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kann123air
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Posts: 1634
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:35 am

AA Flagship Business 787-9 - AKL-LAX, 1A, 1/11/2019

Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:48 am

Howdy there!

As a second-semester senior in college, the events of the past month have drastically transformed my fast-paced, always-busy life into one of monotony and boredom. As a pre-medical Honors student at the University of Arkansas, I have lived an exciting four years, seemingly always busy with school, socialization, or something else that always seems to come up.
With COVID-19 bringing all of our busy lives to a screeching halt, I figured I would use this time to catch up on a favorite pastime of mine – trip report writing! I haven’t done one of these in over a year and a half. What used to essentially be a mandatory requirement after a fun, international trip turned into a wistful, “oh I wish I had time for that”, as the MCAT and medical school applications took precedence over the past few years.

Well, I can gladly now say that staying at home 24/7 and with a medical school acceptance in hand, I finally have more free time! Please enjoy the results of that free time (this trip report), which chronicles my incredible journey from Dunedin, New Zealand to Fort Smith, Arkansas, via AKL, LAX and DFW. All except the DUD-AKL segment were on my go-to, my favorite, my only airline – American Airlines.

So, why was I in New Zealand in the first place? Let me preface this story by starting with the idea that I am incredibly fortunate to have received a full-ride (plus some) scholarship to the University of Arkansas in 2016. Called the “Honors College Fellowship”, this award covers pretty much everything you can think of as a necessity for a college education, plus, study abroad trips.

In January 2018, I participated in a biology/ecology study abroad to New Zealand. My professor and I developed a great relationship during this trip, and she asked me to come back the next year as her “TA”; I essentially helped to orchestrate our reservations and itinerary, and in return, I got a free trip. This report encompasses a few highlights from this trip, as well as the return journey back to the States.

Why did I decided to write on this segment, specifically? Well, as you can tell by the title, I was incredibly lucky to receive an upgrade to J on the AKL-LAX segment, which topped off what was already an incredible ‘round two’ trip to New Zealand. Below are a smattering of my favorite moments from this two week trip. I hope they give you a bit of a taste of how much fun I had.

ImageAuckland at night by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Unedited. The iPhone X has an insane camera.

ImageHobbiton! by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Hi, Hobbiton! If you haven’t visited yet, it’s worth it, even for someone who knows next to nothing about LOTR, like me. The cider at the end was phenomenal.

ImageMt. Doom by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

What up, Mt. Doom?

ImageWellington harbor NYE 2019 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

New Year’s Eve 2019 in Wellington Harbor. A top 10 lifetime memory for me.

ImageOther NZ pics by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

An airstrip we stumbled upon in Mt. Cook National Park.

I could keep going on and on. New Zealand is a must visit country. Okay, so let’s cut to the chase and dive into the day leading up to the return!

I had long given up on getting the upgrade on AKL-LAX. Months before, I had called AA to request a mileage upgrade on both LAX-AKL and AKL-LAX. Despite being an AAdvantage Platinum member, I figured that these transpacific routes are nearly impossible to get upgraded on, especially during the New Zealand summer. As expected, I didn’t get the upgrade on LAX-AKL (I was #8 on the list), and with only three seats left 48 hours before departure, I figured some ConciergeKeys or ExPlats would snap them up.

Most of our study abroad group left New Zealand on January 10th, 2019, a day before we were scheduled to leave. My buddy Tony, my best friend from 7th grade, decided to go our separate ways on this last day in Dunedin. He wanted to explore Baldwin Street (the steepest road in the world); I, having seen that already, decided to find a nice place to edit the thousands of photos I had taken in the previous two weeks.

Located right by the “Octagon” city center in Dunedin, I stumbled upon The Perc Café, quite possibly the most quaint eatery I had found in New Zealand to this point. If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit this incredibly beautiful country, you probably know what I’m talking about – these small coffee shops all have a lovely vibe, with their workers exuding friendliness. Everyone’s just happy to be there.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageUntitled by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

About two hours in, I was truly enjoying myself. I had finished processing my pictures and was sipping my coffee when I decided to FaceTime my parents back in Arkansas. During our conversation, I just happened to check my reservation… and my main cabin seat assignment had disappeared.

My heart skipped a beat, and I opened up the seating chart on my laptop. Displayed across the top of the cabin was “Business Class”, and I yelled at my parents though the FaceTime call, “OMG I JUST GOT UPGRADED!” What a truly joyful moment.

ImageUntitled by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

I had a choice between 8L and 1A. Between the two, you can’t not pick 1A, right? I had a good time bragging to my friends that I was in 1A. No, not on DFW-XNA. On Auckland to LAX. On a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

In an even better mood than I was in before, I packed up my things and decided to walk back to my hotel, the Victoria Hotel, located just a few blocks away. To say I was in cloud nine at this time would be an understatement. Check out how beautiful the immediate area outside The Perc is. So beautiful.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

I got back to the hotel right as Tony did. It was our last evening in Dunedin, so we decided to go out for a nice dinner. Before that, we figured we’d pack first. Y’all, I hate packing. But Tony and I decided to kill a bottle of rose we had unopened for a few days. Hey, we couldn’t take it back with us, right? Being the lightweight I am, I was very content for the next hour or so, and I actually finished all my packing at this time.

Around this time, I ordered our shuttle to Dunedin Airport for the next morning. DUD was quite a ways away from the city, and the $35 was a bit stiff. But oh well.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Let’s do this thing!

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Isn’t this thing beautiful?

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

As an AA flyer, that green “CONFIRMED” label is always what you want to see.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

I had flown Flagship Business twice before, on the 767-300ER on MAN-ORD in 2015 and the 777-300ER on DFW-HKG. Never on a transpacific 787-9, though, and boy, I was pumped!

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

After a quick dinner, and a couple of beers, Tony and I passed out pretty early. We had to be up early to catch our shuttle. The next morning, I actually woke up quite early, around 5:00am. I walked to the nearby Starbucks, only to find it closed, and wandered into the McDonalds next door to have a quick coffee and bite to eat before our shuttle to DUD.
After a quick shuttle ride and an uneventful check-in, Tony and I found ourselves at the gate area for Air New Zealand 676, an A320 service to their hub in Auckland.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ZK-OXH, a 2015-delivered Airbus A320, pulled up to the gate. I actually flew on this exact bird a year before, on ZQN-AKL.

This was my third flight on Air New Zealand, behind last year’s WLG-CHC on an ATR-72-500 operated by Mt. Cook Airlines, and the aforementioned ZQN-AKL segment on ZK-OXH.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Flight #1
Air New Zealand Flight #676
Dunedin (DUD/NZDN) – Auckland (AKL/NZAA)
Airbus A320 – ZK-OXH
Flying time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Seat 20F

Check out that beautiful tail view, brought to you by the always-preferable air stairs boarding process.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Check out these views on takeoff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFaanV2o014

This was a rather uneventful flight. A standard drink service ensued. The views were memorable, though.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Before we knew it, we were on final descent into AKL.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Tony and I proceeded to disembark and make our way to the domestic terminal baggage claim. There, we collected our bags and lugged them along the walkway to the international terminal.
We proceeded to check in at the American self-check kiosks, and received our boarding passes. There is something I love about checking in at an American counter at a foreign airport. All of these other airlines are around you, but your familiar, beloved carrier is representing as well, proudly displaying that American logo. It’s a great feeling.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

1A. Business. Window. Let’s do this thing.

I felt slightly bad for my buddy Tony, as he was stuck in an aisle seat at the back of the airplane. I asked the agent if there was something I could do to upgrade him as well, but sadly there was a long list of Golds and non-status holders who were already vying for the last seat in my cabin.

After security, Tony and I worked our way to the Qantas business class lounge, where we helped ourselves to some snacks. A self-proclaimed expert bartender, Tony made be a fantastic turkey and coke.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

After about thirty minutes in the lounge, we worked our way to gate 17, where we got some nice views of the bird that was to carry us across the mighty Pacific.
American reppin’.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

What a beautiful plane, isn’t she?

Shortly afterwards, Group 1 was called, and I said goodbye to Tony and marched down the jetway to the beauty that awaited me.

Flight #2
American Airlines Flight #82
Auckland (AKL/NZAA) – Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX)
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – N831AA
Flying time: 11 hours 57 minutes
Seat 1A

Upon placing my backpack in the overhead compartment, I asked the friendly F/A if I could take a look at the flight deck. She graciously took me to the front, and a fantastic conversation ensued with the flight crew. Upon hearing that I was from Arkansas, the captain informed me that one of the F/As on the flight was a Razorback as well. Cool!

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Excuse my tired look. I had been traveling for two weeks. :)

I’m ready to get this show on the road!

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

The fantastic FA who was incredible to me for the next 12+ hours introduced herself to me and asked me if I had had a change to review the menu. I ordered the salmon entrée, and asked for a champagne as my PDB.

The FA made the standard announcements as we commenced our taxi to the active. She stated that the crew was one FA short that day. After the announcement concluded, she walked by and retrieved my glass. I asked her why they were one short; apparently the FA got the flu after coming in from LAX a few days prior. Bummer!

Check out the welcome announcement here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpXecYyFTuI

A short taxi later, we rumbled over to the active and blasted away for LAX.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Before I knew it, the inflight service started. As is customary in AA F/J, it was begun with a hot towel service.

ImageAKL-LAX-DFW-FSM TR :) by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Champagne round two with warm nuts. I was not complaining, to say the least.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

How cool is this video?

It was around this time that I looked through the window and said goodbye to New Zealand. Let me let you in on a little secret. At that moment, I promised myself that the next time I would see New Zealand, I would be a doctor, or at least in medical school. At the time, I was petrified on the MCAT and not getting in. Thankfully, I ended up doing great on the exam, and I got into my state school (the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). I also received two interviews, at the Penn State Milton Hershey School of Medicine and the Creighton School of Medicine. As of mid-April 2020, I still don’t know where I’m going, but it’s nice to be in this situation with one acceptance already on the table! I cannot wait to return to New Zealand with a promise to myself, kept.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

The starter wasn’t bad. The cheese was delicious, but the salad components were a bit too large. I had to awkwardly cut them into smaller pieces to eat them. If you’ll notice, the F/A accidentally subbed out my champagne with a chardonnay. I didn’t particularly mind.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

The main course was great. The potatoes were a bit bland, but it’s a meal at 35,000 feet. I’m not a complainer!

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Finally, the part I was most excited for. How many of you ask for all three toppings offered? Let me tell you, it’s the move.

I was quite full after lunch, and decided to kill some time with The Office. You can never go wrong with Dwight Schrute’s antics.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Following The Office, a whiskey-ginger powered me through “The Hangover”. A pretty straightforward movie with a shallow plot, but hey, it was reasonably funny. Especially for tipsy me.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Around that time, I had the FA make my bed for me with AA’s Casper mattress pad. With the thick blanket that is provided in J as well as the fantastic PJs supplied for TPAC J, I was in bliss.

As the FA made my bed, I ventured over to the back of the airplane in my slippers, PJs, and with my eye shades hanging out over my forehead. I said a quick hello to Tony, and upon viewing my attire I was given a single, solitary finger as a warm greeting. I chuckled and made myself back to the front of the aircraft.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

About halfway there!

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

I’m telling you, that blanket is nice!

Let me go out on a limb and say that the AA B/E Super Diamond J product (on all 787-9s and select 777-200ERs) is, by far, my favorite premium AA product in the skies. This is the case for multiple reasons. First, I always prefer to face forward in an airplane, and accordingly, I’m not the biggest fan of our Zodiac J seats on the 787-8s and select 777-200ERs. I also like my TV being in a fixed position forward, so I do like this seat over what we offer on our A321Ts in F and 777-300ERs in J.

A common complaint about the Super Diamond that I often read about is that it’s hard to turn around when lying fully flat, due to the tray table right below the TV. I agree with this complaint. Compounded by the fact that the FA didn’t clear my glasses in a timely manner, I was often worried about knocking something over as my legs hit against the retracted tray table. Oh well… first world problems. :)

The menu indicated that a snack service would occur sometime in the middle of the flight. I figured this would be offered, so I decided to wait it out. About three hours before landing, though, I asked the FA if we had to request this service, and she affirmed this. I accordingly asked for it, and the sliders were delicious!

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Is it time to start looking at connecting information already? I’m having so much fun though!

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Breakfast was served about an hour before touchdown. No complaints here.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Feeling pretty good right now. Not gonna lie.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

My first view of America in 2019 would occur in a few moments.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

It was around this time that I had a short conversation with the relief captain, seated across the aisle from me in 1D. I asked him if we were coming in for runway 25L or 24R, and he seemed surprised at my knowledge of LAX arrival procedures. He told me he wasn’t sure what we’d arrive into, further elaborating that LAX partially operates on reverse ops early in the morning. His foresight was accurate, as my first reverse ops arrival occurred on that landing. Cool stuff!

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Hello, America!

Check out the “welcome to the United States” announcement here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gazx7QsxfBA

As we pulled up to Terminal 4, the captain came on the PA and stated that we would have to wait for a few moments, as TBIT customs only opens at 6am. We had arrived a few minutes too early. I didn’t mind at all, Tony and I had a long connection time for our 737-800 to DFW.

ImageAKL-LAX TR part 2 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Goodbye, 1A. We shall meet again soon.

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

And goodbye, N831AA. Welcome to a very good place in my heart.

I waited for Tony at the foot of the jet bridge. We met up, and after breezing through TBIT, we worked our way back to Terminal 4. Security wasn’t too long, and we found our way to the phenomenal American Airlines Flagship Lounge, right by gate 40. A huge breakfast later, we took a short nap, and woke up just in time for our flight to DFW out of what I believe was 42A.

Flight #3
American Airlines Flight #2622
Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) – Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW/KDFW)
Boeing 737-823 – N916AN
Flying time: 3 hours 4 minutes
Seat 10F

This flight was pretty uneventful. I slept for most of it, having stayed up for the majority of AA82.

Some shots of various, cool birdies at LAX on the taxi out to 25R:

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Bye, LAX! See you again soon!

Like I said, I passed out after takeoff and only woke up right before landing. Here’s N916AN right after disembarking.

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

Tony and I had a pretty quick connection at DFW. I believe we went to the Terminal A Admirals Club for a few minutes and promptly made our way to Terminal B for our flight to FSM.

Flight #4
American Eagle operated by Envoy Air Flight #3996
Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW/KDFW) – Fort Smith (FSM/KFSM)
Embrear ERJ-145 – N650AE
Flying time: 58 minutes
Seat 4A

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

I took one shot upon boarding, and called it a trip. :)

Thanks for reading along, guys! Check out this cool picture below. In December 2016, I flew a 787-8 on LAX-DFW after a week-long spotting trip at LAX. My dad and I found the first card, on the far left, stuffed in our seatback pocket. I distinctly remember wondering aloud how cool it would be to fly on a 787 to Auckland. The next card was taken when I flew Y on AKL-LAX, on a 787-9 on 1/12/2018. Finally, Tony grabbed the third card for me from his flight in Y on the report I just wrote about, which was almost exactly a year later. Three winter-seasonal AKL-LAX Y
menus are represented below.

ImageAKL-LAX part 3 by Amrit Kannan, on Flickr

I have a lot of trips to write trip reports about, and I hope to catch up as COVID-19 continues to mandate social distancing and staying at home. Later in 2019, I backpacked through northern Vietnam and Cambodia with a good friend, and I flew FSM-DFW-NRT-KUL-HAN, HAN-DMK-PNH, REP-HKG-LAX-DFW-FSM on that trip, all in Y. It only set me back 75K AA miles, and the trip itself was about $400 total. Super cool, and I would love to share it with y’all.

Stay safe, and thanks for reading. Comments are welcome and appreciated!

Best,
Amrit
Going for great
 
AALuxuryLiner
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 5:49 pm

Re: AA Flagship Business 787-9 - AKL-LAX, 1A, 1/11/2019

Thu Apr 16, 2020 6:52 pm

Awesome trip report! I really felt like I was there. What a feeling when that upgrade comes through. Best of luck in med school
 
planemad1
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:01 am

Re: AA Flagship Business 787-9 - AKL-LAX, 1A, 1/11/2019

Thu Apr 16, 2020 6:53 pm

Not sure what it is about American carriers but compared to Middle Eastern carriers that food is pretty shocking tbh.
 
ConnectAir
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:20 pm

Re: AA Flagship Business 787-9 - AKL-LAX, 1A, 1/11/2019

Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:18 pm

As a pre-medical Honors student at the University of Arkansas, I have lived an exciting four years, seemingly always busy with school, socialization, or something else that always seems to come up. With COVID-19 bringing all of our busy lives to a screeching halt, I figured I would use this time to catch up on a favorite pastime of mine – trip report writing! I haven’t done one of these in over a year and a half.

As a fellow senior, pre-med student, just finishing up the application cycle, I feel this completely. With my research lab shut down and social distancing in place, I have more free time than I have had in years.

got into my state school (the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences).


Congratulations! Right now I'm going to Ben Gurion University in Israel, though I'm also on 5 American wait lists, so who knows where I'll be (or I'll be Zooming to) in a few months.

Great trip report-- I look forward to reading the other ones.
WN, LX, AZ, BA, LH, KL, DL, OK, S5, US, UA, VY, IB, AF, LY, F9, CO, YX x2, PD, AC, AA, OO, PT, QK

A319, A320, A321, A332, A333, A343, B712, B733, B737, B738, B753, B744, B764, B772, B789, CRJ9, DH8D, E145, E190
 
jrfspa320
Posts: 563
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: AA Flagship Business 787-9 - AKL-LAX, 1A, 1/11/2019

Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:43 am

Thanks for writing up. I agree NZ is a fantastic place!
Lucky with the upgrade! AAs hard product is pretty good, the food doesnt look great though really.
 
User avatar
kann123air
Topic Author
Posts: 1634
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:35 am

Re: AA Flagship Business 787-9 - AKL-LAX, 1A, 1/11/2019

Sat Apr 18, 2020 5:12 am

Thanks for the comments, everyone! Much appreciated!

ConnectAir wrote:
Congratulations! Right now I'm going to Ben Gurion University in Israel, though I'm also on 5 American wait lists, so who knows where I'll be (or I'll be Zooming to) in a few months.


Thanks bro! Good luck to you! Let's home this mess leaves before med school starts. Virtual med school is not bound to be fun.
Going for great

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