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It’s been a while since I’ve flown American Airlines. I had a last-minute change in my schedule and needed to head to Chicago. I ended up on an American (AA) flight and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had avoided AA for some time as I found the planes and service subpar. Unfortunately, not much has changed.
Anthony’s Take: There was a time many years ago when I held Executive Platinum status and flew American a fair amount. I grew tired of poor service, dated planes without Wi-Fi, and an all-around subpar experience. I avoided AA for years and just recently found myself back onboard. While the plane was clean, the service was poor. The food was passable (better than United, but not as good as Delta). I don’t think I’ll be flying them again any time soon with a flight delay, baggage that took forever, and the Admiral’s Club being too crowded to let me in on this trip.
I booked the flights directly with American Airlines. First Class was $580 and a bit cheaper than what United and Delta wanted. I was able to select my seat at booking and received an email to choose my entree before the flight. I selected the Vegetable Lasagna (the other choice was a Charcuterie Plate). I used my phone to check-in and check a bag. The app is functional. I was hoping to buy a day pass for the Admiral’s Club, but it was full. I went to the Priority Pass restaurant in Tampa instead (my thoughts here).
The flight was delayed for 30 minutes. This led to a lot of crowding at the gate. Boarding turned into a free for all after passengers with disabilities were called. A few wheelchairs were boarded and then the gate agent announced they were ready for Concierge Key, Group 1, and Group 2. A bunch of people rushed up and filled the lanes.
I chose the bulkhead window seat in row one (1A) as the aisle seats were booked. There was decent legroom (similar to the bulkhead on United or Delta), but the seat was very stiff and had limited recline.
There were no screens on the plane, but personal device entertainment was available. The pocket in front had a safety information card and a pamphlet on the inflight-entertainment.
There was a power outlet at each seat but it was tucked away behind the the armrest.
No predeparture beverages or bottled water was offered. It took some time for the flight attendant to take a drink order and confirm meal selections/take orders from the passengers that did not pre-order. Beverages were brought out shortly after the order was taken along with a large bowl of mixed nuts. The portion size would not leave anyone wanting. I ate about one third of the bowl.
The meal was served on one tray. I had ordered Vegetable Lasagna, but they catered Cheese Tortellini. It came with a broccoli salad and a mini cake. The tortellini were good, but the sauce was thick and pasty. The broccoli salad was something different and I enjoyed it. The cake looks like it should be good, but it was not. It tasted dry and stale. One bite and I was done.
Wi-Fi was available, but it’s expensive. Delta is working to make it free on all domestic flights and United charges $8. American offers 20 minutes free for watching an ad. To purchase, it’s $15 for one hour or $19 for the flight. This is way more than it needs to be in order to be competitive.
As mentioned, there is a selection of in-flight entertainment. I watched several episodes of The Office on my phone.
Other than serving the meal, flight attendants were not around for the flight. They dropped trays and picked them up after. Once done, they stayed in the galley chatting for the rest of the flight. There were no greetings. They just went through the motions. We arrived 20 minutes late (the pilots made some time up in the air). Baggage then took 30 minutes to arrive. I’m not sure why it took so long, but the first bag came out after we had been on the ground for half an hour.
Overall Impression: I won’t be going out of my way to fly American again any time soon. While nothing was terrible, there wasn’t a single thing that I can say stood out as positive. I’ll stick with Delta this year.
Anthony’s Credit Card Pick: The Platinum Card® from American Express is my go-to for booking airfare from the airlines to earn 5x points (up to $500,000 per calendar year). The card has an annual fee of $695, but it provides many travel benefits and will always be my go-to for lounge access (both Delta Sky Clubs® and Centurion Lounges) and taking advantage of all that the Fine Hotels & Resorts program offers. Learn more. Rates & Fees. Terms apply.
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