It's been a long, long while since I post on this forum, but am a frequent visitor and really appreciate all the contributions from travelers around the world. This time I wanted to share a recent experience on AA DFW-MEX-DFW: a trip that was booked as a quick weekend getaway.
Of note: please excuse some images as they were all taken with a measly iPhone camera.
For such a short route (about 2.5 hrs.) tickets are not necessarily cheap (avg. $375 r/t and sometimes close to $600 r/t!) but every now and again you might find slightly better bargains. This time around I was going for a special event, so I was thankful I was able to book in the lower $320 range. In the end this was my "original" (more on that later) itinerary:
Thurs. Mar. 14, 2019
AA 2417 - B737-800
Dep. 19:05 lt - Arr. 20:50 lt
Mon., Mar. 18, 2019
AA 2350 - B737-800
Dep. 17:00 lt - Arr. 20:50 lt
Upon check-in via the very good AA app, I received an upgrade offer for $113, this seemed like an OK deal for me at the time, specially considering it would be an evening flight and I'd get to enjoy dinner and a drink, plus a little extra comfort after a day at the office, and the ease of being first off the plane and into MEX T1's sometimes busy immigration/customs area. Plus, it would be a great excuse to do it for "research purposes" of this report!
Finally the next day rolled around and after a rather uneventful LYFT ride to DFW's Terminal C, I zoomed right through the Priority Line at Security and was relatively quickly though to the still-dated air-side of Terminal C. I know DFW has been working on improvements, and the Terminal is relatively easy to use, but I do look forward to an eventual full-redevelopment. Nevertheless, it is nice to see additions like Shake Shack and other new outlets at Terminal C. I grabbed a quick drink at a new watering spot by C8 and while taking a few sips, I almost had a heart attack when the app beeped saying "Your flight has been cancelled". I of course panicked and ran down to C6 to see what was happening. Upon reaching the gate, I was assured nothing was wrong and was waved on board since Priority boarding was now underway. I found it rather odd, but relieved, I just scanned my Boarding Pass and headed on board to 2A on a refurbished (or perhaps newish?
did not see tail#) B737-800NG (no MAX today... of course, as the plane had just been grounded...)
I must say AA has done a nice job with their interiors, be it new or refurb, the 738 looked great in the Boeing Sky Interior and First Class is spacious and practical with 16 leather seats, power outlets, USB ports, and a clever 2-size fold-out table. I settled in and was quickly offered a welcome by name and was asked what my drink of choice would be prior to departure. I ordered a Vodka Tonic to set things off.
Obligatory legroom shot in First Class (note refurb/new B738's & MAX's now begin with row 1 in FC, older 737's begin with row 4)
Looking across Row 2
Clever "release" button inside arm-rest for the very large fold-out table.
Lift the button and "voila"! Up it goes
Table comes out folded in half into this very practical half-table where you can place your drink, book, whatever, and also has a handy-dandy lift-able part that you can use to rest your digital device on! Nice!
And finally, the fully-extended table. Quite a good size overall.
After I finished my quick inspection of 2A, boarding progressed and I sipped on my Vodka Tonic. Soon, boarding was complete and I was happy to see that 2C would remain empty and I would have the whole area to myself!
The friend Flight Attendant came back around picking up empty glasses (he let me keep mine a bit longer since I wasn't finished) and asked what we would like to drink after take off. He also took dinner orders at this time. Beef Short-rib and some type of Pasta/Salad were the options tonight. I chose the Short-rib.
We taxied for a few minutes and soon we were jetting off into the North Texas sky
A view of Lake Lewisville after departure (I think..?)
Obligatory view of Wing/Engine as we leave the "Metroplex" behind
We soon reached 10k feet and the great flight attendant came back around with warmed mixed-nuts and a Vodka Tonic, this time served in actual glass, and also with an extra little bottle of Tito's (I guess... "just in case"... right?)
Tito's Tonic & Warmed mixed-nuts in the center arm-rest area. Note that as with previous first class seats, there is a second "shelf" that pops out from the center arm-rest for a second drink area. It was also around this time that the flight attendant passed out warm wet cloths to clean your hands.
Since this is the refurb version of the 738, no PTV's are offered (bummer, as I really do rather enjoy having the fixed screen with searchable content... but oh well...
we'll take what we can...). They do however offer Wi-Fi and entertainment you can watch on your own device. Nevertheless, be sure you have the latest version of the AA app on the device you plan to use. I have the updated version on my phone, but forgot to update on my iPad, so even though I was able to log on to the web portal, I was unable to stream any movies.
I will say, however, that content seemed pretty good with a lot of popular, first-run films (a la recent Oscar nominees: Bohemian Rhapsody, Star is Born, etc.) I didn't browse much on what was on offer for TV and Music, but I presume it was just as robust. You can also stream Apple Music if you are a subscriber. I, however, soon gave up altogether (due to the aforementioned not updating) but I will say had I wanted, I could have watched something on my phone... Nonetheless, by this time, yummy smells were wafting into the cabin from the forward galley, so I just relaxed, sipped on my Tito's and waited on Dinner to arrive.
Dinner is Served! Nice looking (and good tasting) Beef Short-rib accompanied by Mac'n'Cheese & Green beans, plus a nice Rocket (arugula) salad and a pretzel bun (no choices of bread were offered... everything came pre-plated from the galley... not to say that I'm complaining as I really enjoyed the pretzel bun)
Shot of the condiments/butter - a very run-of-the mill Caesar dressing for the salad, Land'o'Lakes butter, and simple salt & pepper packets... wish actual salt & pepper shakers were still used though... and plated butter... but oh well... this is short-haul First Class anyhow... at least metal cutlery is still offered wrapped in a lovely cloth napkin.
I must say dinner was quite satisfying. Even though some of the items were a little, well, "basic"... it was still an all-around solid meal. Short-rib tasted well and wasn't too overcooked (could have been a tad more tender though...) and Mac'n'Cheese also tasted well but seemed a bit "microwave burned" in certain areas. Even though most of us had cocktails, flight attendant passed around offering red & white wines. I had a glass of white and it was quite satisfactory.
Soon, the quick 2:20 hrs. flight progressed and just around 40 mins after dinner had been cleared, we were starting our descent into MEX. Flight attendants keep coming back to refill drinks should anyone wish to, and were attentive from beginning to end. After dinner, I just settled for watching the world pass by from the window while listening to my own music from my iPad. I always love to sit on the A side when arriving in Mexico City as (for the most part) this is the more used approach into MEX and you get a great view of the main core of this urban megalopolis, sadly, only a couple of blurry pics came out from the stunning view I had from my seat:
Blurry view of us making that famous turn to line up to MEX
Almost there! With the main business district of Mexico City in the distance
After a smooth landing and a relatively short taxi to the far end of T1 (where AA parks...) I gathered my items, thanked the crew, and made the long walk down to Immigration/Customs. Thankfully, not a huge line and, having only a carry-on, I was curbside in around 10-15 mins. Not too shabby! Do note that if you check bags, MEX is very hit'n'miss as far as baggage delivery times... even if you're priority. I walked out and grabbed an Uber and was in Downtown about an hour after I had landed... indeed not bad at all considering how bad traffic can be (even at 9:30 pm!)
Mexico City was lovely as always, and after a fun weekend it was time to head back... but not before finding out that in fact the alert for a cancelled flight I had received from the app before departing DFW was indeed true, only that it did not apply to my outbound flight, but to the return! I will say once I headed back to the app the notification was clear that it was the return flight that had been cancelled and AA offered protection on the next day's (Mar. 19) 5:00 am departure. This was not the best news I wanted to hear, specially after a very lovely flight into MEX, but oh well, what can you do.
I did get in touch with American and they did say that due to the MAX's grounding, some of the network had been affected (guess our 738 on Monday evening was needed elsewhere...) but unfortunately AA had no more seats for any other afternoon departures on Monday, so it was either 5:00 am Monday, or 5:00 am Tuesday.... so I chose to just take their original option and reluctantly agreed to take the very early morning departure on Tuesday. Through it all, I will say that AA did a great job at trying to keep me informed. Not only did I receive the alert on the app (plus option to re-book instantly on the app), but I also received an email and a phone call advising me of the situation. The only place where AA might have dropped the ball "slightly", is that when I showed the gate agents at DFW that alert thinking it was for the outbound flight, they just sort of when "oh, I see..." and just waved me through without point out to the fact that it was my return flight and that I should take a look at my options. I understand they were in the middle of starting boarding and probably didn't want to get into it, but would've been nice to have been told since they could clearly see I was confused. In any case, all in all it was handled ok, I was protected and no extra costs were incurred.
In the end, this was my updated return itinerary:
Tues., Mar. 19, 2019
AA 1066 - B737-800
Dep. 05:00 lt - Arr. 08:50 lt
I will post this one shot of the lovely "Jacaranda" tree, which blooms with these gorgeous violet-colored flowers each spring. Picture does not do it justice, and seeing Mexico City painted with these colors is just absolutely stunning!
Finally, after a great weekend, it was time to head back, this time on my very-early departure back to DFW.
Not many pictures for this sector, but I will say I also received an upgrade offer for this flight for $115, however I decided to pass since it was such an early flight and was planning on napping, so $100+ for just a bigger seat did not necessarily appeal to me (plus... I had already splurged on the way down...) In the end I settled for my usual aisle seat in coach (20C)
Coach legroom shot - I will mention that even though AA has done a great job with the refurb and introducing Boeing Sky Interior, etc., as many others have mentioned, unlike the lovely atmosphere in First, Coach feels cramped and very much "LLC"... I know it's all about economics, but legroom is definitely
TIGHT (I'm only 5'10, and my knees were touching)... also, allegedly these seats have a place to put your mobile device in the back-seat, but I couldn't quite figure out where... it just seemed like it had the magazine rack and that's it... Also, recline is almost non-existent... but in this day and age of price-conscious travel... I guess we should be happy of just being on and being taken somewhere...
Flight was completely full, and even though I was surrounded by children, I was able to block most noise out by using my headphones (plus they were notably well-behaved...) Service was the basic drink/coffee/biscoff cookie, and not much else. Lights were quickly dimmed, and most people slept. I wasn't by the window, but after what seemed like endless turning and turning, we were finally lined up to land at DFW.
One last cabin shot of our 738's Sky Interior
After landing, we taxied to the north end of Terminal D and parked almost at the last gate (I think D38, it was a tow-in gate... so perhaps some of y'all DFW experts know which one...) and being in row 20, had to wait a good 10-15 mins for people to disembark with all overhead bins fully loaded. The walk to immigration, again, was super looooooong
but thankfully the line was being processed quickly. I also like that now it's almost a one-stop-shop if you have carry on since you no longer need to line up again downstairs by Customs. All in all it took about 40 mins from landing to curbside, so not too shabby.
Overall, another solid experience on AA. I will say you do have to pay to feel premium...but that is the norm across the entire industry. Otherwise, coach was a "standard" enough experience. So 'nuff said.
Thanks for reading and Happy Travels!
Mexicana lives on...