Having been an Exec Platinum with American Airlines for the past three years, I always wanted to fly on AA 292 : the longest flight in the AA network (distance-wise, a fellow A.netter corrected me that the return flight from DEL to ORD is the longest time-wise). A trip to Bombay presented me with the opportunity to take this flight, although it meant that I would have to overnight in Delhi and then take a Jet Airways/American Code share flight to Bombay the next morning. My routing took me from Raleigh Durham to Chicago OHare on AA 1753, Chicago to Delhi on AA 292 and then on Jet Airways 332 code-share AA 5669 onto Mumbai
2 ) At the RDU airport :
Check-in into RDU Airport was brisk, the Terminal is nothing to rave about, although I am looking forward to the new terminal that is scheduled to open sometime this summer. The new terminal looks pretty slick especially compared to the current terminal. I cleared security in a jiffy and proceeded onto the Admirals club. The club in RDU is probably one of the worst of all the clubs, small and over-crowded, although I must say I have been impressed by the cookies and doughnuts that have showed up on the snack selection recently, also, the red, orange and yellow cheesy stuff they have in the evenings is a real treat with crackers. I was told by one of the Agents that new Admirals Club that will be opening up in the new terminal is going to be awesome, a big change from the current one. I asked for a drink chit from the agent and proceeded onto the bar to get a bottle of champagne.
3 ) In flight RDU - ORD:
Photo © Jonathan Guidone
Date : Aug 8
Airline : American Airlines
Flight No. : AA 1753
Routing: Raleigh Durham (RDU) %u2013 Chicago (ORD)
Scheduled Departure Time: 1:25PM
Actual Departure Time :: On time
Actual Arrival Time: On Time
Load Factors : F : 100%
Y : 90%
Boarding for AA 1753 was announced about a half hour prior to departure. We had an on time departure out of RDU and a timely arrival into ORD. AA 1753 was an uneventful flight, pretty standard American Airlines domestic first class fare with a drink service in first class with a choice of alcoholic beverages served with warm nuts. The only exciting thing on the flight was the gorgeous views of downtown Chicago as we got closer to Chicago OHare.
4 ) Chicago Flagship Lounge:
Once at Chicago OHare I proceeded onto the Admirals Club only to be informed that the Flagship lounge was located in another part of the terminal opposite Gate K19 (Oh, so conveniently opposite to my departure date for AA 292 !!!).
I have always been looking forward to checking out the Flagship lounge, since I have never been on an international itinerary on a Oneworld partner since I hit Exec-Plat. I was a little disappointed by the Chicago Flaghship lounge though as it is no much smaller than the Admirals club in the same terminal, although it wasn’t nearly as crowded.
The AAngels were awesome, helped me pick my seats for the flights for my return trip, and also told me that boarding announcements would be made prior to departure, unlike at the Admirals Club. The club was well stacked with a good selection of magazines and all the day’s newspapers. There were flat screen tvs everywhere and what seemed to be a private-no cell phone room. I also saw some nice flagship chocolate squares that looked interesting
The lounge had great drink selection (the wine selection was so-so though, I expected American’s best customers to be treated to better premium wines and champagnes). The beer selection was pretty good : Guinness, Corona, Corona Light, St. Pauli Girl, Heineken, Sam Adams.
The snack selection was pretty decent as well : Cucumber and tuna sandwiches, brownies and a nice selection of veggies), later, Meat balls, Chicken skewers, Salmon and some kind of sausage were brought out as well. Only wish the Admirals Clubs were catered as well, sigh…
There was a nice gourmet coffee machine, regular and decaf coffees at the other end of the snack table and also a pot of soup (Soup of the day was Italian wedding).
I loaded up on the meatballs, chicken skewers, salmon and a few Guinness (my way of getting back at American for the poor snacks served at the Admirals club!!)
Took at quick trip to the restroom to drain out the Guinness, before my flight. The restrooms are a tad small, although, I do like the shoe polish machines in them.
Boarding announcement was made at the club about 45 minutes prior to departure, gate K19 was right opposite the Flagship lounge, a quick 20 second walk from the club.
5 ) In flight ORD - DEL:
Photo © Nathan Zalcman - AirTeamImages
Date : Aug 8
Airline: American Airlines
Flight No.: AA 292
Routing: Chicago (ORD) – Delhi (DEL)
Scheduled Departure Time: 6:30PM
Actual Departure Time : On time
Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:25 PM
Actual Arrival Time: On Time
Equipment: Boeing 777-200
Load Factors : F : 60%
J : 70%
Y : 95%
We boarded the 777 from the second boarding door i.e the one between first and business class. The next generation business class looked awesome! I like the J-class setup on the AA777s much better than on the 767s. The leg room was great and, the seats go pretty flat, albeit at a slight angle, one of the FAs later told us that the first class seats go completely flat.
My only complaint with these seats are that while they are awesome while seated, they could be a little wider for sleeping. Would be nice to have seat back massagers
There was a full size pillow and blanket underneath every seat and an amenity kit in the little cubby hole between the seats.
I quite like the Amenity kit, it had a pair of socks, toothbrush and paste, eye buds, eyeshades, tissue, wet wipes, toothpicks and a pen.
The amenity kit also doubled up as a shoe bag.
Another little grouch I have with the next generation business class seats is the size of the video monitor, at 10.4” it is pretty small, would be nice to have a larger 15” screen like in some of the other carriers, better still the 23” screen on the new SQ business class … Oh well..
What I do like though is the coat hanger on every seat and also the way the tray table from the seat back fits flush with the tray table from the arm rest to form a large dining/work area, the neat little work lamp below the video monitor looks pretty cool as well..
The flight attendants did a round of pre-take off drinks (champagne or orange juice) and also passed out newspapers (USA Todays and Wall Street journals)
I took a picture of the mighty GE90s that would be working hard non-stop for the next 16 hours or so to take us half-way across the planet!
We soon departed the gate for an on-time departure; the take-off roll was long (hardly surprising for such a heavy jet loaded with a good 300 passengers with their entire luggage and the massive amounts of fuel needed for such a long flight).
Service commenced within 10 minutes of departure, the flight attendants asked everyone by the windows to close their window shades to keep out the bright Scandinavian sun later into the flight, to let others sleep. They passed around the menus
and the Bose QC3 headphones.
A nice touch was that the menu was both in English and Hindi, although it did surprise me that none of the flight announcements were made in Hindi..
The FAs came around to take the drink orders for the beverage service (From the menu):
Champagne : Pommery Brut Champagne (France)
White Wines : Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay (California)
Wegeler Estate Riesling Qba (Germany)
Red Wines : Chateau Lynch-Moussas (France)
Luigi Bosca Mendoza Pinot Noir Reserva (Argentina)
Sherry : Emilio Lustau Sherry (Spain)
Desert Wine : Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port
Sprits : SKYY Vodka, Beefeater Dry Gin, Bacardi Rum, Glenliet Single Malt Scotch, Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch, Canadian Club Reserve Blended Whisky, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Dewar’s White Label Scotch Whisky, Jim Bean Black Bourbon.
Beers : Heineken, Amstrel Light and select US Beers
Brandy and Liqueurs : Di Saronno Amaretto, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua Courvoisier V.S.O.P. Fine Champagne Cognac
I ordered a Jack and Coke that was brought out along with the warm nuts, the FAs did an awesome job topping up the warm nuts and drinks at regular intervals. They also passed out a ‘Spring water’ bottle to everyone.
After the drink service, the Flight attendants did a round to take our dinner orders, I caught a quick shot of the sunset before the dinner service started.
The Sun setting down on the GE90s only to catch them a few hours later at their tireless job..
Warm Mixed Nuts
Herb Loin Accompanied by a Fruit and Chickpea salad
Fresh seasonal greens and an assortment of fresh vegetables offered with pepper cream dressing or premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Slow braised lamb in a yellow lentil and fresh mint sauce complemented by mango rice and malai kofta – Developed by Vermilion for American Airlines
Dahi Elaichi Rajma
Red Kidney Beans simmered in a green Cardamom Yogurt base served with Turmeric Onion Rice and Bhindi Masala– Developed by Vermilion for American Airlines
Savory Chicken Breast with a balsamic white chocolate sauce, accompanied by pumpkin cranberry rissole
Shrimp and Scallops with Risotto
Grilled Rosemary-scented Shrimp and Scallops served with a roasted Tomato Risotto and a creamy goat cheese sauce
Assorted Gourmet Breads – White, Wheat, Sourdough and Naan
My Appetizer with Naan, was great,
I tried to get a second naan for the entrée only to find out that they ran out of naan, so I opted to have sourdough bread instead. My dinner selection was the Dalcha Gosht developed by the famous Vermillion restaurant.
It tasted pretty good although it had a fair amount of spice (on the higher side for the average American palate)
The mango rice was interesting too… After dinner, the FAs soon came around with the desert cart :
Basil Caciotta and White Cheddar Cheese accompanied by seasonal grapes
Ice Cream Sundae
Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Cookie Dough and Caramel Swirls, served with White Peach Puree and Honey nut crunch topping
Please feel free to help yourself to an assortment of sweets and other snacks near our gallery, at any time after your meal
I opted for the ice cream:
I finished up the ice cream sundae which was awesome! And did a quick round to the restroom :
I tucked myself into the blanket to watch a movie, liked the nice American Eagle logo on the blanket
The AVOD system has a decent selection of Movies and music, although not as extensive as those on other carriers. I must say though that I found enough content to keep myself entertained for the 16 hour flight. It did have a good number of new releases, the system also allows one to pause, forward and rewind anywhere in the movie/show. I watched Ironman and some Hindi movie.
Caught a couple of shots of our flight path, while cruising over the North Atlantic :
About, half way into the fight, the FAs came around for the breakfast service:
Fresh seasonal fruit
An assortment of warm breaks
Monterey Jack Omelet
Accompanied by a turkey sausage flavored with sun-dried tomato, mushrooms and a potato croquette
Aloo matter puff
Curried Potato and Peas puff, accompanied by a traditional Indian potato fritter
Flavored Yogurt is available upon request.
I opted for the Aloo matter puff with a biscuit and fresh fruit. I found breakfast was just alright, not too bad or too good either.
I dozed off after breakfast only to wake up about 2 hours prior to arrival in-time for the light meal service :
An individual Deep-Dish Farmer’s Market Pizza served with fresh seasonal greens, cherry tomatoes and classic Caesar dressing
Served with a grilled vegetable salad and coriander Yogurt
Banana Chocolate Drizzle Cake
I opted for the Uno’s Pizza to get my last bit of American food before a couple of weeks of all Indian food. Again the pizza was just alright, neither too good nor too bad, in retrospect I should have had the Saffron Chicken and completed the 3 meal service with all Indian meals..
A little while after the snack service, I chose to brush my teeth and freshen up before landing into Delhi. I had the FAs top up the water bottle that was passed around earlier in the flight, to avoid Delhi water that is famous for causing ‘Delhi Belly’. Interestingly the flight seems to carry only enough water bottles to do one round of service, our bottles were then topped up from 1-Gallon water cans.
Initial descent into the New Delhi area was announced about 45 minutes prior to landing. Hot towels were passed around along with a pre-arrival beverage service:
Chilled sparkling water with a fresh citrus garnish
Landing was smooth without any ATC delays and we were greeted by the unmistakable smell of Delhi air !!
Overall, the flight experience was great, I arrived fresh as a daisy thanks to the comfort of the next-gen business seats. Service was awesome, I passed out employee appreciation certificates to all the three FAs that served our cabin :
Immigration and Customs was a breeze, no questions asked whatsoever!! There were absolutely no lines, and atleast 12-15 counters open. What a welcome change from the days of yore. While Delhi airport is still a dump, I really loved the new Duty free shop setup near Baggage claim. The variety, selection and ambience of this little duty free store is comparable to any international duty free, and prices are cheap as well, infact cheaper than the Duty free shop on AA.
I chose to spend the night at the bar and lounge of the Radisson hotel that’s about a 10 minute $3 ride from Delhi airport. It is way better than the domestic airport and has clean restrooms and a great ambience inline with any other international 3/4-star hotel. Drinks are pretty reasonable as well, I paid about $7 +tax and tip for a 750 ml bottle of Kingfisher beer (the local favorite) it was served peanuts and chips. Was a nice way to spend most of the night in air-conditioned lounge comfort instead of the stuffy and crowded Delhi airport. The restrooms at the Radisson were sparkling clean, cleaner than most North American hotels. Both restrooms : men and women are manned by an attendant that turned the faucet on, poured soap on ones hand and passed a little cloth towel to wipe one’s hand, A $1 tip brought a big smile to the guy’s face and he even opened and closed the restroom door for me!! One of the few places in the world where $1 will get you that kind of service : cheaper than what one has to pay for a glass of water/coffee on some US carriers!!!
Overall my flight experience was great. Although AA’s product looks a tad tired compared to the best in the world, SQ, CX, IT, 9W, EK or EY, they still have what I would say is the best international J-class product of all the legacy carriers (although I must say I have never experienced United’s latest international business class service).
Hope everyone enjoyed my trip report, please feel free to post suggestions, questions and/or criticisms.
I will posting another trip report for the DEL-BOM segment on 9W 332, I believe that segment warrants a separate thread to cover the contrasts between the bad experiences (courtesy Delhi IGI airport) to the simply outstanding experience (courtesy 9W).