CHIFLYGUY
Topic Author
Posts: 133
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:14 pm

AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:32 am

I'm an AA executive platinum flyer who has recently flown several trips in international first class thanks to upgrades from business. Included here are a few observations in evaluation of AA's first class product. I won't attempt to compare it against F products from the likes of BA or SQ, which I've never flown. Rather, I want to answer the question: given that the price of F on AA is roughly twice that of J (at least when I've checked), is it worth the difference? My conclusion is No.

First, for the record, AA only offers international F on their 777 product. These planes, which have a three class configuration, are flown to premium or long haul markets such as LHR, NRT, PVG, DEL, and GRU. Among United States based carriers, only American and United have a true international F product.

What precisely are the differences between F and J? Well, that's a very good question. As near as I can gather, these products are substantially identical with a few exceptions. F class gets you:

- Fully flat beds. This is clearly the primary difference. AA flies two configurations: a first class "suite" product which includes a foot rest that doubles as a seat for a companion to dine with you and a desk; and an older side-by-side flat bed configuration I believe people here have referred to as "coffin seats". I've flown both, and both are clearly miles ahead of the equivalent J-class seats.

- Access to the Flagship Lounges in ORD, LAX and LHR. (Interestingly, there is none in JFK, though I wonder if one will open as part of the new teriminal project).

- Dedicated checkin areas at select airports (shared with executive platinums and One World emeralds)

- A smoked salmon appetizer. I kid you not. As near as I can tell, the meals in F are otherwise identical to the ones in J. This extends to the wine selection. I could be wrong since I haven't done a detailed menu item comparison, but I'm pretty confident I'm at least close to right.

- A personal video selection on mini-cassette, limited to about 20 titles. Otherwise the entertainment is identical to J, and does not feature anything available "on demand".

- Better ratios of flight attendants, lavatories, etc. than in J.

That's it. As near as I can tell, everything else is identical, including the entertainment options, amenity kits, everything. Basically, the only really worthwhile item in the list is the flat bed, but you'd be hard pressed to justify paying double just for this, especially as you can get a decent flat bed in J on BA. Perhaps it is worth it if you have money to burn, but if you do, you can also afford to burn it on F on a premium foreign carrier with even better benefits. This makes me wonder how many F class tickets AA actually sells versus distributing as upgrades.

I've read at least one person on here call the AA first suites "the most functional" out there. I can't compare that much since my F flying is very limited. They do have a desk, which I don't recall from UA's F product. However, I have my problems with them as well. Firstly, the tray table, even when pulled as close to me as possible, still seems to be fairly far away. This may be because it is designed to facilitate face to face dining. But since I don't take advantage of that features, I merely find it annoying. Equally annoying is that I've found no way to move the chair closer to the foot rest/ottoman. This would make it greatly more convenient to prop my feet up, but the only way I've managed it basically requires that you have a fair degree of recline, since the seat only seems to move forward when you are turning it into the flat bed. I'm probably not the only one this has affected. A lot of the ottomans feature cracked leather on the edge that is probably the result of people pressing the soles of their shoes against the edge because they couldn't fully prop their legs on top of it.

I have not been to the Flagship Lounge in LA, but the ones in Chicago and London are a tale of two cities. The Chicago lounge is very nice in my opinion. No, they don't have a spa or waitress taking my order for a fully cooked breakfast. But, this is a mile ahead of any Admirals Club. There's Grey Goose and other premium liquors available, along with several brands of imported beer. Also provided are hot and cold appetizers such as shrimp cocktail, sausages, various types of cheese, a fruit plate, and tasty looking desserts I'm sorry not to have sampled. Everything is self-service and complimentary. There are also several work stations for plugging in your computer. The entire atmosphere is fairly civilized. The only problem is that the location is at gate K19, the very end of the K concourse. This works great for some flights. Many of the 777 flights depart from the end of the K concourse. But gate L8 - the most remote possible mainline gate from the Flagship Lounge, is also used, which is annoying to say the least if you happen to be on the 4:55 to LHR.

The London lounge, on the other hand, is probably worse than your average Admirals Club and is basically just a smaller version of the LHR Admirals Club next door. In fact, I think I find the actual Admirals Club is nicer in some respects. There's certainly nothing of any prestige in this Flagship Lounge, which is desperate need of upgrading. (Interestingly, I've made the same observation of UA's first class lounges. For example, the one in NRT is basically identical to the Red Carpet Club below).

As for the service, I've found that to be very uneven. Some flight attendant crews are great, others are poor. It's interesting that it does seem to be the whole crew too, not just individuals. Various problems I've experienced:

- As a general rule, both AA and UA (and to be fair this applies to J as well as F) have a very routinized service procedure. That is, their flight attendants are just going through the motions of a rigidly defined process, not really trying to provide great service per se. (Sounds like the TSA, doesn't it?) For example, it can take up to 45 minutes after take off to get your first drink. Why? Because that's when they come around to take orders - right after distributing the hot mixed nuts. I've actually tried to get a drink sooner, only to be explicitly rebuffed! There should be more emphasis on taking care of passengers and less on going through the checklist motions. Again, some crews are awesome and really do a great job. But even they provide fairly routinized basics.

- I can understand AA's need to save money - but skimping in highly visible ways to passengers who pay thousands of dollars is counterproductive. For example, the hot towels they used to distribute have been replaced with, I'm not making this up, warm moist towelettes, complete with smelly chemicals. This is ridiculous in an international first class product. They'd be better not to give anything at all rather than rubbing passengers noses in the fact that they are being so cheap. Another example: the salt and pepper shakers have been replaced with tiny packets. Last time I went to the supermarket, salt was the cheapest thing there, so this is an odd place to look for savings.

- Sometimes the flight attendants will block business passengers from exiting until first class has emptied, other times they don't. Sometimes premium bags (which includes both F and J, as well as elite status fliers) come off the luggage belt first, other times they don't. Usually if they don't, that means they'll come off last. There's nothing quite like half the first class cabin standing around chatting with each other while evey Tom, Dick, and Harry in economy claims his bags and leaves.

- Occasionally there are very odd happenings. For example, on one flight I was told that there was only one type of meal left - and first class wasn't even full. When I inquired about getting meals from business, they told me that they'd already taken the business class orders, so there were none available for me. If being in F doesn't get you priority over J - especially when the meals are identical! - what does it get you?

- The first class checkin area in London is not part of the main AA checking desk. I actually didn't see for some time and checked in at the Business desk a few times before finally stumbling across the first desk by accident on one of my trips. No one at AA ever mentioned to me that there was an F class checkin.

This should give you a flavor.

Interestingly, though I suspect first class is mostly upgraders, AA does not seem to like to bump people up for free. I had a flight attendant tell me that the flight was overbooked and they had left passengers behind in London, yet F was not full. I can't believe there weren't at least some executive platinum or platinum passengers that couldn't have been bumped up from J to F, then Y to J to avoid bumping people in foreign country. Again, given that the only real difference from J is the seat, it's not like AA would be giving away the farm.

I'm also a premier executive on United. Comparing the two carriers, I can't say there's a lot of difference between them. UA aspires to be more of a premium carrier, but fails in the execution. I'm not sure what AA's strategy is, but at least they aren't trying to pretend they are something they can't live up to.

The problem for AA is that they are clearly inferior to a carrier like BA. I've never flown F on BA, but I have flown J and truthfully I'd rather be in J on BA than F on AA. This is a dilemma for AA if their anti-trust immunity is ever granted in the wake of an EU open skies agreement. Why fly AA transatlantic at all if you can fly BA and still get both miles and elite qualifying points? They'd better negotiate a good revenue sharing deal.

I hope you found this overview useful.
 
fbgdavidson
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:34 am

Welcome to airliners.net and an interesting post!  Smile

I think nowadays many customers and airlines are questioning providing a First Class product internationally. Many airlines have removed it from at least some of their routes if not completely. With Business Class products getting better and better and the evolution of the business class flat bed companies paying for First Class are doing it less so for added comfort but more a prestigious perk for board members and higher ranking execs. As companies cut back on business travel expenditure often First Class is offered as a free upgrade on fully flexible tickets and the ilk when negotiating corporate agreements.

I'm primarily a BA flyer and sample their F product fairly infrequently so I rarely fly AA unless within the US but to be honest from my extensive readings on Flyertalk I think your comparisons of AA First Class may well be fair. My parents managed to get a good deal on some AA F tickets LHR-JFK and it is something of a departure from their usual BA J and F experience. It seems as though the hard product onboard AA is pretty decent, however, only if you win the lottery on getting the Flagship Suite over the coffins!

I do understand that in this day and age that cutting costs is natural and the First Class cabin is a good place to start. After all there isn't too much that can be cut from Y service! But it seems AA have chopped back a little too far to the extent that the soft F product is not much different to the J product and this not only goes for International First but Domestic Flagship Service too (F on JFK-LAX/SFO). Massive investment is required in the hard product, I think BA are investing £100m+ in their next generation Club World product so AA have done the hard work with getting the Flagship Suite product on some of their fleet (and I understand plans are underway to convert the rest of the fleet) yet the soft product is so poor it seems to let the side down! As I said earlier my parents picked up some cheap F tickets which I found out about on Flyertalk and many people with BA/QF/CX F experience are enquiring about the AA F service only to be told not to expect anything, maybe on par with an average BA J flight! Frankly if AA invested £50 per passenger on decent food (I'm told BA pay £25 for each First Class meal) they could have some really great cuisine, in airline terms  Wink Maybe I'm just stupid here but some organisations and people paying for F tickets pay blindly for their tickets and aren't going to notice £50 here or there and it'd greatly improve things.

As for the crew well people say the crew are often surly and maybe on the whole this is the case, after all it seems European and American carriers can't get the staff to match Asian customer service levels. However some of AA's crew are very competent, I was on JFK-LAX Flagship Service flight in First Class last month and came across one of the best FAs on any of my flights on a number of carriers in recent years. Witty, friendly, great memory, extremely personable etc and I led to believe this is pretty much standard fare for the AFS flights.

As for the rest of the product, well I've not been in the Admirals Club or Flagship Lounge at LHR but I've been to a number of AA lounges including the FL in LAX and it isn't a bad place to while away a few hours. It is something of a haven from the bustling Admirals Club across the way and the staff I've met at each AC throughout the network are very competent and friendly  thumbsup 

I guess to summarise things from my brief experiences on AA and from what I've read elsewhere it seems as though many AA flyers value AAdvantage so greatly they are willing to fly an inferior product to retain status, or to nab a seat in First Class and I'm sure as an EXP you are familiar with unlimited F upgrades within the US  Wink. Personally I can't imagine joining an FFP just because I can get upgrades on a mediocre airline. I'm happy with both BA and the Executive Club, I can fly First Class within the US on AA fairly reasonably and enjoy the benefits of travelling a decent airline across the rest of the world.

AA certainly do have the potential to be a really good airline, they are just treading water at the moment though, seeing how many cutbacks can be made until their FFs decide enough is enough and AAdvantage is worth ditching for a better experience elsewhere. A real shame IMO because a relatively small amount of investment in onboard amenities, and a large investment in making the lounges a better standard would go a long, long way....

Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Thread starter):
- The first class checkin area in London is not part of the main AA checking desk. I actually didn't see for some time and checked in at the Business desk a few times before finally stumbling across the first desk by accident on one of my trips. No one at AA ever mentioned to me that there was an F class checkin.

Isn't it over at Park Avenue? This has moved recently to be just outside Terminal 3 instead of underneath that car park which is being pulled down
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
FURUREFA
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:48 am

Welcome. I have to say that the AA F seat is one of the best in the world. I think it is better than BA's, which is already incredibly luxurious. My complaint on AA is that, just like you mentioned, there is not a big difference between J and F. The amenity kits and blankets are the exact same and the only difference between the J and F pillows is that the J pillow's eagle is silver, while the F pillow's is gold. The main courses in J and F are the same, except that F has one extra choice, they are plated differently and have bigger portions. If AA wanted to, they could make their F product the best in the world very easily.

Matt
 
MalpensaSFO
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:52 am

Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 2):
If AA wanted to, they could make their F product the best in the world very easily.

When they hire new Flight Attendants?
TO FLY IS TO SERVE
 
CHIFLYGUY
Topic Author
Posts: 133
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:59 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 1):

As for the crew well people say the crew are often surly and maybe on the whole this is the case, after all it seems European and American carriers can't get the staff to match Asian customer service levels. However some of AA's crew are very competent, I was on JFK-LAX Flagship Service flight in First Class last month and came across one of the best FAs on any of my flights on a number of carriers in recent years. Witty, friendly, great memory, extremely personable etc and I led to believe this is pretty much standard fare for the AFS flights.

I don't want to say that the AA flight attendants are terrible. In fact, a big reason I fly them is because I find their service better than what I've had elsewhere among the US carriers. The best AA flight attendants are as good as any in the business. But as with any large organization, there are bad and good. And service levels are certainly less consistantly high than what you would find with many of the foreign carriers such as BA.
 
worldjet777
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:13 am

Welcome to A.Net!

Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 2):
the only difference between the J and F pillows is that the J pillow's eagle is silver, while the F pillow's is gold.

This is what really cost's AA the money!  Smile haha

I really appreciate this analysis. I fly AA's J class semi-frequently, but am making my way more towards the UAL/CO side of the tracks. AA's service overall has dropped significantly over the past few years, and its really a large lack of attention to detail. If AA would change some minor things up- like the quality of hot towels in F, the product would be much better. Now I'm flying more BF on CO and the differences between the two airlines are very interesting. CO has great quality with their product, with food and service to kick. AA does a better job of pulling off the "class" than CO with the amenity kits, but when it comes down to spending money, it just makes more sense to go with value in the product over class in the additionals. Those are my brief observations!
Cheers,
wj777
Now Your Flying Smart
 
fbgdavidson
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:17 am

Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 2):
If AA wanted to, they could make their F product the best in the world very easily.

IMO that is unrealistic.

-As I said they have a good hard product but that is only across half the 777 fleet. Massive investment required.
-They don't have enough First Class lounges, and those that are left aren't spectacular. Massive investment required.
-The crews aren't as consistently high as the best performers in the world. I guess the obvious people to look at are NH, CX and SQ on this front. The American idea of customer service just isn't quite the same as Asian carriers. Selective training and pricey.

And the fact of the matter is AA are scared to invest money. Look at the new J seat, it is hardly a groundbreaking design and they are just playing catch up with the rest.

The day AA announce they are going to install F lounges into all their outstations and decide to make a go at being best in the world and succeed I will eat my hat and my shoes. Realistically they can offer a very good F product but when the rest of their competition is milling about treading water what is the incentive to bother aiming high?
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
AASTEW
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:50 am

Hi CHIFLYGUY,

First thanks for your continued years of flying AA.

I have been with AA since 10/95. I fly Purser at JFK. I mainly fly our JFK-LHR flt. 104/132/116.

Just to add the differences between First and Business class on AA's JFK-LHR route. Business doesn't get the Salmon app., they get a smaller app. . The biz salad course is pre-served and smaller portion. The entree is the same. First is dished by the F/A's Business is pre-plated. Deserts: First gets Sundaes/cheese plate/peaches in amaretto sauce. Biz flavored ice cream or fruit Pre-arrival Breakfast is the same in both cabins.

Salt and Pepper shakers are paper, therefore reducing costs of replacing shakers that get lost by caterers or mistakenly become souirvenirs to our customers. Hot towels was also a cost cutting measure. Instead of washing and recycling worn out hot towels they are now one time use towels.

I'm sure your quite aware of the catering issues. However, I will try and better explain why sometimes you don't received your entree choice. There are 3 entree choices in both cabins. Just for example in F 18seat config. we might get catered 8 Beef 6 Chicken and 4 Pasta. The flights are not catered with additional meals. The flight deck crew gets 3 different entrees. If a customer didn't receive their preferred entree choice we often then go to the pilots. Business class is catered exact as well. AA and LSG SkyChefs leave no room for error. Most F/A's will try to accomodate you as best we can!

As far as the JFK-LHR flights I have been told we are at 90% full fare in First Class! I don't have any stats, just word from a member of management.

AASTEW JFK
 
Sean-SAN-
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:00 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 1):
I think nowadays many customers and airlines are questioning providing a First Class product internationally.

Incorrect. Many airlines receive a large chunk of their revenue from either First Class tickets or Business/First hybrids. These airlines include Singapore Airlines, Malaysia, Emirates, Lufthansa, Virgin, BA, and Air New Zealand, just to name a few. These airlines often fly routes that compete directly with US based airlines, so the money is there. But people with $6000 to pay for a ticket aren't the type to waste their money. And that means US based airlines premium cabins are usually either upgrades / mile redemptions, employees, or deeply discounted corporate contracts.
 
MalpensaSFO
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:00 am

Quoting AASTEW (Reply 7):
Salt and Pepper shakers are paper, therefore reducing costs of replacing shakers that get lost by caterers or mistakenly become souirvenirs to our customers.

Those little nickel and dime practices are noticed..

Quoting AASTEW (Reply 7):
8 Beef 6 Chicken and 4 Pasta.

Most airlines with International P class products ask the passengers at Check-In or they insure there are extra meals.
TO FLY IS TO SERVE
 
fbgdavidson
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:12 am

Quoting Sean-SAN- (Reply 8):
Incorrect. Many airlines receive a large chunk of their revenue from either First Class tickets or Business/First hybrids.

I stand by my statement. A number of airlines have dropped a First Class product completely in favour of a Business/First hybrid, these include CO, DL, US, NZ, AC, NW, KL and VS who of course never had an F cabin.

Some airlines including BA, AF, AA and LH (off the top of my head) have dropped First Class on a number of routes. In BA's case (the airline I am most familiar with) they have dropped DEN, DAC, BWI, DTW and more plus much of their Caribbean network.

Indeed as you say a lot of airlines do receive a large chunk of their revenue from First Class and particularly on certain flagship routes but the airlines that continue to service a full three class service (F/J/Y) on all their international longhaul routes are certainly diminishing. International First Class certainly isn't as prominent on the worldwide network as it was say ten or twenty years ago.

[Edited 2006-08-16 00:14:01]
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
nonrev
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:13 am

I think that the legacy carriers accept that investment needs to be made in the premium cabins, but until now haven't had the ability or financial security to do so. But where the F class needs a clean up, it's in C class (or J class, dependent on how you fly!) where a re-vamp is needed and will be happening over the next couple of years. Bottom line is: Lie-flat in Business Class.

Cheers
 
roseflyer
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:14 am

Thank you very much for the report. I have only flown first class on Star Alliance. I have flown on a number of flights in United's and Lufthansa's first class cabin as well as Air New Zealand when they still had first class. I think for some there is a noticeable difference. I know that my parents will only fly in fully flat seats for long haul since it is hard for them to get enough sleep as they are getting older in the traditional seats. They'll pay a lot of money to do this, but benefit from UA giving 1K members systemwide upgrades.

It is interesting to hear the AA comparison. It seems relatively similar to United, although the design of the UA's suite doesn't have the same perks that AA's flagship suites have. I also think it isn't good that they are cutting corners. I've always been very impressed with meal services in first class. They are just as good as fine restaurants for the most part, which is quite impressive since the food is premade and being served from a tiny galley at 35,000ft.

Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Thread starter):
- A personal video selection on mini-cassette, limited to about 20 titles. Otherwise the entertainment is identical to J, and does not feature anything available "on demand".

Does AA not have the individual cassette players? I know UA and LH both have cassette players in the seats and a wide selection available. It isn't as convenient as the AVOD systems, but it does let you watch movies when you want to.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
Ken777
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:16 am

I've flown in the Flagship Suites on AA several times (using VIP upgrades) and am impressed with the seats. Unfortunately AA has cut costs in First and it shows. While I can understand the need to cut costs I also believe that you don't do it where the expensive tickets are sold. I know that a lot of pax in First are upgrades, but these pax put a lot of time on AA planes in order to get that upgrade. Either through upgrades or through buying a F ticket outright these are pax that AA wants to keep.

Now days I would rather fly J on BA or CX or even QF than F on AA. The food is a lot better, there is sufficient room & comfort and the FAs are generally impressive. While I have almost 3 mil lifetime miles in AAdvantage program I recently joined BA's program in order to fly BA over the Atlantic.

Hopefully AA will start investing in their service before to long as I want to see them successful over the long haul.
 
jacobin777
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:01 am

Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Thread starter):
The only problem is that the location is at gate K19, the very end of the K concourse. This works great for some flights. Many of the 777 flights depart from the end of the K concourse. But gate L8 - the most remote possible mainline gate from the Flagship Lounge, is also used, which is annoying to say the least if you happen to be on the 4:55 to LHR.

Hi CHIFLYGUY...welcome to A.net....and good post.. Smile

I've flown on AA's ORD-LHR evening route a few times...they sometimes have to park the 777-200ER in the L8 gate when IB brings their A346 to ORD instead of their A343..this is because the A346 is a bit too long to park at the L8 gate (if you noticed at the gate, it was an "Iberia-OneWorld" gate...

I took this picture from the L8 gate when I flew ORD-LHR a couple of months ago (too bad I wasn't flying in F).



Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Thread starter):
Sometimes premium bags (which includes both F and J, as well as elite status fliers) come off the luggage belt first, other times they don't. Usually if they don't, that means they'll come off last.

This happens on all carriers..my parents fly on Business class with various carriers (LH, PK, BA, KU, etc), and they sometimes are one of the last to get their luggage (doesn't happen often, but it does)

cheers..
"Up the Irons!"
 
PRAirbus
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:34 am

AA will enhance their First/Business Class product, the salt/pepper shakers will come back, more entree (menu) provisioning to increase chances of getting your selection, better hot towels, etc...these changes will be incorporated to the Domestic product in addition to the New Generation Business Class on 763 and 777's...the IFS (International Service) will offer comforters in Business Class versus blankets. Most of these changes will be introduced soon.
 
boeing 747-311
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:52 am

do AA and UA offer Pajamas for their first class passengers as some carriers do? it does not appear like so!!

Also great post!!!
Come fly with US
 
mirrodie
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:05 am

Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Thread starter):
AA does not seem to like to bump people up for free

I don't think many airlines like to bump up their pax for free. Derives from profit, doesnt it?

Flights are known to be oversold but if the next flight is a seat and a $400 voucher, vs a $3600 revenue pax or the potential, I would think that decides whether or not a bump is upcoming.


No doubt the goodwill would be nice though.
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ikramerica
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:08 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 1):
AA certainly do have the potential to be a really good airline, they are just treading water at the moment though, seeing how many cutbacks can be made until their FFs decide enough is enough and AAdvantage is worth ditching for a better experience elsewhere.

I was never EXP, but I did just that. I got tired of AA's declining service and cost cutting (pre-911, BTW) and switched to focusing flying on CO. Since, I have used up my FF miles on AA via free F tickets, and have not paid for an AA ticket since, but from this report it seems that the F product has declined since I last flew it as my experience was better. Sad...
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
SNATH
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:26 am

Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Thread starter):

Welcome to a.net and thanks for sharing your experiences on AA's F class. Or should it be ClAAss maybe?  Smile Your experience matches a friend's who recently flew AA F class and was a bit underwhelmed (he was particularly shocked with how bad the lounges were). He did find the suite excellent though.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 6):
As I said they have a good hard product but that is only across half the 777 fleet. Massive investment required.

I think LH has shown that, even if you don't have the latest super duper F class seat, you can still provide a great product, with excellent service on the ground (see dedicated F class lounges), good food on board, attention to detail, etc.

And, for what it is worth, I just don't buy the "it's all upgrades, why should we bother" attitude, given that it will encourage the people who actually want to pay for F class to spend their money somewhere else.

My  twocents 

Regards,

Tony
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roseflyer
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:47 am

Quoting Boeing 747-311 (Reply 16):
do AA and UA offer Pajamas for their first class passengers as some carriers do? it does not appear like so!!

I know UA certainly does not. Other airlines like Lufthansa do. UA does give amenity kits and socks, but no sleep shirts or pajamas.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
flflyguy
Posts: 191
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:26 pm

In addition to the changes outlined in the above post by AASTEW, also know that all of the 777's will be upgraded to Flagship Suites in F class in 2007.

I agree with your many pointed remarks about the decline in the level of service in First Class on IFS flights. I think the company agrees, too. They are investing in putting some of the perks back in. I just hope we make the necessary improvements before we lose a lot of customers.

I also wish we had the money to make more improvements, more quickly. But we don't. And therein lies the problem....to make money, we need the passengers. But to keep the passengers, we have to spend money that we don't have. I do hope that management makes the correct decisions, in a timely manner.

We'll see.
The views expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my employer.
 
CHIFLYGUY
Topic Author
Posts: 133
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:45 pm

A few additional clarifications.

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 12):

Does AA not have the individual cassette players? I know UA and LH both have cassette players in the seats and a wide selection available. It isn't as convenient as the AVOD systems, but it does let you watch movies when you want to.

The Flagship Suites do have an individual 8mm video tape system. There are about 20-25 titles available. So this is personalized and "on demand" for you.

It is the rest of the entertainment system that is equivalent to J.

Quoting Ken777 (Reply 13):

I've flown in the Flagship Suites on AA several times (using VIP upgrades) and am impressed with the seats.

I realize I probably left the impression that I don't like the Flagship Suites since I only posted the criticisms. Actually, I like them a lot. They are the highlight of the service. I particularly like how they rotate to create a real desk where you can work either with the shade down or looking out the window.

The things they need to add are independent forward motion of the seat, and a better IFE product.

Quoting PRAirbus (Reply 15):
AA will enhance their First/Business Class product, the salt/pepper shakers will come back, more entree (menu) provisioning to increase chances of getting your selection, better hot towels, etc...these changes will be incorporated to the Domestic product in addition to the New Generation Business Class on 763 and 777's...the IFS (International Service) will offer comforters in Business Class versus blankets. Most of these changes will be introduced soon.

That's good. I can understand cost cutting, but nickle and diming in F is just not the way to go.

Quoting Boeing 747-311 (Reply 16):

do AA and UA offer Pajamas for their first class passengers as some carriers do? it does not appear like so!!

Neither AA or UA offer pyjamas. As I said, the amenity kits are the same in F and J.

Quoting Mirrodie (Reply 17):

I don't think many airlines like to bump up their pax for free. Derives from profit, doesnt it?

Flights are known to be oversold but if the next flight is a seat and a $400 voucher, vs a $3600 revenue pax or the potential, I would think that decides whether or not a bump is upcoming.

I was only suggesting that this be done at the gate shortly before take-off, when selling tickets is a moot point. Obviously there could be problems with catering for the passengers upgraded, but if they were told in advance that they would get moved up to first, but would only have business meals, I think most would still take it. (As I said, you basically would only miss out on the smoked salmon).

I don't think AA can or should try to compete with the likes of SQ or even BA. But I think they could sell more F tickets by having a product that is more differentiated from J than today. One reason I flew these upgrade segments was to try out the product before buying. Right now I don't think I'll buy, but in the future with some upgrades, potentially I would.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I'm pretty much an AA supporter.

Cheers!
 
UN_B732
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:52 pm

I think that the main advantage of F is privacy, small, intimate cabin, and prestige. That's why movie contracts keep F going on LAX-JFK.
-Mr. X
What now?
 
jaysit
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:03 pm

I think its amusing how American carriers think that a pre-plated slice of smoked salmon that you can buy at Zabars and plop on your bagel for about $ 3.50 is a First Class starter.
Atheism is Myth Understood.
 
MalpensaSFO
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:26 pm

Quoting Jaysit (Reply 24):
I think its amusing how American carriers think that a pre-plated slice of smoked salmon that you can buy at Zabars and plop on your bagel for about $ 3.50 is a First Class starter.

What is even more funny is that they are using plastic forks and knives, stereotypical $.50 coffe mugs, and cant offer a decent tea service for the life of them.. In the United States even the best international First is a J product when compared with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Air France, Malaysia, JAL, and others. There are miles to go before a U.S. airline can offer a true international First Class product.
TO FLY IS TO SERVE
 
SNATH
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:30 pm

Quoting CHIFLYGUY (Reply 22):
but nickle and diming in F is just not the way to go.

 checkmark 

Tony
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
 
roseflyer
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:14 am

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 25):
In the United States even the best international First is a J product when compared with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Air France, Malaysia, JAL, and others. There are miles to go before a U.S. airline can offer a true international First Class product.

It really irks me when people say that without justification. I've flown first class on United and it is certainly better than business class on Singapore Airlines or British Airways. The BA business seats feel like a coffin and are so narrow. The SQ seats are nice and wide, but at an angle. I've found BA and SQ business comfortable and perfectly good for my own travel, but UA first is better. Yes other carriers have better IFE in business class, but the seats in general are not as nice. And SQ is renowned for their service, but I think United's international first class service is better since the flight attendants have more time for each passenger and the meals can be served far quicker if you want. It depends on personal preferences as far as meals go, but I've been very satisfied with UA first class meals. I like UA first class meals more than what I've had on SQ in Raffles.

Now I can understand that other airlines have gone further with their first class, but I think it is ridiculous to say that first class on a US carrier is like business class on others. While I have flown the Virgin Upper Class suite and find it to be very comparable to the first class found on UA, but I don't think lie flat seats are at the level of a fully flat first class product. UA and AA would benefit from better IFE. Maybe they could upgrade seats to offer the privacy of Emirates, but all in all, they aren't too far behind the competition, and certainly should not be compared to business class. And finally a lot of people complain about the older flight attendants that tend to serve international first class, but I've usually experienced that these ladies are some of the best in the sky. They offer a proper level of service and can be very kind and remind me of the kindness that is quite genuine. I've had flight attendants almost try to hard.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
FURUREFA
Posts: 635
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:18 am

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 25):
In the United States even the best international First is a J product when compared with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Air France, Malaysia, JAL, and others. There are miles to go before a U.S. airline can offer a true international First Class product.

I have flown Club World and the food, seat and service on AA F was better than CW. I have flown VS UC, the seat on AA was better, AF J was worse than AA F so was JAL's J.

Matt
 
kanebear
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 1:16 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 6):
-As I said they have a good hard product but that is only across half the 777 fleet. Massive investment required.

Already stated above; when AA installs the new J class in the 772s, the coffins will (thank you THANK you) be replaced at long last.

Quoting Boeing 747-311 (Reply 16):
do AA and UA offer Pajamas for their first class passengers as some carriers do? it does not appear like so!!

Also great post!!!

Sadly, no. I simply take the CX Shanghai Tang PJs with me and change in the lav. The FAs never blink an eye, I know I"m not the only one to do this. Some customers bring their own PJs from home.

My take on it is this (conjecture mixed with experiences and observations). I believe that carriers offering super-premium F are competing for revenue in ways AA is not. Specifically, most AA premium pax are travelling on discount negotiated corporate fares. F is not meant to be competitive with SQ or CX (and with BA's cutbacks I'd say it compares rather well). Rather, F is an enticement for the J flyer who wishes to upgrade. I know I experience a HUGE difference in how I perform flying J vs. F and the quality of rest. This is likely to change with AA's new J but still, the flexibility of the Flagship Suite allows me to work/eat interchangeably and switch between tasks much more easily than any other F seat configuration I've flown (CX, BA, LA, SQ, AA, KE and I know I'm forgetting one).

The service is variable, I agree completely. However, it is not dissatisfactory. Meal quality... well... IMO BA had further to fall than AA and has done so. I now put both on equal footing (and will reinforce this next weekend with BA F outbound from YVR and AA F return). When you look at AA F as a full fare expenditure, no, it's not worth it. When you look at it as a $5k upgraded J ticket, it becomes VERY much more competitive.
 
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fxramper
Posts: 5837
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 2:04 am

Quoting Ken777 (Reply 13):
I know that a lot of pax in First are upgrades

Negative. As stated previously by AASTEW, the majority (80-90%) of F class fares on the three class config. a/c of AA are full fare and not upgrades.

Quoting Mirrodie (Reply 17):
don't think many airlines like to bump up their pax for free.

I just got just upgraded on a full fare coach ticket from DFW-OGG. The supervisor at DFW knew my uncle flys for AA and she was also aware I am a recent college graduate...otherwise I would have been back in cattle class.  bouncy 

I'm off to hit up the am surf! Aloha!  bigthumbsup 
 
UAL777UK
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 2:19 am

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 25):
What is even more funny is that they are using plastic forks and knives, stereotypical $.50 coffe mugs, and cant offer a decent tea service for the life of them.. In the United States even the best international First is a J product when compared with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Air France, Malaysia, JAL, and others. There are miles to go before a U.S. airline can offer a true international First Class product.

You think UA and AA Sleeper suites are like BA's J class seat. You must be joking, If you are slightly bigger than the average person, then those seats in BA's J class are like straight jackets.
 
willyj
Posts: 410
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 3:36 am

Quoting AASTEW (Reply 7):
However, I will try and better explain why sometimes you don't received your entree choice. There are 3 entree choices in both cabins. Just for example in F 18seat config. we might get catered 8 Beef 6 Chicken and 4 Pasta. The flights are not catered with additional meals. The flight deck crew gets 3 different entrees. If a customer didn't receive their preferred entree choice we often then go to the pilots. Business class is catered exact as well. AA and LSG SkyChefs leave no room for error.

If they are going to be this precise, they should ask passengers at check-in what they would prefer - or even right after boarding. When you are only talking about 18 meals, it shouldn't be that difficult to carry them on the plane at the last moment. I don't think there should be any excuse to be flying in FIRST class and not get the meal choice you'd like.
 
ikramerica
Posts: 13811
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 9:33 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 3:47 am

Quoting Willyj (Reply 32):
If they are going to be this precise,

Exactly. I love how people like to explain the procedure as if it makes it right.

Loading exactly 18 meals for 18 people paying $13k for a roundtrip is WRONG. They should load at least 27 meals. Nobody can tell me that 9 meals are going to break the airline, nor that the F pax would balk at all if AA added $5 to the fare to cover that extra 1/2 meal.

It's a dumb, cost cutting, cheapskate policy that angers pax on a daily basis, the highest paying customers AA has.

I know AA is not alone among USA domestic carriers in this policy, and I find it stupid for anyone.

And by all means, if they are going to follow this policy, don't give away all the J meals before the F pax place their order. That's stupid policy number 2.
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
MalpensaSFO
Posts: 1110
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:07 am

Quoting UAL777UK (Reply 31):
You think UA and AA Sleeper suites are like BA's J class seat. You must be joking, If you are slightly bigger than the average person, then those seats in BA's J class are like straight jackets

Take a look at a few of the following points:

-View a British Airways First Class Lunch Menu from London Heathrow to Los Angeles and compare it with United Airlines First Class Lunch Menu.

-View the ratio of Flight Attendant in Birtish Airways in First Class on a LAX-LHR flight compared with the amount of those on American Airlines.

-View American Airlines website and review the information regarding their Internaitonal First Class product, then compare that product to Emirates First Class product.

-View countless aviation forums and see which airlines are consistently on top of all other for First Class.

-Take a look at http://www.airlinemeals.net, review American Airlines First Class meals both domestic and International and compare those with Air France and Lufthansa First Class International and Business Class within Europe.

If one can merely say that American Airlines and United Airlines are on a par with the likes of Air France, Singapore, British Airways, and Lufthansa are dismally incorrect. Or on the flip side have very little experience in flying with an international airline in a true First Class cabin. Within the United States there is a very sad practice of calling the front ends of UAL 737-500's, AA MD-80's and Northwest A320's First Class. When in reality the are ntohing more than a glorified Economy Class. Names and titles are thrown around to much, and in the United States the airlines (which are in disarray), need to start calling it like it is. On a 737-500 from SFO-LAX you do not have First Class, you have nothing more than a bloated Economy Class product. With little or no in-flight service.

The following are website which vividly detail which airlines have the best First Class products:

Forbes

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6460432

Ranked UAL/AAL last!

Forbes Comparisson Chart of First Class

http://www.forbes.com/2005/11/16/fir...sb_1117feat_ls_2.html?boxes=custom

SKYTRAX

http://www.worldairlineawards.com/

Best Cabin Staff - UAL/AAL Absent from List

http://www.worldairlineawards.com/Awards-2006/Fclass.htm

Best First Class - UAL/AAL Absent from List

http://www.worldairlineawards.com/Awards-2006/IFE.htm

Best IFE - UAL/AAL Absent from List

http://www.worldairlineawards.com/Awards-2006/Jclass.htm

Best Business Class - UAL/AAL Absent from List

http://www.worldairlineawards.com/Awards-2006/ResultsFull.htm

Best Regional Awards - UAL/AAL Absent from List
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ikramerica
Posts: 13811
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:15 am

You are arguing against something that wasn't said.

What was said was that the AA/UA F product is BETTER than the J product on BA or VS or SQ, not that the AA/UA F product was as good as the F product on BA, SQ, etc.

And I would agree. The AA F seat is big and flat, and for me, being 6'3/220, I am squished in the narrower J products. They are also claustrophobic with limited shoulder room.
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
roseflyer
Posts: 9606
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:34 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:20 am

MalpensaSFO, I know arguing with you (and Kahala777 and lhr001) is pointless, but I have to disagree with some of your points. While I agree that United and American certainly don't have the best first class, their product is still far superior to business class on other airlines. Yes you give us examples pointing out that other airlines have better first classes or business classes respectively, but nothing says that people prefer BA's club world to UA's first class. Have you flown them, because I have and there is a noticeable difference in comfort.

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 34):
If one can merely say that American Airlines and United Airlines are on a par with the likes of Air France, Singapore, British Airways, and Lufthansa are dismally incorrect.

Umm, I haven't flown AF, SQ or BA in first class, but I have flown Lufthansa in first class on multiple occasions and I prefer United. Yes Lufthansa gives you pajamas and caviar, but United has a seat with tons more storage and privacy that I think is more comfortable. Both have dismally small PTVs, but I think United is better. The seat is nicer and I've preferred the service. I'll favor UA over LH for transatlantic flights even though I get the exact same frequent flyer benefits and the prices are almost always the exact same due to their heavy partnership. The thing that makes Lufthansa world class in first class is their lounges, which you still get to access when you fly UA if I remember correctly.

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 34):
Within the United States there is a very sad practice of calling the front ends of UAL 737-500's, AA MD-80's and Northwest A320's First Class.

And do you think that the European airlines calling their front cabin business class is ok? The US airlines actually have bigger and wider seats with more seat pitch. Many European airlines use the same economy seats and just block off the middle. The US airlines are certainly superior. Sure they don't give you a meal on short 1 hour hops, but they still do serve hot food and give you personalized service that is far superior to economy. It's not international first class, but it is way better than economy.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
fbgdavidson
Posts: 3563
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:30 am

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 34):

The following are website which vividly detail which airlines have the best First Class products:

Forbes

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6460432

Ranked UAL/AAL last!

Forbes Comparisson Chart of First Class

http://www.forbes.com/2005/11/16/fir...sb_1117feat_ls_2.html?boxes=custom

SKYTRAX

Interesting you quote those since the source (when referring to Skytrax) is questionable. I'd ignore anything Skytrax promotes to be quite honest, you just need to look at BA being announced airline of the year recently! If I were you I'd also look carefully at the methodology behind assessing Forbes ranking of First Class. They put an even rating on whether a privacy screen or limousine service is provided!!!

Also I suspect the information is wrong in a few cases. I have quite a bit of experience with the BA F service and it says on demand dining isn't offered which is quite wrong! Also the 'Duvets and Pillows' are rated 'fair' when they offer proper duvets and pillows on all but the shortest F flights!!! Are they expecting them to be fashioned from Amazonian coconut husks???

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 34):
-View a British Airways First Class Lunch Menu from London Heathrow to Los Angeles and compare it with United Airlines First Class Lunch Menu.

-View the ratio of Flight Attendant in Birtish Airways in First Class on a LAX-LHR flight compared with the amount of those on American Airlines.

1) On a IAD-LHR dayflight in BA F last month I received less in terms of food than I did on IAD-LHR dayflight service in UA C earlier in the year  Wink Personally for me though I prefer to focus on the quality of the food and not necessarily endless courses (although I do prefer this in general). I'd rather gett three or four really good courses per meal service than seven or eight mediocre ones...
BA First & Club Europe: IAD-JER-IAD (pics + Vids) (by Fbgdavidson Jul 27 2006 in Trip Reports) UA Business Class: IAD-LHR-IAD (w/pics) (by Fbgdavidson Feb 22 2006 in Trip Reports)

2) BA have two FAs between a maximum of 14 First passengers on LHR-LAX with the CSD often helping out. Despite this the CSD services are spread throughout the other cabins and have other duties to perform.

Quoting Kanebear (Reply 29):
My take on it is this (conjecture mixed with experiences and observations). I believe that carriers offering super-premium F are competing for revenue in ways AA is not. Specifically, most AA premium pax are travelling on discount negotiated corporate fares. F is not meant to be competitive with SQ or CX (and with BA's cutbacks I'd say it compares rather well). Rather, F is an enticement for the J flyer who wishes to upgrade. I know I experience a HUGE difference in how I perform flying J vs. F and the quality of rest. This is likely to change with AA's new J but still, the flexibility of the Flagship Suite allows me to work/eat interchangeably and switch between tasks much more easily than any other F seat configuration I've flown (CX, BA, LA, SQ, AA, KE and I know I'm forgetting one).

The service is variable, I agree completely. However, it is not dissatisfactory. Meal quality... well... IMO BA had further to fall than AA and has done so. I now put both on equal footing (and will reinforce this next weekend with BA F outbound from YVR and AA F return). When you look at AA F as a full fare expenditure, no, it's not worth it. When you look at it as a $5k upgraded J ticket, it becomes VERY much more competitive.

An excellent point. Much like the way people compare domestic FC within the US and business class product in Europe they are aimed at completely different markets.

I do also have to agree with you regarding BA's decline in food quality of late. In 2000/2001 I flew BA F six times and although I can't remember exactly what it was that I ate I can remember thinking it was leaps and bounds better than what I've been served recently going to and from CPT and IAD  Sad I hope BA's new F seat inspires them to invest more money in the soft product. Although my most recent F flight three weeks ago (see linked report above) had some really great food onboard I think it was more of an exception to the rule  Sad
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
AJMIA
Posts: 431
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 11:29 pm

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:42 am

I work for AA on the ground.

I am proud of our product, especially when I take my parents to London in First Class and they receive excellent and friendly service.

I have no delusions that our product it is the best in the world, but there is a lot to like about it.

The most important thing about our service is that it is *profitable*, and we have not had to enter CH 11 to discharge our debts.

I am sure that the top managers are well aware that passengers don't like it when the hot towels are replaced by hot paper towelettes, etc... but they must weigh the cost vs the benefit and so far I think they have done a good job. It will be nice if some of the extras come back when the new seats are installed.

Also most of the F tickets that pass through my fingers are not full fare. There are lots of EVIP upgrades and corporate discounts (which in some cases are quite large).

AJMIA
Lady it's a jet... not a kite.
 
kanebear
Posts: 852
Joined: Tue May 28, 2002 12:06 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:47 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 37):
I do also have to agree with you regarding BA's decline in food quality of late. In 2000/2001 I flew BA F six times and although I can't remember exactly what it was that I ate I can remember thinking it was leaps and bounds better than what I've been served recently going to and from CPT and IAD I hope BA's new F seat inspires them to invest more money in the soft product. Although my most recent F flight three weeks ago (see linked report above) had some really great food onboard I think it was more of an exception to the rule

It was mid-2002 that they really cut catering and downgraded the product. I recall flying LHR-JNB in February and being very impressed with the catering from the appetizers to the dessert. Then, in July '02 on the same route and later that week CPT-LHR the dropoff was astonishing. The food was barely edible! I ended up having to ask the CSD for an antacid and the absolute dear handed me a pack of Remegel (which I can't carry on anymore!!  Sad )
 
FURUREFA
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 2:26 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:53 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 37):
2) BA have two FAs between a maximum of 14 First passengers on LHR-LAX with the CSD often helping out. Despite this the CSD services are spread throughout the other cabins and have other duties to perform.

AA has 2 f/as and the purser who do the F service.

Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 34):
View the ratio of Flight Attendant in Birtish Airways in First Class on a LAX-LHR flight compared with the amount of those on American Airlines.



Quoting MalpensaSFO (Reply 34):
-View American Airlines website and review the information regarding their Internaitonal First Class product, then compare that product to Emirates First Class product.

Did anyone ever say that AA F was as good as EK F? AA's seat is as good or better than BA's and BA is a world class airline. EK F with the "suite" is only available on the 345, not on every a/c. Have you looked at LH's business seat with AA's domestic F? Which one would you rather fly on? By the way, do PAX care if the front cabin is called J or F?

AA's F is not the best, but improvments are coming very soon and it is CERTAINLY better than 99% of J on 3 class aircraft.


Matt
 
kanebear
Posts: 852
Joined: Tue May 28, 2002 12:06 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 1:16 pm

Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 40):
AA's F is not the best, but improvments are coming very soon and it is CERTAINLY better than 99% of J on 3 class aircraft.

...or two class A/C for that matter. CO's BF and NW's WBC simply do not measure up. I've not flown VS's suite so can't comment on theirs.
 
ikramerica
Posts: 13811
Joined: Mon May 23, 2005 9:33 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 3:10 pm

Quoting AJMIA (Reply 38):
I have no delusions that our product it is the best in the world, but there is a lot to like about it.

That's a great way of stating it. It's a quality product, just not the best, and there is a lot to like about it. Fixing some shortcomings (a few more meals loaded per flight, quicker repair of damaged seating surfaces, upgrade on pillows and blankets) would go a long way toward quieting the critics, however.

Quoting Kanebear (Reply 41):
CO's BF

Is a quality J product though, and because there is no F, they don't "hold back" any service in the cabin. I'd rather fly CO BF than AA J any day of the week. Bigger seats, more personal attention.
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
UAL777UK
Posts: 2164
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:16 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:28 pm

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 35):
You are arguing against something that wasn't said.

What was said was that the AA/UA F product is BETTER than the J product on BA or VS or SQ, not that the AA/UA F product was as good as the F product on BA, SQ, etc.

And I would agree. The AA F seat is big and flat, and for me, being 6'3/220, I am squished in the narrower J products. They are also claustrophobic with limited shoulder room.

Thank you for that. MalpensaSFO was going off on another tangent!!!
 
incitatus
Posts: 2750
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:49 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:20 am

I find it amusing that people will pay so much attention to the salt container or whether the appetizer contains 2 US dollars of smoked salmon, or if the towel is paper or plastic... hmm, I mean, fabric.

Given the opportunity to lie down for an entire flight I will often dismiss the entire meal service. Even a first class meal won't go beyond the average-to-good restaurant, or what I cook at home. Lying down over a long trip on the other hand, is priceless. Nothing like hitting the ground running. The worst thing FA's can do in a long flight is to cross the cabin marching making the floor vibrate. If there is an improvement I'd like to see in first class is more quiet, less light, higher quality foam on the seat and certification of the seat to let me take-off and land lying down. Now, that's something!
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incitatus
Posts: 2750
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:23 am

Ah, and I have to say to fbgdavidson I read your travel reports and your thoroughness and attention to branding just freaked me out. It was quite informative though - thanks for sharing.
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fbgdavidson
Posts: 3563
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RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:32 am

Quoting Incitatus (Reply 44):
certification of the seat to let me take-off and land lying down. Now, that's something!

VS Upper Class allows just that.

Quoting Incitatus (Reply 44):
I find it amusing that people will pay so much attention to the salt container or whether the appetizer contains 2 US dollars of smoked salmon, or if the towel is paper or plastic... hmm, I mean, fabric.

Given the opportunity to lie down for an entire flight I will often dismiss the entire meal service. Even a first class meal won't go beyond the average-to-good restaurant, or what I cook at home. Lying down over a long trip on the other hand, is priceless. Nothing like hitting the ground running.

True, but with more and more airlines offering lie flat/horizontal J products the small, rather trivial touches in First Class become important and what sets apart a great F product from just the average is one that does value these small touches. They see them as something to distinguish them from other players in the marketplace and not something easy to drop in the next line of cost cutting measures.

In my mind an airline that views supplying a lie flat seat in their F product as the be all and end all should concentrate their efforts on the J market and forget about F.

Quoting FURUREFA (Reply 40):
AA has 2 f/as and the purser who do the F service.

Sorry, in the excitement of writing my post I forgot to add to the end of it:

'2) BA have two FAs between a maximum of 14 First passengers on LHR-LAX with the CSD often helping out. Despite this the CSD services are spread throughout the other cabins and have other duties to perform. I'd be surprised if AA operate a smaller complement than this in their F cabins.'

Quoting Incitatus (Reply 45):
Ah, and I have to say to fbgdavidson I read your travel reports and your thoroughness and attention to branding just freaked me out. It was quite informative though - thanks for sharing.

Branding? How so? Examples please  Smile
Maybe like a good F product I think attention to detail is important  Wink

[Edited 2006-08-17 20:36:37]
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jcavinato
Posts: 392
Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:14 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Fri Aug 18, 2006 4:32 am

On both AA and UA in international first class I have several times wound up with my third choice meal (usually something that I really don't like -- like oyster sauce chicken). The FAs cycle through the cabin either from the front to the back or the reverse (depending upon the direction of the flight) to take orders for the meals. For $11,000 fare I have several times found the first and second choice already taken. I'm not a picky person and I'm not looking for people to dote on me, but this is not first class service.

I agree with the post above with the perception that the FAs tend to go through a routinized process that leaves the passenger often feeling like they are a bother to them. I understand the pay cuts, etc., etc., but there are some non-U.S. carriers on the same routes with amazing first class service.

I agree that the difference between J and F is slight on these carriers.
 
incitatus
Posts: 2750
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:49 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Fri Aug 18, 2006 5:11 am

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 46):
In my mind an airline that views supplying a lie flat seat in their F product as the be all and end all should concentrate their efforts on the J market and forget about F.

Those lie flat J cabins actually look and feel like a big dorm. First class should also provide separation from other earthlings.

When it comes to first class, I did not say that airlines should not pay attention to detail. They should present a crisp product from all angles - seat, space, entertainment, service and meals. People have different tastes and needs and first class has to cater to most of them. But in what I do most, which is N-S overnight flights, the seat is by far #1. Everybody who sits in first class should get lots of privacy and quiet. I place a higher value on that than on a piece of salmon.

The F meals are not great, even on BA. If the content of the meal was improved, I'd definetely be interested. I've gotten an outstanding meal on JAL, but that was pre 9/11, so I can't tell how good they are today.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 46):
Branding? How so? Examples please

I particularly enjoyed the posting where you dissected the BA flight bag, I mean, the FIRST flight bag.  Smile

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 46):
VS Upper Class allows just that.

So I heard and I think it's a big plus.
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wrighbrothers
Posts: 1807
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:15 am

RE: AA International First Class Evaluation

Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:00 pm

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 37):
BA have two FAs between a maximum of 14 First passengers on LHR-LAX with the CSD often helping out. Despite this the CSD services are spread throughout the other cabins and have other duties to perform.

Slight correction, BA have 2FA's , and a Purser for first class, on my flight, the CSD didn't come down our way.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 37):
do also have to agree with you regarding BA's decline in food quality of late. In 2000/2001 I flew BA F six times and although I can't remember exactly what it was that I ate I can remember thinking it was leaps and bounds better than what I've been served recently going to and from CPT and IAD I hope BA's new F seat inspires them to invest more money in the soft product. Although my most recent F flight three weeks ago (see linked report above) had some really great food onboard I think it was more of an exception to the rule

I'm in agreement with you there, the food serive seems to have declined, but personaly (perhaps becuase I'm not supposed to complain  Wink), I have no complaints.
On our 11hr flight to LAX we had Lunch and afternoon tea,there was a good 9hr gap between meal services.

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