Upon arriving in Dallas for my trip to London (then on to Stockholm), I headed to Terminal D to check out my lounge options. My flight left from the gate adjacent to the Admirals Club, and there was a Minute Suites across the hall where I could have gotten a shower and a nap. But after poking around the Admirals Club I decided the drink selection was better at the Centurion Lounge. I was so close, how could I not indulge in another Blue Door?
I returned to the gate just before boarding commenced and was able to get on without a wait. I was actually surprised how few people seemed to be waiting in the terminal — the flight left mostly full. Overhead bins seemed small, but there was plenty of room to accommodate my standard carryon bag given the fewer people in business class.
After boarding the flight attendants were quick to come around with drinks. I thought it was too sweet, but at least the service was good. Amenity kits were already waiting on seats, and the pillow and blanket seemed fairly large.
The kit contained socks, a face mask, earplugs (which worked), some toiletries (which I didn’t use), and a toothbrush. The bag was on the small size but otherwise would have been useful to keep for future travel. I was also provided with some Bose noise-canceling headphones for the flight. Bring your own headphones anyway so you’ll have something to use during landing; the flight attendants collected them when we were still 30-40 minutes out.
Business class had only five rows in a 2-3-2 configuration, plus another two seats at the front. I was pretty happy with my center aisle seat — most people would probably prefer to book a window seat than a middle between two other people.
The seats are very close to lie-flat, but they’re also angled. In the end I only got a couple hours’ sleep on the outbound and stayed upright for the entire return flight. I was happier with the seat’s width. There seemed to be plenty of space to move about and keep comfortable even if I wasn’t going to get much sleep. It’s much better than economy, and still better than the premium economy I tried last year on British Airways. Just my luck that I was on a mileage run and booked my itinerary based on price, not comfort. However, it did appear much easier to secure an upgrade than, say, if I had tried to get the 777-300ER operated out of Los Angeles.
Once in the air I got another glass of sparkling wine and some hot nuts. For the most part the meal service seemed identical to domestic first class. This is not a good thing since American’s catering standards have declined.
While the main dining table is stored in the armrest (and there’s a controller for the entertainment system underneath), there’s also a second flip down tray beneath the television screen. It was relatively useless — too far away to actually use, and too small to store anything more than a magazine. But I flipped through the menu to see my options.
I’ve been burned too many times by the beef entrees American now serves. If they’re not tough, they’re stringy. Nothing like a filet should be. And the “creamy demi-glace” was more like a cheesy spread. Fortunately my salad and appetizer were decent, as was the quiche.
Part way through dinner I started flipping through channels and found I’d already watched most of the available movies. Netflix and iTunes will do that to you. But I hadn’t yet watched Frozen…
It seemed to go by really quick. Though the story was dumb, I liked Olaf. He reminded me of a friend in every way except for the snow.
Dessert was just a few scoops of cookies n’ cream. Boring. I was surprised they didn’t hand out the bottled water earlier in the flight when we boarded. One plus: the coffee was actually pretty good, and that’s rare on airplanes. (I sometimes wonder why more carriers don’t make a French press, at least for first class passengers.)
Fortunately the meals on my return trip were an improvement. My ice cream was topped with whipped cream and nuts (at least they used to be nuts, before they were turned into powder). And the lunch we were served on arrival was a fairly delicious vegetarian pizza. Because who doesn’t like pizza? 😀
Overall it was a decent flight considering I was able to upgrade for free using one of my systemwide upgrades as an Executive Platinum member. The real drawback was not the seat — and American is replacing them, so I have faith this issue will be soon fixed. Rather, I just find the catering problem to be a huge let down. Often it’s overcooked, or covered in so much cheese I wouldn’t want to eat it anyway. The best part of that pizza, ironically, was how little cheese it had.
Service continues to be a notch above what I’ve experienced on United and even, in some cases, Alaska Airlines. So given that British Airways has ridiculous fuel surcharges on nonstop flights out of London, I was more than happy to detour through Dallas on my way to Europe.