Review of American Airlines flight San Francisco New York in Economy

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA 18
Class Economy
Seat 14D
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 05:02
Take-off 06 Mar 14, 22:30
Arrival at 07 Mar 14, 06:32
AA   #73 out of 135 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 332 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 7272
Published on 12th March 2014
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

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Admirals Club on the left side

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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

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Balloons at the gate

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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.

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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

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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

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The ultra spacious row 11

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My plane at the gate @ JFK

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Some Brazilian visitors this morning

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Welcome to New York

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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

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Entrance to DL SkyClub at T4

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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.

Showers

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Toiletries

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Sink area

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Half glass partition separating shower from toilet

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Shower

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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.

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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

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Second floor lounge with bar and computer terminals




Room with view




See more

Verdict

American Airlines

8.6/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Meal/catering8.0

San Francisco - SFO

9.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

New York - JFK

9.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.5
Cleanliness9.5

Conclusion

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.

Information on the route San Francisco (SFO) New York (JFK)

20 Comments

  • Comment 101886 by
    Denzee 1773 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this inaugural flight between SFO and JFK.

    Thanks to you and Pititom, we now have a complete picture of the offer on the AA 321 transcon !!

  • Comment 101894 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10681 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    If you want to see how the SFO Admiral's Club looks : http://flight-report.com/fr/report-3088.html

    Nice gift for this inaugural : a friend offered me the same mouse but forgot the miles

    Is there few beverages' offers during the flight ?

    The red colour of the DL Skyclub's shower is really too much :(

    The room kind of reminds me of the movie A Clockwork Orange
    Fortunately you didn't have the same fate as in the movie

    Looking for your return leg

    • Comment 289645 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      On the contrary, thank you for being the inspiration that you are at FR. Your superb FR's and encouraging comments set an example for everyone. I am sure that I do not only speak for myself when I say that you are one of the key members who make FR a success.

      Your link to the AA Admirals Club is appreciated. I have been to that club previously and it is one of the nicest ones in the AA system.

      Well, I guess know your set of gifts is complete.

      A full beverage service was offered during the flight. However, this was done only once and it would have been nice to have it one more time before arrival with coffee or tea. I guess too many people were sleeping and FA's wanted to let people maximize their sleep.

      The red color at DL Sky Club is there to perhaps convey a feeling of excitement, strength, or determination. Psychologically it is a powerful color and it is used as a marketing tool. I agree that it can be too in your face and should be more restrained, especially in the shower area.

      If anything I had a heavenly stay. Perhaps I am blessed with an angel looking after me. ;)

      Stay tuned for my bonus on NY on the next FR. I concentrated on a more local experience in the Upper East Side and hope that some of you will find it refreshingly different.

    • Comment 289648 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Not too many sites can brag about having such a complete set of a new product report in such a short time. This makes FR a reliable source for the latest developments and should be bookmarked by every aviation enthusiast.

      I won the forgiveness lottery. How can you know if a door would open if you do not knock first?

      It's disappointing that they did not do more at the gate and I found it surprising that AA facebook and AA site did not really promote this better. I guess a mouse is a useful gift since people would use it and probably did not cost AA any money since this gave exposure to Thales. However, I had an older gentleman sitting next to me in the Main Cabin Extra area and tried to figure out what the heck was a mouse. Chances are that he was an elite traveler too but this shows you that the mouse gift does not cover all demographics. A key chain would have been more effective in my opinion.

      I had a fully refundable transcon ticket which allowed me access.

      The pleasure was mutual. I look forward as well.

  • Comment 101896 by
    pititom GOLD 10270 Comments

    Thanks for this FR ! It's great to have the review of all the 3 cabins at the same time :)

    The agent was very kind rebooking you and even more allowing credit.

    It's surprising that no more than balloons were at the terminal to advertise the event. On the other hand, free cocktails and the bag onboard are nice...but why a mouse ?

    I didn't get how you could make it to DL lounge with an AA ticket ?

    Very nice to have met you in person in NYC, looking forward the next time :)

  • Comment 101927 by
    directorphilip2 82 Comments

    Nice report :), so the re-invention of transcon means it's re-aligning with usairways? :)

    • Comment 289649 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      I guess time will tell. From what I've seen so far, it seems that US will be following AA but they are still operating as separate companies. With such an important premium passenger base at JFK, ORD, MIA, DFW and LAX, I doubt AA can afford to be behind the pack in terms of amenities and premium offerings.

  • Comment 101930 by
    indianocean SILVER 6606 Comments

    We now have full reports of the new A321 Transcon cabin, thanks to you and pititom.
    AA can be proud of their new product because it's very nice.
    The snacks box is not very healthy though.
    Thanks for this report and hope you are now feeling better.

  • Comment 101938 by
    KL651 TEAM 4455 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    So it appears snacks have to be paid for in Y contrary to what one may understand in Pititom's report.
    The seats look good with this navy blue and grey colours.
    This cabin sure is mile away from the rest of AA fleet.
    How could you get into the Skyclub which is airside without a boarding pass?
    I was equally disappointed both by the lack of the testfood in this Skyclub and the closed Skydeck.

    • Comment 289706 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Indeed my snack was paid.

      Where there is a will, there is a way the saying goes. I played by the rules and knew which passengers had access.

      I am afraid that the Skydeck was closed due to the cold weather. God forbid if someone goes out, gets ill and tries to sue DL.

  • Comment 102009 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4976 Comments

    Another beautiful report! Thanks for the mention in the FR...I'm flaterred :-)
    Too bad there weren't more festivities at the gate, but it's nevertheless very cool to be on an inaugural flight--the flight probably got the water salut on the arrival (which is probably when most of the festivities happened). This cabin really seems to feel very premium--well, as premium as coach can get anyway! LOL. The Champagne is a nice touch!
    OK, Im confused, how did you get into the DL SkyClub? You mention a full Y fare, but you flew AA. Did you buy a refundable transcon full Y and then cancel for reimbursement? I've heard of people doing that before. Your pics of the Sky Club are so nive they looks like they're straigt out of DL promotional materials and marketing stuff! Thanks again for sharing this special Flight-Report and it was such a pleasure to have you in NYC for our first US FR Meet-up!

    • Comment 289707 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      The pleasure was mine Kevin.

      I used a refundable fare to gain access. I was very curious about DL's new lounge and decided to check it out while I waited for my friend.

    • Comment 289708 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4976 Comments

      Ah! Great to know my instincts were correct! The SkyClub has a decent food selection at breakfast, but is really on par with other US lounges the rest of the day i.e. lame, LOL. I was soooo disappointed on Sunday to discover that the SkyDeck was closed since I've been known to spend hours out there planespotting. It was colder in late November when I was there and it was open then...no idea why it would be closed in March...oh well. Next time I go though there it will be open. I was also really disappointed that the JFK club was not part of the trial for food offering...it's the Flagshop club along with ATL Concourse F, so I was really surprised, especially since I was hungry after a long day of being a tourist.

    • Comment 289709 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Are you sure you are a tourist and not a traveler? I'm surprised monsieur.

      The only lounges within the U.S. that are worth spending money are the VS Clubhouses and so far I've been to the one at SFO and JFK. Stylish, comfortable and with a la carte dining service. Just splendid!

  • Comment 102090 by
    Chibcha 430 Comments

    Thanks for this report, AA's new product looks great. Hope I can test it soon on their A319 to DFW, they haven't rolled it on their MIA flights yet.
    The spotting at JFK looked really cool.

    Greetings!

  • Comment 102912 by
    A380B77W 4347 Comments

    Thanks for this great FR :)

    Awesome spotting at JFK :D !

    AA Transcon' product looks good by the way :) !

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