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Hello and welcome to the last segment in this this short series of American Airlines domestic First class reviews. Note that these reviews are pre-Covid, with the flights taking place over the Thanksgiving Holiday week in November 2019–the current extended grounding having allowed me to catch up a bit on previously unpublished reviews.
Obviously, airline service protocols within the US have temporarily changed in the Covid-era, with greatly reduced food and beverage availability on board. The current measures are primarily meant to be precautionary in order to avoid physical contact. Hopefully service levels will return to pre-Covid levels once the crisis has been contained.
As I'd mentioned above, these flights took place over Thanksgiving week, which is traditionally the busiest period of the year for domestic travel in the US. Normally, we avoid domestic US travel like the plague over Thanksgiving and have taken advantage of flight deals to far-away destinations each year for the past decade, including Brazil, Greece, and Peru just the previous three years. You'll find those flight reviews, and many more, on my profile page.
Having a kid changes everything of course, so this time domestic travel was finally in the cards over the dreaded Thanksgiving period. As we'd just moved to Southern California a few months prior, we headed back to DC to spend the holiday with family. Though flying domestically with a 10-month-old over the a busy travel week isn't ideal, having TSA pre-check and flying in a premium cabin help to make the experience a bit less stressful.
This review will cover the second and final leg of the return trip. The best prices between LAX and WAS had us connecting in Las Vegas for the return–the savings were significant enough to choose the connecting itinerary over the non-stop flight.
In case you missed the previous review, you'll find a link below.
Reviews in this series:
Welcome to Las Vegas! Having been to Vegas several times, it felt odd to be connecting at McCarran and not actually going into town. But alas, SoCal was calling and Vegas with a baby doesn't sound like any fun.
As we had some time to kill before the flight we headed to The Club LAS, a Priority Pass lounge conveniently located near our departure gate.
The lounge was on the small side and it was a bit crowded, as are most US Priority Pass lounges in my experience, but it was a decent overall experience by domestic lounge standards.
The food offering was slightly above average for a US domestic lounge with several fresh options, but no hot dishes.
We headed to the gate a few minutes before boarding was due to begin. The gate area was on the empty side, which was surprising for the busy Thanksgiving travel week.
Unlike our previous boarding experience in DC, we were able to pre-board with our infant without any problems.
View of our Legacy-AA A321 with Sharklets on boarding.
The LAA A321 First class cabins are the same as those found on the 737-800s with Sky Interior and IFE.
The seats are spacious and wide with plush leather and a generous 40" pitch.
The Legacy-AA A321s all feature personal monitors with on-demand entertainment as well as individual power outlets and USB ports, unlike the Legacy-US Airways A321s, which don't offer in-seat entertainment and have just recently begun being fitted with in-seat power.
Speaking of LUS A321s, there's one right out the window. Not surprising to see pre-merger US Airways metal in this former US Airways/America West Hub.
The AA livery looks great on sunny days like this.
Shortly after settling in, pre-departure drinks were offered with a full choice from the bar, which used to be a rare event on Legacy AA metal. I had a gin & tonic.
Though the flight was full in First class, the Economy load was lighter, which allowed for boarding to be completed early,
The safety video played on the seat-back screens as the cabin was readied for pushback.
We pushed back from the gate on time.
Some beautiful desert colours as we taxied to the runway.
#AvGeek moment - 767-200s are a rare site these days!
Double-AvGeek moment with an El Al 787 in retro livery as we taxied by.
Sunset colours over the mountains as we take off.
Flying out west on a clear day is always a treat with gorgeous landscapes. I especially love winter with snow-capped mountains.
FAs served drinks in the cabin as soon as we levelled out followed by a pass of the snack basket.
With scenery like this, I obviously made no use of the IFE…except for the moving map. Because nerd.
Last snowy views as we approach the L.A. basin.
And here we are…endless suburban hell 😉
Ontario Airport (ONT)
No views of downtown L.A. from this side of the aircraft, but a peek of the Pacific Ocean on landing.
Crossing over the L.A. River
I-405 at I-105
The Proud Bird restaurant. Can't believe I've still never been…will have to check it out once I'm back in CA.
Taxiing past the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
R.I.P. Air France and Lufthansa A380s
R.I.P British Airways 747
Crazy to think this was just a year ago… 😥
We arrived at the gate a few minutes early, where we parked next to a yellow school bus that won't be retired anytime soon.
And with that, I'm finally caught up on older unpublished reviews.
Thanks for reading and hopefully see you soon for some more recent reviews. After over 9 months without flying, I'm due to fly for the first time in just over a week…that is, if all goes as planned.
A pleasant and scenic short flight on the very busy Vegas to L.A. route (at least before Covid). Cabin crew were friendly and efficient, the seats are cushy, wide, and overall spacious--above average by US domestic First/Business standards, IFE system and content were very good, and food and beverage offerings were typical for short flights.
In my past 5 years as an AA frequent flyer, this was the first time where I'd gotten an IFE-equipped aircraft on every flight of an itinerary, both ways. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's a huge shame that AA is removing IFE from domestic subfleets. Once these interiors are gone, the Delta domestic fleet will consistently offer the best domestic passenger experience of the big 3 US carriers.