Note: There’s nothing like the first time. No, I’m not talking about anything along those lines, but 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. Here is my American Airlines First Class Transcon Review! I hope you enjoy this series!
American First Class Transcon Bottom Line
American is the only airline in the United States that offers a true domestic First Class product. The airline only offers it on its specially configured A321T aircraft. They fly between JFK and LAX/SFO, and between BOS and LAX. The seats are some of the best they fly within the US, and the aircraft is the least dense A321 out there. As my first First class experience, it was amazing.
The Good: The glamor of flying first class is awesome. The seat was great, and the food was better than in business. It was very similar to my experience in their old 777 many years ago.
The Bad: Amenity kits were not distributed because they were not loaded. Thankfully, it was an early morning flight and I did need them.
The Noteworthy: Retrospectively, the flight was not as amazing as it could have been, but I still consider the A321T First Class one of the best ways to cross the country (along with JetBlue Mint).
Arrival at LAX
Part of the fun of flying First Class is being able to use Flagship Check-in at LAX. Sadly, the agents there did not want me to take pictures because there were other passengers at the time. Nonetheless, being able to check-in in such a private facility makes you feel like a movie star. As soon as I had checked in, the agent pointed me to one of her colleagues who whisked me to the front of the Precheck line, and at that point, I was on my own.
No Flagship Lounge, Gate, and Boarding
Because of the crazy traffic in Los Angeles, and the fact that I miscalculated how long it would take me to get to LAX, I did not have time to go to the Flagship Lounge. I did not mind tooooo much, mainly because I knew they would be serving breakfast, and I’m not a big breakfast person. Once I was at the gate, there was a surprisingly orderly boarding process. They first called First Class to board, and soon enough, I was onboard the A321.
Cabin and Seat
The A321T is a three-cabin narrowbody aircraft. I believe that it is the only such aircraft in the world. First-class is in a 1×1 configuration, with 5 rows between doors 1 and 2. Business-class is in a 2×2 configuration with 5 rows between doors 2 and 3. All seats in Business and First are fully flat.
Economy consists of 72 seats, with half of them being Main Cabin Extra. This is the least dense A321 I know of, with only 102 seats. As a comparison, some A321s have over 200 seats!
I settled in my seat, seat 2A and began to explore all the controls. The seat itself is very similar to the 777-300ER business class seat. For the most part, it has the same “bones” with some minor different details. Controls are on the window side of the seat, with the IFE control and USB outlets. Legroom is ample and the IFE screen is stored in the seat in front of you. You need to unlock it in order to have it facing you.
Pre Departure and Take Off
As soon as I was settled into my seat, the purser welcomed me aboard and offered me my choice of pre-departure beverages. I chose orange juice and was offered a menu.
About 5 minutes before our scheduled departure, we were ready to leave and the captain came on the PA. He said that our flight would be mostly smooth and that we should expect an on-time arrival. The safety video played, and we taxied to the runway.
We took off with beautiful views of the California coast and turned eastward to New York.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, flight attendants came by to take meal orders. The menu read as follows:
I was surprised to see that this was basically the same menu I had when I flew First Class between Miami and LAX a few years back. I do not like yogurt or fruit, so I just ordered the entree. The Egg Strata was larger than the usual one you get in business class when you fly on domestic hops. I would say it’s the same one they serve on international flights for breakfast. The table was set up with large linen, larger than the one used in business class. The meal was set up in individual plates, not in a tray.
The strata was good, nothing extraordinary, however. I had more orange juice with the meal. For dessert, I ordered a small cake with some chocolate covered cookies.
The meal was not very first class, but the service was attentive and very kind, which is something I don’t often say about American Airlines crews.
The pre-arrival snack consisted of a warm cookie and some packaged snacks. This was the most un-first class meal I have ever had (even since then, I found the meal to be akin to a business class snack service, at most).
The seat is fully flat and more private than the business class seats. You also get a duvet and pillow, which are comfortable and keep you warm. The seat is not the widest out there, and there isn’t any turndown service unlike in the international First class. I was able to sleep for a solid 3 hours since I had not slept very much the night before.
Landing and Arrival
Soon after I ate my warm cookie, the pilot came on the PA system to update us on our arrival. The flight attendants prepared the cabin for landing and thanked each passenger by name for flying with American. We landed about 25 minutes early and were at the gate 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
American’s A321T First class is an improvement to their business class hard product. However, their soft product is still not as nice as JetBlue Mint. I would put their seats about the same as JetBlue’s suites on Mint. However, JetBlue offers free and fast wifi, better food and live TV. I would hesitate to fly AA First if there is a comparable fare on JetBlue Mint.
What do you think? How has your experience on the American A321T First class been? Has the product changed since I took this flight? Let us know!
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews
If you want to stay up to date with the latest airline news follow me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!
Also follow Travel Update and Boarding Area on Twitter!