Trip Report – The AA A321T First Class, JFK-LAX (Part 1 – Ground services and boarding)

Trip Report – The AA A321T First Class, JFK-LAX (Part 2 – Takeoff and inflight services)

Not only did we push back on-time, but we enjoyed a fast taxi to the runway as well. Within minutes, we were taking the runway and blasting off for Los Angeles. I took a little video of the takeoff. Lots of plane porn to enjoy during the takeoff roll.

The takeoff and climb out were smooth, and I decided to experiment with AA’s 3D flight map. Pretty cool stuff. I should have closed the window shade before I took that shot.

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Within a few minutes, the flight attendants were starting service. Menus had been distributed on the ground, and the purser checked in with me to verify that I had pre-ordered my meal. This was the first opportunity I’ve had to test pre-ordering meals on AA, and based on this sample size of one, it worked. Here’s a look at the menu.

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Gone are the days of caviar and lobster in the tossed salad served seat side, but fairly respectable choices. Service began with wine, and the ever-popular ramekin of warm mixed nuts.

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I should have made a point to take a look at the wine label. I’m not convinced it was the red wine choice featured in the menu as the Purser referred to it as merlot. No matter – it was quite good for airline wine, and our great crew never let my glass get below half full until I finally gave up towards the end of the flight.

Dinner service began with a smoked salmon and seared tuna starter, which I enjoyed a lot.

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This was followed by a salad – spinach and romaine with hearts of palm, strawberries, and pecans. Dressing choices were Caesar or balsamic vinegar. I apologize for being a bad blogger and half devouring the salad before I realized I had not taken a picture!! It was fresh, tasty, and accompanied with a choice of breads. I went with cheese bread.

Next up was the main course. I had pre-ordered the gorgonzola crusted beef filet with red wine beer sauce. It was accompanied by roasted potatoes and broccolini. It was served medium. I don’t know why I order steaks in the air when they’re available. I didn’t love it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I enjoyed the meal, however, I usually find that steaks in the sky are over cooked for my tastes. That’s just me, but I think I’ll try the chicken next time.

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The beef had a decent enough flavor, and the accompaniments were tasty too. But we all know what we’re really waiting for….. the world famous ice cream sundae!!!

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The sundae was good. Enough said.

Flight attendants were frequently in the aisle throughout the flight checking on customers, refilling wine glasses, etc. One of the better AA crews I’ve had in a while, so good that I sent a note to American about them. The inflight entertainment system has an extensive library of options, but I had brought my own entertainment so I did not partake. Headwinds were lower than forecast, and we were making great time towards Los Angeles. Our flight was passing all too quickly! Towards the end of the flight chocolate chip cookies were served.

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Weather looked great in LA as we smoothly descended towards an early arrival at LAX.

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We blocked into a gate immediately across from the LAX Admirals Club. I decided to drop in for a quick break before heading to my hotel. I was again offered Flagship Lounge access. I went in for a quick look and found a pretty decent spread of food and drink, not unlike what I had seen at JFK earlier. With that, my AA A321T first class adventure came to an end.

The Bottom Line

I’m so glad I finally made the scheduling work so I could experience the only true 3-class transcontinental service by a US airline. It was obvious that things weren’t the same as they used to be from a meal service perspective, but the product is still nice. The seat was truly comfortable. A great way to spend 6 hours, and even more on my next 777-300 flight with AA to Europe. In the end, the crew made the flight a great experience and everything else was just gravy.

Speculation abounds that the new AA management team will not continue this 3-class service now that the competition has dropped their 3-class cabins in the market. I’ve been guilty of buying into that, and it may eventually become true. On the other hand, the only true first class cabin in the market might be a strong marketing advantage for a certain set of well-heeled customers. Only time will tell. I’m actively looking for reasons to fly the A321T again! 🙂

-MJ, August 23, 2014