Continuing on with my summer 2018 series of trip reports for which I had to fly down to Miami from Fargo, where American Airlines proved to be the best choice thanks to the opportunity to fly on wide bodies within the USA. So here we are - my 2nd USA domestic wide body flight. I was quite excited for this one given everything that I have read about American refurbishing the 777-200ERs to be something on par with what several competition airlines would come up with in the international skies, be it in the premium parts, or Main Cabin where the 3-4-3 configuration makes its appearance. Good thing this flight was just over two-and-a-half hours long. I was also nervous, due to the shortest layover I have had to attempt.
Dallas/Ft Worth is American’s home. Very rare to see something that’s not American Airlines especially in the mid-morning/early afternoon. I was especially keen on the 777-200ER operations: there would be one coming in to Dallas from Miami at around 9am, which one would think logically this’d head back to Miami as AA1195 departing at 1025 hours. Whenever this was the case, AA1195 would be delayed by an hour at least. The more on time AA1195 departures would be a plane coming in to Dallas before 0615 in the morning, from either Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Honolulu, Kalaloa Kona, Kahului or on the odd occasion, Tokyo.
CRUCIAL CONNECTIONS #1: 17TH JULY 2018
On the day of I thought it’d be a good idea to walk up to the gate agent and make sure my seat on AA1195 was still there, and that I wasn’t rebooked on to AA2606 without which I would not have been able to make the international flight. The reason for this, as mentioned in the previous installment was that due to a south-southwesterly routing avoiding a storm, AA3418 was estimated to arrive about 30 minutes late, meaning I wouldn't make this connection, and so the rebooking. It all worked out in the end, but I needed to make sure I made AA1195.
Walking around towards gate A23X I thought of stopping at the AA customer service center - the line was terrifyingly long. Off to A23X where it was quite busy - this was going to be a full flight on the popular hub-to-hub route.
I was at the gate for 0949 hours, 36 minutes to departure. And boarding had not even started yet! Suffice to say I did make this connection just fine, but there was the minor concern of actually making sure I was on this flight, and my suitcase making it.
Boarding pass, from Fargo…but I hope to have actually made this flight…
Enter text here…
Boarding was called just over 30 minutes to departure - a slight delay was assured given it takes time to board a wide body. Scanning my boarding pass ,it took time for it to scan. My heart was racing - I was knocked off of this flight….until it went green!My place was indeed secured just in time. I happily walked towards N752AN, I had pulled off my shortest ever layover, and the first of several crucial connections made.
I was onboard at 1004 hours to a lovely mood-lit cabin welcoming us. The seats in Flagship Business looked quite fantastic, to be honest. A great way to kill a few hours on this plane. Premium Economy looked quite spacious too, but the cramped 3-4-3 back in Main Cabin was about to be a bit of a space crunch until I realized seat 25A is one of few 2-4-2 seats available on this 777.
A lovely refurbished cabin - this is the first of several pictures you'll be seeing :)
The seat itself was quite comfortable - except for the fact that it smelled like some one had smoked a cigarette, and that an opened pouch of skittles were left around in the seat pocket. I also felt the seat was way high up and that I had to slouch a little in order to see through the window just fine. Keeping these aside, a fixed PTV screen but one that was very responsive to touch, a remote and universal plug point. Just the things one would need to survive a solid 8 or 9 hour flight on this one. Heck, I’d be okay with it.
N788AN there, would operate a domestic flight, but just that little longer… AA7 to Kahului (OGG), an 8hr flight!
The baggage situation was wonderful as well - in fact, it only took 8 minutes for it to get from the E175 at the other end of the airport to the B777, nice nice! I was in very high spirits going in to the trip, with all sorts of nerves and anxiety keeping away, for now.
It was a pretty full flight, an elderly gentlemen took seat 25C. Boarding was complete 4 minutes after departure time. We pushed back only a few minutes later at 1032 hours. Good stuff, so far so good indeed. A 2hr23min flight time was announced at 39000 feet, Miami reporting a pretty warm day at Miami with 87F/31C temperature, and partly cloudy skies. No thunderstorms! The Rolls Royce Trent 892 engines were fired up simultaneously. These did sound pretty sweet!
Moodlighting as we pushed back
Concourse A - spot the old American :)
Flaps set, ready to go
My favorite part of a safety video is how the aircraft is depicted in the emergency exit locations…
It was quite the busy time at DFW - with several mainline and regional flights departing. We had to hold a couple of times, eventually making it to Runway 17R. Americans of all shapes & sizes (& colors!) as far as the eye could see: Airbus’, Boeings, Embraers, Bombardiers, and the one McDonnell Douglas too!
Lined up with 17R and started a very long take off roll following your typical Rolls Royce spool up at 1046 hours - 21 minutes late. I was a bit surprised the 777 did not take off with 800 feet of powering up because, you know I’m so used to a Piper Archers’ take off. :silly: We did take to the skies eventually and banked east/south east. I was in & out of Dallas/Ft. Worth in 1hr34min.
A pretty smooth climb up to 39000 feet again. Robots did their announcements, and the cabin settled down. No headphones were provided for the IFE, but in this day & age most folk had their own headphones connected to the IFE - and people by and large enjoyed this. Several movies, many TV shows, and ocean of music albums and excellent information on the info pages thanks to the voyager 3D maps. Amusing to see that under the hospitality section were all the coke product drinks listed that would be served. Like 30 or 40 can brands were listed! American Airlines passed the metal test with an album from Judas Priest. Several Marvel movies too: spoiler alert - the next airline has substantial sponsorships with DC :) I liked what I saw - now if all three US airlines came up with something like this on all their widbody airplanes then the MEB3 has a real fight on their hands, as far as hard product is concerned.
Music that I love:
News on live TV:
Marvel nerds would love AA:
International movies, too!
Power ports were up there
The crew started off the service. While they were nothing exemplary, they were courteous & helpful, with the occasional smile. No issues with this. I had a cup of ginger ale & cookies, 42 minutes in to flight.
Just under an hour in to the flight the seat mate headed to the restroom, so I waited for my turn to stretch my legs and relieve myself.
Some turbulence happened, I buckled down and watched Black Panther. Still not quite sure of what the hype is around it, just another superhero movie really. I watched as much as I could till landing, still haven’t finished watching it to this day.
Magazine & safety card
DESCENT & ARRIVAL
The rest of the flight was quite uneventful, arrival preparations happened. Flew over what I think are the Everglades. Winds were out of the East, pretty warm, and some precipitation around but not a whole lot. Cut through some pretty thick clouds which led to a bumpy approach. Very American moodlighting happened in the cabin as we came down.
Americanizing cabin in 3…2…1…
Lined up with Runway 09 and touch down a little firm at 1409 hours EDT.
Had to wait a little bit for whatever reason just by gate E8, probably for it to free up. I had exactly 6 hours to make the international connection. This was looking really good for me.
The B777, vastly larger than the E175, and so far the 2 types of planes I have been on during the day!
Parked at gate E8 at 1427 hours EDT, 11 minutes behind schedule. Found a MAX in the distance
I waited for everyone, literally everyone to disembark before I’d get moving - a flight attendant even stopped by and asked if I needed help with anything. I told them I have a long layover here… ‘Ah, I get that!’ they said.
I thanked the crew and disembarked through a jet bridge that actually headed down to the terminal which was strange. The terminal itself felt bright and airy airside, but I did not get a parting shot of N752AN. I did find a 737 MAX though:
Once heading down to the baggage claim it felt very claustrophobic - especially with the many wide pillars.
Baggage did take a very long time to show up. I did not mind this - for I had so much time to kill at the airport. Got my baggage (hooray!) after a while just fine, before taking to one of the seats to sit around on and spoke to my girlfriend, where another 45 minutes went by pretty easily, I only had 4.5 hours before the international flight departed. Everything was going really well, and it was time to get to the business end of flights here.
I haven't really flown (mainline) American domestically barring the one ORD-MSP flight to log in the MD-80, MD-82 in particular. Sure, things got awry with the ERJ-145 that same year when I headed home for the winter, but I gave it another shot. Everything that needed to go fine, went fine. The first flight, the layover, my suitcase making it. The flight itself was quite uneventful, but it convinced me that American Airlines have something of a very strong product to fight with the MEb3 when it comes to long hauls, and I applaud them for that. I am genuinely excited to try out an American Airlines international flight sometime, if the price was right.