Hello and welcome to another Flight Report series! For this one, I'm taking a special trip in order to fly on a larger-than-normal aircraft on a new-to-me route. More on that later.
Luckily for me, even as a lowly AAdvantage Gold member, I received a complementary upgrade to First for for DCA - CLT, and a sticker upgrade for CLT - ITH right at the 24-hour Gold upgrade window. Awesome.
I arrived at DCA via Metro about 90 minutes prior to scheduled departure time. As it was a Saturday morning, the great hall was nearly empty (apologies for the blurriness).
The flight to CLT this morning would depart out of the middle pier of DCA's B/C terminal, from gate 33. TSA Pre-Check was quick as could be, and I was airside less than 10 minutes after arriving at the Metro platform. I purchased a coffee from the Dunkin Donuts and found a seat near the end of the concourse. N922NN was already at the gate, prepping for the short flight to CLT.
Seats near the end of the concourses at DCA have excellent views of the runways and main taxiways. I had a great view of JetBlue's "Blueprint" E190 arriving and taxiing in.
Saturdays at DCA, at least during certain times of the year, can be especially interesting. American Airlines operates special charter flights for United States Veterans, known as Honor Flights, into Washington, DC (Here's a link with some more details). This Saturday morning, I was lucky enough to see an A321 Honor Flight arrive from Evansville, Indiana, including the full water cannon salute.
Shortly after the Honor Flight arrived, it was time for boarding. As there were no Concierge Key passengers on this Saturday morning, I was one of the first to board with Group 1. I quickly stowed my larger carry-on bag overhead, and took my seat in 5F.
American has several 737 configurations. There's what I call the "old" configuration, with 160 total seats and no seat-back screens, "new" configuration with 160 seats and with seat-back screens, and the "Oasis" configuration, with 172 seats and no seat-back screens. At the time, it was (relatively) easy to tell which config you'd have: You'd have in-seat IFE if the tail number ended with *NN and was 939 or above, or was one of the "weird" ones (like N200LV or N306NY). Otherwise, you'd be stuck with BYOD entertainment, and sometimes with a tighter configuration if you get unlucky with an "Oasis" configuration.
(However, at the time of publishing this, N955NN has gone through the "Oasis" treatment, losing it's seat-back screens – so YMMV.)
N922NN was in the "old" configuration for this flight, so First class was four rows (3 - 6) with 160 seats total and no seat-back screens. On this short flight to Charlotte, the lack of seat-back screens wasn't a big deal for me. Seat pitch of this configuration is advertised at 39 - 40 inches, which is towards the upper end of First class these days in North America.
A pre-departure beverage was offered, I kept it simple with a water. I believe it was a full offering, however.
We pushed back from the gate a few minutes early and made our way towards runway 01 for departure.
Departure video, including great views of downtown Washington.
Climbing out of the DC area, over Reston and Dulles airport (if you look closely, you'll see a Korean 77W and Emirates A380 at Concourse A).
Wi-Fi was available on this flight, provided by Viasat. I didn't purchase access, but the prices seemed quite reasonable for this hour-long flight. The Viasat Wi-Fi service on AA's 737 fleet is widely considered as quite a capable system.
Shortly after takeoff, the standard service began. I went for American's only IPA offering, Goose Island. A snack basket was also brought around that included an interesting selection of packaged snacks. Can confirm, the cookies were "real good."
After a quick cruise phase, we were descending into Charlotte. It was a rather cloudy day in North Carolina.
We landed on runway 36R quite a bit ahead of schedule.
After a surprisingly-quick taxi in (for CLT, anyways), we arrived at gate B3 11 minutes before our scheduled arrival time.
After deplaning, I had about two hours before boarding my flight back north to Ithaca. I'll pick up the story in the next section of this report.
This was a solid flight on American. Obviously I was quite lucky for my upgrade request to clear (right at my upgrade window, no less).
As a first class offering on a short flight, I thought it was quite nice. A full pre-departure beverage selection was offered, and a nice snack selection was offered during the flight. The seat was quite comfortable with quite a nice amount of legroom -- we even arrived 11 minutes before our scheduled time.
No complaints from me!