Review of American Airlines flight Dallas/Fort Worth Paris in Business

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA48
Class Business
Seat 9A
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 09:00
Take-off 28 Nov 20, 17:00
Arrival at 29 Nov 20, 09:00
AA   #32 out of 66 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 508 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 2353
Published on 17th May 2021

Introduction


Hello, and welcome to the 4th and final 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: 



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transit & lounge


Having arrived from LAX at Terminal A, I needed to get to International Terminal D for my connecting flight to Paris CDG, so I headed straight for the Skylink airside train. 


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There are always great views from the DFW train, granted it's mostly AA at this fortress hub so there's not a whole lot of diversity in the scenery.


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Arriving at International Terminal D, it's much less active than I've seen it in pre-Covid times of course. 


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Coming off the train, another sign of the times, locations for Rapid Covid-testing available for select flights.


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My aircraft to Paris was parked just across from the Skylink escalator, though I was in no rush as I still had about 2 hours before departure.


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DFW Terminal D is one of the nicer terminal buildings in the US with ample seating, services, restaurants, lounges, and lots of natural light. 

As well as some interesting art… 


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Even the gigantic Christmas tree was unique with its lighted walk-through tunnel. 


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I made my way to the Admirals Club–the recently opened new Flagship lounge being temporarily closed during Covid, like all other Flagship lounges in the system.
 
An impressive departures board for being in the heat of the pandemic, several months prior to mass-vaccinations. Obviously the Thanksgiving holiday week had something to do with it, but the robustness of activity attests to the DFW hub's massive role in the AA network, even with a deeply cut pandemic-era schedule.  


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Signs outside and inside the Admirals Club elevator.


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The renovated Admirals Club looks much better than what I'd remembered from my last visit to this location a few years back. 

With comparatively fewer international departures than domestic, the lounge was pleasantly quiet with plenty of seating options available.  


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There is a kids' playroom, but it was temporarily closed during the pandemic. Good to know it's there for future flights through DFW with my son post-pandemic. 


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With only about a dozen people in the lounge at the time, I was able to get a corner window seat with a nice view of the tarmac.


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I didn't grab any food while in the lounge as I wasn't hungry–though, there wasn't much to eat had I wanted to. Aside from some pre-packages sweet and salty snacks and crudités, there was a soup which had to be requested to be served from a lounge attendant.


boarding


I made my way to the gate a few minutes before boarding was due to begin.


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All passengers were asked to check in at the gate podium to have PCR-test results verified and to pick up mandatory forms to complete onboard. Gate agents also announced that this flight would be automatically boarding using US CBP e-Gate Biometric Boarding machines.


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This was the first time I'd seen this anywhere and was pretty impressed, but also admittedly a bit creeped-out by the experience.

As boarding was announced, I walked up to the machine and didn't even have time to take off my mask for the camera that it had already taken my photo and recognised me based on my facial features–with a MASK ON!! As I pondered how creepy that was for half a second, the gate agent said "Thanks Kevin, you're all set" without seeing my passport or boarding pass or anything!

Very efficient, but also did I mention creepy? 


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Judging by the few passengers waiting in the gate area, this flight was going to be mostly empty, much like the flight from Paris had been. I would later find out from a flight attendant that there were 32 passengers on board. While that is a very light load, it was 3 times the amount of passengers on the flight over the previous week. 
 
The day of departure, the flight was showing 8 seats occupied in Business class. In the end there ended up being about a dozen passengers, a few of which were non-revs (staff).  


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The Business class cabin on this 787-9 is exactly the same as the LAX-DFW flight, also operated by a 787-9.

The Collins Aerospace Super Diamond reverse-herringbone seats are arranged in a spacious 1-2-1 layout, affording each passenger with privacy and direct aisle-access. This seat model is currently AA's best long-haul Business class product and is found on all 787-9s and half of the 777-200ER fleet.  


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Whenever available, I select seat 8A or 8L when travelling alone on a 787-9 as these are solo seats with no seats directly across the aisle, affording additional privacy. 


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A small storage space under the side console contains the in-flight entertainment remote control, as well as a USB port and universal power outlet. It's also a perfect place to keep smartphones and other small electronic devices. 


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Shortly after settling in, a very friendly native French-speaking flight attendant came through greeting passengers and handing out noise-cancelling headphones and plastic-wrapped amenity kits. 


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Amenity kit outside of wrapping.


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Decent content with larger-sized travel toothpaste, which is always useful.


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A few minutes later, the FA returned with printed menus.

On paper, there did not seem to be much change in the catering from pre-pandemic times, unlike the Domestic US sectors.  


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Champagne and a decent wine selection were still available, so no obvious cost-cutting here at least. 


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I took a quick look at the paperwork given at the gate to get it filled out before departure so I could just put it away and be done with it.

I'd already filled out the "attestation" online stating I qualified to enter France during border closures as a French citizen.

The other form was a passenger locator form for contact tracing should any cases on Covid-19 later be found amongst passengers of this flight.  


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Boarding was completed about 20 minutes before departure, but it was a bit too early to close the doors. Flight attendants came through the cabin to take drink and dinner orders during that time. 

There were no pre-departure drinks served due to Covid service protocols minimising crew interactions, though each passenger received a small bottle of water. 


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Exactly like my flight from Paris, the Premium Economy cabin was empty, except for 1 passenger. 


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Legroom is great as you'd expect in long-haul Business class. The seats recline to a fully-flat 79" (2m) bed in sleep mode. 


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The seat commands are touchscreen on these newer models and located on the side console. 


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Literature pocked with safety card tucked away behind and off to the side. 


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Additional small storage space below the side console, perfect for the headphone case. 


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The on-demand in-flight entertainment is available gate-to-gate.


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…though I like to start out my flights with the airshow. 


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Doors were closed 10 minutes before departure and we were ready to go. 


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the flight


The safety video played as we pushed back from the gate and began to taxi to the runway.


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It was just beginning to rain as we taxied


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I'm not sure if the rain had anything to do with it, but the taxi time was super long, and we ended up losing the time we had banked with out early push-back from the gate. 

What a sharp contrast with the ghost town that Paris-CDG was when I had flown out a week earlier. Hard to believe we were in the midst of a pandemic with so much traffic.  


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We finally took off after taxiing for 40 minutes. 


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A video on American's Covid-policies and enhanced cleaning procedures was played shortly after takeoff. 


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The IFE remotes are great on these newer model seats. 

You can of course select content from the remote.  


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But you can also play some content on the remote, like the airshow. My AvGeekness appreciates the ability to have the  moving map on the remote's screen while watching a movie. 


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The only difference with the IFE content vs pre-pandemic times is that LiveTV is no longer available on long-haul aircraft. 


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As mentioned earlier, pre-dinner drink orders had been taken on the ground and were served about 20 minutes into the flight.

This is where the Covid-era changes were most apparent. Drinks in disposable plastic cups.

I knew to expect it, but my French heart screamed out in pain to see champagne in a plastic cup…I may have let out a small audible whimper of sadness. The French FA cringed and gave a knowing look. 


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I know I know, #FirstWorldProblems right? Honestly, it was fine. I was just thankful there still was champagne at all.

The fun Holiday napkin dressed it up  🎄😉


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The dinner service itself wasn't much different from pre-pandemic times, except that plastic and aluminium covers were left on each plate for sanitary reasons. 

I believe that dinner on overnight long-haul flights was already on a single tray prior to Covid, with only daytime flights and ultra-long-haul still coursed out properly, so this wasn't new, if I'm not mistaken. 

Appetiser:
Paprika-Lemon Chicken
butternut hummus, shaved asparagus, chipotle aioli


Main:
Herbed Roasted Chicken Breast
pomodoro sauce, sweet potato mash, green beans  


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I probably wasn't thinking when I ordered the chicken, considering the appetiser was already a chicken dish, but I'm always afraid that beef or fish will be too overcooked and inedible. 

The appetiser and main were both tasty and very different so it wasn't an issue. I like that AA show their Texan/Southwestern US heritage with touches like including chipotle in so many dished.  


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I stuck with champagne throughout the meal and the fantastic FA kept my fancy cup filled. Despite being busy during the dinner service, she always took a few extra seconds to chat, which I thought was very nice. 


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By the end of dinner we were over rural Illinois. 


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I was still working on my 3rd (or 4th?) refill 😊


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After dinner, I indulged in a cognac to enjoy with the rest of my movie before going to sleep. I like these longer eastbound transatlantic flights over the shorter flights from the East Coast as the extra flight time allows for a decent amount of sleep without having to skip dinner and/or a film. 


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The Casper bedding is very comfortable and slept like a baby throughout the transatlantic crossing and woke up over Ireland, as it seems I always do.


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Breakfast was served a bit over an hour before landing in Paris. 

There was no hot option for breakfast, as I believe there was prior to Covid. The only option was fresh fruit with granola, yogurt and a croissant.  

Again, everything came individually wrapped for sanitary reasons.  


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Sans plastic-wrap


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Ah, sunrise on a transatlantic flight…


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Always a magical and peaceful moment. 


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We began out descent as we cross the English Channel and the cabin was readied for arrival. 


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Despite leaving the gate 10 minutes early in Dallas, we were due to arrive 20 minutes late due to the long taxi time on departure. 


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Clouds began to break up as we approached CDG


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Though there was some fog over the airport


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We landed 10 minutes after we should have parked at the gate.


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I always love seeing the new Vietnam Airlines livery. So refreshing in its lack of white!


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Some last views of the cabin on arrival. 


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Thanks for the ride N831AA!


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After the Thanksgiving crowds in US airports, it was back to Lock-down reality in France with empty airports. Immigration was quick with no queue–the border agent did verify the PCR test results. 


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See more

Verdict

American Airlines

8.5/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering7.0

American Airlines Admirals Club - D

6.5/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering6.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services6.0

Dallas/Fort Worth - DFW

8.0/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Paris - CDG

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

Conclusion

Once again, the aircraft was spotlessly clean and the very light load added to my comfort level. I had been anxious flying for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, but the experiences eased my anxieties. I am fully cognisant, however, that being in premium cabins for these flights played a role in my feeling "safe" due to the natural social-distancing that those cabins afford. I honestly can't say how I would have felt on a packed flight in Economy.

Flight attendants were fabulous on this flight, much like the flight over from Paris. Meals were surprisingly decent for the pandemic-era. In the same period, airlines with more premium images like British Airways and Turkish Airlines were still serving boxed cold meals in long-haul Business class. The only really noticeable difference over pre-pandemic times here was the plastic cups. IFE system and content were very good as always--the Wi-Fi would need to be free in premium cabins for a perfect score.

Overall a very good series of flights! I was excited to fly again after over 9 months of being grounded and am thankful to have had good experiences and to have felt safe flying again.

Information on the route Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Paris (CDG)

9 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 573905 by
    ISTFlyer GOLD 365 Comments

    Hi Kévin and thanks for sharing this report with us,

    I am planning to fly ex-DFW on a long-haul flight soon so this report was something really nice to read before deciding on which cabin to travel on AA.
    The Admirals Club is a huge disappointment, especially when the Flagship Lounge's are closed. At least AA could have done something for international J passengers like offering free premium drinks like the past and maybe one paid food item for free. However, I heard that there are slight improvements at this time ( May 2021 ).
    The hard product and the amenities looks pretty solid and even the drink list looks good in the era where TK & BA was cost cutting as you mentioned; although the lack of hot breakfast before arrival looks a bit cheap as well as the quality of the dinner after takeoff. You are also right that the US3 served hot breakfast on these flights pre-pandemic.

    The only difference with the IFE content vs pre-pandemic times is that LiveTV is no longer available on long-haul aircraft.

    - Not surprised at all; as late-April 2021, they offer only Bloomberg as a live TV option on narrow-body aircraft.

    I'm glad that you enjoyed the ride on N831AA and hope to read more reports from you in the future :)

    • Comment 573983 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5607 Comments

      Hi ISTFlyer, thanks for your comments!

      I am planning to fly ex-DFW on a long-haul flight soon so this report was something really nice to read before deciding on which cabin to travel on AA.

      That's great! I'm always happy to learn if a report can be useful!

      The Admirals Club is a huge disappointment, especially when the Flagship Lounge's are closed.

      Yes, I totally agree. It's really a shame that they did away with the premium drink tickets that used to be given to Intl J passengers in Admirals Club. It has become a sad experience.

      Not surprised at all; as late-April 2021, they offer only Bloomberg as a live TV option on narrow-body aircraft.

      Oh no, is the beIN Sports channel gone now? It was there when I flew early April...would be a shame if it's gone when it was new only a few months ago :-/

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Comment 573989 by
        ISTFlyer GOLD 365 Comments

        Thanks for the reply,

        Oh no, is the beIN Sports channel gone now? It was there when I flew early April...would be a shame if it's gone when it was new only a few months ago :-/

        - It is gone since late-April ( the earliest ) or there is a temporary glitch for a long period that doesn't list it. On one occasion, I was planning to watch multiple La Liga games back to back, however, I have learned my lesson late that BeIN Sports wasn't available on that flight. If plans doesn't change, I'll fly AA domestic in the upcoming days and report back.

        Best,

  • Comment 573932 by
    757Fan 610 Comments

    Thank for this report, Kevin. Looks like an impressive offering by American on this flight. Food looks great, and sounds like service was top notch!

    • Comment 573984 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5607 Comments

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your comments as always! Yes, a pretty decent on board offering by AA in the midst of the pandemic. Certainly better than what many more premium carriers were offering on TATL flights at the time.

      Thanks!

  • Comment 574007 by
    Esteban TEAM GOLD 14375 Comments

    Hi Kévin and thanks for sharing,

    The boarding thing looks indeed creepy but efficient :)

    The catering is far from nice. The "petit plat" translation was funny but that was it. Also seasonal dessert doesn't mean a lot ^^

    See you soon!

    • Comment 574035 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5607 Comments

      Thanks for your comments my dear Esteban!

      The boarding thing looks indeed creepy but efficient :)

      Exactly. It's really efficient as well on arrival as I later learned.

      The catering is far from nice.

      Haha, well this is AA after all. However, as I mentioned in the report, the catering is better than what BA and TK were offering at the time, with just cold meals in a box. So comparatively, not so bad.

      Thanks for stopping by :-)

  • Comment 574358 by
    Matthevv GOLD 144 Comments

    Hello Kevin!

    A top notch report as always, thanks a lot for sharing! DFW looked so much busier than any European airport at the time, I'm definitely jealous... ;-) Anyway, it looks like a solid Business Class experience from AA, just except for the plastic cups that make us all feel sad when we look at them. Do you think AA came back to glass already (like BA for example, where you already get a normal service in J)?

    Mateusz

    • Comment 574424 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5607 Comments

      Hi Mateusz, thanks for your comments!

      DFW looked so much busier than any European airport at the time, I'm definitely jealous... ;-)

      Haha, I'll say it's nice to have a decent amount of flight options (at least Domestic US), but I didn't really miss crowds

      Do you think AA came back to glass already (like BA for example, where you already get a normal service in J)?

      I don't believe so, though I think that may be happening this summer. I will be flying AA TATL Business in August...we'll see if it's back by then.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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