flykev From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2006, 1400 posts, RR: 1 Posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 27215 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW FORUM MODERATOR
25th June 2010 Scheduled Departure: 10:15a
Actual Departure: 10:44a Scheduled Arrival: 12:39p
Actual Arrival: 12:26p (all times displayed are local)
It was in late November that I stumbled upon a rather decent offer on eBookers that included a flight and a hotel for around £631 to Chicago for 8 days in June.
Had the choice of going with American Airlines on a 772; or paying an extra £10; and flying Virgin Atlantic.
Having travelled Virgin Atlantic many times in the past; I decided on the American Airlines option; being that I had never been on a 772, or flown an American Carrier. Given the bad rap that AA often gets; and the ominous loom of possibly FA strikes I started to wonder if it was such a great idea to have chosen AA.
Awaking early (4am) and wheeling my suitcase down the station was the easy part. A last minute platform change and the stairs at Liverpool Street station were not so easy. However by 5:45 of so I was sitting comfortably on the overpriced Heathrow express.
(An empty Heathrow Express Train)
Having checked in online there was no real need to rush to the airport; but I always enjoy having time to spare so I can sit back and enjoy being gouged by the “duty free” stores of Heathrow and to be able to (attempt) to spot a few planes around LHR.
The check in agent was surprisingly chirpy for 6.30am; and was very pleasant and efficient. He reissued me with some real boarding cards as the ones I had printed out were not reading correctly. Let that be a lesson to those who buy cheap ink.
(One better copy of the boarding card)
After a very enjoyable breakfast at Wetherspoons in terminal 1; it was time to head back to terminal 3 and its windowless departure lounge of doom.
A gate was assigned at about 8.45; and luckily for me it was one which required a long walk (those familiar with terminal 3 will know that the only time you get to see aircraft is when you head to the gate.
Air India 777
Gate 34 was jam packed; and woefully inadequate for a full 772, to which the gate agent also made the comment of. Luckily I was not chosen for an additional security search and neither was my friend – however finding space to stand in the gate room was now nigh on impossible.
Boarding was announced at around 9.45; with the usual crowd of people rushing to get on first; despite having assigned seats and not being in First, Business or with special needs.
Waiting my turn; I boarded the aircraft in a much more fashion; where I was greeted first by a rather friendly flight attendant and directed to my seat – all the way at the back.
Initial impressions were that the cabin was huge – and the 5 seats in the middle of economy made the cabin feel a little claustrophobic. Thankfully, I was sat in A and B so I had no issue of being stuck in the centre.
Legroom was very good – I am about 5ft 8 so not very tall, but it felt on par if not a little better than Virgin Atlantic's pitch – however the control for the entertainment was located in the top part of the arm rest making it very easy to accidentally mash buttons.
5 Abreast Seating
More of the central section
A friendly welcome onboard by the pilot informed us of a shorter than usual flight time; along with a fairly northern route. A safety video was then shown; and the plane began moving towards the runway. Interestingly; the IFE was active at this time of the flight – meaning you could watch a movie during the take off – Something I wish carriers like VS would adopt.
Personal Video Screen
As we headed out north; I took some time to play with the entertainment system. This didn’t take too long as the technology feels quite archaic. There was a (bad) selection of movies, several TV shows, some music and a few basic games. Videos run on a loop; with movies/TV shows starting every 15 or so minutes.
It’s better than the old system of wait until each cycle is run; but it is certainly no AVOD. Lots of options however in the menu system such as “duty free”, “meals”, and “one world” all led to a “coming soon” screen. The touch screen was fairly unresponsive; and required a good hard jab to get it to respond. For the sake of the people in front; I stuck to the remote. Sticking it on map mode; I decided I was best off switching to the iPad.
We levelled out and a beverage service soon started. I chose to have a Sierra Mist; and it was served with a rather nice snack mix that filled a hole whilst I waited for lunch to be served.
Snack and Beverage service
Shortly after drinks lunch was served; with the choice of Tarragon Chicken or some sort of Penne Pasta. I chose to have the chicken; though sadly it had a strange bitter taste to it; and overall wasn’t the best. However the tray was well loaded with cookies; crackers; cheese and a roll which helped fill me up where the chicken did not. I found the portions to be nicely sized; and was still eating when they started collecting!
The chicken, up close and personal
A drinks service was again offered with the meal; and yet another one was offered after the meal. Usefully; the tray included a bottle of water which unlike the rather useless cuplets that some airlines serve was useful for later on in the flight.
In flight information
A seat with a view?
For the next 3, 4 hours we heard virtually nothing from the flight attendants of the cabin crew. I have no idea if I was allowed to go to the back and ask for a drink; but I didn’t need to during this time as I had already stocked up on several cans of soda from previous drink runs.
Approximately 1 hour before the flight was due to land; a pizza was served. This was a vegetarian one offered to all economy passengers; and was served alongside some caramel biscuits and a tub of grapes. As this was so close to our descent the meal did feel rushed and the seatbelt light was on with the plane dropping in altitude before I was finished with my food.
Sure, its no real Chicago deep dish; but pizza is pizza!
We landed almost dead on time; and taxied to the international terminal where the usual surge of people trying to disembark through one tiny door happened. I then faced a fairly long queue at immigration followed by some rather weird issues with my fingerprints.
Overall I felt AA to be on par with what I would expect for the price. The seats were comfortable and legroom reasonable with a decent food service. Sadly the IFE is a letdown and an area I hope AA choose to improve on in Y with the competition now offering / starting to offer AVOD in all cabins.
The cabin crew felt professional and were friendly during the flight with some of them clearly looking like they enjoy their job.
I won’t bore you with too much about Chicago – But it is a fantastic city and if you haven’t already been there then it’s a really good destination choice.
The Famous "L"
A view from above
Me against the skyline
The famous Chicago theatre
3rd July 2010 Scheduled Departure: 8:15p
Actual Departure: 8:25p Scheduled Arrival: 9:20a
Actual Arrival: 9:37a (all times displayed are local)
The 8 days flew by and soon it was time to return home. With it being the holiday weekend; and rather hot we decided to take up the hotels offer of a taxi to O’Hare and it was certainly worth the money.
Checking in was a little more all over the place; as I was expecting a bag drop desk. However when I could not find one; I found that the self check in kiosks were capable of replacing the bag drop; and with the help of a surly assistant we were soon checked in and rid of our suitcases.
O’Hare is a huge airport; and offers quite good plane viewing. There are large unobstructed windows many of which face the international terminal allowing you to see some of Chicago’s more unusual visitors.
A range of planes from BA, to RJ!
Less exotic AA plane
Boarding started around 19.45; and it was fun to avoid the large group of students travelling abroad for their trip; luckily my concerns of a noisy flight was soon put aside and I must admit, they are one of the best groups I have experienced travelling manners wise.
Legroom on this plane felt slightly more cramped; for some reason; and the IFE had the same films from the last month on it. This did not matter too much, as I planned to sleep as soon as the meal service was complete.
Electronics were cleared for use very soon after taking off which mean't I was able to get a couple of photos during our climb.
Crossing Lake Michigan
Less than one hour in a meal service was operational. The choice this evening was between a chicken curry like meal and braised beef. I chose the beef having eaten a lot of chicken in the past week; and I was not disappointed. The beef was tender and the gravy was balanced well along with the mash being quite creamy. Along with this there was a roll stale enough I could break the outer wall of the aircraft if I threw it; water crackers and a chocolate brownie for desert. A drinks service was offered at this time too; and I once again chose a Sierra Mist.
After dinner was complete another drinks service was run and whilst I was not thirsty at that moment; based on my experience with drinks service on the previous flight; I once again chose to “stock up” on drink.
After this I managed to fall asleep on a plane for once; waking up with about an hour or so to go. Just in time for breakfast. On offer today was a croissant; jam and strawberry yoghurt. Along with this another drinks service was offered; though I chose a cranberry apple juice instead as I could not face any more Sierra Mist.
Trays were collected once again as we began our decent; and this flight we were treated to a scenic view of London and the south-east; before touching down at Heathrow earlier than expected.
We de-planed by stairs as the jet bridge was broken; thankfully this did not involve a bus and it provided a rare opportunity to disembark such a large plane by stairs.
Somewhere over the South West
Inside the cabin
Thank you for travelling with AA!
This flight was not as enjoyable as the first. The food was better; however the crew were less friendly and were quite slow when it came to meal services. However, the plane was comfortable to sleep in overnight.
Whilst AA lack the “glamour” of Virgin Atlantic; and the AVOD system of their competitors; but they provide a good product with a good sized meal and of course they served my favourite – Pizza. If you get a good crew; the service is great however a bad crew can certainly change things around.
I would not have any issues travelling with AA on flights to destinations with flights that don’t go past 9 hours or so (JFK, ORD, BOS etc.) – But I could not see myself wanting to travel with them beyond that in Economy.
Plus / Minus
++ Outbound Crew
++ Seat / Seat Pitch
- Too many drinks services at once
-- Inbound Crew
Thankyou for reading my trip report; I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave any questions and comments below!
My next trip shall be to ARN with BA in October.
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only
IrishAyes From Israel, joined Jan 2008, 2491 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 26975 times:
Thanks for the TR. You are right in that AA seems to do the trick for medium/long haul flights ( erse and interesting mix of foreign flag carriers on a given day, usually between noon and evening. Too bad the terminal itself is inaccessible from the other three domestic concourses. And, not to mention, the interior (air-side) of it sucks as well - it is probably the dullest international departure zone and has terrible cell-phone reception!
hejmatt From Ireland, joined Mar 2009, 11 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 26847 times:
Great Report. Thanks for posting. Enjoyed reading it. I've only ever connected through O'Hare.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Whilst AA lack the “glamour” of Virgin Atlantic; and the AVOD system of their competitors; but they provide a good product with a good sized meal. If you get a good crew; the service is great however a bad crew can certainly change things around.
lychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1575 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 26235 times:
I agree with you. AA have good legroom but the entertainment system is not so good. Food not bad. Interesting that from London they now only serve a biscuit / cookie. They used to serve a decent desert. It's probably due to the cheese they now offer. I also love the Pizza. Thanks. They also have a good Frequent Flyer Program.
pdxtriple7 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 695 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 25773 times:
Solid trip report. I noticed you said that you waited until electronics were permitted before taking pictures... I'm pretty sure most Airliners.net folks don't follow that rule with cameras. I take pictures whenever and no one has ever said anything.
brilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4585 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 25269 times:
You must have had a great time being in Chi-town. Did you take in a Cub's game while you were there? Oh well if you didn't you will have to experience it at sometime in your life if you ever get back to Chicago. Excellent trip report, Unfortunate for the bad flight crew on the way back, I have rarely had bad experiences with the ORD flight crews. IFE really sucks with AA hence the reason for bringing my laptop on my flights. Although I find most airlines have real poor selection of movies on their IFE anyways so unless you prefer the usual Hollywood drivel I would suggest an investment in a Laptop and some movies that you actually like to watch for your own sanity. I agree with you that anything over about 7-8 hours in Y on AA can be quite uncomfortable. You should just get up and walk around two or three times and I don't mean just to the toilet but the whole cabin or as far as they let you. As an aside to your experience I have found that AA F/A's do not mind you asking them for another drink during the flight, obviously there's a time and place for that but at certain times they normally are quite happy to oblige you. Great trip report. Please share more of your travels with us in the future.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 23820 times:
Very nice trip report and pictures.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Initial impressions were that the cabin was huge – and the 5 seats in the middle of economy made the cabin feel a little claustrophobic. Thankfully, I was sat in A and B so I had no issue of being stuck in the centre.
I also don't like the 2-5-2 layout on the B 777. I rather prefer 3-3-3 which some airlines offer.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): I won’t bore you with too much about Chicago – But it is a fantastic city and if you haven’t already been there then it’s a really good destination choice.
Yes, I like the city as well. Not as famous as New York as a tourist destination but definitely worth a visit.
flymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7533 posts, RR: 7
Reply 12, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 23324 times:
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Gate 34 was jam packed; and woefully inadequate for a full 772, to which the gate agent also made the comment of. Luckily I was not chosen for an additional security search and neither was my friend – however finding space to stand in the gate room was now nigh on impossible.
When I flew out of T3 to BCN it was terrible, just a 757 but there was no where near enough room and they had us stuck there for 2 hours and then another 2 hours on the plane. T5 is very nice though.
BZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 288 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 20327 times:
Somehow I missed seeing this report earlier this year; nonetheless, it was a pleasure to read now. Thanks for posting.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Having travelled Virgin Atlantic many times in the past; I decided on the American Airlines option; being that I had never been on a 772, or flown an American Carrier.
Makes sense...it's always nice to try something new. I've never flown Virgin Atlantic, so I would have made the reverse decision.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): however the control for the entertainment was located in the top part of the arm rest making it very easy to accidentally mash buttons.
I dislike having the controls in the armrest for that very reason. Definitely not the best place for them!
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Interestingly; the IFE was active at this time of the flight – meaning you could watch a movie during the take off
Interesting...I've never seen a full IFE selection available during takeoff. I've been able to listen to music via the IFE (or Channel 9 when flying United) but never been able to watch tv programming during takeoff on any carrier. Wonder if this is part of AA's product or simply an oversight on this flight?
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Lots of options however in the menu system such as “duty free”, “meals”, and “one world” all led to a “coming soon” screen.
Not too impressive..."coming soon" doesn't help much, when you're sitting in your seat and looking for something to do on a long flight.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): The cabin crew felt professional and were friendly during the flight with some of them clearly looking like they enjoy their job.
Glad to hear that the crew was a good one. I think that can make a lot of difference.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): If you get a good crew; the service is great however a bad crew can certainly change things around.
Exactly. Anyway, sounds like you had a sort of mixed experience...a few pros and a few cons. Probably the typical U.S. carrier experience. Glad you had a nice time in Chicago!
BAW217 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2007, 130 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 20177 times:
Good report, I used AA a few years a go for a trip ex LHR to LAX onwards to MIA, RSW, ORD and finally back to LHR. AA are one of the better US carriers I have been on (UA and DL).
I noticed you stated the IFE was on for takeoff and it wasn't on VS, the reason behind this is a DfT/CAA regulation. No UK carrier can have any form of on IFE on during critical phases of flight so passengers are not distracted in the event of an emergancy.
AI151 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2009, 303 posts, RR: 14
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 20089 times:
Looks like I too missed out on this one as I was on holiday at the time in New York. Great TR but a shame about the leg space and cabin crew. I hate absolutely hate the 2-5-2 config on the B772.
What were the loads like on the flights?
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Having checked in online there was no real need to rush to the airport; but I always enjoy having time to spare so I can sit back and enjoy being gouged by the “duty free” stores of Heathrow and to be able to (attempt) to spot a few planes around LHR.
I love to do that as well.
Quoting flykev (Thread starter): Approximately 1 hour before the flight was due to land; a pizza was served.
The only thing I have missed whilst having a meal on board in the pizza!
777ORD From United States of America, joined May 2010, 698 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 19356 times:
glad to see another AA TR on a route I traveled quite often when I worked for AA. It seems as if AA has increased the quality of the service since 2 years ago, at least the food. That's a pretty decent price you got, too! Did you have the option to upgrade when you checked in?
LAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 17822 times:
Thanks for the TR!
The arrival snack is the same one they served last year in Y on my flight from LHR-LAX. The pizza was not good though on my flight and was very greasy and disgusting. At least on my flight they came more often with drinks but the staff was not really friendly. I guess for the price you can't expect more. Chose AA again as they are about 50% cheaper than other airlines in Feb for my trip to JFK and will transit in LHR. I can imagine I shall see the same pizza again...
Yes IFE leaves a lot to be desired but at least you have IFE on the 772 as on my return flight from JFK-ZRH I shall only have main screen entertainment on the 763.
You know, since you went to the trouble to blur your name, you should probably blur your PNR and E-ticket number too. Anyone who works in industry could ever-so-easily look up your name using those. Just my two cents for your own future reference
lychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1575 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 16347 times:
They stopped serving a "proper desert" from London. To save money they are now serving a "cookie" instead of a proper cake like they used to. You are lucky that your mashed potatoes were "creamy." On my recent flight they tasted like chemicals. At least they recently upgraded to cheese.
It's their good frequent Flyer Program that keeps me flying with them. Legroom of 32" is also OK.