American Airlines A321T Flagship First Review Bottom Line
My American Airlines Flagship first review from one of my very first mileage runs set the standard for future domestic transcon flights. Since then, JetBlue Mint has outdone American Airlines Flagship First at substantially more affordable prices. Nonetheless, Flagship First offers a more comfortable ride than most other airlines’ business class.
American Airlines A321T First Class on red-eye flights is a world of improvement compared to their other transcontinental flights. Not only do you get a full meal, but you also get a lie-flat seat to rest in. The crew was quite efficient, although not outstanding or proactive. The amenities were similar to the ones I got on my first A321T First class flight. I appreciate the exclusivity of the cabin, but SFO’s lack of a Flagship Lounge makes it a bit of a meh experience.
The Good: Private Cabin, with only 10 seats. A full meal on a redeye flight.
The Bad: Lackluster amenities and no special treatment at SFO.
The Noteworthy: We had such favorable tailwinds, we flew at almost 700 mph. That’s just 70 mph shy of the speed of sound!
Note: There’s nothing like the first time. No, I’m not talking about anything along those lines, but it was my first time flying First Class. I always dreamed about writing up this trip report, but for a few years, I lost the SD card with all the photos. I will make a “throwback trip series” about the few flights I took on that occasion. Most of them have since evolved, and I will try to note where they have changed. I hope you enjoy this series!
Arrival at SFO
I flew in from my LAX flight on their E175s. The flight was good, but nothing special. I do like the E175s because of the single-seat on the A-side, similar to what awaited me on the A321T First class. The Admirals Club at SFO is very homey. With its fireplace, trees, and tarmac views, I enjoyed my stay there. It is worth noting that there is no special treatment for A321T first-class passengers at SFO. All you get is access to the Admirals Club. I would have appreciated something more, along the lines of a free meal.
Boarding was done very quickly, as the flight was not very full and the A321T only has 102 seats. The aircraft has three cabins, with 10 seats in first, 20 in business class, and 72 in economy. Each cabin is located between certain doors. First between 1 and 2, business between 2 and 3, and economy between 3 and 4. As soon as I boarded the flight, the FAs welcomed me and showed me to my seat: 2A.
Seat and Cabin
The First class cabin on the A321T is made up of 5 rows 1×1. There are a total of 10 seats, and they are very similar to the ones on AA’s 777-300ER and A330s. They are similar to open suites, but feel more exposed than most open suite seats. There is a small side table and a storage compartment on the window side of the seat. In the compartment, there was an amenity kit and a water bottle waiting for me. The water bottle would come in handy on the red-eye flight.
Seat controls, reading light, and IFE control are all on the same panel, with power outlets and USB power ports. Legroom is ample, but the foot cubby is a bit narrow and small. The IFE screen is locked in the seat in front of you for taxi, take off, and landing.
Waiting at my seat were a large pillow and plush duvet. There were no mattress pads available. An amenity kit was waiting for me in the side console. It is one of my favorite amenity kit series, the legacy American sets. On this flight, they gave passengers the Reno Air edition. The flight attendants also handed out menus and Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Departure and Take Off
While most of the other passengers were boarding, the flight attendant who would be working First Class came by and offered pre-departure beverages to passengers. Unlike in my previous flight, they offered the whole drinks selection. I ordered orange juice, but the passenger seating behind me ordered sparkling wine.
When we were ready for departure, the pilot came on the PA system to advise us of our flying time, an anticipated early arrival due to good tailwinds, and that the flight would be smooth. The safety video played and we pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule.
As soon as we leveled off, the flight attendants came by and set the table for abridged dinner service. On red-eye transcon flights, American offers a small dinner service, much smaller than what they offer on their usual dinner flights. The menu read as follows:
First, drinks were served and warm nuts were brought out. This was followed by a corn chowder, which tasted much better than it looked.
For my main course, I had the stuffed chicken. It tasted good but it was a small portion. I was also disappointed at the presentation, with the sauce presented in an aluminum foil cup. Not very “first-class” in my opinion.
The Pre-Arrival snack was a peach smoothie (which tasted like medicine) and a warm scone. I ordered some coffee as well.
I was able to sleep a solid 3 hours on the flight. The bedding provided by American in their A321T First Class is much like what you’d get in their business class internationally. The cabin was kept cold and this also helped me snooze.
Notes on Service and Wifi
The crew was okay on this flight. They were kind and somewhat attentive, but as soon as dinner was over, they were gone. I did not see them walk through the cabin again until breakfast.
The wifi was relatively fast, as I would imagine with no one else using it.
Landing and Arrival
Since we were flying at about 700mph, our new scheduled arrival time was over 30 minutes ahead of schedule. We landed without issue with the sun just peeking up the horizon. We were at the gate in under 10 minutes and I was at the Flagship Lounge 5 minutes later.
American Airlines A321T First class is not amazing. Having been one of my first times flying first class, I was impressed by everything. Since then, I have realized that American’s First class is good, but not to the level of many other international airlines’ business class (let alone first class). Would I fly American’s First-class again, sure but only for a reasonable price. I would not pay too much of a premium to fly them above their business class.