Early this month, I took another weeklong business trip to London. I flew on AA business class JFK-LHR, and first class LHR-JFK. Here is my report:
Dec. 3rd, 2000
AA A-300-600R (N33069)
After a quick check-in for the 9:30 departure, I arrived at the Admiral's Club, only to find out that my flight was delayed to leave at 11:00 AM. Well, at least I could spend the time in the nice lounge instead of with the crowd by the gate. I bought the Sunday New York Times, picked a quite seat, kicked up my feet and relaxed. Periodically, I glanced over to the ramp, where the usual array of AA 767s, 757s, AB3s and SF3s paraded by. By 10:30, boarding was called and I head for the gate.
My seat was the second row of the business class and looked out to the port side CF6. I can even see a little bit of the engine's tail cone. The seat was the older style AA business class seat covered with lambskin.
We pushed back around 11 and headed for Runway 31L. Along the way, I saw A340s of AF and AR, 767-300s of DL and LA, and 747-400s of JL, KE, LY, NW, SQ and SA parked at various gates. I also saw a MD-11F of Lufthansa Cargo. You can always see some interesting aircraft at JFK.
We were the only aircraft taking off. So we did a rolling take off with maximum thrust. We were airborne in about 30 seconds. We then turned around almost 360 to head east. From my seat, I had the whole JFK in my view. It's pretty neat. Soon after take off, they began with a drink service. Then it was the brunch with choices of smoked turkey breakfast tart, cinnamon brioche French toast, or chicken breast with wild mushrooms. I had the chicken, which was quite tasty. The video began while meals were served. I watched the movie "Hollow Man" for about an hour and was bored by the slow plot. Other movies were not interesting at all. After meal, I walked around the cabin. First and business classes were completely fully while the coach was about 70% full. All three classes had PTV. I returned to my seats, put on the Bose noise cancellation earphone and listened to music and read for the rest of the journey. One of the channels I listened to were songs from a CD called "Go Simpsonic with the Simpson's". For all the fans of the cartoon "The Simpson's", I highly recommend it. It's hilarious! I had many good laughs. They served another round of drinks and warm roasted nuts about 11/2 hour after the meal. Another hour or so later, the snack was served with a choice of Shiitake and salmon turnover, chicken with sun-dried tomato pesto, or an assortment of tea sandwiches. So in a span of 5 ½ hours, we were fed 3 times. I came off the plane fairly full.
Our initial altitude was at FL 290. En route, we climbed up to FL 350. Nightfall came about 3 ½ hours after departure. We approached LHR with the usual turn around the Tower of London area and headed west towards LHR. We touched down smoothly on Runway 27R.
Dec 8th, 2000
AA B-777-200 (N783AN)
This is my first flight on AA's international first class. Check-in was a breeze. I then waited at AA's first class lounge until 15 minutes before the departure time. I was one of last passengers boarding the plane.
Seat 2J was the bulkhead seat. I found the legroom to be adequate, not excessive, for first class seat. The seat, in my opinion, was not as comfortable as the lambskin covered leather seats on AA's 767 and AB3 fleet. The best part was that the seat reclined fully. Video monitors were mounted on the bulkheads that showed the flight map so you can watch something else on your PTV while keeping track of the flight path. A video player was built into the seat so more movie selections can be watched. I was offered the usual selection of orange juice or Champaign. I asked for the juice and settled in for the flight. The passenger next to me arrived in London that same morning after an overnight flight from JFK. He conducted his business during the day and was heading home. So he didn't sleep for the pass 36 hours.
We pushed back on time and headed for Runway 27R. Along the way, a SK MD-90 was taxiing behind us. After a short wait for a few BA 757/767 to takeoff, we took-off into the night sky. Soon, the drinks were served, along with warm roasted nuts and carrot and celery sticks. Dinner started with a choice of Caviar with traditional garnishes, or smoked salmon with capers. The roast beef salad was next. For main course, the choices were lamb chop, lemon thyme grilled chicken, Penne pasta with grilled eggplant, Yankee pot roast, or a mixed salad. The appetizer and salad were served from the cart right in front of the passengers. The dishes of each course were carried individually from the galley. I had the lamb chop, which was very tender and juicy. For desert, one can choose between Haagen-Dazs ice cream or fruit tart, in addition to fruit, cheese and crackers.
While deserts were served, we hit strong turbulence. The captain asked all service to be suspended and everyone return to his/her seat. The passenger next to me spilled his water all over his lap. I also heard glass broken in the galley. The turbulence lasted for the next 2 hours. The captain reported the turbulence area was very large that he couldn't get around, over or under it. So we maintained our altitude and heading and flew right through it.
I asked for the movies for the personal video player and watched "The Perfect Storm" and "Small Time Crook". It's kind of fitting to watch "The Perfect Storm" during heavy turbulence over the North Atlantic - where the story took place. Over northern Canada, the turbulence dissipated and I had a clear view of the ground, which was snow covered. It's a pristine view.
About 1 hour before landing, the snack was served. It consisted Feta baked Salmon or Pineapple chicken with Asian slaw. I had the salmon, which in my opinon was a little too strong in flavor. We then headed straight through Boston area, Rhode Island, Long Island and eventually our final approach to Runway 31R. The landing was uneventful and I was through custom and out of the airport in less than 20 minutes.
Overall, I found AA's first class cabin to be adequate, but not as luxurious and well appointed as SQ, CX or BA's first class cabin. The service was very courteous and professional. The food was also very good.