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Assessment: American Airways A321neo First Class

To kick off our journey to Hawaii, we flew American Airways’ A321neo firstclass from Tampa to Los Angeles. I’ve by no means reviewed American’s A321neo earlier than, so this appeared like a very good alternative, particularly since American not too long ago reinstated pre-pandemic service in firstclass.

For a non-premium transcon flight on American, this ended up being a reasonably nice expertise. It was additionally fairly entertaining, as a result of I swear nearly everybody in firstclass was off-their-rocker drunk. I assume that’s what folks do when touring late at evening on a Friday?

How I booked our American Airways firstclass tickets

Normally once I journey from the East Coast to Hawaii, I choose to attach someplace in the course of the nation, in order that I may fly a large physique plane on an extended phase. For instance, the final time I traveled to Hawaii, I flew an American 777 from Dallas to Maui.

We deliberate this journey fairly final minute, and just about any of the “good” routings weren’t out there in firstclass, or had been prohibitively costly. I finally stumbled upon the next routing in economic system for $350 per individual:

03/04 AA1476 Tampa to Los Angeles departing 8:34PM arriving 11:00PM
03/05 AA31 Los Angeles to Honolulu departing 8:15AM arriving 12:22PM

There have been two issues that made this routing enticing:

  • These flights each seemed ridiculously empty, and I assumed that upgrades had been a close to certain guess; not solely was firstclass empty on each flights, however so was economic system, that means there weren’t many individuals to compete with for upgrades
  • If I’m not going to get a flat mattress, I like the concept of breaking apart the journey on the West Coast, as a result of sitting in a home firstclass seat for 12+ hours straight isn’t nice

The enjoyment of upgrades clearing prematurely

I’ve Govt Platinum standing with American, whereas Ford has Platinum Professional standing. Each of these standing tiers embrace limitless area out there upgrades, although after all the “area out there” half is a serious caveat.

If a flight is lengthy and I don’t suppose an improve is a slam dunk, I normally attempt to discover a solution to affirm a first-class seat, whether or not it’s by paying money (when the premium is cheap), or by utilizing a Enterprise Additional improve certificates.

When an improve clears for me on American, it’s typically simply on the Tampa to Miami route, and sometimes it’s an onboard improve, as a result of there have been no reveals.

I felt fairly assured concerning the upgrades on this itinerary, however nonetheless, you by no means know, particularly if you’re attempting to improve with a companion. The Govt Platinum improve window begins 100 hours out, so I used to be thrilled once I acquired an e-mail at precisely that point informing us that each of our upgrades cleared for each flights — woot!

I don’t bear in mind the final time I’ve acquired an improve this beneficial on account of being Govt Platinum, so I used to be fairly enthusiastic about that.

American Airways firstclass boarding

We obtained to Tampa Airport at round 7PM for our 8:34PM flight to LAX. We had already checked in on-line, so headed straight to Terminal F for our flight. Boarding was scheduled to begin at 7:59PM at gate F81. By the point we had been by means of safety, we had about half-hour to kill.

Tampa Airport (TPA) Terminal F

Whereas there’s an Admirals Membership in Tampa (and I’ve an Admirals Membership membership), my desire is to go to the Precedence Go restaurant within the terminal, which is Cafe by Mise en Place.

Cafe By Mise En Place Tampa (TPA)

The restaurant has chargers, is quieter than the Admirals Membership, and I’ll take a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and a few brussels sprouts over what’s on supply on the Admirals Membership.

Cafe By Mise En Place Tampa (TPA)
Cafe By Mise En Place Tampa (TPA)

At round 7:40PM we headed to the gate, after which boarding began shortly earlier than 8PM. Concierge Key members had been invited to board first (although there weren’t any on this flight), together with anybody needing further time. Top notch passengers and Govt Platinum members had been invited to board subsequent.

American Airways boarding gate Tampa (TPA)

American Airways A321neo firstclass cabin & seats

American Airways Airbus A321neos characteristic 20 firstclass seats, unfold throughout 5 rows in a 2-2 configuration. These are similar to the seats that you simply’ll discover on the American Airways Boeing 737 MAX fleet (and different 737s have been retrofitted with these cabins as nicely).

American A321neo firstclass cabin
American A321neo firstclass cabin
American A321neo firstclass cabin

Whereas it seems like there’s a bulkhead in the back of the cabin if you first enter the airplane, in actuality there’s only a flimsy protect behind the final row of seats, so there’s not likely a lot separation between the 2 cabins.

American A321neo firstclass seats
American A321neo Fundamental Cabin Additional seats

American’s firstclass legroom is first rate(ish). Delta is the king of tight firstclass configurations, so I’d say legroom was perhaps marginally higher than you’d discover on Delta.

American A321neo firstclass seats
American A321neo firstclass seats

Sadly one space the place American most positively can’t compete with Delta is with regards to inflight leisure. As you’ll be able to see, American doesn’t have any seatback leisure. Reasonably the seatback simply has a clip so to place your individual private machine there, in addition to a USB port.

American A321neo firstclass seatback

The seatback had a literature pocket close to the highest, after which a netted pocket (the place you’ll be able to retailer your laptop computer) towards the underside.

American A321neo firstclass legroom

The tray desk prolonged from the far armrest, and might be folded over in half. When folded over in half there was a private leisure machine holder, which you might use to look at a present by yourself machine.

American firstclass tray desk A321neo
American firstclass tray desk A321neo

There was additionally a middle tray, plus a tray between the seats in entrance, so that you’ve got loads of locations to place drinks with out having to make use of your tray desk.

American firstclass middle tray A321neo
American A321neo firstclass seat tray

Beneath the middle armrest was one other storage compartment, which can also be the place the AC energy outlet was.

American A321neo firstclass seat storage
American A321neo firstclass seat energy outlet

I can’t say American is doing an ideal job cleansing planes between flights, although…

American isn’t doing nice with cleansing…

The seat recline button was additionally situated beneath the middle seat.

American firstclass seat management A321neo

Every seat had a person air nozzle, which is a characteristic I certain recognize.

American A321neo overhead console

One beauty of the A321neo is that the airplane has big overhead bins. I discover these to be even larger than the brand new Boeing bins. So you actually shouldn’t have a lot bother discovering area for all baggage, so long as the bins are utilized accurately.

American A321neo overhead bins

There was a bathroom on the entrance of the cabin, which was fairly fundamental. On the plus aspect, it’s higher than the 737 MAX lavs. American doesn’t usually have any premium facilities in bathrooms, since all passengers can use the primary class toilet.

American A321neo firstclass toilet

American Airways firstclass facilities

There’s not a lot to talk of with regards to facilities. There weren’t even pillows and blankets on this transcon flight. The one “thrilling” amenity was pre-departure drinks, which only recently returned, and haven’t in any other case been out there throughout the pandemic. The flight attendant on this flight supplied pre-departure drinks of alternative, and we each simply had water.

American firstclass pre-departure drink

American Airways departure from Tampa

The boarding course of was environment friendly, as there have been solely 88 passengers on the flight (together with all 20 firstclass seats being occupied), that means the flight was ~45% full. At 8:25PM the principle cabin door closed. The captain knowledgeable us that we’d have a flight time of 4hr56min, and will arrive at LAX forward of schedule.

American A321neo firstclass cabin

We ended up pushing again at 8:30PM, at which level the security demo was carried out. Since American doesn’t have TVs on A321neos, there was a pre-recorded audio monitor, after which flight attendants had been within the aisle to manually carry out the security demo.

By 8:40PM we had been cleared for takeoff, and had a reasonably easy climb out. The seatbelt signal was turned off about 20 minutes after takeoff.

American Airways firstclass leisure & Wi-Fi

Let’s begin with the optimistic of American’s inflight leisure. American’s A321neos have Viasat Wi-Fi, which is the most effective within the trade. It’s out there beginning on the bottom, and there are not any information caps if you buy a plan.

American Airways Wi-Fi system

On this flight you might purchase a one hour cross for $19, or a full flight cross for $25. That looks like odd pricing. Luckily I’ve an infinite month-to-month Wi-Fi plan, so I don’t need to pay on a per-flight foundation.

American Airways Wi-Fi pricing

American’s A321neos don’t have private televisions, however there may be streaming leisure out there by means of your individual machine. I can’t say that I’ve ever used this, nevertheless it’s there.

American Airways streaming leisure
American Airways streaming leisure
American Airways streaming leisure

As an alternative I obtained caught up on some reveals I had downloaded onto my iPad, together with “90 Day Fiance: Earlier than the 90 Days.” This season is one thing else… I’m unsure who’s the worst.

American Airways seatback leisure holder

American Airways firstclass meal

American Airways not too long ago introduced again full meal service in firstclass, so I used to be wanting ahead to checking that out. Initially, I used to be impressed {that a} correct dinner was really served in firstclass. Didn’t American used to have an 8PM cutoff for dinner service? So getting one on a flight departing after 8:30PM was a nice shock.

Meal and drink orders had been taken roughly half-hour after takeoff. To eat, the alternatives had been described as rooster piccata with cauliflower mash or cacio e pepe pasta with a smoky purple sauce and greens.

To drink I made a decision to order a Weight loss plan Coke with vodka. I don’t normally drink on home flights (I make exceptions for SkyClub Dom Perignon), nevertheless it was a late evening flight and I hoped to get a nap in, so a drink or three helps with that. Additionally, everybody (together with Ford) makes enjoyable of me for ordering Weight loss plan Coke with vodka, and I simply don’t get it. Anyway…

That was served with heat combined nuts, although I assume ramekins weren’t loaded, as a result of the nuts had been served in plastic cups. I used to be glad to see the return of combined nuts eventually, even when the presentation left a bit to be desired.

American Airways firstclass dinner

A lot to my shock, the meals was first rate. I had the pasta dish, and the pasta was fairly good, and had a little bit of a kick to it. It wasn’t grossly tacky, and even had some grated parmesan on high. The principle course was served with a aspect salad, plus an appetizer consisting of zucchini and different veggies with some kind of a Vinaigrette-esque sauce.

American Airways firstclass dinner

Ford’s rooster was served with a aspect salad and an appetizer consisting of shrimp.

American Airways firstclass dinner

A number of bread was additionally supplied, together with the selection of sourdough, multi-grain, or french.

American Airways firstclass dinner

As soon as trays had been cleared, the selection of both ice cream or fruit & cheese was supplied. The ice cream was a small cup of dulce de leche Haagen-Dazs, whereas the cheese plate had two sorts of cheese, grapes, and packaged sourdough flatbread.

American Airways firstclass dinner
American Airways firstclass dinner

This was a reasonably good meal, and infinitely higher than the “turkey” sandwich that I really feel like I’ve been supplied on American for the previous yr.

American Airways firstclass service

The crew working this flight gave the impression to be fairly junior, and the flight attendant working in firstclass was beautiful. She was attentive, continuously supplied drink refills, and was simply usually pleasant. If solely service had been all the time this good on American.

OMG, the gang on this flight…

I nearly all the time take early morning flights, as a result of I’m a morning individual. The departure time of this flight is ideally once I’m normally in mattress. So it’s uncommon that I take a late evening flight, a lot much less a late evening flight on a Friday.

However my gosh, I can’t even start to explain what number of drinks folks on this flight had been having, and admittedly I’m shocked they didn’t run out of alcohol. Virtually everybody was simply out-of-their-mind wasted. No one was behaving poorly, or something, however so many individuals had been simply hilariously drunk.

The man seated behind Ford will need to have ordered 5 scotch doubles within the first half of the flight. The man behind me saved attempting to order tequila, solely to be advised that they don’t have tequila. However actually two minutes after being advised there was no tequila he’d ask about tequila once more. Additionally, I don’t understand how typically the man dropped his cellphone throughout the flight, nevertheless it was like clockwork.

After which there was the man in entrance of me who saved quizzing flight attendants over essentially the most random issues. And I’m not simply speaking about asking one thing as soon as, however badgering. For instance, on strategy he urgently stopped a flight attendant to ask why they dim the lights for touchdown. That’s a good query on the floor, however he didn’t simply ask as soon as, however repeatedly.

“Excuse me, are you able to inform me why they simply turned off the lights for the primary time?”
“It simply comes all the way down to the flight attendant’s desire.”
“Properly yeah, however why do they do it?”
“It’s simply if the flight attendant needs to.”
“However why haven’t the lights been dimmed till now, although? I simply don’t perceive.”

This dialog will need to have gone on for a full minute, with him simply asking the identical questions time and again. Sarcastically the flight attendant didn’t even appear to know the proper reply — it’s not even flight attendant desire, it’s simply commonplace to dim lights for a nighttime touchdown in order that it’s simpler to see outdoors.

And by the best way, I’m not in any manner judging peoples’ alcohol consumption, it’s simply not one thing I’ve seen typically on the flights I normally take. And for that matter I had just a few drinks as nicely, and slept gloriously for the final three hours of the flight (although hopefully in any other case didn’t act like a idiot), which just about by no means occurs for me if I don’t have a mattress.

We ended up arriving at LAX nicely forward of schedule at 10:35PM, at gate 46B. From there it was off to the Hyatt Regency LAX for the evening.

Backside line

I’ve gotta say, this was a reasonably good American Airways firstclass flight. My improve cleared, it was good to see the return of pre-pandemic meal service and pre-departure drinks, and the flight attendant working the cabin was pleasant.

In fact American’s home configurations aren’t precisely nice, given the shortage of TVs, and lack of facilities. Nonetheless, no less than American has excessive pace Viasat Wi-Fi, which I discover to be glorious. If all my American flights had been this good I’d be a really glad camper.

In case you’ve flown American’s A321neo firstclass, what was your expertise like?

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