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AA International First: What's up (why are some complaining?)

AA International First: What's up (why are some complaining?)

Old Dec 21, 19, 6:49 pm
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AA International First: What's up (why are some complaining?)

Ben from One Mile at a Time didn’t have a great time on AA Flagship First. The follow up contains FA viewpoints, most of which were in the “huh?” category for me. United appears in the comments.
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Old Dec 21, 19, 7:50 pm
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Originally Posted by djmp View Post
Ben from One Mile at a Time didn’t have a great time on AA Flagship First. The follow up contains FA viewpoints, most of which were in the “huh?” category for me. United appears in the comments.
What’s up is AA three class or “Flagship First”, while a decent but certainly not cutting edge or leading hard product, is a crAApshoot as to service. It’s not even strikingly different in food and beverages from Business. Sometimes one has a top notch cabin crew, and I’ve had some memorable flights, but sometimes not. In my experience, the good crews are slightly outnumbered by the burnouts who should have taken up other work while it was economically feasible to do so.

A “not” crew of two will find it difficult to personalize or provide service to eight passengers on a long haul flight, will serve food and beverages in a desultory and impersonal manner and will retreat into the galley - which as often or not becomes a late night chat parlor for several flight attendants and deadheading crew excited about their shopping finds in Hongkers, etc.

Some of the FA comments there - those crabbing about adults not making their own beds, etc. - seem to emanate from the “not” crew members.

Additionally, it appears AA bargained away the right to have on-board supervision of cabin crew. An AA “Purser” is merely a crew member who is paid a pittance to prepare the necessary cabin paperwork, so there’s no one responsible for the overall provision of cabin service, unlike, say, British Airways, Qantas or Cathay Pacific.

While this may be tolerable to those who must purchase travel on US based airlines or those upgrading, and that may be dubious, it’s uncompetitive with even AA’s own joint business partners.

Frankly, I’d see no reason to spend for Flagship First on one of American’s 20 777-300ER over Business Class, nor would I spend miles and money to do so. (I did use SWU to upgrade to AAFF a few times, but if I hadn’t I’d have unused SWU expire.)
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Old Dec 21, 19, 8:13 pm
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I have to assume it all depends on the crew as JDiver and others have said. The hard product is not the best, but also not alone in its missing elements.

I fly F on the 77W 1-2 times a month out of LAX. A few paid this year and the rest with SWU. I have had zero crew issues although from what I have heard, the bad LAX crew members choose HKG more often which I am on much less. Some crew have been more overt in their service than others but all pleasant and professional. Never loud in the galley between meals and always offering to execute a turn down even after I tell them I am happy to do it myself. I think the crew base, not just the individuals has a lot to do with it too as some bases have a higher % of "nots".

For me, the food has always been better than J although not a huge leap. I also enjoy using the LAX FFD for my appetizer on the ground and leave t the main and some sweets for on the plane to maximize rest time. I almost always get fed quickly so that I am complete before most even get to the mains.

Is the seat better than J? Some may say yes if you need to use it as a desk but as a bed, it is close to a tie for me. As a comparison to the alternate to LHR (BA First), I would call them both Business Class Plus products. Neither hold a candle to JL First or AF First which to me, are still true first seats.

Two less noticed things that I enjoy about AA First vs. Business, is the small cabin size and the resulting seat to lav ratio. I rarely if ever have to play the prairie dog game popping up for the lav when it is actually full or becoming a blockade in the aisle while waiting for one. Those things can easily happen on a full biz flight. The low count of seats also typically make it a more quiet environment too.

I don't think it is worth much extra money, but if it is close to J because of A availability vs J or if I have an SWU, I take it ever time for the few minor differences.

Obviously, if you are heading West, it doesn't hold a candle to most other products and I believe they only make revenue there because of the corporate policies JDiver refers to.
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Old Dec 21, 19, 9:28 pm
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I’ve been on Asia and ME3 F products and so I know AA F leaves a lot to be desired. But I find J, D and R basis fares originating outside the US and then use the miles my kids accrue to move us into F on the 77W segments we take to LHR and HKG and vv. Not a bad deal for the miles only and no copay.

Had some hit or miss but less miss than others seem to report (or maybe the winers are people who take 2 F flights and complain 1 is bad?). It’s nice to have a private mini cabin up front and a bit more space if not much else. Doing HKG-LAX again in January after we finish our current swing through Central Asia via the KTM-SEA R fares that AA sold last year, so will get another chance to weigh in on this.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 3:23 am
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The seat is arguably worse and less private than being in J in the mini-cabin. The food is barely different than J and the crew as mentioned can sometimes be indifferent and awful. In short, there’s nothing “first class” about it. Essentially AA F is *THE* worst F product flying and worse than a lot of biz. I would never fly AA F unless I had spare SWU to burn that would otherwise go to waste.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 5:35 am
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I have flown AA F a handful of times in the last two or three years, been on CX, LH, SQ, LX and NH F many times during the same period.
There is a day and night difference between the AA offering in basically all aspects (seat, service, food, handling at irrops) and the other carriers.

I would not pay for AA F.Assuming the same proce for CX Business and AA F i would pick CX.

Sometimes the crews on AA are plain horrible, most of the time ok. But on most other carriers you have great crews most of the time and very, very rarely a bad apple.

This is just my experience/opinion. I know that many here tend to defend AA, but please do this only after you have flown a few other airlines in F (and BA does not count for this).
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Old Dec 22, 19, 5:39 am
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Originally Posted by djmp View Post
Ben from One Mile at a Time didn’t have a great time on AA Flagship First. The follow up contains FA viewpoints, most of which were in the “huh?” category for me. United appears in the comments.
I follow that blogger and the FA's remarks were awful. Her biggest complaint was passengers requesting turndown service because they have limbs so they should use them. There are 2 FAs and only 8 passengers. Do your job lady. American is losing business because of you.

There are too many moving parts and factors to explain why the US3 can't offer an international first class product on par with international standards. It is what it is.

If you want to maximize your flagship first experience utilize the ground services beforehand. Flagship checkin, FFD, etc
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Old Dec 22, 19, 5:49 am
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Flown 3X DFW to HKG... each time paid J to F using SWU (had to use them some way)
1.All 3 times FA.. only interesting in talking with the Non Rev's and themselves.. on the other had the relief FA were great.

2. Hard product always have dirty/left over stuff from the flight before
3. Service on board, seems to be determined by the time the FA wants to stop chatting, and actually do something. (last fight ,90 minutes for first drink order, mean while in J, they are having a great time.

4. I could go on.. but why.. its Christmas... Merry Christmas everyone
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Old Dec 22, 19, 5:56 am
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Originally Posted by fotographer View Post
Flown 3X DFW to HKG... each time paid J to F using SWU (had to use them some way)
1.All 3 times FA.. only interesting in talking with the Non Rev's and themselves.. on the other had the relief FA were great.
Interesting you point this out. I had the exact scenario on DFW-HKG last month. Primary FA was cold (almost militant), and service felt very economy-like to me. Relief FA was warm, smiled a lot, VERY eager to provide service. Even when she was in the galley reading, she always welcomed me as soon as she saw me. Was night and day.

To address the initial point. In a way, it's unfair to compare (for example) Cathay First to AA First. They are different airlines, with different rules/unions/laws/management teams/etc. However, it's clear that with so few Flagship First Class routes, American should either commit to making them something truly special, or simply refit the 77W cabins and go without first on any international routes.

Can you imagine a scenario where an AA flight attendant felt special being selected for a Flagship First flight (sort of like an NFL ref being picked to ref the Super Bowl)? Instead, it feels like its a chore for staff who are simply riding out their careers until they can retire.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 6:06 am
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Originally Posted by dave_261 View Post
Interesting you point this out. I had the exact scenario on DFW-HKG last month. Primary FA was cold (almost militant), and service felt very economy-like to me. Relief FA was warm, smiled a lot, VERY eager to provide service. Even when she was in the galley reading, she always welcomed me as soon as she saw me. Was night and day.

To address the initial point. In a way, it's unfair to compare (for example) Cathay First to AA First. They are different airlines, with different rules/unions/laws/management teams/etc. However, it's clear that with so few Flagship First Class routes, American should either commit to making them something truly special, or simply refit the 77W cabins and go without first on any international routes.

Can you imagine a scenario where an AA flight attendant felt special being selected for a Flagship First flight (sort of like an NFL ref being picked to ref the Super Bowl)? Instead, it feels like its a chore for staff who are simply riding out their careers until they can retire.
I’d argue it is right to compare and to choose the superior product every time - they have the same price point, go for the same customers, and market themselves as being the same thing. That these are different airlines, etc is AA’s problem, not justification that the products can never be compared.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 6:08 am
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Originally Posted by dave_261 View Post
Interesting you point this out. I had the exact scenario on DFW-HKG last month. Primary FA was cold (almost militant), and service felt very economy-like to me. Relief FA was warm, smiled a lot, VERY eager to provide service. Even when she was in the galley reading, she always welcomed me as soon as she saw me. Was night and day.

To address the initial point. In a way, it's unfair to compare (for example) Cathay First to AA First. They are different airlines, with different rules/unions/laws/management teams/etc. However, it's clear that with so few Flagship First Class routes, American should either commit to making them something truly special, or simply refit the 77W cabins and go without first on any international routes.

Can you imagine a scenario where an AA flight attendant felt special being selected for a Flagship First flight (sort of like an NFL ref being picked to ref the Super Bowl)? Instead, it feels like its a chore for staff who are simply riding out their careers until they can retire.
I have done Cathay F a few times... their service is almost over the top.. and I dont ever expect that from AA (sad but true), but regardless of how I got to seat in F,
at least a service on board that is supposed to represent AA finest... I sometimes think that the FA in F, tend of treat us, like we are spoiled brats, for whom money is not a issue.
The last trip I took (3 weeks ago) was the worst...now my wife and I are by far the least demanding , when traveling.. . but when you (the FA) are walking thru the cabin.. stop to refill you buddies drink, and yet see my glass in empty and has been for a long
time, but dont stop to ask if I would like a refill .. that is a bit much..

I think all of us, can agree .. this is not AA finest in any means.... now lets all go enjoy our Christmas
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Old Dec 22, 19, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by dave_261 View Post
To address the initial point. In a way, it's unfair to compare (for example) Cathay First to AA First. They are different airlines, with different rules/unions/laws/management teams/etc.
At the macro level, the difference between CX/JL and AA crews is that the CX/JL crews are thoroughly trained, held to standards, and take pride in their professionalism. At the individual level, of course, there are plenty of AA FAs who do their best to provide quality service. It’s just not consistent as it is on CX/JL.

This comparison holds equally btw with UA compared to NH/SQ, for example.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 9:16 am
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I just got back from taking AA First from Dallas to São Paulo. The airplane was spotless, the seat was more than comfortable, and I do like the "Casper" bedding and pajamas. The food was very good, especially the risotto out of São Paulo.

The crews were exceptional (the purser was the same on both flights.) They were professional, caring, and engaging. There was no question that they were happy to work together, and that they enjoyed their work. They were well-dressed, well-groomed. The lavatory was kept clean.

Turndown service was provided without having to request it.

Ground service was quite good. Flagship was a delight in Dallas, and I used the Five Star service in São Paulo.

Last year, I flew Los Angeles-London and London-Dallas in Flagship First. I found that the crews were a little more "dialing it in" but by no means dismissive or unpleasant. They just seemed tired.

I have not flown the Asian carriers in first class, so I cannot comment there. I can say that American is light years better than what was Global First on United. They served cat food and seemed to be mostly bitter about it. Lufthansa First is still a step up due to the ground service in Frankfurt and the caviar, and Air France has the advantage of especially good crews.

I do think that American could use a stepped-up cocktail/drink service in First. Their liquor offerings are sad. Even if they had "mocktails," it would still be better. Cocktails add a little "pizazz."

I also think that First Class should board in its own separate way. United and Air France did this individually (a "host" would walk you onboard), Lufthansa escorted everyone in First from the Lounge. I certainly received this with Five Star, but I think it should be a standard procedure for everyone in the cabin.

American's crew on this trip were multinational, multilingual, and had the perfect mix of informality and professionalism.

I have this image in my head of the frumpy American Airlines crews. I remember seeing them in São Paulo and Auckland, and Sydney (in the 1990s), thinking "These people do not represent the USA very well." They were unkempt, smoking, and I think they were drunk in Sydney. There is this stereotype of the AA flight attendant who is 900-years-old and hates life. I have no doubt that there are still some of those out there, but I was more than impressed by American this month.

I read the article about the Hong Kong flight, and it does sound terrible. But it was very much in contrast to my own experience.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 9:58 am
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My last AA F longhaul was so bad AA gave me 10 or 20k miles as an apology . I really don't think I would even use a SWU on it now I'd find an open c-space route and make up a MR to avoid wasting it v. using it on AA F.
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Old Dec 22, 19, 10:43 am
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1) This thread is just rehashing the same old story that we've heard for years.
2) This thread is doing just what the disturbed (from the flight - no reference to any mental condition) author of the clickbait intended. More clicks.
3) Reading an article regarding how water is (usually) wet and the sky is (usually) blue when clear during the daytime has as much information that I will learn as the article.
4) Review #2 , supra. He'll be able to take more disappointing trips the more we click, and we'll get to hear about them. Pretty Lucky, if you ask me!
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