Back in 2012, I found myself in the United States and did a transcontinental mileage run on an American Airlines 757 from Miami to Los Angeles and back. Round trip, it set me back the princely sum of US$785.59. Here’s the experience as I reported on it at the time.
I arrived from Washington DC and immediately went to the Gate 15 Admirals Club lounge at Miami Airport. You go up escalators, and then there are three agents all checking people in to the lounge at little desks.
The guy I had scanned my Boarding Pass, and commented it wasn’t allowing me access. He said it was a common problem as my ticket had a British Airways frequent flyer number in it which had no status. As such, the system was declining it. He also selected “Other” (as they had to do in Washington) and I was granted access.
Admirals Club Lounge Miami
The lounge was heaving with people, and there were also people in the overflow area. I was tired by this stage, so only took a couple of pictures. It also would have been inappropriate to be snapping away and catching so many people in the shots.
Before I left the lounge, I went over to the desk agent and asked if the flight was running on time. She said that it looked like it and checked the inbound flight. This was coming in from Boston, which meant it was unlikely there would be a delay.
I said I didn’t mind, and gave her lots of smiles. She had a pink watch on for Breast Cancer awareness month and we had a laugh together then she thanked me for my great attitude. This was the first of many comments like this from the American Airlines employees. My guess is they are catching hell from passengers on a regular basis. All of them were nothing but professional, courteous and fun to me.
At The Gate
Waiting at the gate, I watched all the fun of people going to the desk to check on upgrades and ask about times and so on. Several people were upgraded, including a bunch of actors and TV people who locals seemed to know, but I certainly didn’t. One particular pair must have been VIP as they were escorted on to the aircraft before anyone else and were hidden in the last row of First.
AA1035 – Miami to Los Angeles (MIA-LAX)
8 October 2012
Boeing 757-223 – N694AN
Seat: First Class 4F
Departure: 21:00 (Actual: 22:20), Arrival 23:35 (Actual: 01:00)
Duration: 5 hours 35 minutes
Cruising Altitude: 32,000 feet
Boarding was soon called. First Class passengers are asked to board first (as opposed to “at your leisure” on other carriers) and everyone was down and seated in short order.
The American Airlines 757 First Class Cabin
I did find it odd that we boarded through Door 1 instead of Door 2 as it’s so much easier through Door 2! While the interior probably hasn’t had a design refresh since the aircraft was delivered in 1994, it was clean and well kept. The seat was also very comfortable!
I thought I had the seat next me free, but then a guy came on and asked the guy in the window in front of me to move next to me as he wanted to sit next to his friend. The guy had no problem and sat next to me. First Class was full on this flight.
American Airlines Cabin Crew
Once everyone was seated, a cabin crew member came through with the passenger list, and addressed everyone by name and welcomed them aboard. Unfortunately about 5 people had switched seats, but they weren’t far away and she never stopped smiling. Certain people she made comments about how they fly with us often and that she was glad to see them aboard. Very classy!
After the introduction, she took our drinks orders so they could be delivered once we were in the air. What I noted on both the transcontinental flights was one cabin crew member with a yellow scarf (female) or a yellow tie (male) that had a different uniform to the other crew. I wasn’t sure if this was the lead crew member or not, but I didn’t notice it on the previous flight. The one doing the introductions was a yellow scarf lady (who was amazing and I wish I had her name!)
Professional Crew Dealing With Difficult People
During boarding, one of the actors gave his pillow and cushion to one of his colleagues who was in economy as she was passing by, and a crew member took it off her before she left the first cabin. The passenger in first was very irritated by this and made a bit of a song and dance about it – even though the crew member explained that those amenities are just for first class passengers.
Basically the passenger was a bit of an arsehole and made several snippy comments to the crew member as he passed by during the flight. He asked another crew member (who had had a joke and a laugh with them all) that if she was an amazing flight attendant, to get the pillow and blanket to his friend.
Very professionally she said she would see what she could do (though I knew it wasn’t going to happen) and put him off pleasantly (“Do you know where she is sitting?” “No – but she has a cap on” “I will see if I can find her” – the later, “Can’t find her” – they used more words than this of course!) until eventually he asked for them back for himself much later in the flight. Excellent work from the crew!
More Waiting Around On The Ground
We sat around for a while, and then we had an unusual announcement. They said there were a lot of actors on the flight and it was expected they wouldn’t be bothered for autographs, and that the actors, along with everyone else should turn off their mobile devices as this was now the requirement and to put them in flight mode before turning them off.
At this, he paused, then said to not do this yet, as we weren’t leaving yet as there was a mechanic on board. The crew member taking the drinks orders looked very dismayed at this and immediately went to the forward galley. Clearly something on the American Airlines 757 needed repairing.
Time For Ground Drinks
After half an hour, the cabin crew started the drinks service, with a smile, saying that the time on the ground should be put to good use. We gleaned that something had needed to be replaced, had been replaced, and they were waiting for a supervisor to sign off on the work. I also found out (from big-earing) that the lead crew member didn’t usually fly this MIA-LAX sector. Eventually, the work was signed off and we closed up and had the safety demonstration.
One thing I will note about the American Airlines 757 safety video is that it has employees from various parts of the airline doing various parts of it. They also thank the passengers several times at the end for choosing American Airlines and thank you for flying with American Airlines. Cute!
Another thing I will note is that the TV screen at the front drops down from the roof – one member of cabin crew hit it before we’d even taken off, and a passenger also connected at one stage as well. We took off in short order, and once in the air were given the usual hot nuts and the proper drink service in glass rather than plastic.
The inflight entertainment had already started when the crew realised they had not given out headphones to the first class passengers. It didn’t seem to matter, as most people either had their own or weren’t interested in getting them.
American Airlines 757 Snack Service
The flight was outside of meal times, so it was a snack service. The choice was Asian Pulled Pork on a bed of noodles, or some kind of cheese platter. I went for the Pulled Pork of course, and it was delicious on every level. Such tender succulent meat!
Throughout the meal service, the cabin crew were processing many requests for additional drinks and so on, always with a smile. Actually, the crew, once again, were nothing short of brilliant. I like seeing people so happy in their work, so efficient, quick and who did everything with a smile.
Of Cutlery, Trolleys and Toilets
The American Airlines crew are still putting their trolleys across the front of the aisle to block the area off when the flight crew use the toilets. I had wondered if they were still doing this, and they certainly are.
My cutlery once again was marked quite extensively, so I took pictures as an example. These were clean, but marked, which was no biggie really, though it doesn’t present well.
I just relaxed for the rest of the flight. Visiting the facilities, meant finding an old style toilet with the water flush. On my way back, I chatted to the cabin crew for a minute or two in the first galley. I complimented them on their handling of the demanding passengers and they said it was no problem at all. We chatted about my accent and I had a stretch and got some more water.
The rest of the flight I just relaxed. At the top of the descent, the crew asked everyone in first if there was anything else they required. Most said no. Soon enough we landed in Los Angeles airport. We wandered off to Baggage Claim and eventually I got my bag. The belt didn’t have the flight details on it, so I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. After this, I had to find my way back upstairs to the terminal, I was going to be terminal squatting for the next few hours until the check-in opened for my flight back to Miami.
The flight was very good. The leftover marks on the cutlery looked fairly shabby, as I’ve never seen anything but sparking cutlery on other airlines. I miss the napkin ring around the napkin and cutlery and the lesser quality table cloths. That said, the meal was of very good quality, with the snack being extremely tasty and well worth eating.
The old style American Airlines 757 seats are more comfortable than the new ones, even if they are very dated. The overhead monitors were fine, though the flip down LCD screens are better. I would think the headphones offered in First could be proper headphones as on other carriers, but it’s a minor quibble.
What set American apart in my opinion were the cabin crew. I have never met such a consistent bunch in a row before. All of them worked very hard, ceaselessly ensuring passengers needs were met in a prompt, pleasant and timely manner. They always smiled, some joked, and all of them were a credit to the airline.
And that is how I reported on it at the time. Do you remember flying on an American Airlines 757 cross country back in the day? What was it like? How does my experience compare to things today? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Paul Spijkers on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.