Well normally I only fly Delta for work, but since DL's price was three times what AA's prices were for the same flights ($419 vs $1250 something), I chose to fly AA for this past trip. On the way home I upgraded to First Class just to compare to DL and thought I'd write a trip report, so here goes:
Class: A First
Seat: 6C Reserved Seat
From: Dallas, TX (DFW)
Departs: Fri, Oct 17, 2008 11:05 AM
To: Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
Arrives: Fri, Oct 17, 2008 12:45 PM
Equipment: Douglas MD-83
On Time: 70%
Flight Miles: 993
Total Flight Time: 2 hrs, 40 min(s)
My work buddy I was traveling with had the Platinum Amex so we went to the Admirals Lounge, but not before using the Elite Access line for security at DFW. I was impressed by how nice the AA lounge is in Terminal C, since the rest of the terminal is such a dump, and I'm used to the somewhat more shabby Crown Room Club. Are all Admirals Clubs as nice as this one in terminal C? Now if they only had free drinks.... They'd really have something on the Crown Room.
We took the long walk back from the lounge to C2 to board about 20 min before departure. I missed DL's pre-departure drinks... AA doesn't seem to offer this, nor do they have water bottles at your seat pre-departure. If AA offers pillows, none were available that I could see. DL always puts a pillow and a blanket on your seat, AA only had the blanket. I did like the actual seat on AA. It's nicely shaped with the adjustable headrest, where DL's MD-88s or MD-90s are a much simpler seat ( and they seem a little narrower for some reason). In fact, it's hard to have two drinks side by side on the DL armrest, while on the AA seat it was no problem.
Picture of the cabin, in preparation for departure. I'm not a fan of stitching the "fasten seat belt while seated" in the back of the seat. It looks a little distracting the way AA does it.
Some time after takeoff, and well after the drink service had started in the main cabin, the FA came by to offer us a drink and some warm nuts, although, but the time she got to me they weren't really warm any more. It was weird to see the drink service being performed with a service cart. I think it adds a little class to do drink and meal services from the front, instead of from a cart. Shortly after, the meal service started. What was strange was that she started from front to back with the pre lunch drink, but then went from back to front with the meal, so while the people in the front of the cabin had time to munch on their nuts and drink, I got mine at about the same time. The meal was also served from the cart, again, kind of strange for me being used to DL's F cabin service:
Lunch choices were a very dry looking beef sandwich, or a veggie pizza that looked like what you'd get in the freezer section of the grocery store. Actually I was quite impressed with the taste, which was much better than how it looked. It was actually quite good. I also appreciated the warm cookie, one of my weaknesses. I also like that wine is offered with your meal, despite your pre-lunch drink. I had red wine for both, but again, a nice touch.
Service on board was pretty cold and our flight attendant in the first class cabin certainly didn't match up to the type of service normally given in the F cabin on DL. I'm always impressed with DL's service up front, especially the way they interact with their passengers. Our FA just seemed to be going through the motions and seemed a bit aloof. When asking for another glass of wine after dinner she said, "You want another one?" Gosh, is three small glasses of wine too many on a 2.5 hr flight? Hmmm.
Again, the seat comfort was good and the pitch ok for my 5'10" body. I'm always disappointed though when I see people flying in F that can't seem to even fit in an F class seat. We really have a weight problem in America, and we'll all have to pay for it when these baby boomers retire with all their heart problems from our huge obesity problem... Ok, sorry, this is not about obesity in america, but American Airlines instead.
Pitch in F class. If you look close you'll see my DL PM tag on my lap top bag, which earned some funny looks from the FA when i deplaned:
Even without any IFE on board, the flight went fairly fast and I made good use of the time catching up on my magazine subscriptions I never seem to have time to read. We began our descent over the southern Wasatch range, following Spanish Fork Canyon out over Utah Valley for a shallow right turn to line up with 34R. I caught Mt. Timpanogos out the window on the way in, my favorite mountain in UT:
As we got closer to landing, it seemed the pilots let the plane sink a little fast. Normally it seems the engines spool up a little prior to landing to counteract all that drag from the flaps and landing gear, and finally the pilot hit the throttle right before touchdown, but it was too late, we hit really hard, bounced and hit again. Fun for the passengers that are regular flyers, but a little scary for the non-regulars. We hit just after the threshold, which is certainly not normal for SLC and our 12,000 ft runways.
Overall, I give AA a B+ for the flight. Had service been a little warmer, some type of IFE on board and pre-departure drinks or water had been served prior to take off, I think I'd give them an A. Those of you that fly one airline regularly know how alien it feels to fly another airline every now and then. This was no exception, yet AA did a decent job. And to give them credit, DL has switched to all SkyWest CRJ-900s on this route, and they do not serve meals. If it had been mainline, DL would have served a "Snack" which is a light meal, like a wrap with salad or something like that, without a choice, so AA trumps DL with the meal service by far.
So while I missed my DL on this flight, and the associated miles with my 100% mileage bonus, AA did well enough to help me not miss DL too much. Good job AA.