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

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA2338
Class Business
Seat 9A
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 02:54
Take-off 28 Nov 20, 09:30
Arrival at 28 Nov 20, 14:24
AA   #47 out of 99 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 489 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 943
Published on 12th April 2021

Introduction


Hello, and welcome to the 3rd review in this new series of Flight-Reports.

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


photo aa-routing

pre-flight


To avoid driving from San Diego in the early morning hours, we had gotten a room at the LAX Westin for the night before the flight. 

Overall the stay was unremarkable with hotel restaurants closed and room service unavailable due to Covid. However, the location is convenient, the price was right, and there were some decent views from the room.


photo img_1336

Downtown L.A. and the San Gabriel Mountains


photo img_1338

The Hollywood sign was also visible from the room.


photo img_1339

It was even possible to do a bit of planespotting, though there wasn't much traffic in the early morning hours.


photo img_1340

The terminal was just a few hundred metres up the road from the hotel and traffic was pleasantly light, which is rare for LAX. 


photo img_0922photo img_0924

check-in & lounge


I arrived at American Airlines' Terminal 4 a little under 2h prior to departure. The terminal was already bustling, by Covid-era standards, anyway.


photo img_0926

There was no wait for the Priority check-in lanes, and I was able to drop off my bags and get on my way relatively quickly. I say relatively, because checking in for an international flight in times of Covid is more time-consuming given that agents have to look up entry regulations for the destination country and verify documentation, like Negative Covid-19 PCR test results and other required paperwork to enter France in my case. 


photo img_0928photo img_0927

TSA pre-check security was a breeze and I was through to the airside in minutes. It was nice to find the convenience of Pre-check  again after a year in Europe. 


photo img_0929

Airside, the concourse was even busier than the landside check-in area. 


photo img_0930

I headed to the lounge to pass the time before boarding. Since the onset of the Pandemic, many American Airlines lounges have been closed due to lower demand. Notably, AA's excellent premium Flagship Lounges have all been temporarily closed. All passengers with lounge access are accommodated in the Admirals Clubs, which were already bare bones prior to the pandemic, and haven't gotten any better since.


photo img_0931

Luckily, the Admirals Club was mostly quiet that day with a decent amount of seating available.


photo img_0932photo img_0933

Whereas food and drinks in Flagship lounges was plentiful and of good quality for International First/Business and Status-holding passengers, the complimentary offering in the Admirals Club is very basic with only a few pre-packaged crudités, fruit, or cereal available.

Everything else was for purchase, which I find to be a shame when flying long-haul Business class. In the days before Flagship lounges or in cities without Flagship lounges, International premium cabin passengers received 2 complimentary premium-drink coupons…those don't appear to be a thing anymore.


photo img_0934photo img_0936photo img_0937

There was at least a complimentary house red wine, white wine, or beer….Oh how I miss the free champagne in the Flagship lounges!

 At least I had a quiet corner of the lounge to myself!


photo img_0938photo img_0939

Views from the lounge…mostly AA aircraft.


photo img_0940

boarding


I left the Admirals Club and headed to the gate a few minutes before boarding was due to begin, passing by the LAX T4 Christmas tree that it seems I see every year. 


photo img_0941

Judging by the crowd in the gate area this was going to be a full flight. 


photo img_0942

Right as pre-boarding was called, I received a push notification from the AA app, that boarding was beginning…pretty fancy

The message included Covid-related info about aircraft cleaning and mask mandate.  


photo img_0944

Although widebodies on domestic flights have become more common since the beginning of the pandemic–as these aircraft have much less long-haul flying to do–787s have operated on the LAX-DFW route for years. I'd previously reviewed this route on a 787-9 in 2017.


photo img_0943

There was some semblance of social distancing during boarding, which backed up the jetbridge pretty quickly.


photo img_0945photo img_0946

If available, when travelling alone I like to book seats in the last row for the extra privacy.


photo aa-seats-lax-dfw

8A and 8L are window seats with no direct neighbour.


photo img_0947photo img_0948

As the cabin began to fill up it was evident it would be a full flight in both cabins. 

Empty flights during a pandemic? Not in the domestic US market! 


photo img_0949

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the long-haul Casper-branded bedding was provided for this 3h domestic flight.


photo img_0950photo img_0951photo img_0952

The in-flight entertainment remote control, AC power outlet, and USB port are located under the side console. The space is perfect for storing small items like phones during the flight.


photo img_0954photo img_0957photo img_0958

Touchscreen seat position controls are located on the side of the console.


photo img_0972

Legroom is fantastic, as one can expect from these long-haul full-flat full-aisle-access seats in reverse-herringbone configuration. This Collins Super Diamond model–equipped on all 787-9s and about half of the 777-200ER flee–is currently the best and latest long-haul Business class seat available in the AA fleet. 


photo img_0956

Like the inbound flight from DFW to LAX in the previous review, upon boarding every passenger received a sealed bag containing a small water, a snack, and a sanitising wipe. 


photo img_0955

This package is the extent of what is available in Economy on domestic flights as AA suspended buy-on-board service since the beginning of the pandemic, though limited soft drinks are available on request. Luckily, there will be additional food service in the premium cabin on this flight as "fresh snacks" are provided in First/Business on domestic flights over 900 miles.


photo img_0959

Boarding went along smoothly with no incidents and everyone wearing masks properly. With all the press-coverage of anti-maskers in the US I'd seen from Europe, I half-expected there to be at least one "Ken" or "Karen" to throw a fit on one of my 2 domestic flights, but nope! 


photo img_0953

The in-flight entertainment screens are nice and large with crisp displays. 


photo img_0960photo img_0962

Content is available to play as soon as you step on board.


photo img_0964

Content can be selected on the screen or the touchscreen remote control.


photo img_0965

You can even view the moving map on the remote screen, while enjoying a film on the large screen, which is a great option for AvGeeks and MapGeeks.


photo img_0966photo img_0967

Though obviously, the airshow is much more elaborate on the main screen.


photo img_0968photo img_0969

Once boarding wrapped up, the doors were quickly closed and we were out right on time.


photo img_0971photo img_0975

the flight


We pushed back looking towards the TBIT (Tom Bradley Int'l Terminal) from the left side.


photo img_0973photo img_0974

The Air France-esque (but in an awkward way) safety video played as we began to taxi.


photo img_0978photo img_0986

I think the AA livery looks great in the Southern California sunshine. Definitely my favourite colours of the major US carriers.


photo img_0982

I'm also a fan of Hawaiian's colours.


photo img_0988

What a contrast with Spirit's awful school-bus-yellow


photo img_0990

While I generally like United's new livery, as it's certainly an improvement over the post-merger livery, it feels like something's missing, though I can't quite put my finger on it…just feels unfinished somehow.


photo img_0993

Alaska Airlines special patriotic livery.


photo img_0994

There was no wait for departure and we took off as soon as we reached the end of the runway.

It was a lovely sunny and crisp un-smoggy day in L.A.


photo img_0999

passing over the scenic El Segundo refineries


photo img_1001photo img_1003

Then we turn back inland going around Palos Verdes peninsula



An informational video on Covid safety-measures is played shortly after takeoff.


photo img_1010photo img_1012

Looking North flying over the Port of Los Angeles and the massive Terminal Island with the city of Long Beach just to the East.


photo img_1014photo img_1015

As mentioned earlier, you can select IFE content right from the touchscreen remote control, which is very convenient. 


photo img_1017

Especially as the screen is rather far in such a spacious cabin. 


photo img_1016

Dryer landscapes as we head inland past the eastern suburbs of Ontario, Riverside, and San Bernardino.


photo img_1018photo img_1020

As we began to level out, flight attendants came through the cabin to offer one of 2 fresh snack option.

The choices were between a turkey sandwich or a fruit and yogurt box. I went for the latter as a cold sandwich didn't seem terribly appealing in the morning.  


photo img_1019

Though domestic First/Business catering has obviously been reduced due to the ongoing pandemic, AA's offering is generally better than the competition with fresh options on more flights. For example, until recently, DL was only offering a snack box even on 6h premium transcons like JFK-LAX, whereas AA serves a fresh snack on domestic flights over 900 miles and a full hot meal on flights over 4.5 hours in duration.

The extent of the urban sprawl around L.A. is always impressive. It just goes on and on, even from 30,000 feet up.


photo img_1021photo img_1022

Then, once over the mountains, we're over the sparsely populated California desert, no more freeways or strip malls.


photo img_1025photo img_1026

Towards the end of the breakfast service, flight attendants dim the lights and the cabin is plunged in pleasant violet mood lighting.


photo img_1027photo img_1028

The cabin crew also dimmed all windows, which I never care for on day flights. Luckily, the window darkening mechanism still worked for individual windows so I was able to lighten the window a bit to see out without bothering anyone with blaring light. 


photo img_1030

The rest of the flight was quiet and I settled in with a movie. FAs made a few rounds through the cabin for drinks.


photo img_1031

Cabin lights were turned back on and windows fully un-dimmed as we began our descent into DFW.


photo img_1039

Unlike sunny LA, there was a sea of clouds over central Texas. 


photo img_1037photo img_1038

One of the nice things about the Wi-Fi is that passengers have free access to AA.com and the AA app without needing to purchase Wi-Fi. 

With some strong tail winds, we were due to arrive well ahead of schedule.


photo img_1040

It was a gloomy late November day in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


photo img_1041photo img_1042

We did indeed land well ahead of schedule at 2:05PM


photo img_1044photo img_1045

Taxi time was short and we were at the gate over 10 minutes early.


photo img_1046photo img_1047

Being in the last row of the Business cabin, just ahead of door 2L, I was the 1st one off the aircraft.

Last view of our aircraft on deplaning.  


photo img_1048
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

8.0/10
Cabin9.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi9.5
Meal/catering5.0

American Admirals Club - 4

5.8/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering3.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services5.0

Los Angeles - LAX

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Dallas/Fort Worth - DFW

8.0/10
Efficiency8.5
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

It's always nice to fly on a widebody within the US, especially such a new aircraft equipped with AA's latest and greatest Business class product. Once again, I found the cabin to be spotlessly clean, like on the 2 previous flights, which does help to boost confidence in flying during a pandemic. Obviously, social distancing is much easier in long-haul premium cabins. While catering has been reduced and simplified in times of Covid, it was perfectly acceptable on a 2.5-3h flight.

Related

4 Comments

  • Comment 573164 by
    NewYorker GOLD 122 Comments

    Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing this report! Having been grounded since September, even the most ordinary domestic flight (well, apart from the aircraft) looks super exciting... though if all goes according to plan I'll be back in the air within a month! It's really nice to see that flights within the US are starting to fill up once again. It's a pity that AA is still only offering snack bags up front. I assume that LAX-DFW saw a full meal in F before the pandemic? It's also cool that AA flies what in my opinion is their best J seat domestically on non-transcons. Very much looking forward to the last installment, all the best, and happy flying! ✈️

    • Comment 573372 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5399 Comments

      Hey NewYorker, thanks a lot for your comments!

      Having been grounded since September, even the most ordinary domestic flight (well, apart from the aircraft) looks super exciting...

      Hah, yeah, after over 10 months without flying I've been happy to be on any plane really

      though if all goes according to plan I'll be back in the air within a month!

      Wooho! Looking forward to the reports

      I assume that LAX-DFW saw a full meal in F before the pandemic?

      Yep, full multi-course hot meal

      It's also cool that AA flies what in my opinion is their best J seat domestically on non-transcons.

      For sure, widebody flights are popping up all over the place right now.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 573652 by
    Thomas TEAM 432 Comments

    Hello Kevin,
    Thank you for your report, it feels good to see California !

    This is shot from a smartphone ? Photos are of good :)

    • Comment 573673 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5399 Comments

      Yup, most pics shot on my iPhone. It's become a pain to lug around my big DSLR and the pic quality on phones has gotten closer to DSLR levels. The 1st reports in this series I shot mostly on DSLR and then less and less for each flight haha.

      Thanks for stopping by!

Login to post a comment.