Sat, June 25, 2005. AA183, BOS 910am to SFO 1223pm, B757-200 (N672AA/5CW), Seat 18A, Gate B31.
I got a cab to the airport and I reached Terminal B at BOS (my least favourite terminal at that airport) just before 730am. The check-in area was a total zoo, as usual, but I had checked in online, I already had my boarding pass, and I didn't have to deal with the crowds. Excellent. I knew that AA wouldn't offer any food on the flight so I decided to have a good breakfast before boarding. I ended up eating a (big!) omelette at a restaurant called Bella Boston. The omelette was good and it hit the spot. I then went through security (very fast, very painless) and reached gate B31. Our great-looking B757 was already there and was being prepared for the flight (I'm a total sucker for AA's retro livery!).
We started boarding on time (around 830am or so). The gate agent announced that the flight was overbooked and that they were looking for three volunteers to fly through ORD. They'd get to SFO 4 hours late, but they'd get a $300 voucher and fly in F class. I would have gladly done it (two landings for the price of one!), but I had arranged to meet with some friends of mine that afternoon and I didn't want to get there late. Oh well. I was among the first people to board the economy cabin, I stowed my carry-on in the overhead bin and my laptop bag underneath my seat.
Given AA's LRTC concept, row 18 is considered one the best on the B757, as it's an emergency exit row with very generous legroom (row 17 also has good legroom, but the seats have limited recline; check out seatguru for more details). Unfortunately, the seats are slightly narrower than the rest, due to the tables being in the armrests. The outside armrest is actually stuck on the door and located a few inches forward compared to where it's supposed to be. Finally, the windows are located on an awkward position (you either have to bend foward or lean backwards to get a good view). So, overall, yes, the extra legroom is nice. And I liked the power outlet very much. But the seat was generally unconfortable and I'll take a standard UA E+ seat over it any day.
The doors were closed early, around 9am, and we pushed back at 905am. We slowly taxied towards 22L and we were in the air at 920am. We did a wide 270-degree left turn which put us on a north-west heading.
The captain turned off the fasten seat belt sign when we reached our cruising altitude of 31,000ft and he advised us that our estimated flight time was 5h50m. He also said that, if we saw a landmark and wondered what it is, we could ask him, through the F/As of course, and he'd do his best to find out. A very nice touch. Well done!
Then the "service" began. We got a soft drink and a cereal bar.
A snack box was on sale for $3 and a wrap for $5. I was glad I had eaten that big omelette beforehand, as neither looked very attractive. I thought it was very funny that the F/A announced that AA provides free in-flight entertainment, as long as you have your own headphones or buy a pair from them for $2! Hypocrites! There was some random programming on the screens, followed by the movie which was Hitch with Will Smith. Some of the pasangers around me complained to the F/As that they couldn't get any audio. It turned out that the audio on all seats to the left of the aisle (i.e. my side of the plane) was dead. So, AA provided "free", as in audio-free!, entertainment to half the passangers on that flight. Well done. I actually didn't really care. I killed time by programming on my laptop, reading my book (The First King Of Shannara by Terry Brooks; yes I'm still struggling through it!), and snapping pictures. These didn't come out great, as my window was quite dirty and my seat was over the wing (yet another negative point about it).
The flight was uneventful. We hit some bumps and the captain switched on the seat belt sign a few times. But it was nothing really dramatic. The crew was mixed: most of them were very polite and courteous, but a couple of them were quite grumpy. About 1.5 hours before landing we got another round of soft drinks.
There were quite a lot of clouds over SFO and, at some point, the captain advised us that ATC told us to circle for a little bit as they were trying to increase the spacing between arrivals. So, we did what seemed like a 360-degree turn with spoilers deployed (I assume that we had been asked to decrease our speed too).
We were at the gate a few mins later, bang on time.
On my way out I saw the captain standing next to the cockpit door and I asked him whether I could take a picture of the cockpit. He said that it'd be OK. I got in the cockpit and I also asked the F/O, who was sitting on the right-hand seat, whether it'd be OK to take a picture. He seemed a bit reluctant and said that it might not be OK for security reasons (I wanted to point out to him that there is a large number of pictures of B757 cockpits on a.net, but I didn't want to be a pain). After a couple of quick exchanges between the captain and the F/O they told me to take it anyway. So, here it is.
Many thanks to both the captain and first officer!
Wed, June 29, 2005. AA194, SFO 130pm (actual: 230pm) to BOS 1006pm (actual: 1122pm), B757-200 (N643AA), Seat 18F, Gate 67.
Before I left my hotel I checked the status of the flight and aa.com was showing it on time. I took a cab to SFO and went straight to the self check-in kiosks. I swiped my AAdvantage card and the kiosk immediately identified me by name and found my reservation. Unfortunately, it also advised me that the flight was going to be an hour late and the new departure time was 230pm. Bummer. This meant we'd reach BOS after 11pm and I'll get home at midnight. Crap.
I went through security anyway (it took a couple of minutes but, again, it was pretty painless) and tried to find something to eat. I ended up having Japanese (shrimp tempura and udon in soup and two orders of Unagi) at a stall called Sankaku. I have to say that it was pretty damn good; I wish I could get food this good at all airports I pass through. The meal was followed by a large iced latte from Peets.
I walked around a little bit, snapped a few pictures. An AA B767-300ER was getting ready for a transcon to JFK (IIRC).
I have to say that I really do not like AA's gate area at SFO (it looks tired and worn out; UA's gate area is much nicer) so I tried to minimise my time there. Interestingly, I heard several announcements from AA agents about flights being full and requiring volunteers to get on later flights (I heard that for at least 3 different flights I believe). I had never heard this much ovebooking before! Eventually, it was time to board (just before 2pm). The agent called everyone who needed preboarding (i.e. people with small kids and a disabled lady) by name. I thought this was a very nice personal touch. Well done!
I was in Group 1 and reached my seat, 18F. The plane was again totally packed and it took a long time for everyone to board. At some point it seemed as if the middle seat next to me would stay unoccupied. However, literally the last person to board the plane sat on it (this has happened to me so many times it's not funny any more). We pushed back around 230pm
The take off was very smooth, apart from a single (big) bump (maybe we hit the wake of another plane?). As we were gaining altitude we got some nice views of the bay (note the airfield on the second picture; is it OAK?).
The captain told us that our estimated flight time was 5h07m and he expected that we'd land at BOS at 1050pm (i.e. 45 mins late). He again switched off the seat belt sign when we reached our cruising altitude (35,000ft this time).
We again had the same "service" that we got on the way out, i.e. a soft drink and a tiny bag of doritos (it was pathetic; I think it contained less than 10 chips!). Everything else was, again, for sale. At least this time the audio seemed to work!
About 2.5 hours into the flight the captain came on the speakers and said that the reason for the delay was ATC-related. There was a large body of weather over the Great Lakes which had delayed some flights to/from the East Coast. As a result, the ATC decided to delay a few more flights on the West coast, which were departing for the East coast, instead of allowing them to take off and then putting them on a holding pattern at the airport. He also indicated that we had just been diverted from our original flight plan in order to avoid the weather over the Great Lakes. Instead, we had taken a course over Misouri and New York and we would be approaching BOS from the south. He updated our estimated arrival time to 1110pm (i.e. just over an hour late). Bummer.
I should point out that, this time, the seat covers were not the horried bright blue color that I had to endure on the way out (and on all my other flights on AA's B757s). However, they were equally unconfortable.
We again got some random programming followed by the movie, Robots. I've been meaning to watch that one but, from where I was sitting, I didn't have a great view of the video screen (the overhead bin obscured about 1/5th of it). So, I again worked on my laptop, wrote most of this report, and kept snapping pictures until it got too dark.
Between working on my laptop, taking pictures, and reading my book time passed pretty quickly. We had another soft drinks service and we finally started descending. Most of the descent was through clouds. We eventually landed on runway 27 just after 1120pm and we were at the gate 10 mins later (i.e. about an hour and a half late).
When I was waiting to board the return flight, and the gate agent called boarding for First class, a lady next to me looked at her boarding pass and told me, jokingly "well, I seem to be in third class!" (a reference to being in Group 3). I replied that, these days, the words "class" and "flying" should not be combined any more... and this is a good summary of this trip. I did reach my destinations safely and kind of on time (I cannot blame AA for the delay on the way). But, apart fom that, there was nothing I could get excited about. And I have to be honest: I'd much rather fly on UA. They have better and more modern terminals at both BOS and SFO, they let me in their lounges (beats hanging around a terminal full of screaming kids any day), and their E+ seats are miles better that AA's emergency exit row seats. I know that UA has also stopped complimentary meals on transcons (with the exception of the PS service I believe), but I'd still rather fly UA. And please, do not read this as criticism against the employees of AA. With the exception of a couple of grumpy F/As, they were all professional, courteous and I felt that they did the best they could to make the flights as pleasant as possible. But, with all the cuts that AA has implemented, there was definitely no "class" in flying them. Sorry.
Hope I didn't bore you to tears.
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Zone1 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1034 posts, RR: 7 Reply 1, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 5524 times:
Nice trip report! I can't wait until Song starts flying BOS to SFO and LAX. It will give everyone another good option. I don't think I have ever had a smooth ride flying to California. It always seems to get bumpy around the Rocky Mountains.
Planecrazy2 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 615 posts, RR: 4 Reply 2, posted (8 years 4 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 5320 times:
I really enjoyed reading both of your reports, the pictures were a nice touch! Its sad that the cost cutting has gotten to the point where you can fly for 6 hours in the USA and thats all you get. But the AA buy on board programme I've heard is working well and is being expanded. I would stay away from the snack boxes, but the turkey wrap is large and quite tasty. Do you have any pictures of the AA terminal at SFO? I've been over to the UA side, and figured it all looked the same.
The guy who sat next to me on the way back got it. It did look OK. But I think I'll stick to a hot meal before I get on board. If AA offered me a half-descent BOB hot meal I'd be prepared to pay $10-$15 for it. All those cold snacks... I don't think so.
Quoting Planecrazy2 (Reply 2): Do you have any pictures of the AA terminal at SFO? I've been over to the UA side, and figured it all looked the same.
No, I didn't take any. Sorry. To be honest, I'm a bit embarrassed taking pictures in the terminals just in case people complain (it has happened in the past). I suppose I'll get over it eventually...
Quoting Christian (Reply 3): Is it usual to use 28's for dep at noon, because when I was there in march, it was only the heavies who did that.
I have no idea!!!
Quoting Atrude777 (Reply 4): I am an avid AA flyer, and even then I cannot bare the thought of flying them on a 757 long haul,
Guess what? I'm doing BOS-MAN on a B757 on Friday!!! I'm actually looking forward to it...
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Tbear815 From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 704 posts, RR: 5 Reply 6, posted (8 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 4479 times:
As to BOB, years ago, the airlines that flew WC/HNL offered a fare of $100.00 each way. The catch was that there was no meal service. UA implemented a hot roast beef sandwich that came with I forget (potato salad?), but for $1.50, that was good, filling, and cheap! Liquor was $1.00.
I don't know why hot food can not be offered, unless the ovens have been removed from the galley. A hot croissant sandwich with modest deli-type accompaniments would be a steal at $5.00. You have tray set-ups and pop a hot sandwich on it! Oh, well, I'm not in the industry anymore. That was then, this is now.
(And UA's sandwiches were big and damned good! - of course, 747's had lounges then, as well.......)
Karan69 From India, joined Oct 2004, 2846 posts, RR: 19 Reply 7, posted (8 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4357 times:
Nice report TONY, cant wait to read the next transatlantic AA 757 report, hopefully with a lot of pictures.
Quoting SNATH (Reply 5): No, I didn't take any. Sorry. To be honest, I'm a bit embarrassed taking pictures in the terminals just in case people complain (it has happened in the past). I suppose I'll get over it eventually...
HaHA, i feel the same way especially since i come from a country where photography at airport was banned until 9th December,2004. and not many people know about it yet, even some security persons and airline personnel have no idea that is now allowed.
Trust me, you should see the look on peoples faces when i even come close to taking out my camera.
SNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3238 posts, RR: 24 Reply 8, posted (8 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4117 times:
Quoting Tbear815 (Reply 6): a hot roast beef sandwich that came with I forget (potato salad?)
It would have been great to have been offered this!
Quoting Tbear815 (Reply 6): I don't know why hot food can not be offered, unless the ovens have been removed from the galley.
I can only guess is that hot food (or, rather, food to be heated) is perishable and, if they do not sell it on the flight, they will lose money as they will have to throw it away. Of course, I assume it's the same for the turkey wrap (of which they did announce they had a limited supply). The snack boxes will keep for some time, as everything in them is sealed. But, yes, I'd love to see the airlines selling hot food, even if you have to pre-order it when booking your ticket.
Quoting Karan69 (Reply 7): cant wait to read the next transatlantic AA 757 report, hopefully with a lot of pictures.
Thank you. I will do my best and I have already packed my camera! Only a few hours now...
[Edited 2005-07-22 14:21:21]
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.