Merry Christmas! My wife and I just love to travel and it seems that our "new" favorite destination is Maine! It may seem odd to go to Maine in the winter and not ski but that is exactly what we did. We just adore this small port town called Boothbay.
For this trip, I used British Airways Avios for AA Domestic First. While this isn't the best redemption for the amount of points I used ( I got economy one-way to Dublin on Aer Lingus for the same amount), it served its purpose.
I do want to apologize for not doing my return leg BOS-CLT but I was just so tired I decided to just chill on that flight. I believe this is the first time PWM has been featured on FR so sit back and enjoy this quick hop up to New England for a winter wonderland!
Airline: American Airlines (AA)
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Flight Number: 591
Departure Gate: B16
Departure Runway: 36R
Scheduled Departure Time: 09:45
Actual Departure Time: 10:28
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:16
Actual Arrival Time: 12:14
Landing Runway: 29
Arrival Gate: 10
Scheduled Flight Time: 2 Hours 31 Minutes
Actual Flight Time: 1 Hour 46 Minutes
I checked in 22 hours in advance using the American Airlines app. It was very smooth and within a few quick clicks had my boarding passes in hand.
American has really improved their app. I know they have had a rough 2019 but hopefully 2020 will allow it to get back on track.
Anticipating a very busy travel day (busiest of the Christmas season), we arrived at CLT at 7:52. We parked in Long Term 2 for only $7 per day and took the shuttle to the terminal.
We arrived at the B security check point (TSA pre) at 7:58. The line was super long. It seemed only half of the B checkpoint was for TSA (usually all of it) and the other half for regular passengers. Usually I am through security within 2-5 minutes but this time I cleared it at 8:22. So all in all still not too bad on the wait. Traditional security looked a lot worse!
Once through security, you arrive at the main atrium that connects all concourses. Our flight today leaves from B concourse. American uses all B,C,D and E. All non-American Airlines flights (outside of Lufthansa who uses D) use A. CLT has loads of food options including a Chick Fil A and a recently open Shake Shack. Per usual, I did not have Admirals Club access on a domestic first ticket and my PP from AMEX was not useful at CLT. Although, a Centurion Lounge will open in 2020.
Seats were hard to find at the end of the B gates. Gates B9-16 seemed to be crammed into one small space. All of the aircraft were larger single aisle mainlines too, so it just made the area feel really crowded all the time.
At 9:22 boarding started with Group 1( that's us)!
I found this seat extremely wide! It was possibly the widest seat I have ever sat in and that includes VA upper, British Club World, Delta One, and Lufthansa Business. Waiting for me at the seat was a decent blanket. the seat featured the always wonderful adjustable headrest. Leg room wasn't great and honestly I was expecting a bit more. The tray table folded out of the left armrest. The right armrest lifted up for storage that would fit only a phone or wallet. A small drink rest was also present between the two seats.
I did visit the forward lavatory once. It was clean but lacked any premium feel (not surprising). The only amenity offered was Bigelow soap.
The power plug was in an awkward place under the right armrest. I did not find a USB outlet so either they weren't present or I was blind. The seat back included wifi info (it was installed), safety card, normal AA magazine, and premium cabin AA magazine (seems like a waste).
I hate to be that guy and complain but no pre-departure beverage in a 8 seat premium cabin is unacceptable. On a flight that pushes 2 hours, you expect to get all of the perks that they advertise. The first class FA was ok but never felt warm nor went above and beyond (hence the lack of PBD). She also disappeared for over 20 minutes to the back galley. I'm not sure why as she should have been present towards the front just in case someone needed something. I know this may seem nit picky but I felt this should be easy enough to solve and should not happen.
Ok now on to the good.
Soon after take off we were offered a beverage with warm nuts. I ordered a black coffee and managed to get a few refills during the flight (though, I had to ask every time). The coffee mugs were again white and unbranded (not sure why AA does this, but Delta does too).
I figured this was all we would get but it wasn't! AA offers a small snack on flights farther than 800 miles. CLT to PWM is 814, so I was unsure if the 800 mile rule would be honored or not.
Next came the option of half a ham wrap with chips or a fruit and cheese plate!! My wife chose the wrap and enjoyed it. I chose the fruit and cheese tray. The three cheeses offered were cheddar, smoked gouda, and a peppercorn Havarti (I think it was Havarti). This was a wonderful snack and I'm glad AA stuck to their protocol.
Boarding was complete at 9:40 with a push back 6 minutes later. We made a very long taxi to 36R. It seems CLT is always busy for take offs. I know AA wants to grow at CLT in 2020 but i'm not sure it can handle the extra flights.
We finally took off at 10:28. The flight was very smooth and uneventful.
Landing provided great views of downtown Portland. We had a very curvy approach but it was bump free. We touched down on R29 at 12:14 and had a very short taxi to gate 10.
This was a very good flight on AA. The seat was nice outside of leg room and missing USB outlet.
I thought the service was great outside of the FA going missing for 20 minutes and the lack of a PDB.
Thanks for reading and keep on traveling! (Sorry, I stole that from Rick Steves).