This report covers my trip to New York for the FR get together that took place last weekend. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Flavien, Kevin and Kristof for their hard work in organizing this successful event and wish FR continuing success in the future.
My trip on this inaugural flight was not planned and happened by chance. Originally I wanted to use my AM Premier miles to redeem a one way SFO-JFK on DL. In the beginning of February, I was booked on an AA mileage run from SFO-ORD for USD 200 roundtrip. The day before check-in, I felt sick and instead of resigning to lose the whole ticket, I tried to reason with AA and see if there was any way to waive the penalty and rebook on a later flight. I spoke to an agent who initially advised me that this was a non-refundable fare and the penalty was USD 200, which I knew beforehand. I then asked if there was any way that I could talk to a supervisor to implore my case and used my PLT status as leverage. I added that I was ready to rebook right away if necessary because at this point I did not yet reserved my DL ticket to JFK. She put me on hold for a few minutes and when she returned, she advised me that they were willing to waive the penalty if I brought a doctor's letter on the day of departure. This condition was noted on my reservation and I couldn't check-in unless I showed the letter to a counter agent. Of course I agreed with the condition and was glad that I could apply the value of the ticket for a new reservation. The new fare cost me USD 189 from SFO-JFK and I even received a credit for the difference.
At the time of rebooking I chose this flight due to its convenient schedule. I planned to take a late evening flight after work and the time worked for me. When I checked my reservation online I realized that this was operated with the new A321T, so I was wondering at the time if AA would do something special. I posted my question to AA on facebook and received a reply to check on their website. Of course, nothing was posted about this event so I resigned myself to experience an ordinary flight.
On the day of departure, I was dropped off at T2 and with boarding pass in hand I proceeded to the gate. T2 which is used by AA and VX is a new terminal that is one of the most comfortable and stylish that I have ever seen within the USA.
Area after passing through security
Admirals Club on the left side
The spacious terminal has a few decent restaurants and shops
Inside the terminal
Near gate 58A where my flight departed there was a kiosk marketing this new transcon flight
Balloons at the gate
Too bad that the gate agents mood did not match the festive displays. Although they were polite, there was a certain indifference about their demeanor that was noticeable. To me they seemed indifferent and going about on their routine. In addition, there was an absence of any senior management member and lack of special touches like a cake to mark the special occasion except for the balloons.
We boarded on time and the crew onboard seemed more enthusiastic about the inaugural. There were a lot of smiles and proactive greetings. On each seat there was a bag containing giveaways that consisted of a note explaining the occasion, a certificate to redeem 500 Advantage miles, and a small mouse with the new AA logo. I'm not sure if F or J received a different bag.
The flight had a slight delay and instead of leaving at 2230 we left at 2245. Our actual arrival into JFK turned out to be at 0649 instead of 0632. Not too bad in the end.
The captain welcomed us onboard this special flight and after take off FA's passed around with mimosas (champagne with orange juice) or champagne (more like sparkling wine because I am sure that they were not French in origin). The FA's were kind and attentive in their interaction with the passengers which made the flight more bearable. When one of the passengers were shy in selecting the sparkling wine, the FA asked him if he was sure saying that he might not be offered this every time he flies.
After the drinks the FA's rolled out the beverage cart along with snacks for sale. I purchased one of their new boxes and it contained a good assortment of snacks. There was no fresh food choices like sandwiches or cheese plates for late departures.
Mood lightning was used as well throughout the cabin
Once we arrived at JFK, I stayed a bit behind to take some pictures. I wanted to see how spacious the bulkhead seats were in row 11 and they were indeed roomy. However, there was no window so if view or light are important to you, stay away from this row.
Parked next to a sister US plane
The ultra spacious row 11
My plane at the gate @ JFK
Some Brazilian visitors this morning
Welcome to New York
Once at JFK, I was supposed to wait for my friend coming from IST, so I had a little over 4 hrs to kill. I decided to get into DL T4 and experience their Sky Club. Of all the U.S. lounges, I think DL has a slight advantage in terms of food and tends to offer a little more compared to the domestic competition. Of course, if you are used to airline lounges outside of the U.S. most of them are miles ahead in terms of food offered.
View from inside DL terminal
Entrance to DL SkyClub at T4
My initial impression was positive. I was greeted at the reception desk by a courteous agent and when he inquired how I would pay for my access, I pointed out that full Y tickets on transcon flights are allowed in the lounge. He apologized for the oversight and when I told him that I don't need more drama this early in the morning, he had a good laugh and welcomed me with a smile. I then headed to the shower area and requested one from the attendant. She was a bit robotic and asked me if I needed any extra toiletries from a list that was posted at the counter. I advised her that I did not need anything and she escorted me right to one of the showers.
Half glass partition separating shower from toilet
The lounge seemed spacious with different areas to sit. It was bright and there was a bar area in the middle. In the afternoon, guests can order paid food from a menu. DL was conducting a test with the introduction of new catering items at certain lounges across the U.S., but unfortunately JFK was not one of the selected test clubs. A captive audience perhaps, but given the importance of this hub I was surprised that it was not included.
A unique feature of this club is the Skydeck, but unfortunately it was closed due to the cold weather.
Breakfast options consisted of yogurt, muffins and pastries, hot oatmeal with toppings, hummus and crackers.
Since this lounge had nice views of the tarmac, I enjoyed some plane spotting.
When my friend arrived, we headed to the Hotel Indigo in Brooklyn for 1 night. I have always been curious about this brand from the Priority Club properties and even though the room was small, it did not disappoint. The property has a boutique feel and was very stylish. The room kind of reminds me of the movie A Clockwork Orange. Staff was excellent and friendly so I had a nice stay.
Hotel Indigo Brooklyn
Second floor lounge with bar and computer terminals
Room with view
San Francisco - SFO
New York - JFK
I had a memorable flight and weekend trip. An inaugural flight is always special and the gifts that I received made for some nice souvenirs. Personally I find that 500 miles is a bit lacking, but it is better than nothing and the gesture is appreciated. FA's were enthusiastic and professional and that made for an enjoyable flight.
Normally on a trip report one would start with a lounge experience at the beginning of a trip, not after arrival and much less on a competitor's one. Sometimes I can be a bit unorthodox and out of the norm in that sense. I enjoyed the DL SkyClub and found that most of the personnel were friendly and efficient. The only regret is not being able to experience the SkyDeck, but hopefully there will be future opportunities to do so.
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