American Airlines Business Class, JFK -LAX
I recently talked about my experience between London and New York on American Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER, which provided a tremendous upgrade in inflight product across all cabins for the airline. If the 777 is a sign of how far American has come on long-haul routes, the Airbus A321T it now uses for its transcontinental routes is the equivalent for the domestic market.
My first flight on the A321T was from New York JFK to Los Angeles LAX. Taking the morning flight ‘AA1’, we left New York at 09.00 in the morning, arriving at LAX at 11.55 local time.
At the Airport
Having flown into New York the day before, and knowing that my flight was leaving first thing in the morning, I stayed at a JFK airport hotel. The courtesy shuttle dropped us off at the terminal, where I made my way over to American’s Flagship check-in. This is a separate section within the main terminal that has been completely redesigned. It has a few bag drop stations and a seating area in a light space that feels almost Scandinavian in design. There was some confusion whether my business class ticket and oneworld Emerald status granted me access to Flagship, but after a few minutes I was let through. Since I only had carryon, it was mostly to see it with my own eyes anyway rather than use the facility itself.
When you exit the Flagship check-in, you hand over your boarding pass and are taken straight to the front of the queue, which feels very VIP if slightly awkward. A short walk through the terminal is the lounge complex. If you have Flagship access, you are given a card at the main reception which you use to open the frosted glass door to the Flagship lounge, after which there is another dedicated reception. There was a good breakfast spread and lots of natural light.
Boarding and First Impressions
With the introduction of the A321T, American brought a full three-class service to the premium routes New York-Los Angeles and New York-San Francisco. Being used to an Airbus A321 in standard intra-European configuration, it was interesting to see how the interior works when configured the way American does.
In first class, there are five rows of just one seat on each side of the aisle, each converting to a fully flat bed. It’s a very close approximation of the Cirrus seat American now uses on its Boeing 777 in business. In business class, rows are configured 2-2 across between rows 6 and 10, again each converting to a fully flat bed. Half of the economy cabin (36 seats) is configured as Main Cabin Extra with additional legroom, with all economy rows configured 3-3 across.
I was in row 6 in a window seat, sharing the seat pair with a friend. My first impressions were resoundingly positive. The cabin looked fresh, smart, and the space the seat offered was outstanding. Being in the bulkhead, the seat reclines to meet a ledge underneath the large personal video screen. A pillow, fluffy duvet and water were waiting for us, along with noise-cancelling headphones.
My first thoughts regarding the cabin and the seat lasted throughout the flight. I was impressed by the business class seat; it made the 5.5 hour flight literally fly by. Each pair of seats is angled away from the aisle. I would pick the bulkhead seat on the right in row 6 or any seats in row 7 or 8 if I had the choice. If you’re traveling with someone, it’s perfectly spacious while also being easy to chat with each other, but note that if you are in a window seat and the aisle seat is reclined, you will have to step over your neighbour’s legs to get out.
I was also impressed by the size of the personal video screen and the content available. There was a wide range of movies and TV series, with various things I would be happy to watch, which doesn’t happen very often.
Only one real meal is served during the flight. I opted for the smoked salmon and bagel, which I thought was very tasty, but being reasonably hungry it wasn’t quite enough for me. There is a selection of fruit and snacks available throughout the flight. Service was attentive throughout the flight.
We landed at LAX on time. Being in the first row of business class meant we were off the plane quickly. I had a connecting flight so rather than heading for the exit I went to the Flagship lounge.
A great flight. I walked away impressed by the product and service that American offers on this route. The business class product was outstanding for the day flight, allowing me to relax, watch a movie, and arrive at LAX refreshed for my connecting flight.