Report No: 2020-703E
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This post-COVID series is continuing with an American Airlines Domestic flight report from Washington-DCA to Jacksonville. This flight was operated with an American Eagle ( PSA Airlines ) CRJ 700 and I would present you an average AA domestic flight under 900 miles in this report. This report would also contain the service in the Admirals Club in DCA Terminal B.
Here is the routing
The following parts of this series would be revealed later on;
Loads for this flight
Domestic First: %55 ( 5 out of 9 seats were occupied in DF )
Main Cabin: %80-85
The day before my flight, I checked-in online for my flight on AA.com. The online check-in process was similar to pre-COVID.
I have kept my pre-selected seat.
Also I was asked how many bags I would take for the flight during OLCI. Obviously, you could prefer to answer that question later at the counter or ignore it if you don't have checked bags.
I was successful creating a mobile boarding pass
That morning, I have used Lyft to access the airport as I had bulk baggage which would be hard to carry on the metro. The driver has dropped me to the American Priority entrance.
The airport was emptier than usual
When I entered the airport, I first went to the usual American Priority check-in counters next to the JetBlue counters, however, an American agent was asking passengers to walk towards the end of the terminal as they have relocated the Priority and Shuttle check-in desks next to the Main Cabin kiosks.
Some of the FIDS were not working. Hand sanitizers were available throughout the airport
The priority lane was empty and I only waited a single family to be assisted.
Then my baggage was checked by a friendly agent. However, the worst part of DCA is that you need to take your bags to the TSA screening point after check-in, it wasn't nice to walk 300 meters to the counter and another 150 meters to the TSA baggage drop point. At least American could have signposted somewhere in the curbside telling that their Priority and Shuttle counters are relocated temporarily.
In addition to this, due to COVID, baggage receipts were not handed, instead, they were available on the American app.
FIDS, this time a working one. By the way, I didn't know Frontier Airlines was flying from DCA to DCA. I guess the airport systems were not working properly that day.
A TV channel was also setting a mini-studio next to the display screens, however, I have no idea about the context that they were filming.
As the Admirals Club in Terminal C was closed, I headed to the security checkpoint in Terminal B/C.
The security process was quite smooth, the priority lane was closed, however, in the regular lane I have waited for a single person. Also, the TSA agents did ask not to remove anything from the bags including laptops and liquids. The only thing that they asked to do was to empty our pockets and to remove shoes.
The Admirals Club in Terminal B was open during my travel. As a oneworld Emerald cardholder in Qatar Airways Privilege Club, I had access to the lounge for free. A reminder that a premium Domestic First Class ticket without an international connection or status in AAdvantage does not grant access to the clubs for free.
After entering the lounge I was welcomed by the staff and the Wi-Fi code was given to me. Later on, a staff told me about the new concept and one of the dining hosts asked me if I would like to sit by the window or the aisle. I've opted for the former option. Also, he alerted that I was free to move in the lounge but I should only sit at my own seat.
The view from the lounge
The changes to the lounges were a bit interesting, first, I would like to mention that now everything except fruits comes to your table. The self-service bar only had apples and bananas. Nuts, water, juices, coffee, etc… is now served by the lounge staff to your table.
A minor change was that the free 2 premium drinks perk for non-AA oneworld elites was temporarily suspended so if I would like to enjoy one of the premium drinks from the bar, I should have paid for it. Also, the espresso machine was out of service as well.
Shortly after I sat at my seat, the lounge staff handed me a food bag and told me that I could check the menu with the QR. I've opted for a coffee that was served promptly in a paper cup rather than a mug.
The bag had eggs, a bagel, a muffin, an apple pie, some nuts, butter, blueberry jam and cream cheese, all packed and wrapped. It was definitely better than what I expected from AA during post-COVID.
At that time I was tracking the incoming aircraft
Before the next part, I would also like to mention that for every person and couple who left the club, one of the lounge staff was cleaning the area that those people sat with a disinfectant spray.
As my gate was in Terminal C, I used the shuttle bus from Terminal B/C to Terminal C. The bus was there when I arrived at the stop.
And, after a 1 minute wait, we have left Terminal B/C for a 45 second journey to Terminal C.
Terminal C was also empty like Terminal B/C
While I arrived at the gate, the aircraft had just parked after its flight from Charleston, SC.
The gate area was organized and allowed social distancing and while the passengers arriving from Charleston disembarked, the gate agents were tagging carry-on bags for the yellow-tag service as the CRJ's do not have large overhead bins. Announcements were made that there would be no service on this flight and passengers willing to eat/drink something should purchase at the airport.
Shortly later, boarding has started with the original group boarding sequence. Passengers requiring assistance boarded first, followed by 5 Group 1 passengers, then followed by myself where I was the only passenger in Group 2. No passengers were assigned to Groups 3 & 4 so after I boarded boarding continued with Group 5.
While boarding the aircraft, I was quite surprised that the cabin crew greeted all passengers at the door. In the majority of my past AA flights, the crew didn't welcome passengers at the door and preferred to pretend to work at the galley instead.
The seats were comfortable for a regional jet.
The legroom was also decent for Main Cabin Extra. By the way, it was a nice touch to have USB ports and power outlets on a regional jet.
The only thing that you could have found in the seat pocket was a waste bag and the safety card. Due to COVID-19, the American Way & the Nexus magazines and the buy on board menu were not available in the seat pocket.
While boarding was going on, I watched the ground painting work that was going on next door.
When boarding was completed a Basic Economy passenger decide to upgrade himself to Main Cabin Extra for social distancing so the crew allowed that passenger to move to one of the empty MCE rows which was a nice touch in terms of safety.
While we were taxiing to the gate, announcements were made that wearing a face covering is mandatory throughout the flight and the cabin crew checked the cabin every 10 minutes throughout the flights to make sure everyone had their face covering on. The only exception was that you could remove your covering when eating and drinking.
Meanwhile, the safety demo was performed by the crew.
Terminal B/C and C which were full of AA aircraft
And we were in the air 35 minutes later than our scheduled departure time.
I forgot to mention that this flight was delayed 27 minutes because of the late arrival of the incoming aircraft. A notification was sent to my phone about the delay midnight before the day of travel.
Potomac Yards shopping center
And more photos while we were gaining altitude
Mobile IFE was offered throughout this flight
Wi-Fi was available for $10.
You could have also watched movies & TV shows throughout the mobile entertainment platform.
I've used the free T-Mobile Wi-Fi option and here is a shot from Flightradar24. The internet was not that slow but not that fast either.
Later during the flight, I have asked for a cup of water at the front galley which was promptly served by the cabin crew. Another passenger has requested a Diet Coke and that was also promptly served. Despite the fact that some AA regional crews reject serving anything on flights under 900 miles, the crew onboard was following the actual AA protocol.
And some photos before arrival
And we have landed in JAX
A UPS 767 near the cargo stands
And we were going to park at Terminal C next to this Allegiant A320.
To be specific, we have parked at gate C7.
Deboarding was made as usual but the crew has made an announcement not to leave your seat row and open the overhead bins before the passengers seated in the rows front of you left their seats. One of the cabin crew members was also saying goodbye to customers while disembarking the aircraft.
Here is the last photo of N725PS.
The terminal in JAX looked fresh and modern compared to other US airports. In addition, the airport was empty and most of the food vendors and stores were closed.
Arrivals FIDS - Not that many traffic at JAX that day
While I arrived at the carousel, all bags from our flight were already there so I've picked up my bags quickly and proceeded to the App Ride pickup area.
Due to COVID-19, there were not many Uber or Lyft drivers available at that time so I waited 8 minutes for my driver to arrive. Then it was time to leave JAX.
2 days after the flight, I received a survey from AA about the flight.
This report has come to an end.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
This series would continue soon with the next report.
This flight experience was a regular post-COVID American 900 miles and under flight experience. DCA was empty during my visit, however, it was not nice to carry bags 300 meters because there were no signs at the curbside. The check-in experience was pleasant and normal with the exception of baggage receipts being on the phone rather than being paper. Security was also convenient as the agents asked not to remove anything from our bags including laptops and liquids so the line was going really fast. The club was better than I expected; the food bag that was provided was acceptable for post-COVID, however, I was upset when both the servers and the lounge staff told me that the free premium drink advantage for oneworld elites was removed, I am not sure if this is a location-only decision and I'm also not sure if this applies to international transfer passengers as well. Although the lounge experience was pleasant overall. The surprising part of this journey was that while some other US carriers introduced back to front boarding, AA still followed their old group-by-group boarding protocol which is great for elites sitting in the front as they would still have the space for overhead bins and those passengers would not be the one gate checking their carry-ons when overhead bins are full. The flight itself was an ordinary US domestic flight but the regional-jet that I flew on had pretty comfortable seats, USB ports, power outlets, free mobile entertainment, and Wi-Fi which was a scale-up from other regional jet flights. The only post-COVID things on this flight were that the crew checked face coverings every 10 minutes and drinks were only available upon request. The experience in JAX was surprising as bags were already there when I arrived at the carousel, however, it was not the best thing to wait for a ride-pickup for 10 minutes while the airport was empty. To conclude I would like to mention that AA was OK on this flight, however, it's still obvious that USA based carriers are still a level down from companies from the rest of the world.
(+) Efficient check-in and security processes
(+) Priorities were respected throughout the boarding process
(-) The fact that you need to carry your own checked bags to the inspection point
(-) Misleading signposts as check-in areas were changed due to COVID-19
Admirals Club Terminal B
(+) Comfortable seating
(+) Friendly lounge staff
(+) A nice snack bag was provided to passengers
(+) Every seating area was disinfected after people sitting there left the club
(-) Many drinks were not available
(-) The free premium drink perk was not available for oneworld elites.
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) IFE and Wi-Fi options
(-) No service other than beverages upon request
(+) Baggage wait time at JAX
(-) Long wait for app pickup rides