Review of American Airlines flight Los Angeles London in Economy

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA 108
Class Economy
Seat 18L
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 10:35
Take-off 27 Jan 17, 16:55
Arrival at 28 Jan 17, 11:30
AA   #50 out of 113 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 481 reviews
NGO85
By 7994
Published on 1st February 2017
Background:

This series covers a recent trip out to Geneva for the weekend to visit Numero_2. With some AA miles to burn before I forfeit my status in February, I decided to use them for a trip to Europe since 45k for a round-trip in Y is pretty good value. The outbound flights were booked separately since I booked a LAX-LHR ticket using EY miles (only 20k miles for the one-way segment) for myself and a LAX-LHR ticket for Ms. NGO85 using AA miles (22.5k miles for the one-segment). The reason I didn’t book the full LAX-LHR-GVA leg is that BA charges outrageous fuel surcharges so it was cheaper to just pay the $5.60 in taxes for the LAX-LHR segment and then book a separate LX one-way ticket for 51 CHF than spend ~$125 in taxes on the LHR-GVA sector. The return flights were booked together as GVA-LHR-LAX on BA/AA for 22.5k miles each to make sure there was some protection on the LHR-LAX sector since the connection for a LX flight would have been very tight for LHR standards (1h 55m). The routing therefore was booked as:

LAX-LHR [AA 108, Boeing B777-300ER, Main Cabin Extra]
LHR-GVA [LX 355, Airbus A320, Economy]
GVA-LHR [BA 725, Airbus A319, Euro Traveller]
LHR-LAX [AA 135, Boeing B777-200ER, Main Cabin Extra]

It turns out picking the BA/AA option was the right choice since we ended up missing our connection in LHR for AA 135 and got protected on BA 269. I wasn’t planning on flying BA, but it turns out it was a nice chance to try their long-haul product for the first time (and an A380 is more comfortable than an ancient AA B772). The final routing therefore was:

Part 1 – LAX-LHR [AA 108, Boeing B777-300ER, Main Cabin Extra] – You are here
Part 2 – LHR-GVA [LX 355, Airbus A320, Economy] – Here
Part 3 – GVA-LHR [BA 725, Airbus A319, Euro Traveller] – Here
Part 4 – LHR-LAX [BA 269, Airbus A380-800, World Traveller] – Here

This report will cover the flight from LAX to LHR aboard a B77W in MCE. The lounge visit will be to the One World Lounge in TBIT.



Pre-flight:

Since the tickets were booked separately, I had to call AA to have Ms. NGO85 moved into MCE, which the agent gladly did without any hassle. We had picked 18J and 18L hoping for an empty middle seat, but it turned out not to be a necessary pre-emptive measure. At OLCI the day before, it was pretty evident this was going to be an empty flight. The load in Y was pitiful at ~30%.

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We arrived at LAX T4 at around 1:30pm. Our flight was originally scheduled to leave from Gate 43.

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With no bags to check and mobile boarding passes, we went straight up to TSA. With PreCheck, I was airside instantly with only 1 other passenger in line.

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The AA tails lined up at T4.

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Picking between the Admiral’s Club in T4 and the OW Lounge in TBIT is a no brainer, we head straight towards TBIT.

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SK A330, CA B77W, and BA B744 lined up.

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TBIT is quiet in the early afternoon and we head upstairs towards the lounge.

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Approaching the lounge, 2 QF agents greet us and scan us in. The lounge is run jointly by QF/CX/BA.

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QF had the place decked out in Australian flags and this little guy.

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We went into the back corner and took some seats near the fire place.

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The lounge was very quiet with just a handful of passengers in it.

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Mac workstations.

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Press offerings are just UK and Australian newspapers.

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The buffet is larger than what is offered in the *A Lounge at LAX. Several hot buffet options along with a wide range of salads, fruits, and desserts.



The beers on tap at the bar.

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My offering.

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I took a shower before we left the lounge. The rooms are decent with a range of Aspar products. The only thing that needs to be improved is offering additional amenities like tooth brushes.



We had a gate change and will now be leaving from Gate 155, so no trek back to T4 for us. You can also see the growing presence of DY at LAX with now 3 flights to LGW, ARN, and OSL.

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We left the lounge and went to stretch our legs before the flight.

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Swinging by our gate, we can see the flight crew heading into the plane. It will be a female captain today.

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Some spotting as we walk around TBIT.

LH A346 to MUC in the FC Bayern München special livery.

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NH B77W in Star Wars special livery just arrived from HND.

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The BA B744 that will be leaving right before us.

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Our AA B77W, which was the 1st B77W delivered to AA.

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We missed the boarding call during our walk and ended up boarding with Group 3.

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————————-

American Airlines, AA 108
Equipment: Boeing B777-300ER [N717AN, delivered December 2012]
Departure: 16:55 (ATD: 17:58)
Arrival: 11:30 (ATA: 12:13)
Flight time: 10:15


Only one jetbridge was engaged at L2 so it was a long backlog to enter the plane. Entering the cabin, we were directed through the galley and to the right. Turning into the MCE mini cabin in 3-3-3 configuration.

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Seat details.

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The cabin view.

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Preplaced on the seat were pillow and blanket.

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Seat pitch is of course good in MCE.

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Recline is slightly below average since we had a bulkhead behind us.

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The IFE screen with USB charging station. AC outlets were located under the seats.

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The seatback contents.

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The downside of MCE is that it is right on top of the wing so views are poor and the engine noise from the GE90s is very bad.

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The IFE is available immediately and the content is okay, no Bond movies, but they did have the Indiana Jones trilogy. Since MCE has such good pitch, the screen appears very small.

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The front doors closed at 16:40 and we just sat there. Finally, the captain came on saying there was a maintenance issue and we were waiting for paperwork. Of course this also means we lost our takeoff position and were stuck sitting there for an additional 30 minutes waiting for pushback. They were 2 dead-heading FAs in the middle of our cabin, this was quite obvious since they were pampered by the FAs while the rest of the cabin was largely ignored during interactions.

We finally push back at 17:25. Our gate has been assigned to NZ 1 next.

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The safety video plays as the GE90s come roaring into life with deafening vibrations.

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We get towed out past a CA B77W and DL B772.

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We taxi off to the other side of the airport giving some spotting at TBIT.

TK B77W.

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DY B788.

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LX B77W.

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A recent newcomer to LAX: WW A333.

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VS B789 that will be making a couple more appearances in this report.

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I love this shot, you can see 9 planes in final descent into LAX.

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We were #2 for take-off and were quickly rumbling down the runway towards the coast. Some repulsive night shots as we veer off to the south away from Santa Monica.

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We took a quite unorthodox route and flew straight east towards Phoenix.

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Aperitif service was done with pretzels.

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It was a bumpy trip across the southern US and meal service finally started as we were passing El Paso.

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The options were chicken or pasta. I went for pasta and Ms. NGO85 went for the chicken. The tray as delivered. Note that the water bottle is only 8oz in size…

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I just stuck with water with my meal.

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The pasta was very poor and the sauce was tasteless. The portionsize is also very small, almost as small as UA’s meals.

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Ms. NGO85’s chicken with rice was much better tasting although there was very little chicken in the dish.

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The salad was disgusting and was brown in color. I ate the tomato and left the brown lettuce behind.

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Condiments and cheese/crackers.

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Packaged dessert and rubbery roll, which I also didn’t touch.

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Coffee and tea service followed the meal.

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The cabin lights were dimmed as we crossed over Abilene and I passed out.

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I woke up halfway across the Atlantic after 5.5h of sound sleep. We apparently took a very southern route across the US exiting from Virginia, just south of DC.

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The lavatories were clean, but sparse.

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I didn’t see the FAs make any runs down the aisles with drinks midflight; they were a poor crew. They all looked frumpy and never smiled during service.

The second “meal” service started as we approached Ireland, about 80 minutes prior to arrival.

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The breakfast served on this 10+ hour flight, which is no different than what they offer on the 5.5-hour JFK-LHR flight. Really poor offering. Yogurt and granola, a muffin top (too cheap to give a full muffin^^), and some dried fruit mix.

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We made land fall after crossing below Wales.

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Cloudy day in the UK.

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The captain came on and announced that we will enter a holding pattern for ~20 minutes. Some views of the country side as we circle around south of the city center.

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Hey there stranger, the VS B789 that was following us from LAX enters the holding pattern above us.

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A TK A333 is below us.

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The captain finally comes on and announces we will land in 10 minutes. We exit our holding pattern towards the city center.

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We lock onto the Thames to drop into LHR. The O2 Arena is visible.

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The London Bridge, the Shard, and the Tower Bridge.

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Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.

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Dropping down as Wembley Stadium is visible in the horizon.

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We have a really poor landing. The right landing gear hit and we leaned for ~5 second before the left landing gear thudded on the ground and we came to a bumpy stop.

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Our final route.

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BA A380.

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AH A332.

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VS B789 from LAX landing right behind us.

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Beautiful MS B77W, one of the best liveries out there.

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We turn in to join our brethren.

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We pull into a gate next to a BA B744 that is pushing back.

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The BA B744 is immediately replaced by a BA A380 next door.

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Deplaning.

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We follow the signage towards flight connections.

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PK A333 that arrived as we walk towards the buses.

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We take the bus bound for T2/T4 since LX uses T2 along with the rest of *A.

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I’ll leave of this series here as we take the wild bus ride between terminals.
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

5.9/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew5.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering3.0

Los Angeles - LAX

7.6/10
Efficiency8.0
Access5.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.5

London - LHR

7.8/10
Efficiency6.0
Access7.0
Services9.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Not a very impressive display at all by AA on what should be considered an important route for them. Cabin comfort is fairly good on the B77Ws in MCE, but the same cannot be said for the 3-4-3 configuration in the rear Y cabins. Catering is very underwhelming with small portions and a lack of quality. The option not to serve a hot second meal on a 10+ hour flight is very shameful (this flight is longer than). AA crews are hit or miss and this crew was in a uniformly bad mood with any lack of emotion. Even with a light load, their service was poor with no smiles or small talk offered. My decision to leave the AA FFP for will not be second-guessed after this final flight on AA metal.

Cabin comfort: The mini-cabin for MCE in 3-3-3 configuration is very quiet with a bulkhead separating it from the rest of the Y cabin in 3-4-3 configuration. B77Ws on the wing are always noisy so you better bring noise-cancelling headphones. No amenities are offered or available beyond the earbuds. MCE seats have good seat pitch, these seats however, have questionable value at the price of $150.

Crew: A very drab crew. They seemed cold and disinterested in the passengers (other than the 2 dead-heading FAs in our cabin, who they spent large portions of the boarding processes and pre-arrival talking with). I didn’t see any of the FAs smiling and service was a cold “chicken or pasta” without any pleasantries.

Meal and catering: The dinner service was below-average for a Y meal. The tray is not very full. The main is small portion-size and the pasta I had was not very good at all (the chicken meal was decent). The salad was disgusting since it had browned lettuce. The use of packaged breads, packaged desserts, and processed cheeses just brings down the overall quality of the meal. No mid-flight snacks offered. The pre-arrival meal on a 10+ hour flight should be a hot meal, offering a cold snack box with sparse contents is bad. Not all US-UK flight are equal in length and treating LAX-LHR like JFK-LHR is unacceptable.

Entertainment: No newspapers offered. Standard seatback content. The IFE is the industry standard in size and USB/AC connections are available. I didn’t check the WiFi connections on this flight. The content was broad in range, but I didn’t find too much of interest (personal taste).

Information on the route Los Angeles (LAX) London (LHR)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 19 reviews of 4 airlines on the route Los Angeles (LAX) → London (LHR).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Virgin Atlantic with 8.0/10.

The average flight time is 10 hours and 26 minutes.

  More information

16 Comments

  • Comment 384178 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    Sounds like a very sub par flight on AA

  • Comment 384196 by
    Numero_2 9987 Comments

    Thanks Michael ! ^^

    How come you got the idea to come to Switzerland in winter ? :p

    What a poor AA product : I think the return flight with BA was better than this !

    • Comment 384422 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "How come you got the idea to come to Switzerland in winter ? :p" <== Because we don't get winter in LAX :P

      "What a poor AA product : I think the return flight with BA was better than this !" <== You might be surprised at the result of your hypothesis, coming soon^^

      Merci Clement for arranging our dinner^^

  • Comment 384210 by
    Razza_Pr 216 Comments

    Hello, NGO85, and thank you for this FR!

    Yikes. And here I thought American Airlines is the most consistent out of the US Big 3. Though the one thing that bothers me most is actually at the end of this FR.. How was it possible 2 British Airways wide-bodies parked at T3? I haven't been to Heathrow for a good few months, but unless there was a major reconstruction I missed out on, I must not have known about this terminal-sharing (?) facility.

    I did not expect the load to be very light, though. After checking on Skyscanner, it looks like NZ, VS, and BA offer lower prices (and perhaps, somewhat higher quality). I don't really know what else to say regarding this matter, just somewhat taken aback..

    Abysmal food for a 10+ hour flight! Apparently the most profitable airline on the planet is too stingy to offer better products. Did they even distribute menu cards?

    Thanks again for this FR! Looking forward to reading the next ones :)

    • Comment 384423 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "And here I thought American Airlines is the most consistent out of the US Big 3."
      - Almost anyone that has sampled all the US carriers will tell you that DL is by far the best of the Big 3. AA and UA battle it out for worst^^

      "How was it possible 2 British Airways wide-bodies parked at T3?"
      - BA uses T3 for some of its international flights since late 2015, I think it is because T5 isn't large enough for them. You can see the list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathrow_Terminal_3

      "After checking on Skyscanner, it looks like NZ, VS, and BA offer lower prices"
      - NZ/VS are definitely the best products on this route. The return on BA was even more empty so it might just be a low season for LAX-LHR traffic?

      "Abysmal food for a 10+ hour flight!" <== Really, really bad. The entire dinner service was bad and the pre-arrival snack lacked a hot item like on VS.

      "Did they even distribute menu cards?" <== Only seen a menu card on AA on the LAX-SYD route (to mimic QF).

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Comment 384245 by
    BenChDC 5 Comments

    It must be really low season for flights from LAX-LHR. I was on the United flight on January 19th and the load in economy was also about 30%. It was about 80% full in business but it sounded like there were a lot of 1Ks who used their upgrades on the flight. I don't know if United serves a hot breakfast in economy on this route but I asked for the lobster mac and cheese, which was one of the snack options rather than the eggs, and the flight attendant brought out two for me because she said the portions were small. One was actually more than enough.

    • Comment 384424 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      "It must be really low season for flights from LAX-LHR."
      - The return flight on AA was empty in Y (based on the seat map) and the BA flight we actually took was also empty. The J cabins were full. The upgrade list was pretty long for this flight so I have a feeling lots of elites capitalized on the light J load to upgrade.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my FR!

  • Comment 384260 by
    757Fan 595 Comments

    Great report, NGO85. Looks like a very average (or below average) flight with AA. Come on, AA, that meal looks really bad. The salad? Wow.

    "The outbound flights were booked separately since I booked a LAX-LHR ticket using EY miles (only 20k miles for the one-way segment) for myself and a LAX-LHR ticket for Ms. NGO85 using AA miles (22.5k miles for the one-segment). The reason I didn’t book the full LAX-LHR-GVA leg is that BA charges outrageous fuel surcharges so it was cheaper to just pay the $5.60 in taxes for the LAX-LHR segment and then book a separate LX one-way ticket for 51 CHF than spend ~$125 in taxes on the LHR-GVA sector."

    Sounds complicated!

    "We had picked 18J and 18L hoping for an empty middle seat, but it turned out not to be a necessary pre-emptive measure. At OLCI the day before, it was pretty evident this was going to be an empty flight. The load in Y was pitiful at ~30%."

    This is amazing. With all the flying domestically I do with DL, I can barely find a flight where every seat is not taken ... I would be surprised that a flight like this would be packed. I wonder why this is?

    • Comment 384426 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by Matt!

      "The salad? Wow." <== Couldn't have said it better. I was almost tempted to ask the FA if she would eat this...

      "Sounds complicated!" <== Not really, just trying to avoid the outrageous fuel surcharges imposed by BA. For example, LAX-LHR-GVA all on BA metal is $350 in taxes for a one-way ticket. You are better off just buying a revenue ticket!

      "This is amazing. With all the flying domestically I do with DL, I can barely find a flight where every seat is not taken ... "
      - I haven't been on a flight this empty in a loooong time, my experiences are the same as you where loads are almost always 95+%. The return on BA was just as empty (<40% load) and the AA flight we were supposed to take was also really empty (<30% load). It might just be low season for London?

  • Comment 384269 by
    KL651 TEAM 4505 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    The dinner is indeed on the small side, however I find the breakfast pretty good quantity wise, though a hot entree would be welcome.
    It's been a while since we last saw such a bad AA crew here. There has been an improvement overal it seems though.

    • Comment 384428 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by KL651^^

      "I find the breakfast pretty good quantity wise, though a hot entree would be welcome."
      - This is a lot smaller than the breakfast box given on DL (JFK-MAD) last month. A hot breakfast sandwich should be given (similar to VS). The dinner service was just bad in terms of both quantity and quality. You'll see the "new" BA catering on the return leg, which isn't too much better in terms of quantity, but had improved quality.

      "It's been a while since we last saw such a bad AA crew here. There has been an improvement overal it seems though."
      - Compared to BA, the AA crews are must worse. BA doesn't offer too much better in-flight service, but a good crew helps make up for a subpar experience.

  • Comment 384309 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Sometimes a missed connection doesn't hurt all that much, especially when you get re-booked to another flight with a better hard product (return).

    Nice spotting shots at LAX! Great catch of that SK 333 heading out to ARN at 02:15 PM PST.

    Excellent catch of that NH 77W in the BB-8 livery.

    Wonderful shots taken at sunset and after sunset.

    I like the contemporary look of this cabin.

    The food offering does not look good for a flight of this length. The portion of the first meal reminds me of QR's Y portions, basically not enough. The second meal is lacking a lot, the status of an actual meal is one of them.

    Pretty cool to catch that same VS 789 in LHR, beautiful aerial shots before landing.

    I'm glad the flight wasn't delayed by too much with the connection on LX in consideration.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 384429 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by RI777!

      "Sometimes a missed connection doesn't hurt all that much, especially when you get re-booked to another flight with a better hard product (return)."
      - I'll explain the story in the upcoming FRs, but it was all handled very well to where we were re-booked as soon as our layover dropped below 90 minutes.

      "Nice spotting shots at LAX! Great catch of that SK 333 heading out to ARN at 02:15 PM PST."
      - This is on my bucketlist of *A flights to try ex-LAX, just waiting for reasonable fares.

      "I like the contemporary look of this cabin."
      - Of the Big 3, I do think AA has the best looking cabins (slightly better looking than DL). The black cabins on the narrow-bodies and these dark blue seats on the B77Ws look good.

      "The portion of the first meal reminds me of QR's Y portions, basically not enough."
      - But I bet the quality of QR's meal is much better^^ I was once very critical of SK's service on CPH-NRT, but thinking back, even this AA catering is much worse.

      "Pretty cool to catch that same VS 789 in LHR, beautiful aerial shots before landing."
      - Ms. NGO85 took VS on LAX-LHR last summer and said that all aspects of VS were better than AA (other than the bad nightclub vibes they have).

      "I'm glad the flight wasn't delayed by too much with the connection on LX in consideration."
      - It was getting a little nervous as we sat there at LAX waiting for takeoff, but the T3-T2 connection is one of the shortest and we already had BPs so we weren't too concerned about a 3h layover. We ended up having 45 minutes between clearing security and boarding so it was fine in the end.

  • Comment 384382 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Hi Michael and thanks for sharing this FR.

    "With PreCheck, I was airside instantly with only 1 other passenger in line."
    - It makes all the difference in the world and I'm glad that I have that and Global entry. I wish that more foreign carriers participate in the TSA Pre-Check program though. When I flew with BA and CM I had to wait in the regular line and that was a pain.

    "Picking between the Admiral’s Club in T4 and the OW Lounge in TBIT is a no brainer, we head straight towards TBIT."
    - In terms of catering I find the Oneworld lounge to be much better than the *A one - more variety and better selections. I also get the impression that staff are more proactive in keeping the buffet items stocked and surrounding area cleaned up.

    You were lucky that you got a semi empty flight. Every time that I have flown AA it's been full.

    Of the 3 U.S. legacy carriers, AA has the worst food in longhaul Y. Even UA's quality is better these days.

    • Comment 384432 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by Adan!

      "It makes all the difference in the world and I'm glad that I have that and Global entry."
      - Ms. NGO85 doesn't have TSA PreCheck so she took 25 minutes longer to clear security. The difference is very noticeable and it is well worth the time/effort to enroll. GlobalEntry also really pays off when using the crew customs line, I always find LAX to have long customs lines.

      "I also get the impression that staff are more proactive in keeping the buffet items stocked and surrounding area cleaned up."
      - This time, I had to wait 10 minutes for someone to show up at the shower kiosk, but otherwise I agree with your comment that the dining area is much better maintained. The only problem I have is that the food seems identical to what they had when I last was there a couple of months ago. They need more diversity in their food.

      "Every time that I have flown AA it's been full." <== Normally this is always true, but for some reason LAX-LHR routes are very light this time of year. The return flights were just as empty, I got an EconomyFlatBed seat on the way back^^

      "Of the 3 U.S. legacy carriers, AA has the worst food in longhaul Y. Even UA's quality is better these days."
      - I agree 100%, I'll gladly admit UA has better catering than AA. DL still offers the best in terms of service (UA catering might also be higher quality than DL these days).

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