American Airlines Admirals Club New York JFK
LAN Business Class: New York to Lima
LAN Economy Class: Lima to Cusco
LAN Economy Class: Cusco to Lima
Radisson Decapolis Miraflores
SUMAQ Lounge Lima
LAN Business Class Lima to Easter Island
LAN Business Class: Easter Island to Santiago
LAN Neruda Lounge Santiago
LAN Business Class: Santiago to Lima
LAN Business Class: Lima to New York
Yotel New York City
American Airlines Business Class: New York to Los Angeles
They say New York City never sleeps. Untrue. I slept three nights there. Two on a sofa-become-bed at the Yotel, then one on a sofa-stay-sofa at a friend’s apartment. Thank you, AA stopover rule, for giving me the chance to extend this stopover for free.
After a couple deeeeeelicious Michelin-rated meals in the city, a lunch at Tamarind Tribeca and dinner at Laut Union Square all for about $15 total out-of-pocket thanks to the Chase BA promotion going on then, it was time to finally head home.
I woke up rather late after a long Friday night and left my friend’s place much later than I wanted. In fact, I didn’t even go to the airport; I went to a deli with other friends to grab breakfast. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “I can miss this flight. It’s flexible. I’ll just leave tomorrow.” At the touch of my fingers, I had ExpertFlyer checking J availability on later flights, but I chose to stick with this departure for the time-being.
I made my way down to Penn Station and caught a LIRR train that was just about to leave. A few track backups delayed me even more, but I got to Jamaica Station and hopped the AirTrain, ecstatic that I had brought my soon-to-expire MTA card down to 5 cents after the $5 fee. In the trash you go!
Departing out of T8, I hopped off at T1 and crossed from the outer loop track (which goes to Terminals in ascending order [1, 2/3, 4 … 8, 1] + Howard Beach/Jamaica stations outside the airport) to the inner loop track (which only goes to Terminals in descending order [8, 7, 5 … 1, 8]). This allowed me to bypass 4 stops and go directly from T1 to T8. Efficiency!
I headed to the end of T8 for AA’s Premium Check-in, which had no line.
My gate was in the other concourse, so I had to make a bit of a walk. This also meant that with some time left before boarding, I could visit the 2nd Admirals Club, not the same one I had a few weeks before. I don’t have any pictures, but the 1st Admirals Club is a bit nicer. This one, in the old T9, is smaller. One thing it has that the other one doesn’t is better and unrestricted views of aircrafts for plane watchers (some of these pics from my flight).
One thing that peeved me about the Admirals Clubs was that I had to ask for drink chits and only got 1 (as opposed to not asking at the other one, getting 2, and being told I’d get more if I asked). The ACs are a bit odd in that they are clubs for paying members as well as business class lounges for international alliance passengers. They charge for food and drink for members, but don’t for passengers who come in because of alliance status or international premium cabins. Flying in the U award bucket for a transcontinental, I was allowed to enter the AC because of my ticket, not due to a membership. Delta allows all business passengers on transcontinentals, even those upgraded, to access the Sky Clubs and take advantage of free drinks. AA limits this to full-fares and awards and is stingy on the drink chits. I really don’t know the standard operating procedure for this, since I’m neither on an international flight nor a member, but was kind of annoyed that the AC desk acted as if they were doing me a favor giving me a drink coupon.
Another thing that really annoyed me about this flight was that my boarding passes, both electronic and printed, said that boarding would start at 3:05pm. Figuring that I’d want to stay in the lounge for just a bit and not have to wait too long at the gate, I decided to board at around 3:15pm, since the gate was just outside the entrance. I kept an eye on the screens in the club and saw that the remark went from ‘On Time’ to ‘Boarding’ at 3:10pm, so I gathered my things, made a quick pit stop, and left the club for the short hop 3 gates away. I got to the gate shortly after only to see that the gate was already closed. Huh? Am I at the wrong gate? I went up to the gate agent:
Me: “Hi, is this 133 to LAX?”
GA: “It was 133 to LAX. You’re late. You missed it. The door’s closed and the plane is about to push back.”
Me: “But I was in the Admirals Club and it said boarding started about 10 minutes ago … how did you board 3 classes and 170 people in 10 minutes?”
GA: “Boarding started 45 minutes ago. We do 45 to 55 minutes before for transcons.”
Me: “My boarding pass says 30 minutes. And the screens said 10 minutes ago.”
GA: “Yeah, those are wrong. There’s been a problem with the boarding passes not being correct.”
Me: “Why was I not told that at check-in? Or the Admirals Club?”
At this moment, I see the jetway begin to pull back from the 762. I know I’ve missed this flight by now.
GA: “Well, the AC doesn’t announce domestic departures and we paged you in the AC.”
Me: “Ma’am, I’ve been listening to every AC announcement. They announced 185 to SFO, so they do announce domestic departures, or at least are today. And I never heard my name on the AC. Not only that, but it’s still at least 10 minutes before this flight is scheduled to depart and I’ve been here at least a couple minutes.”
GA: “We send planes out early all the time sir. This isn’t my problem.”
Me: “Alright, well, can I get on 181 at 4:30? I know there’s availability cause I was checking earlier this afternoon and it’s free.”
GA: “I don’t know. You’re going to have to ask somebody else.”
I think this lady has the wrong job.
I talked to the other agent at the gate and got on standby for 181, which was delayed a half-hour. Made the trek back to the main concourse. Since it was an hour before boarding said on my BP (30 minutes in advance printed on this one, too), I decided to go straight to the gate since you never know when AA starts boarding nowadays.
Was it a newbie mistake? Yes. First flight of mine on AA in over 4 years but I should have given a bit more time. But was it shoddy ground service and a failure of AA to communicate proper boarding time? Yes. It’s both my fault and AA’s fault.
Although, only one of us is not in bankruptcy… sorry, couldn’t let that one go. 🙂
I was able to get on the next flight, which had shrunk to only 2 seats available in business. I got 8A, probably still empty due to FEBO – Front Even/Back Odd meal service. The only other option was 7A, which had limited legroom due to the First/Business bulkhead.
New York (JFK) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Sunday February 26, 2012
Aircraft: Boeing 767-200
Seat: 8A (American Flagship Service – Transcontinental Business – Window)
After a quick First boarding, I boarded with business and was pleased to have 8A when I saw the little amount of legroom in 7A. Yikes. These seats are comfortable, but I don’t like the manual controls. Sure, I’m used to pushing back to recline my seat, but I had to fiddle with the footrest too much to make it come up. Then it teased me by thinking that it could go up even more, only to be unable to lock in a more comfy position. In fact, this route would be perfect for LAN’s brilliant business seat. Oh how I miss it already.
Pre-departure beverage was champagne in a plastic cup. No pictures. You’re welcome.
I’ve seen JFK-LAX flights blocked for 7.5 hours gate-to-gate. Keep in mind this route is under 2500 miles. The reason is because of ground time at JFK. Our ground time from jetway back to wheels up was about 35 minutes.
Shortly after takeoff, we were given AA’s new IFE system for transcons, a package with Samsung Galaxy Tab, Bose noise-canceling headphones, and a charger (for the old cigarette lighter style outlets). While I am normally a fan of built-in IFE, the screen size on the tablet is large; larger than Delta’s screens in economy/business, but not as large as LAN’s screens in business. My kit came with a completely uncharged tablet so I had to keep the charger plugged in, which just added an extra wire. The screen quality is fantastic, though.
I watched “Moneyball” and “30 Seconds or Less” on my tablet. I noticed that my neighbor in 8B was watching movies that were not available on my tablet, and he asked me why I had Moneyball and he didn’t. Turns out that not all tablets have the same selection.
Another problem with the tablet is … where do I keep it? My tray table came out of the armrest but wouldn’t lock flat. It instead made a V-shape that wouldn’t hold the tablet. I made do by sticking the case into the seat-back pocket in front of me. It works since the headphones and power outlet inputs are on the face of the tablet. It’s quite necessary to do this during meal services. I saw other passengers fumble with the tablets while the FAs came to set linens for dinner.
Ahh, dinner. I was told it’d be delicious, at least for a domestic flight. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. Orders were surprisingly taken starting at front, even though it was an odd # flight and should have started at the back. But I kept my mouth shut and got my choice. Also, I love the nuts they serve on AA, incredibly warm and even a second helping. Yessss.
Here’s the menu for Feb 2012, 3-Class Business, Dinner-Snack
Business Class: Dining Service
Thank you for choosing American Airlines. It is our pleasure to offer you a variety of dining options on today’s flight. We invite you to experience select menu items we call American Classics which are popular entrées from menus past redefined with a modern twist.
To Start: Warm mixed nuts
Appetizer: Prosciutto garnished with Parmesan cheese, served with cantaloupe puree
Salad: A combination salad featuring fresh seasonal greens offered with sour cream and herb dressing of premium extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, accompanied by a mozzarella, cherry tomato and fresh basil salad
Bread Basket: Assorted gourmet breads
Beef Fillet with Demi-Glace: Grilled fillet of beef enhanced by a shallot and caper demi-glace served with mashed potatoes, carrots, squash and red onion. An American Classics item.
Four Cheese Ravioli: Ravioli pasta filled with four cheese accented by herbed wild mushroom cream sauce. looks oily, it was really good though
Dine Upon Request You may choose one of the featured entrées for your Dine Upon Request selection, presented all at once, at any time you wish during the flight.
Ice Cream Sundae: Ben&Jerry’s vanilla ice cream with a choice of hot fudge, butterscotch or seasonal berry topping, whipped cream and pecans.
Fruit and Cheese: A selection of seasonal fruit and fine cheeses
A little later in the flight …
Light Refreshment: Freshly baked on board cookies
The food was delicious, and my flight attendant was fantastic. For all the sourness I experienced from the GA at JFK, it was such a delight to have an amazingly cheerful and delightful flight crew. My FA addressed all passengers by name and came by at the end of the flight to thank everyone for choosing AA.
After finishing my second movie about 50 minutes before landing, I packed up my IFE kit, just in time for a rather early collection by the FAs. This is why built-in IFE is better.
Even with our delays at the gate and on the tarmac, we were only a few minutes late. Well, they did block an extra hour for the flight…
One good thing about missing my flight was that my bag did not. I simply walked to the carousel, saw my bag in a side area guarded by an AA employee, showed my driver’s license, and got out the building. I ended up waiting longer for my ride home.