I just got back from my trip JFK-LAX/SNA-SFO-JFK:
JFK-LAX AA18 767-200 'Y' ticket $600 (JFK-LAX-SFO)
Gorgeous new terminal, the entrance has this beautiful, long airfoil-like awning. Checked in, AA sending a strong "we're here to stay" message with this terminal. Scary ride down the longest escalator (like UK tube), and up again to connect to airside gates. Not recommended for the faint of heart...
Boarded, 29J, the 2-3-2 seating is the way to go for long flights. Old plane, a true 'rustbucket'. Hopefully the 767s are on their way to the desert; if not, please refurb those interiors!
Flight was OK, like being on a bus. 'Food' for $ service; if AA is that broke, why not charge more for better food? IFE - haven't seen those projection TVs since the 80's. A few of the FA's were really dowdy and unkempt- why? AA's FA's used to be really good, maybe it's the labor laws.
Summary: Expected more from AA, but just not competitive transcon; bus-like journey. (Air + Bus = Airbus?)
SNA-SFO AA Embraer RJ140 Y seat 14C:
Arrived early at SNA (john Wayne Airport, Orange County) , and watched planes take-off and land. Tons of light GA traffic like gnats... What a nuisance to commercial air traffic! I saw a Beech trying to land on top of a 737 and then thought the better of it with a G/A.
Beautiful flight up the coast, good FA and service. Guy behind me droned non-stop all the way (1 hour) 'mentoring' a female co-worker. Poor fool! Going nowhere with that approach...
The RJ's a good plane to ride in, but uncomfortable along the hull (window seat) as it curves inwards near one's feet, with nowhere to place your other foot.
Otherwise a nice flight. Big windows to enjoy the scenery. Took off West to Catalina and then up the Coast. Arrived at SFO in the moonlight, landing in parallel with a 727 freighter, a cool 'ballet' in the night sky...
Summary: Neat flight, short and sweet, too cramped for anything beyond an hour.
SFO-JFK: UA 18 'ps' transcon 757 Business Class seat 5B, price $700.
Checked in SFO, mistakenly assigned an E+ seat, sorted out eventually.
Cheerfully greeted, coat hung up, glass of orange juice served. Took off (not quite the rocket that a.netters have mentioned) and climbed steeply to altitude.
Service begun with hot nuts, towel, champagne. We each got a personal DVD player, Noise-canceling headphones, and a choice of 8 movies. The seats were very comfortable, and I was quite happy. The FAs worked really hard, and were friendly and charming.
Lunch followed, as tasty as anything on BA (Hallowed be thy Name!) and overall just a good flight. The business cabin is almost as big as the economy section - roomy 2-2 seating. a clear premium product. Even the economy-wallahs got served a hot meal, so we were a happy bunch up there.
The 757 is a really smooth aircraft, and if one had to go single-aisle, it's not a bad choice.
Watching the clouds go by, I did feel an end-of-year gratitude to everyone in the airlines, for their dedication and hard work is what makes these trips possible.
Summary: Very good flight, service, aircraft - not bad for a BK carrier! I think UA has a compelling product at a good price, and is competing for business.
As a footnote: I do feel that FAs are an airline's ambassadors - they need to have the personality and charm needed for the job. In the end, it's the only thing you remember about the flight, and the reason you choose one airline over another. The UA cabin crew really scored on this point.