Review of American Airlines flight Dallas/Fort Worth Los Angeles in Domestic First

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA2549
Seat 5C
Aircraft Airbus A321neo
Flight time 03:28
Take-off 21 Nov 20, 16:35
Arrival at 21 Nov 20, 18:03
AA   #50 out of 107 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 486 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 1280
Published on 18th February 2021

Introduction


Hello, and welcome to the 2nd review in this new series of Flight-Reports. Yes, finally a series of actual new flights!

After almost 10 months of not flying, as we'd been riding out the pandemic in France, I  needed to get back to the US for the closing on a new house (Yay). As it wasn't possible to do the signing remotely from overseas per California law, I had no choice but to fly. To complicate matters, France was in the midst of a second strict lockdown and technically French residents were restricted to within a 1 km radius from their home, with some exceptions. Unlike in the US, the lockdown in France is enforceable by police and can lead to fines of 135 EUR minimum. Luckily, as a citizen of both France and the US, I was one of the few people actually authorised to travel between the two countries with the current restrictions in place. 

Although, I had some anxiety about flying during the pandemic, I was also happy to finally take to the skies again. I don't think I'd ever gone 10 months without flying since early childhood. 

For months, most airlines have been making great efforts to reassure those passengers who can fly, that the experience is safe, with strict sanitary measures in place and touting several academic studies supporting the low incidence of Covid-transmission aboard aircraft. 

I was certainly curious to see if reality matched the talk.


routing


Though I ultimately needed to get to San Diego, prices to LAX were much better–as they often are–especially when buying tickets at the last minute. With so few transatlantic flights operating, there weren't many AA/oneworld options, so I went with a simple routing through AA's Dallas hub. The other option was to fly BA via London Heathrow, but I preferred the option that would take me directly to the US in these times of ever-changing travel restrictions. 

Flights in this series: 


Routing


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transfer & lounge


Having arrived from Paris at the International Terminal D, I came out of customs into the International Arrivals hall on the lower level, and made my way back up to the upper level to pass through security and catch my connecting flight to LAX.


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Large plexiglass dividers separated different rows at the TSA Pre-check security checkpoint. I haven't seen this anywhere else, and I'm not sure how effective it is, but "A" for effort–it's at least psychologically reassuring if you're standing in a long slow-moving queue… 


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Luckily that wasn't the case today and I was through to the airside in minutes.

Unsurprisingly, with the border closures and travel restrictions in place since the beginning of the pandemic, there is little international traffic so the International Terminal was mostly empty. 


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I made my way to the train to head to Terminal C for my flight to LAX.


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View of International Terminal D from the train


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Some nice views of the tarmac from the Skylink train
 
LATAM (LAN) 767-300ER


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American 787-9


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Arriving at Terminal C, my A321neo to LAX was parked just under the Skylink station


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I still had a bit of time to kill before boarding, so I headed to the closest Admirals Club to grab a quick water and freshen up. This domestic terminal was much busier than the international terminal, so it was nice to escape the crowds for a moment.


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I wasn't hungry so I didn't grab anything to eat, but I noted that the usual snack offerings were all individually packaged per new Covid-protocol. 

The lounge was pleasantly uncrowded despite a bustling terminal outside. 


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boarding


I got to the gate just as boarding was about to begin and I could tell it was going to be a full flight based on the crowds around the boarding area. 


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After several lock-downs and curfews in the year I'd been living in the French countryside, this was the biggest crowd I'd seen in many months. What a difference from the 787-9 with only 10 passengers I had just flown from Paris! However, I had expected that domestic flights within the US would be full, especially given it was Thanksgiving week, so I was at least somewhat mentally prepared.

And the constant reminders to wear masks were reassuring. I didn't see a single person not wearing a mask or wearing it "wrong" (i.e. under the nose) throughout the journey despite all of the horror stories of anti-maskers I'd heard.  


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Despite the crowds, boarding went relatively smoothly and people generally respected a 6 ft (2m) distance. 


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Upon boarding cabin crew handed each passenger a small bag with water, snacks, and disinfectant wipes.


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The A321neo sports AA's new standard Domestic First class seat, the Collins Aerospace MiQ model. This is the same seat model used for long-haul Premium Economy, which I'd reviewed in the previous segment.  


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I had originally booked a window seat in the last row, as I often do when flying alone, but the woman assigned the aisle seat was mistakenly sitting in my seat thinking she had requested a window as well. I was feeling generous and told her that she could keep the window if she preferred.

That was my good deed for the day 😊


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Night was falling so there would be nothing to see anyway.
 
The seat pitch of 37-38" is also similar to the long-haul Premium Economy configuration.


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The biggest difference with Premium Economy being that there is no in-seat entertainment on the A321neo. As I's mentioned in previous reviews, American is actively working to remove seatback screens from the domestic narrowbody fleet.

While I find that move to be a shame, given that Delta has been working to ensure all non-regional subfleets have in-seat entertainment, I do appreciate that the new seats have tablet holders and a conveniently located USB port. There are also universal power outlets under the centre armrest. 


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As mentioned earlier, each passenger was given a plastic bag containing a small water, a snack, and disinfectant wipes to minimise cabin crew interactions during the flight. 


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The flight


Despite a completely full flight, boarding was completed early, and we pushed back from the gate a few minutes ahead of schedule.

The mood lighting was turned on as we pushed back from the gate. 


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After takeoff I checked out the streaming entertainment offer. There was a decent amount of content including films, series, documentaries, music, and games–mostly identical to the in-seat entertainment content on the long-haul leg. Also like the long-haul flight, Live TV channels were unavailable.  


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The eye-level tablet holder is definitely convenient and appreciated, though of course I would have preferred a seat-back screen, but I'm old school, I suppose. 


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In these times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the AA domestic premium cabin food offering has been reduced on most routes, except for the very longest domestic flights and premium transcons.

whereas 3h flights like this were previously catered with 3-course hot meals in pre-Covid days, they now receive a sandwich option, which used to be on the buy-on-board menu in Economy.


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I can't complain though, it's fresh food and the portion size was rather generous and included a chocolate chip cookie. There was also a full bar service. 

This reduced offering is actually a positive evolution over the first few months of the Pandemic where no meals were served at all in any cabins on domestic flights and alcohol was not available. 


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Wine in a plastic cup brings back memories of the US Airways days 😁

With the free IFE offering, the flight went by super quickly and before I knew it, we were making our descent into LAX. 


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With the early departure from DFW, and some favourable winds, we arrived at the gate over 20 minutes early.


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I was out to the car by the scheduled arrival time.

 Ah…LAX traffic….such a permanent fixture apparently not even a worldwide pandemic can stop it!


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Thanks for reading!

See more

Verdict

American Airlines

7.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering5.0

American Airlines Admirals Club - C

7.0/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering5.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services7.5

Dallas/Fort Worth - DFW

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.5

Los Angeles - LAX

7.6/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

Luckily I had been mentally prepared for a full flight during the pandemic and being in the forward cabin helped with having some extra space, since AA don't block any seats.

The new seat isn't as cushy or comfortable as the old Domestic First seats and legroom has been reduced from 40" pitch to 37-38", but it's perfectly fine for a 3h flight and in line with every other major North American carriers' products.

Premium cabin catering has been reduced during the pandemic and doesn't have anything premium about it, but I appreciate that it's fresh food and that the full bar is still available.

As I've said many times, I'm not happy with AA's move to remove seatback IFE from the narrowbody fleet, but the streaming offering is quite decent and there's a conveniently located tablet holder and USB power.

The cabin crew were friendly and came through the cabin regularly to offer refills, which is definitely above average in times of Covid.

Overall a pleasant and comfortable 3h flight and once again an immaculately clean cabin.

Information on the route Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Los Angeles (LAX)

9 Comments

  • Comment 571369 by
    Pilpintu 732 Comments

    Yes, finally a series of actual new flights!

    Yee peee!!! Much needed new flights! I was sure I would see a PanAm or TWA report posted here anytime. :D

    the closing on a new house (Yay)

    Felicidades! "Casa nueva, vida nueva" the saying goes. :)

    as a citizen of both France and the US, I was one of the few people actually authorised

    Some American you are! "AuthoriSed"? "MinimiSe"? XD

    touting several academic studies supporting the low incidence of Covid-transmission aboard aircraft

    Looks like there are studies for all tastes and purposes. Authorities and teacher unions are in a tug of war down here. The former say that schools can open because some studies say that children are low spreaders, while the latter cite studies claiming the opposite.

    it's at least psychologically reassuring

    You're right. I have seen computer simulations of how the virus spreads when someone sneezes, for example, in a supermarket. Barriers like shelves or panels are useless if you sneeze without wearing a mask!

    LATAM (LAN) 767-300ER

    Mish! What's that weón csm doing there? XD

    despite all of the horror stories of anti-maskers I'd heard

    I have seen shocking videos of passengers assaulting FAs when they're asked to wear their masks, spitting at them, grabbing them by the hair!!! Scary!

    That was my good deed for the day

    Awwwwwwww... Good boy! Good for her, too, because if that seat had been mine, she would still be unconscious in the local ICU. If she found an available bed, that is.
    (just kidding) ^^

    American is actively working to remove seatback screens from the domestic narrowbody fleet.

    I suppose that maintaining all that tech equipment must be a p.i.t.a. for an airline. And if a single screen fails, there'll be a frustrated passenger making the FA's life miserable.

    I'm happy to know that you had to go the US for such an exciting reason (and that you lived to tell!) XD

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 571396 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5378 Comments

      Hola Nelson, thanks for your comments as always!

      Yee peee!!! Much needed new flights! I was sure I would see a PanAm or TWA report posted here anytime. :D

      Yeah...it wouldn't be surprising. Would also be very interesting!

      Felicidades! "Casa nueva, vida nueva" the saying goes. :)

      Gracias ! Yes, that's exactly it. So far so good!

      Some American you are! "AuthoriSed"? "MinimiSe"? XD

      Haha, yeah...having learned British English in France...no matter how long I've been in the US, and despite my American accent, I still write tend to write in UK English since it comes more naturally.

      Looks like there are studies for all tastes and purposes.

      Exactly, and the study that is reference the most lately for airlines is a Harvard University study...which makes it sound prestigious, until you realise it was sponsored by airlines and airline trade groups...so make of that what you will, haha.

      I have seen shocking videos of passengers assaulting FAs when they're asked to wear their masks, spitting at them, grabbing them by the hair!!! Scary!

      Me too! So I was fully expecting to see non-compliance, but nope!

      Awwwwwwww... Good boy!

      She was a sweet grandmother, I had to be nice :)

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Comment 571371 by
    Esteban TEAM GOLD 12585 Comments

    Hey Kevin !

    Thank you for sharing this report.

    DL is definitively ahead in terms of IFE but also definitively behind in term of catering. As far as I know; it is still water bottle and snacks in Dom First even on longest routes. Just not sure about transcon.

    Traffic @ LAX and actually around LA is mostly always a nightmare. But the drive to San Diego from there is nice, remembers me very good time, think I took the I-5 more than 50 times :) :) You'll surely do it much more!

    Take care!

    • Comment 571397 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5378 Comments

      Hey Esteban, thanks a lot for your comments!

      As far as I know; it is still water bottle and snacks in Dom First even on longest routes. Just not sure about transcon.

      You are right! DL only offer a snack box on the same DFW-LAX route...and yes, even on Premium JFK-LAX 6h transcons...wow, crazy.

      Traffic @ LAX and actually around LA is mostly always a nightmare.

      It is THE absolute worst. The only noticeable difference now it that there's actually room to park in the LAX parking garages, whereas before they were always full or you'd have to park all the way at T6 and walk to T4/TBIT, which was a pain.

      But the drive to San Diego from there is nice, remembers me very good time, think I took the I-5 more than 50 times :) :) You'll surely do it much more!

      Indeed I do enjoy that ride, and have done it quite a few times already in the time I lived in San Diego in 2019 already. And I'm sure I'll definitely do it a billion more times since 90% of the time, flights are significantly cheaper from LAX, and there's much more choice of non-stops.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Comment 571406 by
    airberlin GOLD 930 Comments

    Thanks Kevin for sharing. I find the overall offering not bad at all. Of course I am comparing with european standards that went completly down for some of them. Service could be more appealing though with just minor changes: a tray and a plate to serve the sandwich on. It's probalby my european culture which speaks here^^. Looking forward to reading you soon again :)

    • Comment 571459 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5378 Comments

      Hi airberlin, thanks so much for your comments!

      I find the overall offering not bad at all. Of course I am comparing with european standards that went completly down for some of them.

      True, though it seems like EU carriers are beginning to bring back more elaborate service, and some airlines like LH never cut back J catering for the most part.

      Service could be more appealing though with just minor changes: a tray and a plate to serve the sandwich on. It's probalby my european culture which speaks here^^.

      Haha, I can relate obviously ^^ AA have since improved presentation, believe it or not, which I'll talk about in a future report.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 571414 by
    thejetflyer SILVER 120 Comments

    Hey Kevin.
    I loved your Report and the detail/photos are awesome !
    Hey, what are AA's Cabin Crew like if they someone taking photos ? I have never flown a US airline,but my mindset is that they go nuts if they see you taking photos ?

    • Comment 571460 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5378 Comments

      Hi thejetflyer, thanks so much for your comments!

      Hey, what are AA's Cabin Crew like if they someone taking photos ? I have never flown a US airline,but my mindset is that they go nuts if they see you taking photos ?

      I've personally not had any bad experienced with AA crews, but I've also heard some horror stories of FAs forcing pax to delete photos or even getting kicked off the plane. As a general rule, I always try to be discrete and quick and avoid taking pics of people. I'd previously read that AA's policy on photos on board states that only photography documenting "personal experiences for personal use" are allowed (i.e. selfies, food pics) and that photos of airline personnel and other passengers without express permission is strictly forbidden...of course, this is all logical and makes sense, hence why we have the face blurring tool in the editor.

      Hope that answers your question!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Comment 571552 by
        thejetflyer SILVER 120 Comments

        My pleasure to stop by Kevin !
        I really feel it is high time that airlines have proper policies on Social Media. In this day and age everyone has a smartphone/device to capture images. So long as no one's face is showing, then there should not be paranoia around someone taking photos. A friendly policy on the airline's website and in the inflight magazine / onboard announcements, should lay down the ground rules whilst encouraging an inflight product to be showcased.

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