Review of American Airlines flight Miami Panamá City in Business

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA1021
Class Business
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 03:10
Take-off 27 May 16, 09:45
Arrival at 27 May 16, 11:55
AA   #75 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 444 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 1526
Published on 16th November 2016
Hello and welcome to this 2nd segment in another series of flights with American Airlines. A group of 5 of us traveled to Panama for a long weekend at the beach over the Memorial day holiday. All 5 in the group were in First/Business class, having booked a package though AA Vacations. The early morning departure from Washington Dulles would allow us to get to the resort in plenty of time to have some beach time on arrival.


Here is the routing:

Washington IAD ✈ Miami MIA | American Airlines, B737-800, Domestic First Class
Miami MIA ✈ Panama City PTY | American Airlines, B737-800, Business Class
Panama City PTY ✈ Miami MIA | American Airlines, B737-800, Business Class
Miami MIA ✈ Washington IAD | American Airlines, B737-800, Domestic First Class

We had arrived on one end of the large AA Concourse D and needed to get to the other end for our connecting flight so we took the MIA SkyTrain.

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Some planespotting along the way.

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B777-200ER

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B737-800

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I would expect to see something like this more at SFO than MIA

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Wit a little under an hour before boarding, we headed to the Admirals Club by Gate D37.

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The lounge is large but it was undergoing renovations at the time and large sections were closed so there weren't many available seats.

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We found some seats in a windowless section in the back.

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I walked by the buffet area but didn't get anything since I knew we'd be having lunch onboard shortly.

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Just ended up getting a sparkling wine

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After a quick stay in the lounge, we headed to the gate. We took the MIA SkyTrain once again.

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I stepped off the train into a scene from The Little Mermaid :-P
♫ Under the Sea ♪

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Boarding had already started when we arrived at the gate. We walked up to the Priority Access line and boarded straight away.

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My seat in the bulkhead. 4 of us sat in the bulkhead with one in the the row behind.

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Decent legroom in the first row; much better than on DL 737s

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In this round of the AA Pre-departure drink lottery, we lost. No PDB service at all. AA is so inconsistent with PDBs, though admittedly, I've noticed they've gotten better about it over the past few months.

The Safety video, naturally subtitled in Spanish, played after the doors were closed.

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We pushed back a few minutes later.

A beautiful day for planespotting. 757s look gorgeous in the new AA colors.

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New A319 with sharklets,

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B767-300 in the old colors

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Lots of the new A319s down here in MIA

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Ligning up for takeoff of Runway 8R

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Nice view of Concourse D and the large AA operations on takeoff



We flew over the new-ish Marlins Park

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And were treated to some great views of downtown Miami. The beginning of a very scenic flight.



Rickenbacker Causeway



Flying over the Florida Keys

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Shortly after we were over Cuba; more specifically, over the Varadero Peninsula.

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The town of Cardenas, just across the Bay

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The lunch service began a good 45 minutes into the flight with warm nuts and drinks.

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The lovely views continue through lunch with this circular lagoon on the South coast of Cuba off Ciénaga de Zapata

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Beautiful clear water around the Canarreos Archipelago, Cuba. I'm really glad direct scheduled air service has been restored between the U.S. and Cuba–looking forward to discovering these beautiful places one day.

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I had pre-ordered the main online and went for the pasta.

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The salad was nothing special, unsurprisingly, but the ravioli was tasty.

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Ravioli main

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Pretzel bread

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Uninspiring red wine, never surprising on medium-haul.

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Warm cookie for dessert. The flight is not long enough to warrant a real dessert, but I like warm chocolate chip cookies, so no complaints.

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Throughout the meal service there had been a constant parade of passengers coming up from the Y cabin to use the J lavatory. Before you call me a snob, I understand that when the cart is in the aisle in the back, you basically have no choice but use the front lav, and I normally don't care when a few people need to use the front lav. But on this flight there was a constant line of people from Y in the aisle in the J cabin. Normally FAs try to hold the line back at the curtain, but they just let the line form in the aisle. When there was finally a break in the line, a woman sitting in J got upset and expressed her displeasure to the 2 FAs working up front. While she was in the lav, yet another 2 people came up from Y. At this point I'd been waiting patiently for about a half hour to use the lav. Finally when the lav was free, the lead FA stops me and places a cart to block access to the galley–I knew that this meant someone from the flight deck needed to use the lav. The lead FA told me I could use the lav in the back—ummm, no, after all this time and having to wait for all these people, I wasn't about to go all the way to the back. Just as a matter of principle, if anything.

It became neverending torture at this point and I was getting pretty frustrated. Once the FA removed the cart, I let out a sigh and exclaimed in frustration "Ugh finally, I've been waiting over a half hour!" to which the lead FA responded with attitude "Don't take it out on me, I just work here!"…O…M…G….did he seriously just say that to me!?!?! I know my tone wasn't particularly pleasant but I have never been spoken to in such an unprofessional way; I was shocked. If a New York taxi driver or hot dog vendor spoke to me that way I would shrug my shoulders, but you expect much more professionalism from a Flight Attendant, especially in a premium cabin. Meanwhile the lady that had previously been complaining was also in the galley and continued expressing her displeasure–basically she was ranting at this point. The lead FA was explaining that the carts in the aisle in Y block access to the rear lav. I could tell that the lead FA was starting to get upset from having several passengers expressing their frustration, so I apologized to him for my previous tone and told him I understood he was in an awkward position, but expressed that I had found his reaction to be very unprofessional. He didn't respond and just rolled his eyes, then walked out of the galley to go to the back Economy galley for the remainder of the flight. Wow, again, totally unprofessional. I've worked in the airline industry in the past and have dealt with much more difficult passengers. Never would I have walked away or made such rude remarks as he had. I understand that we're all human and everyone has a bad day, but such a poor and bitter attitude reflects badly on AA–just totally unacceptable.

For the rest of the flight, about an hour of flying time, the service was essentially non-existent since the FA was hiding in the back.

First sight of land as we were making our descent into PTY.

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Caught a glimpse of the Panama Canal and some interior lakes.

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And here we are over Panama City. Too bad it was cloudy.

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Panama City is an impressive sprawling metropolis.



We landed a bit early

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Lots of Copa around, of course.
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Special Panama football livery

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It was a long walk to the chaotic arrivals area where it was quite an adventure finding the rental car shuttle. But soon enough, we were on our way to the beach.

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Thanks for reading!

Short Tourism Bonus



On the way to the beach, we took the time to visit the Panama Canal with huge cargo ships navigating the waterway.

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Our All-inclusive resort was a two hour drive southwest of Panama City on the Pacific Coast in Playa Blanca, near Rio Hato.

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Self-serve complimentary liquor in full-size bottles. Fun times ^^

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The view from the balcony.

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Pleasant white and volcanic black sand beach.


See more

Verdict

American Airlines

6.1/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew3.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering7.5

American Airlines Admirals Club (Concourse D)

5.8/10
Comfort4.5
Meal/catering4.5
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services7.0

Miami - MIA

6.8/10
Efficiency6.0
Access6.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.0

Panamá City - PTY

6.4/10
Efficiency6.5
Access6.0
Services6.5
Cleanliness6.5

Conclusion

If it weren't for the rude and unprofessional FA, it would have been a much better experience overall. Although I seriously considered sending in a complaint, I decided against it as I know everyone can have an off day. I will note, however, that in many years as a Delta frequent flyer, I had never encountered any issues like this with FAs. Although the vast majority of AA FAs are great, I've run into this type of unprofessional behavior several times.

Generally, the hard product and catering are decent. PTVs would be nice on a 3 hour flight, but aren't an absolute necessity. Also, having more than 2 choices for lunch would be nice.

Related

13 Comments

  • Comment 374391 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    You should send in a complaint. That was beyond unprofessional to just plain rude. And especially after YOU apologised to him!

  • Comment 374397 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Hi Kevin.

    PTY is the flavor of the month!

    What a fiasco with the WC situation in F. The fault lies on the FA for not telling people to wait behind the curtain and enforcing the use of the FC WC once the service in the back was completed. On top of that he gave you attitude which is totally uncalled for. I would have written that letter of complaint.

    No choice of meals from MIA-PTY? I bet CM gives you one in their J cabin and a better dessert too.

    "Panama City is an impressive sprawling metropolis."
    - Someone told me that a lot of those buildings are vacant. Anyways it sure looks impressive when you land in PTY the first time. Too bad the airport is such a dump.

    Nice bonus. Looks like you enjoyed PTY.

    Thanks for sharing this nice FR.

    • Comment 374673 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5224 Comments

      Thanks for your comments Adan! It is a PTY kind of week, I see you've posted a bunch of PTY reports as well. Though I guess for you it makes sense that you go so often. Yes, it was a rather unpleasant situation with the FA, that's for sure. Yes, there was a choice of meals. It was between a grilled chicken cobb salad and the ravioli that I had selected online. It would just be nice to have a 3rd choice. Surprising to hear that a lot of the big building may be empty--I guess they got a little build-happy in PTY. Yes, that airport is a dump, for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 374631 by
    Caribel 113 Comments

    My guess is that particular flight had a large amount of employees and family traveling, so the FA was unwilling to anger them to preserve class of service privileges. The lack of a desert is because the flight departed during snack period.

    AA does not investigate or follow-up pax complaints regarding crew behavior. Your only recourse is to speak to the gate manager upon arrival and insist on a customer recovery voucher offer. The more of those that are issued on a particular route the more the airline monitors.

    Great scenic pics! Try visit Las Perlas archipelago sometime.

    • Comment 374675 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5224 Comments

      Hi Caribel, thanks for your comments. I wouldn't be surprised if you are right that the flight had a lot of non-revs. And they would have all been in the back because J was full for days before the departure.

      AA must have recently changed their meal policy--the page on AA.com that used to list the details has disappeared so that may be the case. As far as I knew, whether you get a real dessert or not depended on the distance, there weren't previously any snack periods between 0900 and 2000, but that may have changed. From 0500-0859 Breakfat, then 0900-1459 for lunch service and 1500-1959 DInner--snacks only after that (though recently I had a dinner service on a Redeye from LAX to IAD so that seems to have changed too). Previously the flight had to be at least 1299 miles to get a dessert--MIA-PTY is only 1151 miles so I figured that's why I didn't have a dessert. But again, I wouldn't be surprised if the meal policy changed again; it's changed several times since the merger.

      "AA does not investigate or follow-up pax complaints regarding crew behavior"
      - They really should--every other airline does. They would at least have to investigate DOT complaints, but crew behavior doesn't really warrant a DOT complaint. I guess this is why some crew feel that they can talk to pax however they feel. But anyway, i didn't want to make a big deal out of it, which is why I didn't send a complaint--and now knowing that they don't investigate, it sounds like it's not worth giving them feedback anyway since they'll just ignore it.

      I would love to visit Las Perlas archipelago one day when I can spend more time in Panama. Also would love to go up to Bocas del Toro.

      • Comment 374764 by
        NGO85 1622 Comments

        "AA does not investigate or follow-up pax complaints regarding crew behavior"
        - I double Caribel's comment. Every complaint I've ever made to AA has been met with an immediate e-mail within 5 minutes with a canned response, suggesting that they aren't even read. The one time I complained to OZ regarding a hard-product issue, I had to wait a week for a response, but they provided details of a full investigation into the complaint and included a statement from the purser from the flight and referenced the cabin inspection on arrival to confirm my complaint. Some airlines care about their customers, and some don't...

  • Comment 374640 by
    HeathrowAviation 14 Comments

    Fantastic pictures!

  • Comment 374765 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for sharing Kevin!

    “I would expect to see something like this more at SFO than MIA”
    - There is plenty of love to go around ;)

    “We found some seats in a windowless section in the back.”
    - I just hate how the chairs offer no privacy. The US Lounges need to hire some interior designers to better lay out the seating areas in a more practical manner.

    Bad luck getting the old B738 cabin on this international flight, MIA-PTY is short, but IFE should be expected.

    Spectacular aerials on departure, you really can see how much MIA and PTY have in common, the modern skyscrapers on the water front are now in both cities. What lens so you have on your camera, very clear shots of the water mid-flight.

    The main looks good, for a pasta dish it really looks well presented. Shame they don’t offer a real starter like on longer international routes. AA definitely offers better food than CM on PTY routes. They really need to dump the Coca-Cold branded napkins…

    So Toiletgate finally appears. I think you were completely right to be pissed, it is ridiculous for it to be exploited unless it was an emergency. I’ve been on flights where the FAs had refused passengers from using the forward lavatory even with the cart blocking the aisle. I actually had the reverse experience on one of my CM flights (left it out of the report). A family of 6 in J, decided to use the forward lavatory one after each other to change and each one took 7-10 minutes in the lavatory. I got pissed and went to the Y lavatory. The FA saw me about to walk into the lavatory and told me I couldn’t use it, that I was only allowed to use the lavatory for my cabin… I blew up at her, since there was no one using or waiting for the Y lavatories. I didn’t bother complaining to CM since I knew it would be fruitless.

    Awesome aerial shot of the interior locks^^ I wish I had rented a car to drive to see those as well. The Miraflores Locks are just nice because they are close to the city. Did you bring any tubing and needs to make those bottles into an IV line?

  • Comment 374768 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Beautiful spotting shots at MIA, stunning lighting and great angles!

    Absolutely fantastic aerial shots! Breathtaking.

    “I stepped off the train into a scene from The Little Mermaid :-P”
    - Niice!

    I am sorry to hear about your experience with that FA, the first encounter was bad enough and then you get a "response" like that after you apologize?? Shocking......, it's extremely nice of you to have some understanding in that context but that kind of behaviour is just ridiculous...

    The meal looks alright.

    Amazing shots before arrival and great spotting shots from PTY.

    Wonderful bonus at the end, thanks for sharing.

    Have a good one, see you!

  • Comment 375078 by
    757Fan 584 Comments

    Thanks for sharing, Kevin! Great views of Miami and Panama City. My wife and loved our trip to Panama last year, so it was great to see photos from your trip there.

    Sorry to hear about your experience with AA in J.

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