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.
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%.
We arrived at LAX T4 at around 1:30pm. Our flight was originally scheduled to leave from Gate 43.
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.
The AA tails lined up at T4.
Picking between the Admiral’s Club in T4 and the OW Lounge in TBIT is a no brainer, we head straight towards TBIT.
SK A330, CA B77W, and BA B744 lined up.
TBIT is quiet in the early afternoon and we head upstairs towards the lounge.
Approaching the lounge, 2 QF agents greet us and scan us in. The lounge is run jointly by QF/CX/BA.
QF had the place decked out in Australian flags and this little guy.
We went into the back corner and took some seats near the fire place.
The lounge was very quiet with just a handful of passengers in it.
Press offerings are just UK and Australian newspapers.
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.
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.
We left the lounge and went to stretch our legs before the flight.
Swinging by our gate, we can see the flight crew heading into the plane. It will be a female captain today.
Some spotting as we walk around TBIT.
LH A346 to MUC in the FC Bayern München special livery.
NH B77W in Star Wars special livery just arrived from HND.
The BA B744 that will be leaving right before us.
Our AA B77W, which was the 1st B77W delivered to AA.
We missed the boarding call during our walk and ended up boarding with Group 3.
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.
The cabin view.
Preplaced on the seat were pillow and blanket.
Seat pitch is of course good in MCE.
Recline is slightly below average since we had a bulkhead behind us.
The IFE screen with USB charging station. AC outlets were located under the seats.
The seatback contents.
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.
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.
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.
The safety video plays as the GE90s come roaring into life with deafening vibrations.
We get towed out past a CA B77W and DL B772.
We taxi off to the other side of the airport giving some spotting at TBIT.
A recent newcomer to LAX: WW A333.
VS B789 that will be making a couple more appearances in this report.
I love this shot, you can see 9 planes in final descent into LAX.
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.
We took a quite unorthodox route and flew straight east towards Phoenix.
Aperitif service was done with pretzels.
It was a bumpy trip across the southern US and meal service finally started as we were passing El Paso.
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…
I just stuck with water with my meal.
The pasta was very poor and the sauce was tasteless. The portionsize is also very small, almost as small as UA’s meals.
Ms. NGO85’s chicken with rice was much better tasting although there was very little chicken in the dish.
The salad was disgusting and was brown in color. I ate the tomato and left the brown lettuce behind.
Condiments and cheese/crackers.
Packaged dessert and rubbery roll, which I also didn’t touch.
Coffee and tea service followed the meal.
The cabin lights were dimmed as we crossed over Abilene and I passed out.
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.
The lavatories were clean, but sparse.
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.
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.
We made land fall after crossing below Wales.
Cloudy day in the UK.
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.
Hey there stranger, the VS B789 that was following us from LAX enters the holding pattern above us.
A TK A333 is below us.
The captain finally comes on and announces we will land in 10 minutes. We exit our holding pattern towards the city center.
We lock onto the Thames to drop into LHR. The O2 Arena is visible.
The London Bridge, the Shard, and the Tower Bridge.
Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
Dropping down as Wembley Stadium is visible in the horizon.
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.
Our final route.
VS B789 from LAX landing right behind us.
Beautiful MS B77W, one of the best liveries out there.
We turn in to join our brethren.
We pull into a gate next to a BA B744 that is pushing back.
The BA B744 is immediately replaced by a BA A380 next door.
We follow the signage towards flight connections.
PK A333 that arrived as we walk towards the buses.
We take the bus bound for T2/T4 since LX uses T2 along with the rest of *A.
I’ll leave of this series here as we take the wild bus ride between terminals.
Los Angeles - LAX
London - LHR
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).
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