Review of American Airlines flight San Juan Charlotte in Business

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA1852
Class Business
Seat 4F
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 04:05
Take-off 19 Feb 18, 15:45
Arrival at 19 Feb 18, 18:50
AA   #71 out of 133 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 412 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 1586
Published on 20th May 2018
Hello and welcome to the 2nd and last report in this short new series.

Every year we choose a different destination for the U.S. Presidents' day Holiday weekend. In past years we've squeezed far flung destinations in Europe or the Middle East into a long weekend; however, with a busy travel year ahead, this time we decided on Puerto Rico as it's a relatively short flight from the East Coast. Puerto Rico's tourism industry has taken quite a hit since the devastation brought by two Category 5 hurricanes in the fall of 2017, so this felt like one small way of contributing to the recovery. Just a few months after the hurricanes, "La isla del encanto" was as charming as ever and I was impressed by the resilience of the Puerto Rican people I met, many of whom still had no electricity in late February.

Although I believe US Airways may have previously flown DCA-SJU nonstop, there are currently no nonstops with American Airlines so we had to connect through one of AA's East Coast hubs. I specifically routed through PHL on the outbound flight for the A330–I love that AA frequently flies widebodies domestically and to the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, I was not able to make an A330 routing work on the return flight so I just took the most conventient timing which would take us through CLT, another PMUS hub.

Reports in this series:

Philadelphia PHL ✈ San Juan SJU | American Airlines, A330-200, Business Class
San Juan, PR SJU ✈ Charlotte CLT | American Airlines, A321-200, Business Class

photo dca-sju routing
It almost looks like the Bermuda Triangle doesn't it?

Pre-flight & Lounge



This report will be very short as I hadn't originally intended on doing a Flight-Report on a boring LUS (Legacy US Airways) A321 domestic flight. I decided to post a quick report as it seems there aren't any recent reviews of LUS A321s since the cabins have been updated in the post-merger AA style. For comparison, here is a recent report I did on an LAA domestic A321 [spoiler: the LAA A321 offers a better experience]

We arrived at the airport about two hours prior to departure to drop off the rental car. Rental cars at SJU are located in the garage right across from the terminal, which is very convenient. Without checked bags, we headed straight to security–we were through quickly with TSA Pre✔️

After some duty free shopping, we visited the Avianca lounge (operated by Global Lounge network), which can be accessed with Priority Pass. The lounge is on the small side and was very crowded, but we were able to find some free seats in one of the quiet rooms, away from the crowded main area. Again, not really intending on doing a report, I didn't take any pictures. Overall, despite the crowds, the lounge was comfortable with decent food and drink options for a domestic lounge. The food was nothing fancy, but there were some hot options with a pasta bar and meatballs in marinara sauce.

Boarding & The Flight



The lounge wasn't too far from our gate and we arrived just as boarding began. The cabin has been refitted in the post-merger AA grey. Although not the most exciting of colors, the cabin looks much nicer than it did in the US Airways days, in my opinion. You can see the PMUS cabin in this report I wrote a few years ago.

My seat in the last row of the premium cabin.

photo 2018-02-19_18-14-25_084

For those not based in North America, U.S. carriers normally market the premium cabin as "First class" on domestic flights and "Business class" on shorter regional international flights operated with narrowbody aircraft. The premium cabin on flights to and from the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are marketed as Business class despite being domestic flights–confusing, huh?

photo 2018-02-19_14-39-58_076

Parked at the gate next door is an internationally configured B757-200 with new lie-flat seats in Business. The 752, which operates the evening flight to PHL, would have been a good option, unfortunately, we bought our tickets last minute and the premium cabin was already full.

photo 2018-02-19_14-23-32_504

As per usual U.S. carrier protocol on domestic flights, pre-departure drinks were served in plastic cups. One thing with flying on LUS metal on domestic flight, is you know you'll get a PDB, which can still be hit-or-miss on LAA metal, though it's getting much better.

I had a mimosa

photo 2018-02-19_14-38-29_366

Decent legroom with the standard 38"

photo 2018-02-19_14-40-38_986

Though the seats are wide, well-padded, and generally comfortable, there is no in-seat power. It's a real shame not having any power to charge devices considering that there's no IFE. AA is progressively installing in-seat power throughout the LUS domestic fleet, but it will be at least two years before the work is completed.

We pushed back on time and taxi time to the runway was quick.

JetBlue A320 in special FDNY livery as we line up for takeoff.

photo 2018-02-19_14-52-27_025photo 2018-02-19_14-52-44_540

Takeoff

photo 2018-02-19_14-53-53_164photo 2018-02-19_14-53-58_135

Bye Puerto Rico, hasta la próxima!

photo 2018-02-19_14-54-17_484photo 2018-02-19_14-54-39_438

Our Aircraft's shadow in the clouds surrounded by a rainbow halo

photo 2018-02-19_14-57-36_856photo 2018-02-19_14-57-38_424

The service began shortly after takeoff with warm nuts and pre-dinner drinks to start

photo 2018-02-19_15-47-01_582

There may be no IFE, but there's a nice view out the window on a sunny day.

photo 2018-02-19_16-36-45_758

For dinner there was a choice of chicken pesto with green beans or a vegetarian pasta option. I chose the chicken; it was fine, though more pesto would have been nice.

photo 2018-02-19_16-18-12_666

The appetizer of smoked salmon and salmon mousse was very good.

photo 2018-02-19_16-18-16_358

Main dish

photo 2018-02-19_16-18-19_215

A rather rich chocolate cheesecake for dessert accompanied by a Bailey's on the rocks.

photo 2018-02-19_16-41-42_418

After dinner, I took a quick nap and woke up as we were making out descent into Charlotte.

The sun was setting as we descended.

photo 2018-02-19_17-46-00_921

We landed very early and arrived at the gate over 30 minutes early. I guess we had good winds that day!

photo 2018-02-19_18-11-08_335photo 2018-02-19_18-13-40_090

Thanks for reading this very short report! See you soon for a new series to a much colder destination.


↓ Puerto Rico Tourism Bonus below ↓


Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

6.5/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi4.0
Meal/catering7.5

Avianca operated by Global Lounge

7.3/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services7.0

San Juan - SJU

7.9/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Charlotte - CLT

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

The AA premium cabin experience to and from Puerto Rico is inconsistent to say the least. On flights or similar length, I've experience the best and the worst that AA has to offer. The LUS A321, with no IFE or in-seat power, offers a very basic experience compared to the outbound flight's long-haul lie-flat Business class seat with IFE, power, etc. Despite the shortcomings of the hard-product, the flight was generally pleasant. The seat itself is just fine for a 3 hour flight and the catering was decent--I particularly enjoyed the salmon starter. The cabin crew were friendly and attentive throughout the flight.

Related

8 Comments

  • Comment 445966 by
    loukas SILVER 306 Comments

    Hi Kevin, thanks for this report with nice bonus pics. San Juan looks indeed really European, especially the castle (If it wasn't for the colour of water and palm trees, I would say it's somewhere in Ireland or Scotland) and the church. The pesto chicken should be called just "chicken" as you need good glasses to see the pesto ;) The plane shadow combined with halo looks simply great! Have a good one!

    • Comment 446216 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4934 Comments

      Hi Loukas! Thanks for your comments as always!

      "San Juan looks indeed really European, especially the castle (If it wasn't for the colour of water and palm trees, I would say it's somewhere in Ireland or Scotland)"
      - Yep! Personally, San Juan reminds me a lot of Lisbon.

      "The pesto chicken should be called just "chicken" as you need good glasses to see the pesto ;) "
      - Haha, so true!

      Thanks for stopping by :-)

  • Comment 445987 by
    KL651 TEAM 4454 Comments

    Thanks for this FR gurrrl.
    Well clearly this is not as good a flight as the one on the A330 but the soft product still makes for a pretty nice experience.
    But they should offer some tablets to those first class passengers.
    Nice bnus on Puerto Rico, seems really interesting!

    • Comment 446218 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4934 Comments

      Yep, at least the soft product is consistent! And as much as people complain about AA catering, for the most part, I've found it better than DL on domestic. Yeah tablets would be nice...but I'd just be happy with at least some charging ports!

  • Comment 446173 by
    socalnow GOLD 915 Comments

    Thanks for the report Kevin. The bonus shots of San Juan are gorgeous. What a bland and basic aircraft cabin. The meal looked particularly substantial for domestic F. Thanks for sharing and happy flying.

    • Comment 446221 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4934 Comments

      Thanks for your comments socalnow!

      "The bonus shots of San Juan are gorgeous."
      - I had to spice up this otherwise boring mini-report somehow :-P
      It is a beautiful city, and being European in the U.S. I appreciate that old world feel

      "The meal looked particularly substantial for domestic F"
      - Like I was saying to KL651, so many people complain about AA domestic F catering, but for the most part, I find it to be above average. I remember the days of cost-cutting after 2008 when you were lucky to get a dry sandwich in domestic F on DL on a 3-4 hour domestic flight. Except for the recent UA domestic F catering cuts that were announced, just to be retracted a few days later following popular outcry, the US carriers have been positively trending in the premium cabin Passenger Experience department, notably with catering, over the past few years.

      As I've mentioned before, with so much consolidation and price matching, the US3 can only really differentiate themselves on service anymore. Kind of like they did in the pre-regulation days. If anything, I think United's recent failed cutbacks is a good sign the US3 will continue to improve the premium cabin experience. Cost cutting, doesn't fly anymore, especially after several years of record profits.

  • Comment 448425 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    “JetBlue A320 in special FDNY livery”
    Nice catch.

    Wonderful aerial shots after departure.

    “chicken pesto”
    For a second or two I believed the chicken cut was a piece of bread.

    “This report will be very short as I hadn't originally intended on doing a Flight-Report”
    Nonetheless, it seemed like a complete report to me :).

    “The famous Arecibo Observatory featured in several films including Contact and Golden Eye”
    My mind just stalled for a moment, when looking at this picture. I knew it looked familiar but I couldn’t steer my memory towards the right direction. However after further inspection everything became clear. The map “Rogue Transmission” in Battlefield 4 is actually inspired by this observatory, I have played on that map multiple times. Great shots! It’s really cool to see it from your pictures.

    Have a good one, see you.

Login to post a comment.