797 From Venezuela, joined Aug 2005, 1921 posts, RR: 24 Posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 25364 times:
AMERICAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS FROM CARACAS TO NEW YORK
This is the beginning of a long trip that will ultimately take me to the Farnborough International Air Show 2010 (FIA), after making a pit stop in one of the best cities of the world, good old New York City.
The FIA for this year has the distinctive feature of having the Boeing 787 as a precious guest. Thankfully, I would be covering the event and would indeed try to provide valuable and timely information on the developments of this “post-recession” (for some) season.
Anyhow, given the fact that I would be crossing the pond, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and go to Paris and Rome, to visit friends and family and attend other business. My schedule, then, was custom-built to accommodate myself in the best possible types of aircraft, given the airline constraints…
Being a Gold member for the AAdvantage program narrows my choices into the Oneworld Alliance. Naturally, getting out of CCS is not an easy task, having AA as the main international carrier serving Venezuela. As a result, I have decided to make my schedule as follows:
Now that I have disclosed the schedule, let’s get down to business and show you all how my CCS – JFK experience in American Airlines regular Business Class looked like.
The night before the trip, I decided to say goodbye to all my friends, again. I love throwing goodbye parties, even though I come back quite often! This, of course, delays my packing and inevitably the organization of a rather long trip. Who cares? Let’s see…
I ended up going to bed at 1AM. And when I say going to bed, that’s all I did. I ran into so much packing to do and looking up for my documents that laying was all I accomplished. My body decided to riot against myself and threw a rather aggressive ache to the head, hence banning my eyes from closing. Not nice at all.
The 04.35 alarm went off like those tornado sirens in Kansas and I couldn’t be more awake. My head was as cracked as Haiti and Chile together after the quakes, but weren’t enough to hide my excitement of beginning the trip I had waited for more than 7 months.
After inducing myself into a Tylenol overdose, the gargantuan headache decided to cease. I then joined my family in the car and headed down to the airport at 05.35.
Monday morning + Caracas = Biblical Traffic. Better make it, overpowering traffic. That’s why we decided to head down to CCS four hours before our flight. Thankfully, we got to the airport 50 minutes later, reaching the terminal at 06.25.
Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS) – John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
American Airlines Flight AA976
Business Class. Seat 04A.
Scheduled Departure: 09.15
Actual Departure: 09.50
Scheduled Arrival: 14.50
Actual Arrival: 15.35
Load Factor: 92%
This is a good time to divulge the fact that traveling out of Venezuela is always a treat. You like surprises? You like annoyances? Don’t hesitate to come down and visit.
One would think that Business Class is a synonym of effectiveness, quickness, and an overall lack of hassle. Unfortunately, the aforementioned qualities can be found anywhere, but CCS.
As we arrived into the check-in area, I immediately noticed that AA now has half of the counters they used to have a couple months ago. The other half suddenly belongs to Iberia leaving a huge space empty for the check-in process of four flights: 2 x MIA, 1 x JFK and 1 x DFW. Needless to say, this is a reserved area for over 650 passengers, which in high season are eager to evacuate the country and search for a mind-clearing retreat. The beginning of this vacation, hence, began to be cramped, slow, inefficient and most of all, boring.
If you check my previous Trip Reports, you’ll notice how I always whine on the staff that works for AA in CCS. Sometimes I must admit I feel like a whining bastard, but others I feel like the I-am-always-right type of bastard.
AA’s staff in CCS is like the TSA in the US. Personality and overwhelming feeling of power drowns their common sense and makes them become annoying robots who are so focused in doing their jobs by-the-book, that allows them to reach those idiotic levels that turn them into the focus point of most passengers.
The +300 passenger queue at this time of the day was being attended by a totally disproportional number of clerks. 4 business class clerks were taking the ‘hard duties’ of checking us in, while only 2 coach clerks were overworked and obviously under performing in the coach area. I wonder how AA has this issue not resolved when its four most important flights of the week are bound for departure.
Anyways, it took us 45 minutes to have our boarding passes in our hands. We got the seats we selected over the Internet (no surprise there, thankfully) and we went through security and passport control, which gratefully were quicker than other times before.
Once inside, I went to glance at the other gates to see some outbound flights. Delta and Continental were boarding, while TAM and Copa were just sitting at the gate with no movement whatsoever. I didn’t bother to take photos as I was too sleepy from the night before.
On my way to the American Airlines Admirals Club (Business Class Lounge), I saw Mexicana being ready for its daily flight to MEX – not nowing it would be the last time I ever saw them in CCS. Here’s a photo:
In addition, Conviasa’s A340-200 made itself the protagonist of a nice photo:
Then, on our way to the Admirals we made a quick magazine stop and got to the front desk where we were greeted and checked.
Once I reached the Admirals Club, I went to grab some coffee and orange juice to try and gain some consciousness. The selection of goodies at the Admirals wasn’t something to really talk about. Three different juices, a tray of fruits and one of pastries was all there was. Of course, coffee, water, and a small fridge full of sodas. Anyhow, all I got was some OJ and a couple pastries.
Once I went back to my parents, my little brother was desperate to ‘go see planes.’ This is the view from the Admirals:
I then took him around the terminal to teach him the good stuff. He now knows what a 757 is. And he knows a 757 with no winglets sucks! Here’s a photo.
At 09.05 they called for boarding. We ran to the gate (which was at least 5 minutes away from the lounge), and when we got there, there was a huge line forming up. We tried to squeeze our way into the Priority Access passengers and we made it with not much hassle. Now, remember me talking about the annoying AA Staff from CCS? Well, here is the cusp of their nonsense behavior.
Once you reach the pre-boarding check and passport control, which is attended by 4 agents in very small booths, they re-check your boarding pass, passports, visas, and ask you another infinite number of questions. Naturally, the lines form behind these booths.
The clever guy stopped all the checking because the line had to be, and I quote, “10 steps behind the booth.” We were like 8 steps away and he came to us, a la soccer referee, walking those 10 long steps that there supposedly had to be. People began to laugh as he literally pushed the whole line backwards… Right after he accomplished his so-desired spacing, then he continued being ‘useful’ and allowed us to board.
As we went through the jet bridge, I was still hoping to see the new transatlantic configuration on this 757. My hopes vanished as soon as I reached the L2 door, when I saw the old (not to say prehistoric) coach seats, TVs, and naturally old Business Class. Now resigned, we headed up front and relaxed into what promised to be a very nice flight.
Once I got to my seat, I found a nice surprise. A quite large pillow with a very comfortable blanket! They never offer it on flights to MIA!
Pre-departure treat: No nuts. Just more Orange Juice.
Thanks to the wonderful efforts of the Venezuelan National Guard, the bags were NOT in the plane after the doors were closed. The Captain came in on the PA announcing that we’d be delayed for another 15 to 20 minutes because of this unexpected hit.
Exactly 30 minutes later, however, we pushed back. That’s 09.55.
The only airplanes at the side gates by that time were a SBA 757 and an AA 757 both bound to MIA. The Captain then cranked the engines and we were rolling to the runway at 09.55.
We reached the hold-short point of Runway 10 a couple minutes later and the Purser announced the total flight time would be 4 hours 35 minutes at an altitude of 36,000ft.
I Cabin View prior Takeoff
After a couple minutes, we lined up with the runway and, bye bye CCS. Takeoff at 10.01.
The take off roll was longer than I expected. Surely a flight to JFK needed quite a bit more fuel than the common one to MIA!
We slowly climbed up to FL360. Once we reached the cruising altitude, the senior purser came to us with the choices for our breakfast. They were “Shredded Beef,” “Pancakes” or “Cereal.” I was surprised by the lack of details the lady gave us, but looking for some proteins I went for the Beef.
Right away, they came with the drinks. I went for some more OJ.
A more decent cup of OJ
By the time, the cabin got considerably cold. Sitting on the 52 year-old seat, I went ahead and wrapped myself into the cozy blanket a-la chicken fajita.
I AA Artwork
Now, if we take a CLOSER look, have a glance at the nice souvenir that came with it:
A nice souvenir for me to take to NYC
The souvenir quickly became a secondary concern as I looked up front. A grass-eater hillbilly decided to freshen his feet by raising them against the wall in row 1, obviously moving his fingers while the meal service was on.
I don’t know you guys, but for me this was quite disturbing. Also, out of curiosity, how did he eat? He got the full service, as I recall.
Anyways, trying to ignore the feet exhibition going on up front, the FA came with the plate of fruits. A wonderful and fresh selection of Oranges, Grapes, Pineapple, Melon and Grapefruit – all very well presented. Enjoy the shots.
Right after the FA came to take away my empty plate, the Purser arrived with a basket full of warm breads, muffins, bagels, and croissants. Also a plate with butter was served. I chose the croissant, which was so warm that could also be smelled from the back of the cabin! Very nice! In addition, some marmalade was offered to complement this side plate.
I’d like to point out the silverware looks so much better than the ugly old plastic ones. Here’s a shot:
So, a few minutes later the smell from the kitchen became quite promising. They began serving from the last rows up front, meaning I was the second in line!
By then, I had forgotten about the hillbilly paw exhibition up front… just until I looked again:
Yipee. How disgusting…
Anyways, Guava marmalade rules:
My sister got her plate before me: Pancakes! (which ended up being banana and blueberry pancakes – details please!)
Then my choice of pure “Shredded Beef” came to sight. Now you’ll understand why my concern of lack of details from the purser.
And voila: my wonderful plate of plain shredded beef! Which ended up being what we call in Venezuela a “Pabellon Criollo,” composed of Black Beans, White Cheese, Shredded Beef (bingo!), Fried Plantains, Ham and Eggs. AMAZING!!!!!!!
I Closeup at one of my favorite things on earth:
I The eggs
I Shredded Beef, Black Beans, and Cheese
I was very pleased with the breakfast. The taste was wonderful and the portion quite fulfilling.
After the great feast, I went for a hot cup of Joe. Nice coffee (not freshly brewed I presume) marked the end of a great meal!
Then, I chose to begin exploiting the AMAZING in-flight entertainment system this Boeing 757 had to offer. It’s called a personal MacBook with a previously downloaded DVD through the iTunes service. For this occasion, the very last season of LOST! Couldn’t ask for more…
After watching two episodes, I passed out. The next thing I remember is opening the window and see how our plane turned to begin approaching into JFK. Here’s some random coast in the upper east coast of the US at 14.45, local time.
The cabin, by then, was ridiculously cold. Seems like the temperature control went rogue and the Captain had little control over it. I couldn’t care less, but my mother and sister were partially frozen.
No time later, the Captain came on the PA announcing our imminent arrival into the Capital of the World. Here’s one last image of the final approach before I switched the camera into video mode. Unfortunately, the video was damaged and I wasn't able to repair it. My most sincere apologies
The approach into NYC was very nice. We flew over the eastern coast of the US and then joined the final approach pattern for JFK.
We made a right turning final approach, touching down at 15.15 – half hour behind schedule. In the mean time, here’s my little brother enjoying the view @ JFK.
The taxi to the gate was quick and got to see my next ride to LHR a couple times! Enjoy.
Here a couple shots of the view from our hotel:
I The Conclusions:
AA has a very nice Business Class product (please, do ignore the seats).
The service from the flight attendants was very good. The food, I could say it was close to really good.
What worries me is the fact of how a Flagship American carrier still has such an old and obsolete Business Class layout. The aircraft, in very bad shape, has a Business Class fare that costs over $3,000 for a round trip to NYC. If we had flown with DL or AC, the quality would have been alarmingly better.
Once we reached NYC, we deplaned and headed over the immigration and customs area. JFK ended up being a much better airport than I remembered (over 10 years ago!). The luggage came out quite quickly and we arrived at the hotel in less than a heart beat.
I must say I was very pleased with this flight, albeit I would have DIED for a flight in the new 757 Business Class.
I hope AA does upgrade all its 757 with a better product and makes its Flight Attendants become younger... somehow
I hope you all enjoyed this report and the photos that came with it.
Please, go ahead and read my return trip from Rome to Chicago in AA 767-300 Business Class. That was one heck of a trip!
Thanks for reading, and as usual, it’s been a pleasure to write for you all a.netters.
Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2118 posts, RR: 23
Reply 3, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 24966 times:
Nice report on AA. Looks like you had a decent flight with them in J for the 4 hour + flight to JFK. I too also love the 757! It's my favorite aircraft ..
I really like AA, and fly them frequently. I think they always provide a good service, but on this flight I feel they should have provided something a bit more substantial on a 4 hour international flight. The breakfast looked really good, but maybe something else should have been included too .. like a pre-arrival snack or something!?!
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8734 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 24022 times:
Thanks for posting, a good read and some nice pictures too.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): my wonderful plate of plain shredded beef! Which ended up being what we call in Venezuela a “Pabellon Criollo,” composed of Black Beans, White Cheese, Shredded Beef (bingo!), Fried Plantains, Ham and Eggs. AMAZING!!!!!!!
- This looked a pretty decent sized meal, not sure about those pancakes though!
Re that chap with his feet on the walls, I hate it when people do this, it so rude.
smi0006 From Australia, joined Jan 2008, 1720 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 23693 times:
Great report there! Most impressive!
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): The souvenir quickly became a secondary concern as I looked up front. A grass-eater hillbilly decided to freshen his feet by raising them against the wall in row 1, obviously moving his fingers while the meal service was on
That is disgusting!! I hate that behaviour from anyone! There is never any cause to place your feet up like that, no one wants to see them or smell them! Especially in J where there is plenty of room and generally a foot rest!
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): No time later, the Captain came on the PA announcing our imminent arrival into the Capital of the World
Lols Capital of the World, is that your choice of words or his?
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): After the great feast, I went for a hot cup of Joe. Nice coffee (not freshly brewed I presume) marked the end of a great meal!
Yuck I hate mugs! QF have them domestically but cups and saucers internationally, god I am a picky bastard but I much prefer my tea and coffee in cups! lol (I have them that way at home too lol soo strange am I!!)
Thankyou again for you report! I think there is a lack of recognition of the time and effort people here on Anet put into these reports! Thankyou and all other contributors for being so generous and sharing your experiences!!
richcandy From France, joined Aug 2001, 840 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 23529 times:
Thanks for the trip report, good read. The picture of your brother looking out the window is great!!
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): A grass-eater hillbilly decided to freshen his feet by raising them against the wall in row 1,
People do tend to do pretty unpleasant things in public. Behave how you like in your own home but an aircraft is a public place. I once pushed open the door of a lavatory on a flight, only to discover a little old lady seated doing her business. She made it very clear that I was in the wrong, even though she was the one who had not looked the door.
Quoting smi0006 (Reply 6): Yuck I hate mugs! QF have them domestically but cups and saucers internationally, god I am a picky bastard but I much prefer my tea and coffee in cups! lol (I have them that way at home too lol soo strange am I!!)
Cups have their place. A cup and saucer with a tea pot or coffee pot is the best way to serve tea or coffee. As everything stays warm. However you need to have access to the pot as a cup does not hold much.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): No time later, the Captain came on the PA announcing our imminent arrival into the Capital of the World.
ViasaMSY From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 97 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 23391 times:
Fantastic read specially for an expat Venezuelan.
Your assesment of AA describes exactly my feelings about their awful customer service in CCS and why I never fly them when I go back to visit family and friends. As Venezuelans we don't only have to deal with Chavez's National Guard abuses (even worse if you are an US or EU passaport holder) as we try to leave the contry but also the terrible AA ground service.
Thank you for a great trip report.
FURUREFA From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 820 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 22933 times:
Was there a follow on service prior to landing at JFK? I flew MIA-LIM-MIA, which is about only 500 miles longer, in June and they served a light snack before landing - fruit salad before landing on the outbound, and a soup and sandwich before landing in Miami on the return.
Indeed. They should get rid of these old, low quality overhead CRT screens!
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): The cabin, by then, was ridiculously cold. Seems like the temperature control went rogue and the Captain had little control over it. I couldn’t care less, but my mother and sister were partially frozen.
That's not a desirable state – good to have a blanket, but what about the poor Y class passengers? Normally, the cabin temperature is controlled in the cockpit, at least on the 767, did the FAs take any action to turn up the heat?
[Edited 2010-09-30 10:19:09]
'He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified.' Joseph Conrad
abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5156 posts, RR: 54
Reply 15, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 21375 times:
Hey Enrique - thanks for the report and write up. I look forward to the next few installments of your epic trip. I have not flown AA ex-CCS in a while and it seems that they still continue to have their "healthy" portions of breakfast. Were there healthier options besides what y'all were offered? Too bad about your ground experience at CCS. I have not had a poor experience in a while and the VZ National Guard has been extremely nice to me - especially weird because I do have multiple passports but enter back/leave on my VZ one.
Again, thanks for sharing. Look forward to the next one.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 3): I really like AA, and fly them frequently. I think they always provide a good service, but on this flight I feel they should have provided something a bit more substantial on a 4 hour international flight.
They didn't, and I was puzzled about it. When we landed in JFK, I got quite hungry. We ended up eating at a local Manhattan Deli, which of course wasn't a bad option after all
Quoting smi0006 (Reply 6): Lols Capital of the World, is that your choice of words or his?
Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 10): Was there a follow on service prior to landing at JFK?
Negative. Just drinks on demand.
Quoting MAH4546 (Reply 12): A new first class 757 domestic product is being installed.
Really? How different is it against the Transcon layout? I'm looking forward on seeing it!
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 15): I have not flown AA ex-CCS in a while and it seems that they still continue to have their "healthy" portions of breakfast.
This was perhaps one of the best I've had. But if you look on my previous reports, AA has a constant great breakfast service, regardless of the point of origin. Lunch and Dinner aren't as good. Breakfasts are by far the best I've ever had in Business Class.
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 15): I have not had a poor experience in a while and the VZ National Guard has been extremely nice to me - especially weird because I do have multiple passports but enter back/leave on my VZ one.
It's not about the National Guard. It's about AA's ground staff. They're very obnoxious.
The National Guard is there just to do their work. It's quite normal for them to be annoying...
Thanks for your feedback!
Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
aces727 From Colombia, joined Oct 2005, 173 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 19602 times:
Great report!!!! The food is simply mouth-watering!!!... Great Photos, I love the one showing the Conviasa A340 and the AA757!
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Once you reach the pre-boarding check and passport control, which is attended by 4 agents in very small booths, they re-check your boarding pass, passports, visas, and ask you another infinite number of questions. Naturally, the lines form behind these booths.
I have also experienced this in Colombia and Panama, only on US bound flights. Extremely annoying... but I guess required/imposed by the US??
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): On my way to the American Airlines Admirals Club (Business Class Lounge), I saw Mexicana being ready for its daily flight to MEX – not nowing it would be the last time I ever saw them in CCS. Here’s a photo:
ohsopc From Thailand, joined Jul 2006, 111 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 4 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 18592 times:
Great trip report! For this one and your FCO-ORD report. It's really nice to see trip reports from such an exotic part of the world (well for me atleast) I'm pretty much fascinated by anything latin american (since my trip to peru earlier this year)
Seeing your trip report on the old AA 752 kind of reminds me of flying TG AB6... hate to be on them, but will sure miss them when they are gone.
chepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6362 posts, RR: 10
Reply 19, posted (5 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 17550 times:
Thank you for sharing. Very enjoyable read. By the way I love your brothers sweater, go ERAU!
As much as I love platanos I could never imagine eating them on a plane, much less on AA (LOL!).
However, very interesting combination - platanos, beans, eggs and beef.
triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 782 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (5 years 3 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 17373 times:
Thank you for your TR. I have only flown to South American once and that was MIA-EZE-MIA. It was very nice.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): hope AA does upgrade all its 757 with a better product and makes its Flight Attendants become younger... somehow
I'm not sure what the schedule is for AA upgrading it's 757's. I read your TR from FCO-ORD and there you had the new business class seats.
Flight attendants, pilots and most everyone bids by seniority. There is no longer a mandatory age when fa's must quit flying, so it's not uncommon to see fa's with over 40 years seniority on the international flights. My experience on AA in first class is almost always wonderful, even with fa's who have very high seniority.