for the first leg of this trip in particular as I had been thinking it would be my final trip on an AA MD-80…an aircraft that brings back very specific childhood memories of flying with or to my Grandparents that lived in Texas and California while I was growing up. I wasn't concerned about the loud cabin or jet fuel exhaust smells that you experience even in F.

Little did I know that I'd be on two more AA MD-80's only a week later for a quick trip to SFO and back! That report is coming up…

Our aircraft was a relatively newer addition to the MD-80 fleet, coming over from TWA.

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Our aircraft had a busy day ahead of her until making it to RIC to get us.

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I had been tracking our aircraft all day long since there had been some storms in the DFW area. All day she had been running on time…until it was time for the DFW-RIC run… Bad weather at DFW made arrival to RIC about an hour and twenty minutes late, pushing our departure to 20:15.

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When we arrived to the airport I got the robo call indicating that we would miss our connecting flight at DFW and that we had been auto rebooked for our DFW-LAS leg the NEXT MORNING via PHX. The agent at check in looked for later flights but everything seemed to be booked up… I knew that once we got to DFW that everything would be late and that a quick trip to the Admirals Club would get us on our way that night. So, our bags were tagged DFW-PHX-LAS and on we went to the bar for a pre departure drink and to watch arrivals….

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A VERY quick trip through TSA brought us to our gate in time for boarding.

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Since the US/AA merger, AA is now routing about (by my estimate) 60-70% of all RIC traffic through CLT. There are two inbound and two outbound DFW and ORD flights a day whereas there used to be several more. Luckily we do still have our one outbound and inbound daily MIA flight still! CLT is a great hub and most of the 45 minute flights are on A319's instead of flying school busses that other airlines (cough United cough) fly to IAH. To that end, we had gotten very used to USAirways standards of service. We had always been warmly welcomed and always offered a pre departure drink. This would be our first AA operated flight in quite a while…and did the differences ever show in service.

The crew arriving from DFW was finished and a new crew boarded for the outbound flight. There was no boarding announcement for first class; rather, the gate agent said in a normal speaking voice, "Common, baby. If yo' in first class you can get on!" So…we got on!

Since this aircraft will be phased out by next year, it did not receive the updated livery…its fun to think that this is really now a "retro livery"…

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Standard, older Domestic F recliner seats. I find these to have better lumbar and side support than those on old US Airways aircraft.

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An antiquated, yet functional power supply:

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We brought a car cigarette lighter power adapter with two USB ports and had no problem keeping our phones and tablets charged.

Standard fleece blankets were in the upper seat pocket in front of us.

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We pushed back at 20:24 and orders for dinner were placed during taxi. We had already pre-ordered our meals so we got a confirmation from our seemingly confused FA.

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It was if she had never seen a pre-order…though I'm sure she had. She was also very soft spoken and we were on board a fairly loud, old aircraft. Many passengers were asking her to speak up.

Did I mention there were no pre-departure drinks?

After a smooth takeoff around 20:30, we waited until 21:04 for warm towel service followed by our pre-meal drinks and warm nuts.

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Nice double vodka rocks to get things more relaxing…

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Not only did our FA work at a glacial pace, there was actually an additional cook in the F galley to help! I've never seen an additional cook on any domestic US Airways crewed flight…

Since everything was running late and slow, we just sighed it off, got settled in and I started watching a movie. One great thing about these seats is that the seat pocket is at a perfect location to hang an iPad so that it is at a comfortable viewing level, even when you're eating:

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My husband actually took advantage of renting a movie and streaming it for USD 6.48. Though he didn't get to finish it (nor did he really like the movie), the streaming speed was great and it was a good alternative to a hard wired IFE, especially since he forgot to load up his iPad with movies.

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Dinner was served around 21:40…

The chicken and olive tapenade came with a handful of iceberg lettuce and was really sloppily presented. Was also surprised that there was no appetizer plate on the tray. When it was presented, the pretzel roll wasn't even there so it made the tray look very empty. At least it tasted good, even if the portions were more on the lunch side (though this was indicated to be a dinner service on our itinerary).

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My husband ordered the eggplant parmesan, which was hugely disappointing. At least he had an extra dried pepper on the salad.

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Warm chocolate chip cookies were offered for dessert…

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After the meal I took a quick trip to the lav which was well maintained. Maybe its just my perception, but this lav was huge compared to more modern aircraft.

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As the cabin was prepared for landing, our silent FA made rounds with mints…

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Upon arrival in DFW, as I had expected, all flights were delayed. We went to the Admirals Club in Terminal D and worked with the most efficient and outright awesome agent. She was able to get us on a flight to LAS that night. I was sure to give her one of my Outstanding Service Excellence coupons on the spot that I got from AA when I got Gold Status last year. I only wish I remembered her name…perhaps I'll see her on my next trip through DFW tomorrow :)

It was so late, all the food had already been put away…

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…but at least the bar was still open!

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Nice family room

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The International First Class Dining Room…could have sworn I got a picture but it was pretty late.

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See more

Verdict

American Airlines

6.5/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew4.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering5.5

Richmond - RIC

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Dallas/Fort Worth - DFW

9.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.5
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

All in all a late, but comfortable flight to DFW on a "oldie but goodie" aircraft. I was shocked at the level of service that was slow, too informal, and even inadequate. This was our first AA cabin crew in some time and I have to admit that my personal preference is for a US cabin crew after this experience (along with our DFW-LAS experience that I'll post about later). Passengers had to ask for drink refills during and after the dinner service. The catering compared to other AA F flights I've taken was poor. The portions seemed smaller and I would have liked an appetizer.

<b>The Admirals Club service blew me out of the water--a truly outstanding experience.</b>

Related

9 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 351592 by
    Simmy1972 41 Comments

    I was in Richmond for work for close to two weeks back in 2008. I took MH from KUL - ARN - EWR, and then CO from EWR to RIC. It was such a nice city and yes, it was where I had my first mojito and possibly the best steak that I have ever had. While I have never been back to Richmond ever since, I will fondly remember this place for the rest of my life.

    • Comment 352270 by
      lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

      Simmy1972- Thanks for the compliments about my home base! RVA (as we call it) has really become a great city over the last ten years as she starts to shed some of her provincial qualities. We thought of moving for years but now are happy that we stayed. I'm curious as to where you had the steak!

  • Comment 351893 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thank you Mick for sharing this FR on an "ancient" airplane. When I went through DFW last month I was surprised to see so many S80's still in operation in a designated terminal.

    I agree with you that CLT is a great hub. I used to connect through there when it was a US hub and the agents there were always very friendly. If I am not mistaken I think that previous to US this was the main hub for Piedmont.

    Sorry to read about your disappointing service onboard. There has been a noticeable decline in AA's standards ever since the merger with US. Some have blamed it on the current management team from US who previous to that came from low cost HP. From my own experience, I noticed that crew tend to be less proactive and more indifferent. I used to think that UA was bad, but lately they have been making some improvements and there are promising developments like the new J cabin.

    Your meals look utterly unappetizing and badly presented. The salad you received is a joke. It is basically an economy one presented on a plate, like the one i had in the back recently from MIA-GIG. Wow! I find the description of the pecan crusted chicken in the meal reservation misleading. It should state that it is a salad.

    The Admiral Clubs in DFW are usually very decent. Too bad that there was no food left by the time you arrived. Great service from the agent there who hopefully restored your faith in AA.

    Hope you guys had fun in LAS.

    • Comment 352672 by
      lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

      Yes, CLT was a Piedmont hub back in the day...we were loyal Piedmont passengers back in the day. In fact, I still remember what the peanut packages look like and us kids were always given Piedmont wings.

      The service and food were indeed quite lousy on this leg of our trip. Luckily, on our return trip, it was a bit better. I have a backlog of reports now as I just got back from SFO and had some fantastic service on most of the legs.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Comment 351963 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5885 Comments

    US Airways always had a big presence in RIC, but you're right that post-merger it seems the US Airways side of AA has grown even more in RIC while the LAA side has shrunk. CLT is a pleasant hub to transfer through, but the problem is that you have to fly on beat up LUS planes to fly through there (some of the newer A321s are fine).

    "Did I mention there were no pre-departure drinks?"
    - No surprise there. the LAA side has always been inconsistent about PDBs. I can't think of a single time in all the DL or US F flights I've taken where PDBs didn't happen under normal circumstances. If the flight was delayed and there was a rush to board FA's would always apologize that they didn't have time to do PDBs. On LAA it's always been hit or miss, though in my recent experience it's gotten better. In the past I've had many flavors of PDB service domestically...from the lack of PDB about 25% of the time, to just water on some flights, to straight up open bar on a handful of flights. On my trip last weekend, it was full open bar for PDB on every flight except for 1 where there was no PDB--I'm assuming open bar is the new policy, which is a positive change.

    "Maybe its just my perception, but this lav was huge compared to more modern aircraft."
    - You're probably right--lavs keep getting smaller as cabins are outfitter more and more densely

    "We went to the Admirals Club in Terminal D and worked with the most efficient and outright awesome agent."
    - I've had the most outstanding agent at the Admirals Club in D.

    Glad they were able to get you on a flight that night! Crisis averted. Gotta get to Vegas to see Céline, because, you know, She's the best singer in ze world! :-P

    • Comment 352673 by
      lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

      Céline is the best singer in ze World! Even I, the non Céline fan, was in awe at that show :)

      We do like connecting at CLT...however the local business community chatter is that we may be getting an RIC-PHX AA route later this year. UA recently started RIC-DEN daily service and its been extremely successful (and subsidized lol). I recently booked my daughter and her grandmother on that flight when they flew to SFO and I got them the last two available seats. From what I understand, that flight is always full. Since our one big western route has been profitable, we're hoping that the PHX chatter we are hearing is true. With that said, you know that any potential RIC-PHX route is going to be on some beat up legacy USAirways A319... But, we recently flew CLT-RIC on a retrofitted A319 which was a huge improvement (report to follow...)

  • Comment 351966 by
    NGO85 1640 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR!

    "jet fuel exhaust smells that you experience even in F."
    - LOL, I personally love this feature of most antiquated airplanes.

    "We brought a car cigarette lighter power adapter with two USB ports and had no problem keeping our phones and tablets charged."
    - And the nostalgia just keeps on rolling!

    The meal trays do look quite pitiful. The lack of an appetizer and the Y-looking salad definitely deflates the meal. The eggplant parmesan especially looks bad in your photos. Definitely not one of AA's finer domestic F performances from a catering and service perspective. Soft-spoken FAs will always be difficult to deal with, makes for too many awkward exchanges where you are guessing what they are saying,

    • Comment 352674 by
      lsmick3 AUTHOR 35 Comments

      Thanks for commenting! It was funny that we used a car cigarette lighter adapter on this flight but, ya know, it worked! Most people just assume that there is no power on these aircraft. These old DC power ports are even available back in Y.

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