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

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA175
Seat 5A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 03:35
Take-off 16 Jan 15, 06:00
Arrival at 16 Jan 15, 08:35
AA   #53 out of 115 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 362 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 4085
Published on 11th February 2015
Hello and welcome to this new series of Flight-Reports with AA. As some may be aware, I'd recently decided to switch loyalty from Delta to American and did a status challenge to gain top tier status. In order to get 30K miles in 90 days, the best way to get there fast is with long flights so it was logical to take AA's longer flight. This one roundtrip was worth almost 19K miles on its own.


The routing:

Washington Reagan DCA - Dallas Fort Worth DFW, American Airlines, B737-800 [THIS REPORT]
Dallas Fort Worth DFW - Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok HKG, Amercian Airlines, B777-300ER
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok HKG - Dallas Fort Worth DFW, American Airlines, B777-300ER
Dallas Fort Worth DFW - Washington Reagan DCA, American Airlines, B737-800 [SOON]

This report is going to be rather short as the early morning hours and a stressful situation (I'll get into that in a bit) were not conducive to the making of a detailed report. But no worries I flew plenty of legs in AA legs before and after this trip so I'll have many AA domestic First reports to post…I know, how exciting right? :-)

I won't go too much into detail, but the problems started when I couldn't check in online or on the app the night before. I was travelling with an Executive Platinum friend in the same reservation who called the ExPlat desk to inquire about this issue. The agent tells us that the system seems to be having a problem associated to using an SWU with two passengers in the PNR with different status. This didn't really make any sense since this scenario probably happens all the time and the SWUs had already cleared. After repeated tries and even re-issuing the tickets, the ExPlat desk could still not figure out what was wrong and was unable to get us checked in for the flight so they advised us to check in at the airport in the morning. I'm not a fan of not being checked in ahead of time in case something goes wrong, but what can you do.

The morning of departure, I got to the counter at DCA at 4:30AM for a 6AM flight giving myself enough time to go to the counter to fix whatever was wrong with my reservation. I first tried to check in at a self-check in kiosk, but of course it didn't work. I then had to stand in line in the Priority Lane for a good 10 minutes, which I was not thrilled about considering I had no bags to check. At the check in counter, the agent worked for over 45 minutes trying to fix my ticket. She was finally able to issue the DCA-DFW boarding pass, but not the DFW-HKG boarding pass. A supervisor assured me that they would work on fixing the issue and that it should be all fixed by the time I go to Dallas. She told me to go ahead and get to the gate since it was getting late and check at the Admirals Club or a service counter in DFW. I was glad that we had a 4 hour layover in DFW so that we could get everything straightened out, but as a new-ish AA Elite, this mysterious ticketing issue was not giving me a great impression of AA's IT. Considering AA and US have not yet merged their reservations/ticketing systems, it is not giving me a lot of confidence for the day that it happens. Note to self…don't fly on that day (slated for 4th Quarter).

Needless to say, I had to rush to get to the gate. When I got there boarding had just started so I did not get a chance to take a pic of the plane, but it was in the old colors as you can see from this pic of the door 1L.

photo IMG_2807

A warm welcome on board by a cheerful crew despite the early morning hour. A flight attendant came to my seat to take my coat as soon as I got settled in. We were offered a choice of water or orange juice for Pre-departure drinks. So far in my experience with AA in Domestic First, I find them to be inconsistent with offering PDBs. I had not been offered PDBs on about 20% of my flights in F so far and when you are offered it is usually just a choice of water and orange juice whereas in all my years as a Delta flyer, PDBs were always open bar and always offered. This is a point that AA could improve, but on an early morning flight, a choice of water and OJ is totally fine.

Great seat Pitch.

photo IMG_2813

First class is full as usual. Listening to the chatter in the cabin I gathered that about half of the passengers in F were on a family trip to Cancun. You could kind of tell they were a family from their similar traits and all the men wore baseball caps. It was like a group uniform, LOL.

photo IMG_2812

We pushed back on time and took off facing north after a relatively short taxi time. On the left side of the aircraft, we had a view of the Pentagon.



The overhead TVs came down shortly after takeoff and an episode of the new NBC series State of Affairs was shown. I first saw this show on an AA flight and am now addicted to it.

photo IMG_2814

The meal was served about a half hour after takeoff. There was a choice of omelette or French Toast Strata with peaches. I had never had French Toast strata before so I went to that. I'm glad I did because it was delicious, though I found the portions to be on the small side. I washed breakfast down with a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) to calm my nerves after all my ticketing woes :-)

photo IMG_2815

My seatmate got up after the meal and gave me an opportunity to take a pic of the seat with which I am very familiar by now.

photo IMG_2816

The sun is rising

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The sun may be rising, but I was fading. After the stress of the morning and the vodka starting to do the trick, I fell asleep until landing when a FA came to ask me to put my seat back upright.

And here we are on our descent over the plains of North Texas.

photo IMG_2821

Downtown in the distance…though I have no idea if it's Dallas or Fort Worth, I'm guessing the latter.

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We got to the gate 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which was great as it would allow me more time to get the ticket issue fixed in case I needed it. Though I was hoping that it would be all fixed as the supervisor in DCA had told me.

photo IMG_2825

We park next to our next plane. What a beauty, can't wait to get on!

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Thanks for reading and see you soon for the DFW-HKG leg!
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

7.3/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering7.5

Washington - DCA

7.9/10
Efficiency5.5
Access9.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Dallas/Fort Worth - DFW

8.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

An overall good flight with AA in Domestic First. A comfortable seat, good crew, and decent catering. Though I think DL usually does better with breakfast, I give AA credit for originality.

On-time departure with early arrival.

Information on the route Washington (DCA) Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)

7 Comments

  • Comment 129197 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Sorry about the stressful situation (especially in the early morning), definitely not the way to kick off a vacation, but all's well that ends well, no?

    Breakfast could have done with a yogurt to add a little bit more heft to the tray, the strata does look a little small on it's own since it is the same size as the biscuit (an ode to Texas!). Not having any chance to grab your fill of carrot sticks in the lounge probably added to your hunger for breakfast.

    Only the newer B738s have PTVs in F?

    I cringe every time I see those tincan liveries on AA, it just looks so cheap.

    DFW-HKG (west-bound) is probably one of the longest flights AA does so a good chance to really test out the new Cirrus seat, looking forward to the next reports, too bad you couldn't take CX on the way back for a direct comparison.

    PS - You guessed the correct city, Dallas still has the glory of a big oil skyline. Fort Worth's skyline is non-existent, lol.

    • Comment 310424 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5319 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, standing at the counter for 45 minutes definitely ate up all my Club time, I was not happy about that. I could have gone for a bagel. Yes, agree that a yogurt or something like that would add to the tray, but it was still decent.

      There are very few AA 738s with the new cabins with PTVs. Out of over a dozen flights on 738s in F in the past few months, I've only had the new interior once. Funny enough it was on my first flight, a DCA-ORD, and I haven't seen it since. Tease me then never come back, LOL. DL had icons on the website to tell you if your aircraft has PTVs or overhead...or nothing. So at least with DL you know what you are in for. With AA it's just a crap shoot. Sometimes your get lucky...usually not, LOL.

      It would have been nice to take CX, but then I know that I would have been totally disappointed with AA if I did, and you can't use SWUs on CX.

    • Comment 310426 by
      NGO85 1622 Comments

      For the length of the flight, I find that quantity appropriate, but we can always want more!

  • Comment 129199 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Another great series starts!

    About the SWU upgrade, I experienced a hipcup too when I used one from SFO-MIA. After the ticket was issued, my friend called AA to request an upgrade for me and it was cleared and confirmed. Later on, I noticed that the status of my reservation showed ticket pending. No big deal as I thought that the ticket was being reissued with the SWU. After a few days it was still pending so I called the Elite line and I was on hold for some time while the agent straightened it out. Then I was advised that they will manually fix it and it will be sent to a queue. After about a week I noticed that it was not re-issued so I called back again and was told that they will fix it. The agent was puzzled as to why this was not taken care of and apologized. Finally a few days before my dept. the ticket was updated but I was starting to get nervous.

    Your breakfast looks better than what I had. I guess we will see how AA performs to HKG. Thanks for sharing.

    • Comment 310428 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5319 Comments

      Yikes, sorry to hear about your troubles. I'd be stressed out too! Luckily it worked out before the flight--in my case it was down to the wire. Sounds like AA's system has a difficult time with SWUs for people who aren't ExPlats. But I am thankful that AA allows the use of SWUs for anyone.

      It is odd that my meal does indeed look better than what you had the very next day on a much longer flight. I suppose AA is still tweaking the menu trying to bounce back from the catering downgrades of September 1st 2014...but without bringing it back to what it was prior.

  • Comment 129224 by
    AirCanada881 1622 Comments

    AA has come up a steep curve in the past few years, IMO their Long Haul product is far superior to that of any other US competitor. That being said it still angers me to see such seats labelled as First Class LOL, they need to harmonize their cabins, this seat is a disgrace compared what the A321T offers...

    • Comment 310485 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5319 Comments

      Thanks for the comment! Well, AA still has a lot of old 777-200ER and 767-300ER aircraft out there with old cabins in Business (2-3-2 angled on 77E and 2-2-2 angled on 763). Once all those aircraft have been retrofitted with the new cabin standards than AA will truly have the best longhaul product of US carriers...for now it's a crapshoot. And IMO Delta still does way better on catering in International Business class as we'll see in the next report.

      Yeah, US Domestic Premium class labelled as First is very misleading, but it's always been done that way. Traditionally, the highest class of service on a plane is referred to as First, so if there are only two classes, the premium class is called First. From a European perspective, I believe, like you my Canadian (and French) friend, that this class should be called Business, but Business in the US has connotations of international Business class...and we all know US carriers won't be installing lie-flats on domestic routes with all the free upgrades they give out. And I'm perfectly fine with that. I'd rather have a reasonably comfortable wider seat for free as an Elite, than pay out the nose for a lie-flat on a 3 hours flight when it's not needed. So yea, I don't see US carriers harmonizing their cabins with their flagship products on transcons like the A321T you mention...that's a whole other animal, because that is one of the few routes that is long enough and has a true premium demand where the majority of pax pay for First/Business so on those premium-heavy routes it makes sense to have an international level of service and seat. On a 3 hour flight...not so much. AC does the same thing, but at least they're smart and call it Business

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