Review of American Airlines flight Los Angeles Houston in First

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA2818
Class First
Seat 6A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 02:45
Take-off 01 Dec 18, 07:20
Arrival at 01 Dec 18, 12:05
AA   #72 out of 132 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 408 reviews
socalnow
By GOLD 932
Published on 8th January 2019
Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I was about 13 years old when I flew in International Business Class for the first time. It was 1987 and it was an L-1011-250 flying from ATL-LGW. My memory of the cabin is somewhat faded but I think it was a 2x4x2 and only slightly more pitch and recline than Y. I remember the amenity kit rather well, a brown leatherette pouch, since I had never seen such a thing before. I remember collecting a few that were left behind by other passengers. The reason I mention this 30+ year old memory is that travel in Business Class has come a LONG way since then. That brings me to the nexus for this adventure. Qatar Airways is a renowned carrier for excellence in Business Class. The latest generation of their J product, known as the Q-Suite, is a evolution in terms of space, privacy, comfort, and entertainment. The goal of this trip was to take a Q-Suite on a test drive.
American Advantage is a great program for redeeming miles for QR Business Class so that's where I went. Long story short I booked the round-the-world adventure on 3 tickets, 70k AA miles for LAX-IAH-DOH in QR J, 50k miles for DOH-SIN-KUL-NRT in QR J, MH J, and MH F, and finally 87, 520 Lifemiles for NRT-SFO-SNA in NH F and UA Y.

Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:




American Airlines, LAX-IAH, 737-800, First, Flagship Lounge, AAdvantage Miles (This Report)

Qatar Airways, IAH-DOH, 777-200LR, Business, American Express Centurion Lounge, AAdvantage Miles
Qatar Airways, DOH-SIN, A350-1000, Business, Al Mourjan Business Lounge, AAdvantage Miles
Malaysia Airlines, SIN-KUL, 737-800, Business, British Airways and Qantas Lounges, AAdvantage Miles
Malaysia Airlines, KUL-NRT, A350-900, First, Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge(s), AAdvantage Miles
All Nippon Airlines (ANA) , NRT-SFO, 777-300ER, First, ANA Suite Lounge, Lifemiles
United Airlines, SFO-SNA, 737-800, Economy, American Express Centurion Lounge, Priority Pass Restaurants, Lifemiles, (No Report)

American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX



I decided to just roll out of bed and head to the airport and do my grooming there, after a bite to eat and some coffee, perhaps A flight that boards around 6:30 means I have to leave my home in Orange County at 4:00 to have time to allow for any traffic anomaly (Interstate 405 in Orange County is in the process of a major expansion so there are nightly closures that last until around 6am) and have time to get through security and enjoy the lounge and shower. It's an early call. On this day the Uber was near by, the traffic was non-existent (Saturday) and so I was at the curb in front of T4 at 4:50am. Pre check was a breeze and I was in front of the lounge just before 5:00.

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I study the lounge access rules pretty carefully as I want to plan accordingly. I know that connecting to a long haul Oneworld flight in J grants access to the Flagship Lounge. I know of (through personal experience and hearsay) occasions where the Oneworld lounge rules are not as well known by the staff manning the lounges. So, as I entered I was prepared to have to educate the staff on the rules but my concerns were unfounded. The agent scanned my AA boarding pass to IAH and explained the Flagship access to me and handed me an invite card. It was all exactly how it should be. It's a sad commentary that a process working as it should is noteworthy, but it is to me, with regards to American Airlines.

I rode the elevator upstairs and found a virtually empty lounge. I'll also note it was a cold,and rather dark lounge too. It's just now 5am and the staff is already setup and on point with friendly greetings and an impressive breakfast spread.

A look around the lounge.



There's also a nice relaxing room that is separate form the main hall, and presumably quieter. Great views too.



In California, probably similar in many states, alcohol cannot be served between the hours of 2:00 - 6:00. In light of this, and my desire for a glass of champagne to kick off this fantastic flying adventure, I decide to have a shave and shower prior to enjoying breakfast. I inquire with the agent inside the Flagship Lounge and she offers me a variety of amenities and sends me to shower room 1. I accept a razor and toothbrush for the event.

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The shower rooms are very spacious and there are quite a few so wait times should be minimal even in peak usage periods.



I enjoy a very satisfactory grooming experience and return to the dining area rejuvenated and ready to start the extended day of flying. Lets have a look at the buffet offerings. I'm impressed with the selection and presentation of the breakfast items.



By this time the lounge staff are setting up the Champagne bar and main bar. Their work is complete and the magical 6:00am hour is upon us yet on one in the lounge moves in the direction of either of these indulgences. OK, I'll be first. I walk to the Champagne bar, select a glass, remove the resealable bottle topper and pour. Before I can replace the bottle topper I'm joined by two other patrons, the first even says don't bother with the top as he's pouring two. A Funny thing about human nature and stigmas, no one wanted to be first. I thought it was common knowledge that there are not "appropriate drinking hours" in airports ;)

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A selection from the buffet and a glass of bubbly, now we're traveling. Yes, I enjoy my charcuterie and cheese with chopsticks.

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The sun is lighting the ramp now and I'm sitting right above a tow in gate. I assume it's SYD or AKL pulling in at this hour.

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In the interest of a complete flight report I find it's compulsory for me to review the bar offerings. It's a self serve arrangement with a good selection and even a spotlight on the Bloody Mary cocktail (Caesar for Hometoyyz). Kudos for AA on the extensive selection of regalia to adorn your creation, a critical part of any Bloody Mary.



Quite content with my AA Flagship Lounge experience it's time to fly and I'm off to gate 42A.

AA2818 LAX-IAH



I assume my position among the lice. Am I a louse even though I know, by virtue of sitting in First, that I will be among the first groups called?

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Pre-boarding and Concierge Key are called and then First. We're welcomed at the door and I take seat 6A. I tend to like the rear most row in the cabin, I guess so I can observe the service flow and interactions. Dougie and Bob haven't had a chance to rip out the IFE on this 737 so it's an anomaly in the fleet and definitely NOT the experience they want for the self loading cargo.



Boarding is complete, the door is closed on time and we're off. It's an impossibly sunny day here in the Southland, which is normal, unless Rewardflying is in town, then all bets are off.



A short roll down 25R and we're airborne and out over Dockweiler Beach and the gorgeous refineries and waste water treatment plants of El Segundo, CA.

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Our routing turns us Southeast past Long Beach with a view of the snow tipped San Bernardino Mountains. San Gorgonio Mountain is 11,503' which, by coincidence, is the total height of all "mountains" in the Sate of Texas ;)

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Service started rather promptly after the 10,000' chime with a warm towel.

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Drink and meal orders were taken next. I had per-ordered the "brakfast sandwich" on aa.com and this choice was confirmed by the flight attendant. I requested some club soda and a Bloody Mary to accompany. The bar service was done as a separate service which I appreciate. My cocktail effort in the lounge was far superior but i had a far better equipped toolbox than the crew.

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Breakfast was served and it was rather sad. The "bread" for the sandwich was poor and the contents were bland. I only managed a bite. On the other hand the fruit was fresh and the yogurt was tasty too. I found the biscuit to be nice as well. A bagel was the other choice from the bread basket.

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After breakfast the lights were dimmed and the crew assumed their standart post meal service positions. The curtains were left open with no regard for the many who were napping due to the early morning departure. In fairness there could have been many offers of service for those who were awake but I was among those who dozed off.

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I woke up to arrival announcements and put my seat upright and we were vectored for an early arrival.



After alighting the aircraft I spotted an Admirals Club right by our arrival gate so I stopped in to have some water and use the loo. It was a recently remodeled club and it looked quite nice. I'll include some pictures here.

See more

Verdict

American Airlines

7.8/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering6.5

American Airlines Flagship Lounge

8.0/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.0

Los Angeles - LAX

7.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access6.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Houston - IAH

7.6/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

The Ground Service: N/A for a domestic first class flight.

The Lounge: I like what American has done with the Flagship Lounge system. I find the food and beverage offerings to exceed my expectations of a Business Class lounge. The facilities are very comfortable and the staff, both AA and contract, are friendly and well meaning. The shower facilities are clean and spacious with ample amenities.

The Cabin: This 737-800 with Boeing Sky Interior is a glimpse of what American could be and the direction they were heading before the merger. Oh well, wasn't meant to be, I guess.

The Crew: Smiling and friendly service was prompt and professional.

The Food and Beverage: The entree for breakfast was terrible. The club soda and Bloody Mary were quite standard.

Overall: On time, safe, friendly service and in relative comfort make a nice experience.

Thank you for reading and happy flying.

Information on the route Los Angeles (LAX) Houston (IAH)

12 Comments

  • Comment 483248 by
    YGeorgeW SILVER 92 Comments

    Hi Socalnow and thanks for the report:

    "My memory of the cabin is somewhat faded but I think it was a 2x4x2 and only slightly more pitch and recline than Y."
    -You know, United still has an international business class cabin in the 2-4-2 configuration, at least it's lie-flat now.

    "It's a sad commentary that a process working as it should is noteworthy..."
    -I think, somewhere along the line, all of us living in the US have just become accustomed to subpar airline products. The other day Marathon noted with a bit of surprise that I wrote about getting an entire can of Coke as a plus for a domestic economy flight.

    "I thought it was common knowledge that there are not "appropriate drinking hours" in airports. "
    -Me too, you never know what schedule someone is actually on in an airport.

    Looking forward to reading about the Qsuites!

    • Comment 483333 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 888 Comments

      Thanks for the note YGeorgeW.

      "I think, somewhere along the line, all of us living in the US have just become accustomed to subpar airline products."
      -I agree, we're conditioned to expect the worst. "We" must not value anything better or the market would provide it.

      "Looking forward to reading about the Qsuites!"
      -It's a lovely product and service, well worth a look.

      Thanks again and happy flying.

  • Comment 483279 by
    KLMA330 18 Comments

    And he's off again! Look forward to all the upcoming reports! :)

  • Comment 483351 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4857 Comments

    And so begins another epic RTW!

    "So, as I entered I was prepared to have to educate the staff on the rules but my concerns were unfounded. "
    - Good! I've definitely had experience where I've had to explain access rules to agents, but not in a long time. I was afraid of this exact thing at the MIA Flagshp lounge on my connection to the domestic sector home to DC, but nope...no issues at all. I guess the access rules have gotten so complex now, especially since the addition of Flagship lounges, that they make sure lounge agents know their stuff, otherwise it would be chaos.

    The Flagship lounges are just another world compared to how basic Admirals Clubs were (and still are in cities with no Flagship). No more fake cheese cubes and carrot sticks! Real food...good food at that, and a nice selection!

    "A Funny thing about human nature and stigmas, no one wanted to be first. I thought it was common knowledge that there are not "appropriate drinking hours" in airports ;)"
    - Common knowledge to me! I have no shame, I'd be lined up at 5:59 waiting! lol
    The saying "It's 5 o'clock somewhere" rings truest when travelling and crossing time zones

    "Am I a louse even though I know, by virtue of sitting in First, that I will be among the first groups called?"
    - Nope! Gate lice annoy the crap out of me, especially when you know they're all in like group 7 or 8 crowding the entrance to the Priority lane! You can't be a gate lice if you're in First, though it's always a fine balance to strike when flying in domestic F...you never wanna be the self-important DYKWIA @sshat who stands there lined up in the priority queue an hour before boarding because HE has to be first on board...and you don't wanna be stuck behind a wall of gate lice when they call F boarding and the stampede begins, especially when doing a Flight-Report when you wanna get some shots of the cabin. It's such an active hurry-up-and-wait experience for me LOL. I hate that boarding is always a stressful mess here in the US, but it is what it is.

    "Dougie and Bob haven't had a chance to rip out the IFE on this 737 so it's an anomaly in the fleet and definitely NOT the experience they want for the self loading cargo."
    - Sigh...sad but true. And on those rare occasions when you do get a domestic bird with IFE, half the time it doesn't work! (and AA clearly doesn't care)

    "It's an impossibly sunny day here in the Southland, which is normal, unless Rewardflying is in town, then all bets are off."
    - Me too apparently...when I was there a week later it was dark and gloomy so I scrapped a quick trip to go planespotting at In-N-Out

    Aside from the lackluster breakfast (which looks like the saddest panini ever) a decent domestic F experience, mostly thanks to a 738 with IFE and BSI.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 483512 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 888 Comments

      Greetings Kevin and thank you for leaving a note.

      "I guess the access rules have gotten so complex now, especially since the addition of Flagship lounges, that they make sure lounge agents know their stuff, otherwise it would be chaos."
      - At LHR I was denied BA F lounge (Not Concorde Room, mind you) access connecting from MH F to BA J. It still chaps me. I think maybe the IT has gotten better too. When they scan the BP it actually displays the correct information.

      "You can't be a gate lice if you're in First, though it's always a fine balance to strike when flying in domestic F..."
      -This is good to hear from a seasoned road warrior. It was my assessment as well.

      "Me too apparently...when I was there a week later it was dark and gloomy so I scrapped a quick trip to go planespotting at In-N-Out"
      -We didn't let the gloomy weather stop us and enjoyed a great cadre of A380s zooming over our heads. What a unique spot there.

      Thanks again Kevin and happy flying.

  • Comment 483540 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 498 Comments

    Oh hey, it’s a Socalnow flight-report on a domestic flight. I wonder if this is a new…. oh, nope. Just part of a grand adventure with all kinds of Airbuses, and Q-Suites, and of course, slumming it in ANA First. I’m not actually all that surprised.

    “In California, probably similar in many states, alcohol cannot be served between the hours of 2:00 - 6:00”
    - You guys get it so easy on this. 11am here, so no lounge Bloody Mary (or Caesar) for you before your early-morning flight!

    The lounge looks quite nice, and the breakfast looks great. I wonder with American raising its game with the Flagships, and United leading the way with Polaris if Delta will… nope. They probably won’t.

    Way to lead the parade on the champagne bar. I presume after you broke the ice, peoples’ inhibitions dropped?

    “Yes, I enjoy my charcuterie and cheese with chopsticks.”
    - We’ve all got our foibles.

    “ Dougie and Bob haven't had a chance to rip out the IFE on this 737 so it's an anomaly in the fleet and definitely NOT the experience they want for the self loading cargo.”
    - I can only imagine that were I an American frequent flier, this would be my sentiment exactly. Fun fact: I was going to switch from AC to AA because they have an Admiral’s Club in YYZ T3. But then I found out Delta’s status challenge program was better. And then I found out AA doesn’t count Canada as international for lounge purposes. So off to Detroit I go!

    “It's an impossibly sunny day here in the Southland, which is normal, unless Rewardflying is in town, then all bets are off.”
    - It may be sunny there, but the shade is sure flying here in this flight-report! Zing!

    Breakfast looks on par with what one would get on a similar DL flight. Although their sandwich isn’t bad, at least in my opinion. No biscuits on DL that I’ve seen. Which is funny… since both AA and UA do biscuits at least sometimes, and Delta is based in Atlanta….

    Glad to see the service was good — something I’ve somehow got the impression is the exception rather than the norm with UA.

    I’m excited for the rest of this series — especially getting the opinions of a traveler as seasoned as you on the almighty Q-suite. Happy travels!

    • Comment 483924 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 888 Comments

      Greetins Hometoyyz and thank you for the thoughtful comments as always.

      "You guys get it so easy on this. 11am here, so no lounge Bloody Mary (or Caesar) for you before your early-morning flight!"
      -How do you live like that? The horror.

      " I wonder with American raising its game with the Flagships, and United leading the way with Polaris if Delta will… nope. They probably won’t."
      -It sure is a curious situation. DL seems to command revenue premiums for many routes but their lounge offerings aren't even in the same league. How long is that sustainable?

      "And then I found out AA doesn’t count Canada as international for lounge purposes. So off to Detroit I go!"
      -That's unfortunate. The ORD Flagship lounge would be a nice perk on a short trip.

      " No biscuits on DL that I’ve seen. Which is funny… since both AA and UA do biscuits at least sometimes, and Delta is based in Atlanta…."
      -Really, what says southern cooking better than a biscuit?

      Thanks again for the note and happy flying.

  • Comment 483893 by
    ThomasDutch SILVER 347 Comments

    Another long interesting report ahead of us. I am most definitely curious as what Malaysian is going to offer as a product.

    • Comment 483928 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 888 Comments

      Thanks for the note ThomasDutch. I have such high hopes every time I fly MH. Perhaps because of their neighbors to the south. It's probably not reasonable to expect a mini SQ. Happy flying.

      • Comment 483969 by
        atco SILVER 122 Comments

        It's going to be interesting to see your experience of MH.
        I had 3 flights on MH in September 2 of which were fine, nothing special and the other which might well have been one of the most awful flights I've ever paid money for. The only positive was were arrived alive and on time which meant we made our connection other than that it was an absolute waste of money, so I can't wait to see what your thoughts were!

        • Comment 484070 by
          socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 888 Comments

          Hello Atco and thanks for the note. I've had really great flights with MH in the past but alas my experiences this time were in the "fine, nothing special" category as yours were. I know the company has been through a lot with the tragic 777 losses, many leadership changes, and staff cuts. It shows. Thanks again for the note and happy flying.

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