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fbgdavidson
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Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:23 pm

It's been a long time since I wrote a report on here. Truth be told I didn't really have much inspiration for a report, although the ones I did I couldn't write about publically! This is a re-post from another forum where the formatting allows for posts to be editted so as I made the journey across the course of the day I was able to go back and edit the post. As I did the whole thing on my iPhone (exhausting!) I'm afraid the pictures aren't as good as I normally hope for when penning trip reports. Enjoy!

7.07AM EST
So what's this all about then? Well, thanks to AA's GoGo inflight internet and a weekend to myself as the other half found herself a new type rating to get I decided to book a little day away somewhere. Typically I do these from RIC but with an ex-IAD transcontinental being cheapest and most lucrative I opted for this instead. I only booked it a couple of weeks back and a good chunk of the cabin on this 737-800 was taken. I pre-booked my meals (I have lunch and dinner flights) and waited until online check-in opened. Alas no TSA Pre again, and after calling the TSA to find out why, as a Global Entry member I've never had Pre I get an answer. US Permanent Resident GEs don't get Pre at the moment and probably won't until later in the year. Sigh.

Am at my hotel, the Homewood Suites in Ashburn having a quick breakfast, the staff allowing me to take advantage of the superior offerings at the adjacent Embassy Suites. Although if that was the superior option I shudder to think what the Homewood had in store for me! As I've a late arrival back here I'm going to drive to IAD and park instead of using the hotel's shuttle...

Stay tuned! Expect lots of iPhone induced "hilarious" autocorrects and probably out of rotation and mis-sized photos!!

8.37am EST

After my short drive to the airport checking in was simple. The AA check-in area next to BA's was very quiet. Unfortunately some old lady with Skycap had beaten me to First Class check-in by a matter of about two seconds. It did give me the opportunity to witness a rather confused businessman be told his flight to JFK was actually going from DCA though http://i.imgur.com/lCPU0Ie.jpg

I was soon waved over to an empty desk where I got my aboard my boarding passes for both flights and the agent asked if I was doing it for miles. We had a chuckle as she mentioned some silly itineraries she'd seen people do.

With boarding passes in hand I was able to use IAD's premium line to cut to the front where TSA check boarding passes. The other line was quite long so for once that seemed useful. Security was pretty painless given a daytrip and I was soon on the Aerotrain over to the B gates, a journey I've done many a time when flying BA. An almost Docklands Light Railway like experience...

http://i.imgur.com/ScccY5y.jpg

So was I going to visit the BA lounge or the Admirals Club? Well, they're both adjacent to eachother and I fancied a good Bloody Mary so the AC seemed the better option. I couldn't quite see the entrance or signage so went to the Galleries lounge...only to find the lounge isn't open to normal oneworld rules in the morning and the Admirals Club closed...and not just closed but closed for a YEAR! Here was me thinking I'd have two lounges available when due to a rookie mistake I'm left languishing at the gate for more than 90mins like a pleb  http://i.imgur.com/vky9tn9.jpg

The gate agents on this flight seemed to be handling the departure of AA45 a diverted flight due for JFK. Lots of passengers running about in the concourse and GAs hurrying passengers along. Interestingly when they make PAs it isn't broadcast live but the PA is recorded and as soon as the mic is "un-keyed" then it is broadcast. To prevent feedback maybe? Anyways, it's not that interesting and you've probably fallen asleep now but by live reporting standards it seems relevant. No wonder 24hr rolling news is so tedious at times  

Between this and my 7hr lounge stay at Xmas my last two IAD ground experiences haven't been too hot 

I did ask the gate agent in between busy moments if there was another lounge for Admirals Club members to use, a long shot but given the US/AA tie up you never know quite what's going on. Anyways, I thought it wasn't that long ago that the IAD AC opened up to great fanfare! Ho hum...listening to these guys closing out AA45 besides me seems a moderately interesting diversion.

Took a little wander down the concourse ...a Delta flight to Cancun seems to be leaving later in the morning. Seems a bit of an odd route for DL, it doesn't have a peculiar charter-esque flight number so not sure what that's about...other than that the only amusing sight being a group of about sixty Japanese kids replete with matching Taekwondo uniforms en-route to DTW on another DL flight.

10.10am EST

The flight appears to be heavily booked as a result of UA canceling one of their LAX bound flights and so it has been confirmed that First Class checked in full for anyone who was on the upgrade list. The GA also made a call asking for any bags to be checked gratis to try and aid in getting the flight off quicker.

Three passengers get boarded before they call F up and the gate door is closed behind them... I wonder who that would be  

As I walk into the Priority line one guy looks at me and says to his companion "how did he clear?", I assume thinking he thought I'd snaffled some kind of upgrade. *groan* Now I'm in my thirties the silly comments seem to be a thing of the past but you never know. A warm welcome at the door from someone I hope is working the First Class cabin. If first impressions count for anything this should be good.

http://i.imgur.com/4EHQ0sO.jpg

I find a nice package on my seat with chunky pillow and blanket, a transcontinental speciality and settle in as the rest of the aircraft boards. Now if first impressions apply for seatmates I guess I'm not so lucky. His portliness shouldn't bother me but the constant "sucking up his mucus through his nose" thing could drive me insane for the next 6hrs!

A menu is delivered! Another transcontinental specialty. Thanks to pre-ordering the "entrees" are no surprise...and thankfully the delightful greeter says she is working the FC cabin today.

http://i.imgur.com/cw5SNDR.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/ZY6nqDP.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/zcej44G.jpg

Around 10.35 it sounds like we're about to go and pre departure beverages are served, plastic glass and all. The flight crew announce we've got 5hrs 35mins to LAX. In honour of a friend on another forum well known for his love of "shampagne" I of course take the Prosecco http://i.imgur.com/pgoitjF.jpg

11.15am EST

Airborne! During our quick taxi out to runway 30 the male FA up front comes around checking our lunch orders, he notes my pre-selection (that I can't remember to be honest!) and asks what I'd like to drink after takeoff. I ask when lunch is to be served and am told around 45mins into the flight so opt for a Bloody Mary, the Prosecco not being quite to my liking....I figure the 45min window is enough time for a cheeky tomato and vodka before switching to something more appropriate for lunch!  

We zip off into the air out over the western part of the state offered great views of the Shenandoah, Skyline Drive a clear ribbon across the hilltops, the Shenandoah valley itself an almost perfect copy and paste repeat pattern!

I try to fire up Gogo, initially not working but then it starts and without prompting payment. Am thinking I'll get a freebie here! Then I hit the paywall as it figures out my nefarious plan!

http://i.imgur.com/3nEAadJ.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/F0M6b5i.jpg

The female FA comes round with a basket appearing to hand out what I thought was nuts of some kind, thinking maybe they couldn't do hot nuts. Wearing my QC15s I reach out to her somewhat outstretched basket to realise it's the earbuds they're giving out free in F. Silly me!

Bloody Mary is delivered with hot nuts as we climb out over snowy West Virginia. The male FA comes round with more in glass decanter thing as the smells from the oven waft in as lunch begins to cook.

http://i.imgur.com/Lg4YbAV.jpg

12.59pm EST

So, a couple of hours into the flight now and meal service is all wrapped up.

The snowier mountains/hills were replaced by the flatter plains of the more boring parts of the country...and I think Mother Nature didn't much care for me viewing it either as the clouds begun to thicken slightly. Seemed an appropriate time to recline slightly. These 737s have the seat (as in the bit your arse is on) portion move forward as you recline so they're rather comfortable and at 40" pitch not bad on the legroom either.

http://i.imgur.com/SO9xJQh.jpg

My neighbour's meal is delivered first (thankfully he'd mostly stopped his snorting nonsense, or if he hadn't a favourite thumping progressive house mix was killing it off nicely) and the "shrimp scampi" doesn't look too bad, I might be taking a few photos on the trip but I'm not taking them of a seatmate's food!

By this time a large city on a river appeared. At first glance I thought it was Pittsburgh but then I notice the airport and its position seemed far better for Cincinnati. City in Ohio, airport in Kentucky...

http://i.imgur.com/B7qVRTd.jpg

The lunch was served all on one tray. The mystery soup wasn't listed on the menu but was rather good...the chicken starter was fine but the fruit's "juice" had leaked all into them and I really loathe fruit plates so the chicken was now damaged goods http://i.imgur.com/xUhVqbv.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/JfbE3ni.jpg

Bread was served by basket too but by the time it got to me there were two strange piccolo things and an indistinguishable bun. I went for the latter. As I nibbled on it I thought some butter would be handy...it wasn't until I picked up my salad bowl I saw it hiding back there. Oh well...

The salad probably wasn't the wisest option. Lots of pretty bland iceberg lettuce with a few slices of orange and edamame...the teriyaki chicken skewer required a bit of work and was a bit too taste neutral for my liking....but next up was the best bit...ice cream! Whilst potentially sacrilegious to say on the AA Flyertalk forum I prefer the pre-made sundaes on mid-con flights but these are very good too. I mean very good in a you know ice cream is a kids' dessert kind of way! I asked for the works which means hot fudge, butterscotch, berry toppings, whipped cream and nuts! Yes, a greedy sod I am!

http://i.imgur.com/xjFEWiH.jpg

Now it's that relaxing stage of the flight, the bit where you have a blanket over you, a pillow wedged up against the window and seat is reclined....

3.50pm EST

So the mid portion nothingness of the flight is now over...some messing about on the interwebs and various apps has put a bit of a downer on my battery, thankfully power ports are here to help!

The views of the full Midwest were swapped out for some slightly more interesting mountains, but not for long...then it went back to the desertscape. Thankfully I had a distraction...a Sam Adams Boston Lager and a snack basket that had been prepared and passed around the cabin. It wasn't immediately obvious what was in it, the last packet of crisps taken by seatmate. I grabbed a large chocolate wafer thing and the female FA noted the cashews would go very well with the beer so err, I grabbed them too...

http://i.imgur.com/oK542hM.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/LkUgkH0.jpg

A few beer top-ups and app games later and the unmistakeable gash in the earth that is the Grand Canyon started to form. Having flown over Four Points the route to LAX leaves Las Vegas on the right hand side. The smell of baking cookies filtered through the cabin, are there many better smells in the world?  A tray of them along with milk was brought into the cabin, and of course it'd be rude to not partake, right?  http://i.imgur.com/erwovok.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/3uMJg2C.jpg

Fairly soon after they were cleared away the pre-arrival beverages were prepared....also known as some fizzy water with a slice of lemon http://i.imgur.com/H5MQxse.jpg

The Arizona and California desert is now obscured by clouds, something the flight crew had hinted at before we'd left IAD. With only a short amount of time left in the flight I wonder if we'll bother to descend into LAX or just nose dive into the joint...and just I type that we turn and start our descent from 38,000'...

4.20pm EST

Descending into LA...when flying in from the east it's hard not to think, "little boxes, all made of ticky tacky"...bonus points to anyone who gets the reference...

http://i.imgur.com/vHTJwgB.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/ny8yiVl.jpg

You'll note the Proudbird just before touchdown with its collection of aircraft and the AN-124 in the other photo. We landed just behind a BA 747 and taxied across 25R to our stand at the end of the Terminal 4 hub.

http://i.imgur.com/b9LYKQC.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/kvJXCPs.jpg

2.34pm PST

So...I'm back on another AA 737-800 again!

I managed to eyeball the gate for my flight when disembarking and with 40mins until departure figured I had time for a swift-o in the Admirals Club...I felt like I was owed some lounge time after being robbed earlier in the day http://i.imgur.com/63yISTH.jpg

The lounge was pretty busy in the bar area where I grabbed a Sam Adams Winter Lager with my complimentary drinks voucher to keep me going for the ten minutes or so until I had to go. Plenty of Real Housewives-esque rejects about gabbing on phones, this is SoCal after all! With the beer about 80% done I ducked out for the gate.

The "Main Cabin" line had been tensa barriered off and everyone was funneled through Priority. Daft. Renders the thing pointless! I asked the nearest old guy if this was the First Class line and with some impossibly high row number for a 737 I just tucked in behind him...

My seatmate was already there so I missed out on putting my bag under the lucrative middle seat portion thing, oh well..and occupied myself updating this thing until the aircraft pushed back. Pre-departure drinks were offered but this time on a request basis as opposed to a tray of pre-prepared drinks. I took a glass of water...the lead FA also confirmed my choice of dinner, I must have been the only one to pre-order as she only asked me....

We pushed back for 25R shortly after our departure time but with an estimated 4hr flight time it didn't make much difference and we were surely due to make it up inflight.

http://i.imgur.com/EkxHnDY.jpg

After takeoff, a great thing at LAX with so much variety of aircraft and airlines we turned off to the south and back round to the east, quickly being enveloped by clouds.

http://i.imgur.com/TZ5OA2V.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/8X93RUo.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/iBRyin4.jpg

Menus were handed out and after a few minutes orders taken, although in my case for drinks only.

http://i.imgur.com/9jUSR8E.jpg

It wasn't until after I'd got up to visit the toilet that I realized there was a "seated queue". It was only one person but it was her elderly and walking stick using husband that was in the can...not wanting to disturb seatmate again and with the galley being used to prepare meal/drink service I stood at the back of the FC cabin...like a right wazzock for a good 10mins or so until the old folks were finished.

My Sam Adams was delivered, this time with the can...it was seatmate's turn to tackle the seated queue but despite having a convenient place to park his posterior he still stood in the aisle doing stretches just looking really awkward in the process!

http://i.imgur.com/gAY8Td5.jpg

Nice views of Arizona and one of the best in-flight encounters with another aircraft. A FedEx DC-10 going right by in the opposite just below. Sadly too quick for me to switch out penning the report in "Notes" to snap it!  http://i.imgur.com/hUwftgI.jpg

It's amazing how quickly these flights pass, just an hour and a half and we're practically at Texas! The dinner cart can take my mind off the passing time!

Finished after landing...

Unlike lunch the starter and salad were brought out together, with the bread basket making a showing too, in fact a couple of them. I got some nice cheesy bread!

http://i.imgur.com/W0Gufho.jpg

These items were cleared away and the beef filet I'd ordered brought out. Sadly it looked a bit like one of Gate Gourmet's offerings and the inside were "British Airways Club World Grey"...a pity as AA have far more often than not managed to rustle up good steaks onboard.

http://i.imgur.com/ZuiKWzJ.jpg

I slowly ate my way through the meal, starting to feel the effects of two large meals! My plate was cleared and it wasn't long before the dessert cart started making its way down the aisle. I wanted more ice cream but not this second so willed it to move slowly and it did. By the time it got to me I was just about ready and again ordered all the toppings, just no nuts...

http://i.imgur.com/EED6RH8.jpg

As this flight was moving along so speedily there wasn't a whole lot of time left once dessert was gone. I reclined my seat to its fullest and grabbed the nice, thick pillow hoping for a short nap but really there wasn't much time. I changed to some more soothing music and messed about on the internet, using Flightaware to track our progress eastwards, and identifying large cities off to our port side.

The snack basket was once again offered although I wasn't at my seat during this time and almost stole something my seatmate had got but placed on my side of the large armrest as I'd thought one of the FAs had left it for me...

It wasn't but a few minutes later that the cookie smell came through the cabin. When they were brought out it was offered with milk or sparkling water, combining what had been two separate services on my outbound flight.

Descent occurred slowly and quite evenly, felt almost as if we were sinking onto the lights of the various towns and then GoGo went out, as it does when you drop below 10,000'. I wonder if that should change with the new rules about electronic devices?

The lights of IAD's concourses appeared in the distance and it was clear we were heading north. At first I thought we'd go for 19R as the PAPIs seemed to change as we intersected it but we continued across to 19C allowing a quick taxi to the gate.

And then it was all over. As quickly as it had started not but 11hrs earlier. 4400 miles downed and two transcontinental flights in a day! With that flight taken, just over six months into my membership year, I've secured at least BA Silver or Gold for ten straight years now, if only lifetime was based on that instead of 35,000 tier points!

The only funny moment was when my seatmate struggled to get his bag out of the overhead. We were in the last row of FC and everyone had cleared out (even the old biddies ), he was there standing on the seat wrestling to retrieve it...eventually, after what seemed like an eternity it popped out. The B Concourse was quiet although I could see BA's 292 departing down a few gates, the complement of passengers swelling out from the gate area into the concourse. It was only a short train ride back to the main terminal that was keeping me from my car and then to home!
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
Aeroflot001
Posts: 366
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Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:05 am

Great Domestic trip report, Thank you for sharing!
 
767747
Posts: 2222
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am

Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:27 am

Great report, fbgdavidson! Glad to see AA picking up their game with good F offerings. Food looks really quite good for flights of this length, and great to get the build your own sundae!

Quoting fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
Interestingly when they make PAs it isn't broadcast live but the PA is recorded and as soon as the mic is "un-keyed" then it is broadcast. To prevent feedback maybe?

I notice this every once and a while when flying for work; definitely funny to see the agents speaking really quietly with the microphone, and then to hear their voice as soon as they "un-key"

Thanks for sharing,

Matthew
I love to fly!
 
united
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Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:07 am

Quoting Aeroflot001 (Reply 1):
"little boxes, all made of ticky tacky"..

Weeds!
... though you probably saw lots of little boxes made of ticky tacky outside of IAD as well  

I enjoyed the report; well done!
The opinions expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of Delta Air Lines.
 
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fbgdavidson
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Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:49 am

Thanks for the comments.....indeed the "boxes of ticky tacky" is referencing Weeds....you're right, there are a few cookie cutter places in Northern Virginia it doesn't quite compare with Southern California!

just realized I put IAD-LAX-LAX as the title instead of IAD-LAX-IAD! Ugh!
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
Flightsimboy
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RE: Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:27 pm

American First Class is worth the trip just for the Sundae and the cookies....How could one not drift into a deep slumber after that  . The Cookies and milk does make one feel like a child, maybe just the cookies and perhaps a hot chocolate.

Really nice report and the live concept does help! But only if you read it as it's being posted! Still a great read and some very descriptive narrative which adds to the report, rather than one line sentences explaining each photo!
LAX772LR - "Answer to goofy question:" in response to my question about the B737-MAX8 being grounded. 48 hours later all B737-MAX8 grounded worldwide. Go figure!!
 
ba319-131
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RE: Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:48 pm

Nice read and pictures, thanks for sharing.

Quoting fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
Expect lots of iPhone induced "hilarious" autocorrects

- The iPhone is great at that!

Quoting fbgdavidson (Thread starter):
The smell of baking cookies filtered through the cabin, are there many better smells in the world?  A tray of them along with milk was brought into the cabin, and of course it'd be rude to not partake, right?  

- Err I'd take coffee with the cookie, milk, yuck!

All in all looks ok, I'd be keen to try the new A321 service from JFK to LAX, might try that later in the year if I get the chance.......

Cheers

Mark
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theaviator380
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RE: Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:56 pm

One of the best services on American carrier in a while...superb. Seems everything worked well for you.
 
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fbgdavidson
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RE: Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:56 pm

Thanks for the comments!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 5):
American First Class is worth the trip just for the Sundae and the cookies....

It's certainly the highlight of the meal service! The FA seemed really unsure on the LAX-IAD service when I asked for the works without nuts...."you know that includes butterscotch, fudge, fruit and whipped cream?" she said..."Oh yes I do!" 
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 5):
Really nice report and the live concept does help! But only if you read it as it's being posted!

Unfortunately a.net's forum's don't allow for editting after a few minutes (something I've moaned about for years) so I ended up posting it live on another forum. Was great to have people comment on the trip as it went along..

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 6):
- The iPhone is great at that!

I'd rather have typos than autocorrects. At least with typos you can see what the person was trying to say most of the time. With autocorrect you could end up with something completely different!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 6):
All in all looks ok, I'd be keen to try the new A321 service from JFK to LAX, might try that later in the year if I get the chance.......

I'd like to give that a go too! I heard there were ridiculous fares between DEN and JFK via LAX. Something like 270GBP in F one way.

Quoting theaviator380 (Reply 7):
One of the best services on American carrier in a while...superb. Seems everything worked well for you.

Thanks! I do like the transcon services like this. They're a definite step up from the midcons or shorter F flights without quite being the Flagship Service products. I've done quite a lot of reviews on all of them over the years.
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
Cactus739
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RE: Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:16 am

Quoting fbgdavidson (Thread starter):

Descending into LA...when flying in from the east it's hard not to think, "little boxes, all made of ticky tacky"...bonus points to anyone who gets the reference...

little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky. Great intro for that show but after the 2nd season i was over the intro...

great report !
You can't fix stupid.... - Ron White
 
CF-CPI
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RE: Live Report! AA First Class: IAD-LAX-IAD (w/pics)

Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:49 pm

Very nice report! I read the fine print and you answered one of my questions: all in one day. Truly amazing.

Pleasantly surprised to see the printed menus, as I thought these were a thing of the past in North America, only to be found at the Airliner shows. I must say that I have always been entertained by the use of Frenchisms to describe airline meals in the States: 'haricots verts', etc., as seen here. I have some old TW menus and they were big on that sort of thing, "roast duck accompanied by petit pois au beurre", as if the duck and the peas were dating. Another popular one is "creme fraiche', and come to think of it, I am surprised that you weren't offered an "amuse bouche". Maybe next time.

What did you think of the seats in the AA737 F? They are the same model (roughly) that DL has selected for the MD90s and 737-900s and I found them wanting in the lumbar support and padding.

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