From Airbus To Megabus: A Trip Of Contrasts
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Villa
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Activities & Dining
Review: Al Maha Bedouin Suite
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Dining
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Activities
Review: Dubai International First Class Lounge DXB
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A320 Dubai To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A380 Doha To London
Review: British Airways First Class A380 London To Los Angeles
Review: British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu
Review: Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport LAX
Review: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles LAX
Review: American First Class A321 Los Angeles To New York
Review: Hilton Austin Airport
American introduced their A321 service between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco a few years ago, and it really is a very sexy, special plane, with just 102 seats. I’ve reviewed their A321 first class service before between New York and Los Angeles, though figured I’d review this flight as well, since it has been over a year, and this was also a breakfast flight, rather than a lunch flight (which means the service is a bit different).
Los Angeles (LAX) – New York (JFK)
Sunday, October 11
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 2F (First Class)
As is the norm, boarding occurred through the forward left door, which leads immediately into the first class cabin. American’s A321 first class consists of a total of 10 seats, spread across five rows in a 1-1 configuration. These are reverse herringbone seats, which is the same business class hard product American has on their 777-300ERs. The way I see it, it’s the world’s best business class hard product.
I had selected seat 2F, the seat on the right side of the second row of first class.
There’s plenty of legroom, and there’s essentially an “ottoman” underneath the TV screen, which also becomes part of the bed when you recline your seat.
Already waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket, which is the same set that American offers in first and business class on all their longhaul flights. While they’re nice enough for business class, I do wish they’d do something to differentiate them for first class.
Also waiting at my seat was a heritage amenity kit, as well as a set of Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones. American recently upgraded these even further from the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 headphones, which is awesome.
Once settled in, the purser came by to offer pre-departure beverages. This guy was a very special “flavor” of flight attendant. He was an older straight guy (at least that’s my assumption based on having overheard him talking about his wife) with an amazing sense of humor, who was also serious about being professional.
“Hey, welcome aboard! What can I get you to drink?”
“Thanks! Water no ice, please.”
Now, I have a tendency to talk really fast, and I was probably talking even more quickly than normal, since I was jetlagged and way over caffeinated. And he called me out on it, which I loved.
“Wow, could you have said that any faster?” For the next several interactions he exclusively talked to me really quickly. Hilarious!
Given what American charges in the market (and that they also have a solid business class product) I really wish they’d improve the soft product on the A321, including serving drinks in glasses rather than plastic cups.
The first class cabin quickly filled up, and then the rest of the plane walked through the cabin to get to their seats. This really is a very impressive plane, as I’m guessing most people haven’t flown on a single aisle plane with just two seats per rows. So there are lots of comments as passengers walked past the seats to economy, as I find to be the norm when in first class.
Once everyone was settled in, the purser came by with the menus for the flight.
At around 5:50AM the cabin door was closed, given that everyone was already aboard. A moment later the captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and inform us of our flight time of 5hr25min, which he anticipated may put us into New York a few minutes late, as that flight time is a bit longer than usual.
We began our pusback at 5:55AM, at which point the safety video began to play.
We made it to runway 25R by 6:10AM, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff. During the first 20-or-so minutes of the flight we had some really gorgeous views as the sun slowly began to rise.
At that point the purser came around to take meal orders. As he got to my seat he said “are you in the business? Is that your real name on the manifest?”
I simply responded with “if I were to have an alias, do you think that’s the name I’d go by?”
The menu read as follows:
And the wine/beverage list read as follows:
One of the nice things about A321 first class is that they have espresso and cappuccino on offer, so I took advantage of that feature and ordered a cappuccino. It was served with a couple of biscotti cookies.
About 20 minutes later the table was set for breakfast. There were two sets of tablecloths — one white and one beige.
To start I was offered a very small fruit plate, along with a choice between a roll and a biscuit from the breadbasket.
The fruit was fine, but American does virtually nothing to differentiate the soft product, which is sort of disappointing.
The biscuits and jam they serve are the same as in domestic first class. Again, if they’re trying to charge several thousand dollars for these tickets, couldn’t they maybe offer some proper preserves?
The next course was a custom made yogurt parfait, which I really enjoyed. You could choose what you wanted in it, which is a very nice touch. Kudos to American for offering that.
For the main course I ordered the bagel with salmon. The salmon itself was decent, though the bagel was hard as a rock, which sort of took away from the enjoyment.
After the main course was served, individual bottles of water were distributed.
Shortly thereafter a plate of sweets was served, which seems highly unnecessary for breakfast, though it was quite tasty.
I worked for the rest of the flight, thanks to the inflight wifi (I have a monthly pass with Gogo). After a few hours of work, we were a bit over an hour out of New York, at which point I could smell the cookies baking in the oven. About 15 minutes later the purser passed through the cabin with milk and warm cookies.
There was also a snack basket available throughout the flight, which was placed in front of seat 1A. It was similar to the snack basket otherwise available on domestic flight, and contained chips, pretzels, cookies, etc.
Before I knew it we were on our approach into New York. I’m pretty sure the purser actually wanted to be a pilot growing up, because I’ve never seen someone so engaged with the approach we were taking into the airport. No fewer than three times he explained that we’d be flying out over the Atlantic, and then making “that 180 degree turn to line up for our approach.”
He reminded us of that several times, including when the seatbelt sign was on, and he said “as promised, we’re out over the Atlantic, and now we’re going to make that 180 degree turn I was talking about earlier. Alrighty then!
We were also informed we’d have an automatic landing, not due to visibility, but rather because I believe they have to test it out every so often. This required turning off all electronics completely during landing.
As we headed out over the Atlantic and then turned back east, we hit a bit of chop on our descent. On the plus side, the views were gorgeous.
We had a smooth touchdown on runway 31R at 3:30PM, and from there it was a roughly 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate at Terminal 8.
We bid farewell to the purser, who was an all around class act.
American first class A321 bottom line
American is the only airline to consistently offer a three cabin first class product between New York and Los Angeles. And a reverse herringbone seat is my favorite kind of business class hard product. So they have that going for them.
That being said, I do find it a bit disappointing that American does so little to differentiate the soft product. A little bit of effort goes a long way. This principle was especially clear on my recent flight between Sydney and Los Angeles on American, where I was blown away by the service. Even though it was only minor differences, the experience felt so much better than other first class flights I’ve taken on American.
It would be nice to see something similar in American’s transcontinental first class.
What do you make of American’s A321 first class product?