19 Nov - AA 101 - LHR-JFK - in J with pics (along with pics and comparison to DL)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by rwoman, Nov 21, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Hi everyone!

    On a rare occasion, I drove to the airport - while I was departing from T3, I used the T5 Business Parking, as I'd be returning on BA and also wanted to try out the pods they use for transportation - I'll post photos on the LHR thread later.

    19 Nov - AA 101 - LHR-JFK

    I elected to upgrade this flight at the last moment in order to try the AA J product. In the past 6 weeks, I've been in J on both DL (LHR-JFK) and on AF (DXB-CDG), so I have some perogative on the J product. Naysayers can say/post whatever they want in response to this post...I know everyone has an opinion.

    As a bit of background, earlier this year I was thinking about dropping to PM on DL and going for Plat or EXP on AA as OW provides me a lot of options living in the UK to make flights without connections, either in Europe, to the US, or elsewhere. However, as the year progressed, I chose to stay DM. Given some unexpected work travel in December and using AA at Christmas, I will remain a Plat with AA - OW Sapphiare is very useful - I have many of the same benefits I enjoy as a DM - lounge access, FastTrack (at least at LHR T5), etc. :)

    Process of upgrading - I had meant to call AA before leaving Saturday, but life/work got in the way and I did not get to it. Upon arrival at the Admiral's Club in T3, I asked the agent and she immediately went to work on it since there was availability. :) $350 fee, $96 (UK APD), and 25k miles and I went from an aisle in Y to a window in J.
    AA vs DL: AA wins hands down given the high cost of YBM fares on DL and upgrading with miles or an SWU.

    PDB - The FA's came around with water, OJ, and/or champagne The only difference here from DL was drinks were plastic cups vice a real glass. :)
    AA vs DL: Same
    [​IMG]

    Seat comfort -
    Seat - The AA seat was comfortable, but not fully lay flat - it was not easy for me to sleep, and the movement of the chair to different positions too a bit of getting used to. :)

    Pillow - a bit small IMO, but it was functional.

    Blanket- definitely smaller than DL's duvet, but nice and soft!
    AA vs DL: DL. I prefer the DL lay flat seat (I am completely spoiled by the guaranteed layflats on the 764 to/from LHR). That said, I like the AA seat better than AF, the DL A330 (PMNW WBC) seat or, of course, the older BE seats on the 763's...glad not to see them ex-LHR.

    IFE - the system had issues getting started and I had to start a 3 times, which was annoying. The Bose QC15 headphones beat the DL ones, but I'm partial to the QC15s anyway, as I've owned them for awhile. :)

    [​IMG]
    AA vs DL: It's pretty much a draw other than the headphones.

    Food -
    Appetizer - it was ok - salad, shrimp, salmon, and some vegetables. The bread served with the appetizer was not warm or soft and options were limited to white ir wheat.
    [​IMG]

    Entree - I chose the chicken breast with a dijon coating; it was fine, mixed vegetables, and potatoes were decent, but almost too many potatoes.
    [​IMG]

    Dessert - I went with the Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia; it was was good, but I prefer the sundae on DL ... Probably because I've loved that sundae since I first flew in BusinessElite in 2005.

    Prearrival snack- the choice was UNO pizza or chicken in a pita. I went with the pizza, which I thought was so-so. I did not like the topping very much. The salad was good and I really liked the lemon tart!
    [​IMG]

    Beverages - Bottles of water were handed out after the meal service and the FAs came through to check on pax between the meal services. I do not drink alcohol, so have no basis for comparing these drinks or the available wines.

    AA vs DL: Pretty close to a draw, but (IME), DL wins by a hair.

    Overall - My experience on AA was in many ways comparable to my other J experiences on similar routes. As a DM, the purser on DL flights has clearly acknowledged me (priority in selecting menu items)...as a mid-tier on AA, I would not expect this to happen, so it's not necessarily comparable. The crew on my flight was polite and attentive, as I'd expect on a flight in J, but nothing to blow me away.

    I know there a lot of gripes against DL, but they've continued to treat me very well; I also have been treated well by AA, but my experience is still pretty limited to direct TATL flights (AA, BA) and BA within Europe...and I know flying in the US (with upgrades, irrops, etc.) would largely affect my perceptions, be it good or bad. :D As a DM, I typically make sure my domestic flights are DL since I know odds of being upgraded are excellent on the routes I fly (East coast to LAX/SFO).

    Upgrading is "cheaper" in the sense that I paid $660 for my ticket (booked on BA.com) an then used miles and money for the upgrade. I was in BA on the way back and in Y. So, I figure if had been AA both ways, I still would have spent quite a bit if I had upgraded both ways (50k miles, $900 or so in fees/taxes), especially given the value that can be had redeeming AA miles for award tickets. It's not the $$$ that a DL M fare can cost, but I have seen mixed J/Y fares on DL LHR-JFK for $1500; I can also obtain SWU's pretty easily on DL or typically have plenty of miles to use towards an upgrade on the right fare. Given these two scenarios, I would choose DL based on the layflat seat and experience as a DM. At the same time, if the opportunity presented itself, I would not hestitate to upgrade on AA.

    Thanks for reading!

    :)robin
     
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  2. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    And...last but not least, a few pics from NYC:

    [​IMG]

    Lights on:
    [​IMG]

    Chrysler Building from Bryant Park:
    [​IMG]

    Rockefeller Center:
    [​IMG]

    WTC1:
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Thanks for the review! I have never flown an AA 777 but your comment about J seats being not quite flat and being a little quirky in changing positions reminded me SO much of my opinion of the J (and Hawaii F) seats in AA's 763s. which this 6'4" guy has tried to get used to oh-so-many times.

    As for DL having the better dessert because of the sundae, that seemed odd to me - specifically in that AA didn't have the sundae option. I could be wrong, after all, but I thought it was AA that pioneered the premium-class sundae two or three decades ago. Now I read that DL has purloined it over the Atlantic, and you got "stuck" with Messrs. Jerry and Ben!
     
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  4. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    I guess my point is that it's ice cream...if I'm going to eat something bad, it may as well be over the top. :)
     
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  5. Microwave
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    Microwave Silver Member

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    Great TR, thank you for sharing! It's interesting to read your perspective.

    Note that AA Platinum is oneworld Sapphire, not oneworld Emerald. :)

    I believe the surprise is that AA did not also serve their own custom-made sundae. On some flights, they will make you a sundae with vanilla ice cream and your choice of hot fudge, butterscotch or strawberry topping along with nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. You got the slightly less elegant pre-made-ice-cream-in-a-tumbler, which is certainly not the best AA can do.
     
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  6. dmel

    dmel Gold Member

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    Not sure how this translates to TATL flights, as the post was transcon-specific, but I was told on FT that J only gets custom sundaes on dinner flights. I had a lunch flight last week in J and got the pre-made version (delicious still).
     
  7. Microwave
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    Microwave Silver Member

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    I've had it before on an LHR-DFW lunch flight, although it was on a 763 which is catered differently to a 772...
     
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  8. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Just shows you how valuable AA systemwides really are here. Your total cost would be 60 pounds (around $96) for the U.K. departure and nothing more. There would be no extra charge to use them to the U.K. AA systemwides can be used on any published fare.
     
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  9. oiRRio

    oiRRio Silver Member

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    You get the sundae on 763 flights as the food is supposed to be a mix of J and F to compensate for the lack of first on the aircraft. That's why on 763 TATL and South America flights you get the sundae rather than simple ice cream on 777s. Another extra is an optional soup course after the salad. I did 4 int'l J segments last week on 763s all of which had the soup and sundae.
     
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  10. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Oops... :D
     
  11. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    I agree :) ! Thanks for sharing the trip report with us.
     
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  12. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Too bad AA doesn't fly to many places. Good for NRT/LHR/South America. Not much else.
     
  13. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    Shanghai? Beijing? Mainland Europe? India? Long-haul Hawaii?
     
  14. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    How about Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Rome/Paris (on a regular basis), Bombay.

    Long haul hawaii?. LOL. Everyone flies there.
     
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  15. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    You could certainly use UA systemwides to the destinations AA does not fly, but prepare to pay dearly for that privilege. The lowest fare to just get you on the UA upgrade list SFO-SIN is $700 extra, and no refunds if you don't clear by departure. I know someone that's hoping to clear by his January flight. You won't see any of us paying $700 extra at AA just to get on the upgrade list for destinations they do serve. I gave away 7 of my UA systemwides this year and used 2 on an east coast trip. I just would not pay the premium fare to be able to attempt to use them on international. With that in mind, I do find better value with AA systemwides.

    The reality is that AA does not serve as many destinations as UA. You just work with that. I've upgraded either to/from LHR, DUB, and MAD this year all on the lowest available coach fares.
     
  16. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Does AA actually fly to Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Bombay? At a quick glance I see codeshares at best.
     
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  17. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Yes, but I am not retired. I have limited vacation time/personal time. I don't not have time to be shlepping bags and rechecking them, walking though maze of tunnels, having to board busses and trains, and having to endure annoying HM Customs and security, twice if not more than once.

    While you are doing that, I am flying NON STOP, and arriving rested at my destination, on a fully flat seat having breakfast and planning what I am going to do next.

    I truely believe that LHR is hazardous to ones health. If I have to connect though there, I feel as though 1 year from my life span gets taken away. Also it adds a lot of time to your journey time.

    People with plenty of time and don't mind the blood rush and headaches of sleeping slanted for hours, may choose to fly AA and connect at NRT/LHR. I will agree that it is a money saver, but you are paying for it.

    Also, I personally got food poisoning from Steven Pyles food. [ though perhaps its the way grAAndma prepared it in the galley ]
     
  18. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    As you have not mentioned buying up to a higher fare to use UA systemwides, are you buying business class on some other carrier, then? Who is your carrier of choice that you fly nonstop? I don't have the good fortune to be able to buy business class tickets (or have an employer buy them), so not an option for me which is another reason I find those AA systemwides pretty valuable. If there's way to get into business class on your preferred carrier without cost, I'd love to hear about it.

    I was just through LHR two weeks ago on a Lufthansa/UA routing in coach. No problems at all connecting at LHR. That's my typical experience there. Other than reclearing security, which is nothing like TSA in the U.S., no terminal changes involved on this last trip. I've never had to recheck a bag when changing airlines in Europe. Where have you had to do that?
     
  19. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Work trips are usually Business. 5 hours or more.

    Bag change for airlines that don't have interline agreements. The last time was been between Gulf/Aeroflot
    That wasn't fun. In London specifically, beween BA and MH. Aged.

    AA and BA don't operate out of the same terminal. You have to change.

    If BA/AA work for you, then great.
     
  20. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    There were some BA flights that ran out of T3 at LHR for a while, but they may all have been moved to T5 by now. I think the BCN flight was one of those that ran out of T3 earlier this year. I did BRU-LHR-SFO this year but that was all on BA and no terminal change involved (all in T5). My AA systewmide transferred over to BA in this case so I was in business.

    You might have missed my earlier question. If you're not flying AA, who is your primary carrier now? Are you a BA flyer?
     
  21. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    I only fly BA ex-LHR to Europe/Middle East/Asia. It makes sense from London.

    My preferred carrier is Virgin Atlantic (from London), but they don't fly to everywhere from London. I refuse to give any business to AA/BA/IB TATL .
     

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