Airline: American Airlines
Flight Number: AA2
Aircraft: Boeing 767-223/ER
Seat: 03J (First Class)
Distance: 2475 miles
Duration: 5hrs 10mins
Photo © Brian Futterman
Photo © Frank C. Duarte Jr.
After landing from Sydney on Qantas and being forced landside it was necessary, of course, to go back airside. The main cabin lines looked hellish as we walked down to the far end of the AA departure area and then back up the stairs to security. The TSA agents barking orders at us (welcome to America?!) told us NOT to bother taking our liquids out of our bags. Just when the more irregular travelers were getting the hang of it they change the rules on you. Sigh.
Once that was over with it was on to the Flagship Lounge, the lounge was quite empty but I guessed as more passengers from the Qantas flight came through it would fill up. I got the username and password for the free wi-fi from the ever friendly lounge agents and logged on as I hadn't checked the net in oh about thirteen hours Despite the lounge being near empty Mr Liev Schreiber from our SYD-LAX flight came and took a seat right next to my wife. I guess it is something about those seats and famous people as a year before we were in the same (empty) lounge and Queen Latifah sat just next to us too...I got a couple of bottles of Evian from the fridge as my wife called a couple of friends and family on the east coast.
AA/Qantas Flagship Lounge at LAX
As the first boarding call for QF107 was made I broke usual 'seeing famous protocol' and thanked Mr Schreiber for his work and we chatted a little. Usually I don't bother famous people but as Mr Schreiber is one of my favourite actors I felt almost obliged to say something. He was very grateful for my kind words and he said he was heading home after spending almost six months in Australia filming for the next installment in the X-Men series. He certainly had the Wolverine like sideburns to prove it He wished us a pleasant journey and was on his way
Our flight was due to leave just five minutes afterwards so we wrapped things up in the lounge and went down to gate 42B. The Flagship Lounge agent recognised me on the way out and said that boarding was well under way for AA2. Nice I've spoken to some of the staff there and they have said they try to make a conscious effort to remember everyone and which flight they are on
Once onboard the first thing I noticed was the seats; instead of the dirty beige from my previous flights on the 767-200 they were a deep blue and they did look very recently done. I'd heard the 762s were getting a bit of an overhaul but I thought it included the installation of a tenth seat and the removal of the credenza, neither of which had been done on this aircraft. The second thing I noticed was a man sitting in my wife's seat. I thought it was some screwup with us being moved to the flight just before departure but it seemed he just didn't want to sit next to someone in 3A. After some huffing and puffing he moved his things back to his original seat! The window shades were all closed, even at this early hour, no doubt AAnother cost saving measure but the cabin was still roasting hot!
Photo © Fraser Davidson
The reupholstered First Class seats on the 767-200
Pre-flight drinks were offered by a very pleasant flight attendant. I took a glass of water but for some reason neither of us could fathom, my wife asked for sparkling wine. I told her it would taste nasty, especially after the Dom Perignon on Qantas, and as predicted she took one sip, said it was like acidic apple juice and asked if she could have my water to get rid of the taste Menus were handed out just before we pushed back right on time at 9.30am. We taxied out to runway 25L and got a great view of Qantas 107 departing, almost rubbing it in that we couldn't get on the flight Off the ground ten minutes after pushback we tailed the 747, it almost visible for the first ten minutes or so of flight as we headed out over the Pacific and then turned back overland.
Departing LAX and climbing en-route to the East Coast
When the seatbelt sign was switched off there were explicit instructions as to which toilets passengers could use. I thought this policy was scrapped over a year ago?? The mainscreen film was announced as being 'The Spiderwick Chronicles', not really my cup of tea so I held out for the PEDs.
Nearing cruise altitude
Hot towels were handed out and breakfast orders subsequently taken, on this flight it was a choice of either omelette, breakfast burrito or cereal and fruit with yoghurt. Despite saying I wasn't a huge fan of breakfast in the air on my Qantas report I chose the omelette asking for extra sauce as I was hungry and it sounded better than the other choices.
I was asked whether or not I wanted an Archos PED with Bose QC3s. My experience with these is that they are jam packed with content so there is usually some form of audio visual media for my liking, or alternatively, there are always the games I'd noticed the film 'Mad Money' with the delightful Diane Keaton was loaded on there and as I'd seen a very similar British miniseries a few years ago I thought I'd give it a whirl.
The Archos PED with the menu
The power lead for the PED went into the left side and the DC power supply was on the, yes you've guessed it, the right side and the telephone-like power cord didn't want to be stretched far. AA have handy little tables for PEDs/DVD players and the like so I'd plenty of room to eat and watch as long as the battery was alive
Breakfast began with a fruit plate which I nibbled on a little but I'm not the world's biggest fan of them so had the bagel instead. The omelette was dare I say it, actually not bad! Maybe it was because I doubled up on the sauce but it was quite tasty and it wasn't just because I was hungry!
Three cheese omelette enhanced by a Poblano Cream Sauce served with Basil Pesto Potatoes and fire-roasted Turkey Sausage, garnished with roasted Tomatoes
After the film was over I watched a couple of episodes of 'The Office', I'd seen them before but they were classic episodes (Phyllis's Wedding and when Jim ordered the Ben Franklin impersonator/stripper) so that was most enjoyable. However, you can have too much of a good thing and after three episodes I called it a day and played a few rounds (read a hundred or so!) of Blackjack. In between rounds I peered out of the window and enjoyed our rather northerly routing which took us out over Wisconsin and Lake Michigan, then Toronto and Southern Ontario. Unfortunately the cloud obscured any view
Pictures from the cruise portion of the flight:
1) Coming over the Rockies
2) The Great Lakes
Around an hour before landing the smell of cookies permeated throughout the cabin, maybe it is just me but isn't it one of the best smells? A few minutes later the cookies appeared however by the time they reached my wife and I only oatmeal raisin ones were left. No chocolate chip However, Kristine, our motherly purser could read the disappointment on my face and a couple of minutes later appeared with my preference to go with my oatmeal and glass of milk
Cookies, milk and Blackjack
At 5.20pm local time I could feel the aircraft begin a slow descent into the New York Area, however due to thick cloud cover there wasn't too much to see. Eventually the distinctive Fingerlakes came into view and very quickly the Hudson and Manhattan itself. It was quite hazy but the view of New York City's five boroughs was quite special. As we descended further we passed right over JFK itself and then out over the sea, before turning back and coming in over Floyd Bennett Field as part of the renowned Canarsie Approach onto 13L.
Approach and landing a JFK:
1) Manhattan, Brooklyn and part Long Island City
2) A slightly better view of LI City & Astoria - I blame AA for the really bad windows, and mankind for the haze
3) A nice bird's eye view of JFK
4) Got to have an CF6 pic in here somewhere
5) Floyd Bennett Field
As the crew thanked us for flying with them they mentioned they were a New York & St Louis based flight crew. Maybe it's just me but it seemed quite bizarre some were from St Louis since, as far as I know, AA don't fly the 767 there in either -200 or -300 form.
We pulled up at gate 3 and had a fairly short walk down to the baggage claim area. A few meeters and greeters were down there and we just stood to one side waiting for the thing to fire into life. Whilst we did I reflected on how incredible modern air travel is. In one day I'd flown just shy of 10,000 miles like it was nothing; despite it being utterly unremarkable it was nigh on miraculous. People took months to sail such distances by sea and yet it is something we just take for granted. Thank you Sir Frank Whittle! I really did have some time to ponder this before our bags came through, perhaps thirty minutes when the trickle began...no Priority tags to be seen. Sigh Several of those left in the baggage area when there were perhaps two dozen of us left were those I recognised from the First Class cabin. Then after a pause of perhaps ten more minutes a gaggle of bags with Priority tags came down the chute from the ceiling...
Our friends from the city were running late (and they had about 0.1% of the distance I had to travel to meet them ) so we took the AirTrain round to the general stop for hotel shuttles and went to the Doubletree to drop our bags off.
Verdict: Whilst an obvious come down from Qantas 107, and a pity we couldn't continue with the flight to JFK this wasn't all bad. The Flagship Lounge at LAX is certainly one of the better AA lounges in the network and the staff are always great
Onboard whilst the seat isn't amazing it is really comfortable for a day flight of this length, especially when the people in front forget to recline! The reupholstering of the seats did make the cabin feel a little more up to date. The Media Players with QC3s are great with plenty of content so no complaints on that front here.
I have to say the food wasn't dreadful, ordering the extra sauce was definitely a good plan It's a pity though that at almost $2500 per person one way AA can't make the food/meal service more like that of an international business class product. You really are in that price bracket...Cookies are definitely good though
The one real letdown on this flight was the 'priority' handling. Waiting thirty minutes for bags was annoying enough but a further fifteen minutes for priority to come through was ridiculous. My previous JAL, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and even BA (who usually cockup priority bags) where our bags were ALWAYS in the first group have me spoiled I guess...