I just completed my 10th segment on American Airlines in 4 weeks. Two of those segments were a reward redemption, ATL-LAX-ATL in first class, and the rest were random domestic flights to DFW, LAX, MIA and RDU to/from MIA.
My experiment with American was not some effort to leave Delta, it was a mix of circumstances that found me booking American for several segments in a short period of time, that is all. My travels were a mix of personal and business travel, and I requested upgrades on 7 of the 8 paid segments I took and processed a mileage upgrade for 1 segment. For the segment upgraded with miles, I stood by for an earlier flight putting my upgrade at risk, but cleared onto the new flight. Still, it’s probably best to not include that segment in my upgrade percentage.
Not counting the standby mileage upgrade, my success rate as an AAdvantage Gold (lowest tier) elite member – 75 percent. Personally, I think that’s near incredible. If my very first ATL-DFW flight had not been delayed, I’m convinced I would have cleared at the gate based on the flight load and my position on the upgrade list, which was ultimately overcome by passengers for later flights arriving and finding the option of taking the flight I was on.
AAdvantage in Atlanta – The Good
AA uses the T concourse in Atlanta for AA metal flights (D concourse for US Airways). All of my flights were AA metal. I used the north security checkpoint which features TSA PreCheck, and is typically far less crowded than the main checkpoint or the south checkpoint where you’ll find a lot of Delta fliers queued up for PreCheck. After clearing security, you will walk right into the AA gate area, and are just steps away from the Admirals Club.
The Admirals Club in Atlanta in my experience is not as crowded as many airline clubs tend to be, is staffed with agents empowered to help you, and has a decent enough snack selection with the option of buying a sandwich or something if you want a bit more substantial food. Power outlets are in good supply. Best of all, when it’s time to board, you are just steps to your gate if you’re flying on AA metal.
AAdvantage in Atlanta – The Less Good
Obviously, Delta and Southwest have the market cornered on numbers of nonstop destinations from Atlanta. However, American has nonstops to its hubs, and major business markets. When you add in US metal flights with a short connection in Charlotte, you can basically fly anywhere you need to go, but you can’t discount the time value of making a connection. Finally, I don’t see a way for American to accommodate all of its flights on the T concourse once the US brand is retired. In other words, you’re likely to be looking at a split operation with some flights out of T and other flights out of D. That’s not the end of the world, but is a factor.
I’m not quite ready to completely let go of a plethora of nonstop options, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t get there. American served me very well over the last few weeks, and I won’t hesitate to book them again when the right combination of schedule and price presents itself. The bottom line-American can work for a business traveler in Atlanta, depending on your travel needs. If you’re willing to accept a 30-minute flight to Charlotte as a cost of doing business for some trips, then American can serve you very well. Nonstop flights to key business markets, combined with connection opportunities at one of the easiest places to change planes in America make American a completely viable airline alternative in Atlanta.
-MJ, May 19, 2015