Background and Booking

After my trip to South Korea and Taiwan, I spent a few days in Southern California before heading back to New York City. I was originally booked from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK) on the American A321T in business for 26.5k AA miles (plus $5.60), but a day before my flight I saw mileage prices drop for the nonstop from Orange County (SNA). Since Orange County was a lot closer to where I was and the flight time was preferable, I decided to book Orange County to New York for 30,000 American AAdvantage Miles (plus $5.60). Plus, the aircraft type would be the exact same (A321T) as SNA gets this premium plane with First, Business, and Economy Class Cabins.

First Class was only 7,500 miles more, but I have a low balance at American, and I wasn’t going to have time to take advantage of the Chelsea Lounge access upon landing at JFK, so I passed on upgrading to first. Not much is different in First compared to Business, other than 1-1 seating versus 2-2. The food is pretty much the same, and so I didn’t give up on much. If I had lots of time to spare upon landing, I might have taken the jump to have a nice meal at the Chelsea Lounge. If you’re curious about First Class, I flew it out of Orange County in January and reviewed it here.

Flight Details

American Airlines 2459
Orange County (SNA) to New York (JFK)
Scheduled Duration: 5 hours 17 minutes
Actual Duration: 5 hours 57 minutes
Class: Flagship Business
Aircraft: Airbus A321T
Seat: 10C

At the Airport and Admirals Club Visit

Orange County Airport (John Wayne) is the smaller size, and very easy to navigate. The terminals (A, B, C) are all connected post-security in a straight line and offer 22 gates. My American flight left from Terminal A. I didn’t have any bags to check, so when I arrived I headed straight to the TSA Precheck line, which was empty. Then, it was off to the Admirals Club!

I previously reviewed the Admirals Club back in January and was happy that it was emptier this time and I was able to sit at a proper table. Overall, the lounge is quite small given the space limitations at the airport, and food options were quite limited (and unfortunately the exact same food offerings as my last visit). For drinks, they do have a lot of paid options, but also a complimentary option for each type of spirit and wine/beer. Nonetheless, it still beats waiting at the gate area. When flying American Airlines Flagship First or Business, you’ll be able to access the Flagship Lounges, but SNA is much too small to have one. So, the lounge experience is better at Los Angeles (LAX) as they do have a nice Flagship Lounge.

people sitting in a room with chairs and tables

Admirals Club at SNA

AA A321 Transcontinental Aircraft

One of the coolest plane configurations in my opinion, the American Airlines Airbus A321T contains a very premium heavy seatup which makes the plane feel both boutique and exclusive. Once you board the aircraft, you’ll pass the Flagship First Cabin with 10 seats spread across 5 rows in a 1-1 configuration. If you’re curious about Flagship First, here’s my review from January. Next, you’ll pass Flagship Business Class Cabin which has 20 lie-flat business class seats across another 5 rows in a 2-2 configuration. Lastly, the Main Cabin has 36 seats for Main Cabin Extra and 36 Main Cabin Seats in a 3-3 configuration. The 3 cabin setup with just 102 passengers makes for quite an exclusive flight.

Currently, you can fly on this aircraft between Los Angeles (LAX) and Boston (BOS)/New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO) and New York (JFK), Orange County (SNA) and New York (JFK). American is supposed to be getting new A321XLRs without a First Class, but nicer Business Class suites starting at the end of the year, so this particular configuration is supposed to start being retired once the A321XLRs come into service. If you want to give the A321T a try, you should hop on sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed that the new A321XLR serves this Orange County (SNA) to New York (JFK) route. 

Orange County to New York American Airlines A321T

American A321 Transcon

A fun fact for me is that I had previously flown on this tail number (N116AN). This was the first time this has happened to me, which was kind of surprising as American Airlines only has 16 A321T’s in their fleet, and it took me 11 flights to finally fly on the same plane. Perhaps my new goal is now to fly on all 16. We will see if I can before it’s retired!


Our departure time was 2:10 PM, and boarding commenced 30 minutes before departure. Business class boards in group 2, after First Class. Once onboard, the flight attendant came out with a welcome beverage of orange juice, water, or champagne.

The doors closed at our scheduled departure time, and the pilots were working hard to get us to leave as New York was facing some rain and was holding aircraft at their origin airports.

Interestingly, when we got on the runway to take off, there was a balloon on the runway, so we waited for an extra few minutes to get the go-ahead to proceed to our take off. We took off shortly thereafter, about 25 minutes after our scheduled departure time.

Since I booked so last minute, the only two seats left were in the last row, 10, and both were aisle seats. I’ve actually only flown on this aircraft with window seats, so this was a bit exciting as it forced me to try out the aisle seat. The business-class lavatory is located in front of row 6.

a seat in an airplane from Orange County to New York

Row 10 Business Class

The Flagship Business Class Seat

In terms of charging your devices, there is a power outlet, as well as a USB port. A water bottle and amenity kit branded by Detroit-based Shinola were waiting in the seat cubby. The amenity kit was a bag with a zipper, which is actually a decently nice bag. I have blue ones, but this is the first light grey one I’ve collected. There were earplugs, an eye mask, socks, body lotion by D.S.& DURGA, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a mini pen.

Also, waiting at my seat were Bang & Olufsen headphones which were of good quality once I swapped out a new headset. The first headset I got had bad sound quality, so I asked the flight attendant for a new one and that fixed the problem. Ironically, on my last flight on the A321T, I had the same issue in First. So perhaps the headsets need some replacing, but when they work they are quite good.

a bag and bottle in a seat

Shinola Kit, B & O Headphones, and Water Bottle

a pair of headphones on a table

B & O Headphones

Seat Comfort

In regards to the 2-2 configuration, it offers less privacy than flying on a widebody with a 1-2-1 configuration. The same lie-flat business class seats (B/E Aerospace Diamond) are also featured on Delta and United 757’s. Being in the aisle seat this time, I did notice that the aisles were quite wide, and I didn’t feel super close to the person across the aisle from me. But of course, since there isn’t direct aisle access from the window seat, your seatmate would have to hop over you. They can hop over you without having to get out of your seat, and my seatmate at the window did so twice during the flight. Especially if you are in the lounging position and not completely lie-flat, it’s not completely awkward.

The lie-flat function on this aircraft works nicely and offers a bed length of 6 feet 3 inches. Since it was an afternoon flight, I never really utilized the completely flat position, and I found it quite comfortable to lounge in. I mostly watched movies and happened to take a quick nap in the reclined position.

One of the highlights is the Casper bedding provided. A nice plush pillow is provided, as well as a full-sized blanket. I feel, that the Casper pillow is much better than the pillows provided by Delta and United.

In-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi

The seat back IFE is 15.4 inches and was pretty clear and crisp. While there were numerous movies, shows, and games to choose from, it seems I have flown on American too much recently and have exhausted my movie/TV show options.

a tv on a board a flight from Orange County to New York

IFE Screens

a screen with a map on it

Map Function

In terms of Wi-Fi, it is $19 for a one-hour pass and $25 for a flight pass. If you fly a lot, a 1 device monthly subscription was $49.95 a month for one device or $59.95 for two devices. Alternatively, you could also watch an ad and get 20 minutes of free WiFi. On the plus side, T-Mobile customers can get free Wi-Fi. With regards to speed, it was quite quick and probably one of the flights I’ve been on recently with the fastest Wi-Fi speeds.

The Flight

After reaching cruising altitude, the lunch service commenced. The flight attendant came by with a hot towel and drinks. Then the mixed nuts arrived.

a bowl of nuts and a glass of liquid

Mixed Nuts and Drink

Lunch Meal Service

The menu on this flight featured four main entrees: Barbecue Short Rib, Spinach and Gouda Stuffed Chicken, Greens & Seafood Bowl, and an Artichoke Ravioli. I was a bit sad to not see the Sea Bass, which I’ve ordered a few times and really enjoyed. Anyway, I decided to try the Spinach and Gouda Stuffed Chicken for my main entree.

a menu onboard Orange County to New York

April 2024 Flagship Business Menu (Transcon Eastbound)

First, the salad and a cold small plate came out. I found the Lemon Rosemary Chicken to be too dry, so I didn’t have too much of it. The salad was decent, and I liked the yellow tomatoes that came with it. A bread basket came out as well.

a plate of food on a tray

Lemon Rosemary Chicken Small Plate & Seasonal Greens Salad

Main Entree

Next, the main entree arrived, and I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation. The grilled polenta was decent, and the tomato sauce was tasty. I found the chicken to be quite flavorful, and while I took out a good amount of the stuffed gouda since I’m not a big cheese person, the chicken itself was still juicy. Overall, a solid main entree, especially for a domestic flight.

Orange County to New York business class meal

Spinach and Gouda Stuffed Chicken


For dessert, I had to get the Ice Cream Sundae, as American makes an amazing one with Haagen Dazs Ice Cream. I flew United Polaris earlier in the year, and their Ice Cream Sundae was much worse.

a glass cup of chocolate pudding with nuts on a plate

Ice Cream Sundae

After the main meal service was completed, they dimmed the cabin lights, which was around 2.5 hours after our departure.

There were snack baskets placed in front of Row 6, offering items like chips, olives, and more. It was hard to see when the cabin lights were dimmed, so I happened to grab some olives but they ended up quite tasty.

And, before landing, the flight attendant came by with chocolate cookies which is a nice pre-arrival snack. She also asked if I wanted anything to drink, so I added some tea to go along with the cookie.

a cookie and a cup on a tray

Chocolate Chip Cookie & Tea


Service on this flight was pretty good as far as US carriers go. Having just come from Asia and flying on the likes of EVA and Asiana, I had to obviously manage my expectations. But, they were relatively attentive and friendly. While I had put my large coat in the coat closet in front of the business class cabin myself, the flight attendant did remember and delivered it to me upon landing.

There’s 1 lavatory in the front of the business class cabin, and when I used it, it was clean. While not the most modern (no automatic sinks) or any amenities, it got the job done.

a bathroom with a sink and toilet


The Verdict

Overall, I had a solid flight from Orange County to New York on American’s A321T aircraft in business class. Having a lie-flat on this transcon allows for an easy ride, and the time goes by quite fast. The food on this flight was good for a domestic route, and I loved the ice cream sundae. Flying from Orange County (SNA) is way less hectic, and I love that this option is available. Hopefully, I get to fly on this route again before the A321T’s get retired, and I also hope that the new A321XLRs get assigned to this route.


Have you flown on the American’s lie-Flat Business Class from Orange County to New York on American’s A321T? How was your experience? Comment below!




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