American Airlines flies these low density Airbus A321Ts on their premium transcon routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New York. These A321Ts are configured with 10 first class seats in a 1 x 1 layout, 20 business class seats in a 2 x 2 layout and 72 economy class seats in a 3 x 3 layout (36 are Main Cabin Extra).
I recently flew this exact same route in first class and really enjoyed it. You can read my American Airlines A321T first class trip report here. But first class aside, the A321T business class product isn’t bad either. Given the choice, you should always choose a wide-body option for this route but if you had to fly a narrow-body jet, American Airlines’ A321T business class hard product isn’t bad and would be comparable to Delta One and United’s PS BusinessFirst seats.
Approximately 15 minutes prior to boarding time, I left the Qantas oneworld Lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal and made my way to Terminal 4. American Air operates from Terminal 4 at LAX and the majority of their oneworld partner airlines including British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas operate out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. We used to have to exit the terminal and clear security both ways but now that the airside connector from Terminal 4 to the international terminal is completed, it’s much easier to cross between the two terminals. It took me about a 15 minute walk to get from the Qantas oneworld Lounge to gate 42B where my flight was departing from.
Aircraft: Airbus A321T
Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK)
Depart: 10:45 PM on Saturday (10:43 PM actual), gate 42B of Terminal 4.
Arrive: 7:22 AM next day (7:28 AM actual), gate C36 of Terminal 8.
Duration: 5hrs 45mns
Seat: 6F Business Class
Boarding started with first class passengers followed by business class passengers and oneworld elites. Everyone boarded through door 1L. After presenting my boarding pass, I made my way down the jet to my seat, 6F, a window seat on the right side of the plane.
Each business class seat is equipped with a personal entertainment system, USB port and one universal electrical outlet. The seat controls are located in the center armrest and there are tray tables under the IFE monitor and behind the seat where you can keep your small items such as cell phones and reading glasses close by. Storage-wise, all roll-aboards and carry-on items have to be stored in the overhead bins above.
Waiting at our seats were Bose noise-cancelling headphones, a wrapped blanket and pillow set, water bottle, menu and one of their newly introduced, Cole Haan international first class amenities kit. That’s right. You read that correctly. American Air no longer provides amenities kits for domestic business class flights but for some reason, they were provided on this flight. Someone made a mistake somewhere.
Clearly not intended for trans-con business class passengers, the Cole Haan branded top zip vinyl pouch comes in several colors and can be repurposed for future use. Inside, you’ll find a ton of stuff including very chic looking, American Air branded eyeshades and socks, ear plugs, foam earphone covers, hand and facial products by 3Lab Skincare, a pen, package of tissues, bottle of hand sanitizer and a complete dental hygiene kit including mouthwash.
On this flight, the entire business class cabin was full and there was only one flight attendant working the cabin. As I was getting settled in, the flight attendant came by to offer me a pre-departure beverage of water, orange juice or champagne. Once all the passengers were onboard, we pushed back from the gate and made our way to the runway and began our very short (almost too quick) journey to New York.
Because this was a red-eye flight, most passengers elected to recline their seats right after take-off and fell asleep right away. The lights stayed dimmed during the flight and the flight attendant came by quietly to all the passengers still awake to see if we wanted supper. As tired as I was, I decided to order a meal for you guys. No one wants to read a trip report where the person just sleeps all flight right?
About 10 minutes later, my meal and drink were served all on one tray. Supper included a hummus dip, ramekin of warm nuts, bread roll (on a plate) and my main meal (pan seared crab cakes).
The meal was actually really tasty and the portion size was perfect for this late flight. It was just enough to fill my belly and keep me from being too hungry later. However, I did skip on the dessert to get some shuteye. If this isn’t enough food for you, a snack basket containing fruits, chips, cookies and other snacks was laid out at the front of the cabin for those needing something more to munch on.
After my tray was cleared, I reclined my seat back, settled in for a movie and tried to get some shuteye. These business class seats aren’t bad. They offer 18.5 – 19.5 inches of width and a flat bed length of 75 inches. They are angled towards the windows and are slightly off-set from each other. For additional privacy, there is a tiny fixed divider to separate the two seats.
When reclined, they do go 180 degree lie-flat but in my opinion are not the widest seat nor the longest for that matter. I’m short so it didn’t affect me too much but my seatmate, former pro football player Akbar Gbajabiamila wasn’t so lucky. He kept to himself and tried to sleep the majority of the flight but I don’t think he was as comfortable as I was.
If you need some extra shoulder room, you can lower the outside armrest in bed mode. The armrest does not go down automatically when the seat reclines. Instead, you have to press the button and manually slide the armrest down.
As much as I tried to sleep, I was only able to get a couple hours of interrupted sleep. The cabin was kept really warm and the proximity of my seat to the galley and lavatory made it difficult to sleep. If you are looking for some shuteye, the seats in the first row of the business class cabin (row six) are not great as every time someone goes in/out of the lavatory, the bright light will illuminate in your face. Along with the smell of the lavatory, people congregating in this area and the noise from the galley, you will be better off in a seat a few rows back.
But before I knew it, this quick trans-con flight came to an end. Approximately 45 minutes prior to arrival, the lights were turned on and the flight attendant came by to pick up the Bose headphones. My seatmate who was asleep the whole flight, woke up and asked if there was any food left. He was informed there wasn’t and was left to munching on the remaining items of the snack basket.
Overall, American Air’s A321T business class is not a bad way to get across the country. It’s not the widest or longest seat and doesn’t offer direct aisle access for every passenger but it is a true lie-flat seat and is comparable to the other domestic carriers. The food was delicious but the service was just average and as expected. However, I do appreciate the “first class” touches that business class passengers get on this route such as lounge access, upgraded bedding and Bose headphones.
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Other trip reports in this series include:
- Qantas oneworld Business Class Lounge
- American Airlines A321T Business Class, Los Angeles to New York
- Etihad Lounge at New York JFK
- Etihad A380 Business Class, New York to Abu Dhabi
- Etihad Arrivals Lounge at Abu Dhabi
- Hilton Abu Dhabi
- Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
- Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
- Qantas A330 Business Class, Melbourne to Perth to Sydney
- Qantas Business Class Lounge at Perth
- Qantas First Class Lounge and Spa at Sydney
- Qantas A380 First Class, Sydney to Los Angeles