The present flight report is the description of two flights with American Airlines, from Orlando to São Paulo, in my return from a marvelous vacation in the land of Mickey, and other great things.
I bought the tickets in November for a trip in April and my options were – TAM, with a nonstop flight to MCO
or American, with a connection in MIA
. In a matter of fact, the price was decisive in my choice: TAM – US$1.889,00 e AA
- US$1.082,00 (round trip for both).
I really wanted to fly TAM, but I definitely can’t understand this fare. So, American won this battle and there I went, to the USA, with one of its national carriers and very excited to fly again in their Boeings.
In my inbound trip I did not have a suitable camera, so I’ll write a brief description of how were the flights.
First of all, I was expecting the GRU
flight a lot, because it would be operated with a 767-300, an aircraft that I hadn’t flown for 9 years. The last time I had stepped into a 767 was in 2000, in a MCO
with the late TransBrasil.
Well, the flight was completely full and overbooked, what delayed our departure in a little less than one hour.
The 767 that took us to Miami that night, was in a terrible state. The business class and the first section of economy had the renewed interiors that look alike the 777. But as soon as you walk into the main cabin of economy, it seems that you travel in time to the 80’s. Not that the original 767 interiors are bad, at all, I actually find them pretty classy, if well maintained. Our aircraft had yellow spots in the walls that looked disgusting.
Not to say about the seat. It is comfortable and has a good pitch, but as I found my seat, I realized it was covered with rests of bread and cookies.
We had a full flight to MIA
that night, but it was very calm and pretty much uneventful. I met one of the nicest Flight Attendants on years of flying with American. Her name is Nancy and we talked for some time at the galley about her work, about AA
and about my desire to have worked in the airline industry, but I ended up in a Law school and am a Lawyer now. Lol
We arrived in MIA
a little late, but on time to get our connection to Orlando, that would depart from gate E7. As we arrived at this gate, our aircraft was already there, a beautiful 757 with winglets. But time passed, the departure time arrived and the boarding didn’t start. After some waiting, the AA
personnel informed us that the crew was not in the airport and, of course, we would have to wait their arrival. This delayed the departure in more than one hour!!
The flight went smooth in the skies of Florida and after a little more than 30 minutes we arrived in MCO
, to spend wonderful days enjoying the parks, malls, bars, restaurants and all the great things Orlando can offer.
Unfortunately the return day arrived, so let’s explore the flights on my way back to my homeland.
Date: May 1st., 2010
Aircraft: Boeing 757-223 (winglets)
Tail Number: N694AN / 5DM
Seat: 9E (emergency exit)
We arrived pretty early at MCO
, because the checkout at our hotel was at 5PM. By the way, I recommend this hotel – Homewood Suites near the Convention Center in International Drive.
Virgin Atlantic crew
We immediately proceeded to the check-in counters, where a Mexican lady issued our boarding passes and changed our seats, as I was travelling with a friend and our reservation was separate. She was able to put us together on both flights on a window and aisle, as I like.
American at Terminal A
We strolled around the airport, which is a very pleasant place, very clean and full of shopping and eating options. I ate a good slice of Sbarro’s cheese pizza with a garlic bread as a side.
Information about our flight and...
...the nonstop TAM flight that would also depart soon
One hour and a half before our departure, we went towards airside 1, where American, Allegiant, Air Canada, Continental, US Airways and Westjet operate. The assigned gate for AA1873 that night was nº17.
Train that took us to Airside 1
Some traffic at Airside 1:
As we reached the gate area, I saw lots of Brazilians. I realized that most of the passengers on my flight were Brazilians returning home. We would all connect in MIA
Boarding started on time but it developed very slowly. I was of boarding group 1 and couldn’t get in the plane. That’s because a lady with two empty strollers was blocking the way into the entrance of the jet bridge. I came close to her and asked if she was from group 1. She replied that she was from group 3 and, as it would be called soon, she would stay there. At this time, a very irritated gentleman(?) pushed the lady and the strollers away, so everyone from Business and group 1 could board. An argue had started, but I really didn’t want to watch it, so I went straight ahead to the plane. What a mess. The AA
staff didn’t handle that situation.
I was happy to be aboard a 757 again. Here in Brazil these birds are rare, so I really enjoy a chance to fly in the Rocket of Seattle.
This 757 had an obsolete interior, but it was well maintained. The seat itself is not very comfortable, but for a 35 minutes flight is beyond good. The pitch was excellent, but, duh, I was in an emergency exit. I believe I was lucky to have seat 9E
assigned for me. It doesn’t have a window, because of the 2R
door, but there is some view when looking back at seat 10F windows.
This was my view from my tiny emergency exit window
Two flight attendants were standing right in front of me to receive the passengers. At one time, one of them looked at me and I decided to ask what was the tail number of that aircraft, just for my information, as I consider myself a legitimate aviation geek. So, the FA
told me to wait a minute and walked towards the front of the plane. Seconds later he came back and told me to follow him. He took me to the cockpit, the pilot and first officer introduced themselves and showed me a paper in the wall, where, among other things, I read “N694AN / 5DM”.
I couldn’t believe I was being welcomed into an American Airlines aircraft cockpit, before the departure!! It was just amazing. A real nice moment for a person who loves airplanes and a very nice attitude from the FA
, Pilot and FO. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed.
I went back to my seat and for a moment I thought I was aboard a TAM or a GOL domestic flight. Almost everyone was speaking Portuguese. When boarding finished, an AA
employee entered the aircraft with a red bag, telling the FAs that someone had forgotten it in the gate area. The lost carry on was announced four
times thru the PA, but no one showed up as its owner. It was when a guy seated behind me offered to announce it in Portuguese, seeing that most of the passengers were Brazilians. It worked. And guess what? The owner of that bag was the lady with the strollers.
Well, our departure happened with some delay, but, at last, we took off. I love the way the 757 climbs. In little time we reached level FL210, IIRC, and were informed of something I was already expecting: this would be a non-service flight for economy class. Water, only if you ask for. Nothing was really offered.
This flight to Miami was very fast so 37 minutes after takeoff we landed and started some rush: the boarding for our flight to São Paulo had already started.
Landing in MIA
Passing thru the old school business class
Our rocket at the gate
We could reach gate D21 easily, as we disembarked at the D concourse and all flights to South America would depart from there. So let’s run to this gate where our wonderful 777 was parked;
Date: May 1st., 2.010
Aircraft: Boeing 777-223ER
Tail number: N787AL / 7AU
ETA: 8:45h (MIA +1)
Arrival: 9:03h (MIA +1)
American Airlines Concourse D in Miami
N787AL – I’m sorry about the reflections
The boarding process occurred calmly and the pushback happened almost on time. While we were taxiing, I kept exploring the entertainment system available. Still not AVOD, but better than two years ago. There were good options of music, movies and tv shows.
The 777 that accomplished flight AA995 that night, although clean, had parts of my seats armrest missing, so it was very uncomfortable to put my arm there. The seat cover around my PTV was torn and full of bubble gum underneath it. It was very disgusting to imagine saliva from all over the world right in front of me. What kind of passenger does that, by the way?? Dear Lord…
At the gate
I have to recognize the comfort of American’s economy seat. Pitch was very good and the headrest is functional, even better than the little pillow they distribute.
Anyway, we taxied for almost 30 minutes, as our gate was the D21 and we took off from runway 9. We were finally airborne, in clear skies, which gave me a wonderful view of downtown and Miami Beach at night.
757 taxiing– I’m sorry these pictures are terrible!
After around 30 minutes of flight, dinner was served. Beef or chicken? –I chose the last one, which turned out to be a very tasty meal. It had a good size and had more side dishes than my last dinner on an AA
I confess that I ate everything. After dinner a second round of drinks was served. My choice was to have a good Budweiser, as a “good bye USA” drink.
During the night I kept sleeping and waking. I always like to look outside and try to find cities. After some time, I had a marvelous view of the sunrise and the beauty of the Brazilian fields under my eyes. No clouds at all.
Santiago de Cuba
Then we had Breakfast. Oh, what can I say? First of all, the presentation of this meal is terrible. The croissant was good, but that’s it. I wanted to drink coffee, but had already regretted to do that in the inbound flight, so an OJ was my choice. After having a so good dinner, I expected something really better. But this is what we had:
During breakfast, our Captain announced we had started our descent to Guarulhos.
Before a left turn to line up with runway 9R, I could see the city of São Paulo, under the 777 wing
We softly touched down on Brazilian soil and that ended one more trip with American Airlines.
A good bye to our beautiful silver Boeing
Oh, the crew!! I forgot to talk about them. Well, they were good. Did their job and that’s it, with no smiles at all. That’s actually not bad, because shows some professionalism, but they could try to be a little nicer to the costumers.
After disembarking my feeling towards AA
was of mission accomplished. AA
is an airline that only a few admire. I am one of them and I always defended this airline when it’s possible. But this trip had a big oscillation between excellent and bad services.
Out of 10, I give a 5 to American. And I should highlight some situations, starting with the bad ones:
- Food all over the seat before departure is unacceptable;
- An aircraft that has half revamped and the other half falling apart – also unacceptable;
- Interiors of the 767 and 777 were respectively terrible and bad – the 757 was impeccable;
- More than 1 hour of delay because crew wasn’t found? Not good at all!
- None of the four flight arrived on time.
Now, the good points:
- Flight attendants that made an effort to make the passenger trip the best – I found two of them!!
- Complete dinner, in an acceptable size – first time in years flying AA
- Efficiency of the ground staff, except the gate agents at MCO
that couldn’t handle an imminent fight;
- Easiness to connect in a big hub such as MIA
- Comfort of the international economy class.
Would I recommend AA
? – Depend.
The price was decisive in my choice.
For sure, a nonstop flight to Orlando, with a more modern aircraft, with a better in flight service and entertainment and with nicer crews, would be nicer. Although I love to fly on the 757.
I don’t regret my choice, but AA
service is very inconsistent. Excellent in some points, disastrous in others.
Well, that’s it people! I hope you have enjoyed this Trip Report!!
Thank you very much for your attention
See you in our next flight!!