American Airlines First Class JFK-LAX
I booked this flight last minute as a result of a Tweet I had seen the day before. When I had gotten home from school on Friday, I checked Twitter. That’s when I came across a Tweet from a popular aviation account with pictures of American Airlines’ brand new first class lounge at New York-JFK. So, I decided that I’d blow a few thousand AAdvantage miles and experience the lounge first hand. The cheapest route that I could book was American’s Flagship First Class flight from New York-JFK to Los Angeles at 50K AAdvantage miles.
That’s the purpose of this trip. I wanted to take a look at the days old American Airlines International First Class Lounge at New York’s JFK. I guess the flight between New York and Los Angeles just happened to be a bonus. Of course, just because my intention of this trip was for a lounge review, doesn’t mean I’ll leave out the flight. American Airlines First Class JFK-LAX service is fantastic and one of my favorite flights to take. From a fully lie-flat seat to a phenomenal dinner service, American’s Flagship First Class from coast-to-coast is one of a kind.
|Departure City/Time||New York-JFK/6:18PM|
|Arrival City/Time||Los Angeles-LAX/9:04PM|
|Cabin of Service/Seat||First/5F|
My flight from Boston arrived at New York-JFK roughly six hours before my flight was set to board. So, in order to get the full Flagship First experience, I decided to exit the secured area and use the Flagship check-in service to kill some time.
Flagship First Check-in is nestled to the far right of Terminal 8. It’s extremely private and exclusive. Only international first class passengers on American Airlines and select premium cabin passengers on Oneworld carriers and Concierge Key holders can use Flagship First Check-in. Additionally, passengers in first class flying between JFK and LAX/SFO can use Flagship First Check-in.
I presented my ticket to the agent at the podium. The agent had my name on the list and I was welcomed into the check-in area. I was the only one using Flagship First Check-in. There were two agents at two of the three podiums and a few kiosk to the right, more than enough agents and kiosks to handle the passengers that have access. I inquired about changing to an earlier flight. However, I was informed that my fare class was not available on anything earlier, so I was offered the option to standby. I decided that I’d consider the option to standby and if I decided to stand-by, I’d inquire with an agent at the lounge.
After checking in, I exited the check-in area. Just outside the check-in area was another agent who took my carry-on bag and brought me through security. The agent brought me to the very front of the TSAPre line. I received some pretty nasty looks from other passengers for cutting the line. Nasty looks aside, I loving a taste of what it must be like to be a celebrity.
New American Airlines First Class Lounge JFK
I made it through security in roughly a minute, maybe under forty-five seconds. Once I made it through security, I proceeded to the brand new International First Class Lounge (previously known as the Flagship Lounge). I wrote a pretty extensive review on the new lounge, so I’m not going to go into much detail about the lounge. The full review can be read here.
The lounge is a much-welcomed upgrade over the old Flagship Lounge. It’s also much large, but that’s because of new lounge access policies that will go into effect in the coming months. For now, the lounge is gigantic offering a plethora of seating options. Additionally, there’s a pretty hefty buffet and tons of booze.
I also decided that I’d standby for the six o’clock non-stop to Los Angeles. The agents at the lounge were able to put me on the standby list for the flight. They also informed me of my placement on the list. For some unforeseen reason, I stayed put at number one on the standby list the entire evening. Not a single elite bumped me down the list.
As previously mentioned, I chose to standby for an earlier flight. I booked the non-stop between NYC and Los Angeles departing at 8 PM which meant that I’d have to spend over six hours at JFK. Luckily, the non-stop departing at 6 PM had five first class seats open. So, I stood by for that flight and managed to get on.
Unfortunately, this meant that I boarded the aircraft nearly dead last which I hate doing. However, I still managed to get some fantastic shots of the first class cabin.
The second I got settled into my seat, the flight attendant came down the aisle with a tray of champagne and water. To my surprise, the pre-departure beverages were served in a glass container rather than the typical plastic cups. The flight attendant who served the beverages was very professional, however, not the friendliest.
I of course opted for water. However, it was really necessary as a large bottle of water was waiting at my seat. Menus were also distributed before departure.
The flight was briefly delayed for a variety of reasons. The first delay was the result of two coach passengers frantically storming up the aisle after realizing they didn’t have their credit cards. The flight attendants had to once again, disarm their doors and reopen the forward entry door. It turned out that they had their credit cards all along and didn’t even get off the aircraft. The second delay was the result of high volume at JFK. However, the delays totaled roughly fifteen minutes and didn’t warrant any updates from the flight deck.
Soon, American Airlines flight 83 had made its way to the runway. The nearly six-hour transcontinental crossing had begun.
American Airlines AA83
The flight was completely full, and you could tell. The Airbus a321-200 ate up the majority of the runway and was slow to climb out of JFK. Though slow to climb, takeoff was smooth, and we didn’t encounter any rough air until well into the flight. However, once we encountered the rough air, it was pretty much off and on for the entire flight. Additionally, our flight fought a 100mph+ headwind once we made past the Appalachian Mountains.
Soon after takeoff, the purser came by and took meal orders. My pre-ordered meal, of course, didn’t show up on the passenger manifest as I had switched flights. However, there were no shortages of meals. I was also the first to receive a meal even in 5F due to American’s system of taking meal orders first on westbound flights.
Once dinner orders were taken, the purser then came back with my soda and a ramekin of warm nuts. Soon after, the dinner service commenced. A white table cloth was laid upon my tray table, and condiments, silverware, and bread were distributed.
Flagship First Class Dining Experience
Full menus and more at The Unaccompanied Flyer
The following menu was available during my flight from New York-JFK to Los Angeles.
I ordered the crab sushi roll. It was less of a sushi roll and more of a rice roll. The rice was a tad mushy. However, the crab was phenomenal. The sauce that accompanied the rice roll was also tasty. Overall, it was a pretty hefty and enjoyable start to my dinner.
The next course was a salad. The salad was the same salad that I had nearly a year ago on my flight between New York and San Francisco. I’m not a big fan of beets, so the salad was just okay. However, the balsamic dressing helped take away the overpowering taste of beets. It was at this time that I mowed down the rest of my pretzel roll which was simply amazing. The roll was soft, warm, and tasted just like a pretzel.
For my main course, I went with the beef oscar minus the veggies. The main course consisted of filet mignon topped with lobster, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and asparagus. The brussel sprouts and asparagus was enough green stuff for me, so I opted to pass on the side of veggies.
I was surprised by how tender the steak was. It was also quite flavorful and moist. The lobster, however, was a bit underwhelming. Additionally, the potatoes, brussel sprouts, and asparagus were all quite flavorful.
Once I finished my main course, the purser came by to take my dessert order. There were three options for dessert, but I opted for the ice cream sundae. The sundae was topped to your liking. I went with butterscotch topping, nuts, and a dab of whipped cream. Needless to say, dessert was amazing.
Shortly after dessert, I noticed I was feeling a little tired. To combat a day of flying, I ordered a cappuccino. On American’s Airbus a321 Transcon, espresso is offered to first and business class passengers. Straight espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes are available onboard. My cappuccino was pretty good; it wasn’t coffee shop good, but it was Starbucks good. I also got a biscotti to accompany my after dinner drink.
All-in-all, dinner was great. It certainly wasn’t the best meal I’ve had on that route, but it was by no means a letdown. The sushi was great, the filet mignon was cooked perfectly, and dessert was fantastic. The flight attendants were also quick to refill drinks, clear old courses and get the next course out as soon as possible. The crew was also professional throughout the entire meal service, answering other passenger’s questions about the dinner service.
American Airlines Airbus a321T First Class Seat
American Airlines First Class JFK-LAX service boasts one of the best domestic first class products in the industry. Though not my favorite (that’s JetBlue Mint Class 😉 )it’s my second favorite seat. Offered on the Airbus a321T and Boeing 777-300ER, it’s the same product found on Cathay Pacific’s award-winning business class. The seat is comfortable and private. It’s an all around great transcontinental first class product.
This seat is probably my favorite premium hard product offered by American Airlines. As I said, it’s super comfortable and fairly private. I prefer cloth seats in business and first class lie-flat seats over leather. It’s easier to sleep on cloth seats in my experience. The cushioning on these seats is also super thick and cozy. I’ve accidentally slept through an entire flight between New York and LA once because I let the lie-flat get the best of me.
Privacy, as I mentioned is also fantastic. There are only ten first class seats on the Airbus a321T, and any seat feels very private You have to go to great lengths to look at your neighbor. It might not offer a sliding door like JetBlue Mint Class, but it’s private nonetheless. Additionally, the flat-bed is pretty long and can easily accommodate someone on the tall side. Legroom is a non-issue and seat width is fantastic.
Storage is also more than adequate for such a short flight (usually under six hours). It’s also fitted with the latest in-flight entertainment. Overall, a fantastic first class product.
In-Flight Entertainment, Wi-Fi
As I mentioned above, American’s first class product on the Airbus a321T features the latest in-flight entertainment. The focal point of the in-flight entertainment system is, of course, the generously sized touchscreen mounted in the seat in front of you. You can control the system via touch or via the handset. At times the system can lag a bit, however, this time around, it worked fine.
The in-flight entertainment system featured the latest movies and TV. However, the music selection was slightly dated. I watched the latest release of Ghostbusters and caught a few episodes of Vice and The Big Bang Theory.
Additionally, noise canceling Bose headsets were provided for most of the flight. I passed on the Bose headsets in favor or my Marshall Monitor Headphones.
I also bought a Go-Go Wi-Fi flight pass just prior to departure. I paid a little over $20 for the entire flight which is a little steep, however, nothing extreme. A full flight pass on this flight once went for over $40! I ran a few speed tests on the wi-fi during the flight. However, it seemed to be off. The wi-fi allowed me to stream music on Spotify (shoutout to my friends’ band Jeske Park!) and finish some assignments. I also manage to get some wi-fi calls in. According to the speed tests, I did all that with 1 Mbps of download and less than 1 Mbps of upload speeds. With all that I was able to do in-flight, I’d say the flight pass was worth it this time around.
The flight attendants were very professional for the entire flight. The majority of the crews was somewhat cold, though, again not unprofessional in any way. The service was a little robotic. However, there was one flight attendant that was super friendly and obviously enjoyed what she did for a living. Overall the crew was great and was quick to respond to the requests of passengers.
In addition to Bose noise canceling headphones, small earbuds, a duvet, and pillow, and a Cole Haan amenity kit were provided to first class passengers.
The Cole Haan amenity kit was an all around great amenity kit. The amenity kit features CO Bigelow amenities (lip balm, lotion, and mouthwash), a dental kit (toothbrush, toothpaste), socks, eye mask, a pen, headphone covers, and some tissues. That’s more than enough for a transcontinental flight. The design and contents of the amenity kit are fantastic for a flight that’s typically under six hours.
Though not the best Flagship First flight I’ve experienced, it certainly wasn’t the worst. I say it wasn’t the best not because of anything the crew did and not because of the amenities offered onboard but more because I didn’t let it be one of the best flights I’ve ever taken. I was super tired and by the end of the flight, was fighting to stay awake. However, the crew, dinner service, first class seat, and amenities on American Airlines flight 83 were all phenomenal. It only solidified American’s position as the second best premium class product from coast-to-coast. I can’t wait till my next trip in Flagship First Class. Make sure to check out the review of the lounge that made me take this trip as well. Read it here!