More AA Experiences

Old Aug 17, 08, 8:16 am
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More AA Experiences

And there’s AAnother AAirline
I’ve heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her ….

About six weeks ago I had a flight on AA EZE-DFW in business and I thought a few quick thoughts might be helpful for those of us like me who fly mainly BA but occasionally like to or have to see how the other half lives.

This was an overnight flight of 11 hours. I am unsure whether or not the route would be considered one of AA’s really important or flagship ones.

Lounge. Pleasant though rather crowded. Free alcohol for all, which surprised me after my experiences in AA lounges in the US. I am not absolutely sure but I do not think champagne was on offer. Wines were acceptable and Californian or Argentinean (not a real surprise, that). Lounge crowded but not more crowded than say the old T4 Club lounge before a string of evening flights to APac.

Boarding. They did it properly. First people with children and other encumbrances, then business class pax (there was no F). And it was enforced as I watched a fair number of Y pax being held back.

Greetings. A little disappointing – there was no-one to greet us at the door and as I found my own way to my seat (not difficult and not complaining really) I noticed two flight attendants in the galley munching sandwiches and chatting. One surprise is that for me at least ( I saw some checking later) there was no BP check at the door. Not sure whether this is usual.

Seating. This was a 767-300 and the Business seating was 2-2-2. I was travelling alone and had one seat of a middle pair. The plane was completely full in J. Not sure of Y. The overall feel was (for me) very claustrophobic. I was about 6” away from the person in the seat next to me and could hear every word of her argument with someone as to whether he was going to pick her up from the airport or not This has convinced me of the merit of being level with the feet rather than the head or mouth of the person sitting next to you! There was in general a cramped feel to the seats and to the cabin generally.

Kitchen sinks are clearly acceptable hand baggage on US airlines.

General. The FAs were far less visible in the cabin as we boarded. That was true throughout the flight and was in hindsight one the things I really missed from BA. I am not saying that they didn’t come when you pressed the call bell or didn’t serve in a friendly and respectful manner – it is just that they weren’t visible, whereas BA cabin crew (I nearly wrote “FAs”) seem to be much more around and, while wholly professional in their demeanour, more keen to pass the time of day with their passengers. The amenity kits had already been placed in the seat pockets. Amenity kits not fundamentally different though they did include pens which seeing as I always forgetting to take one or board was useful. My other pet requirement, a comb, was absent from them as it is from the BA equivalent.

Food. Good on paper. Less so in practice. I had smoked salmon tartare then beef tenderloin. Smoked salmon is, well, smoked salmon. Large portion though. The beef while again in large portion was to my taste dryer and less flavo(u)rful then the equivalent on BA would have been.

Wine. The champagne (for those many of you who find this information of vital importance) was Heidsieck Monopole Brut. Not sure of the right BA comparator as (I’ll probably get expelled from the BA board for this) I’m not a great champagne connoisseur. Marimar Torres Sonoma Chardonnay (good well balanced Chardonnay for 35k’) and a very drinkable Malbec – Altos Las Hermosas – which I much enjoyed.

Sleep. Was not a fun experience. I felt too close to my neighbour (though that may be just my general British-ness). I kept sliding down the non-flat “bed” and kept waking up as my feet took the pressure. What has been called a dormitory experience.

Arrival. It should be reported that the flight left and arrived on time and that the DFW immigration queue (there was also a tannoy announcement for “the Columbian passport checker”!)was slow only because of the large number of non-visa waiver nationals. As has been mentioned before I do wish that the DHS would consider separate lines for visa waiver nationals. And the immigration officer was courteous and polite, asking me if I wanted the remaining bit of the green form stapled in my passport or not.

So: was it as good an experience as an 11 hour flight in BA CW? No, definitely. Was it a bad experience? No. Are the two airlines very different in their general ambience? Yes, and I that is why in my humble opinion the ethos of both should be maintained very clearly separately in any closer collaboration that develops.

Hope this is of interest.

And my apologies to Sir Cecil Spring-Rice.

Last edited by hsmall; Aug 17, 08 at 9:25 am Reason: formatting buggered/ more typos
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Old Aug 17, 08, 8:55 am
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Originally Posted by hsmall View Post
[CENTER]

Lounge. Pleasant though rather crowded. Free alcohol for all, which surprised me after my experiences in AA lounges in the US. I am not absolutely sure but I do not think champagne was on offer. Wines were acceptable and Californian or Argentinean (not a real surprise, that). Lounge crowded but not more crowded than say the old T4 Club lounge before a string of evening flights to APac.

The AC lounges outside the US have free alcohol. There is typically a sparkling wine in the BA AC.
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Old Aug 17, 08, 8:57 am
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Great report - I love your writing style

FA visibility and BP checks during boarding is something I have noticed AA does very differently to BA. I get a sense that AAngels are following procedure but once boarding is nearing completion they work their way through the cabin, ensuring everyone is comfortable.

I'm not a massive fan of the NGBC seat either. Primarily because my preference is for a window seat. On a recent trip, after a short snooze I awoke to discover my neighbour had set up his tray tables with all the AV trinkets neatly arranged in an orderly, ship-shape fashion. So you can imagine my reticence before eventually asking him to let me out. In doing so, it required him to dismantle his entire set up and collapse his trays. But, you know - what else can one do? I know BA's NCW window seat receives many a complaint here with regard to ease of access but personally I much prefer it - hopping over the adjacent footstool is a minor imposition.

You can take some comfort re. champagne assessment. I can confess to being a complete philistine in this area, I can barely tell Monopoo from Mumms or Pommery from Pergnion, especially at altitude. The Malbec does sound very pleasant though.

Many thanks for sharing

Last edited by Prospero; Aug 17, 08 at 9:04 am Reason: fix typo
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Old Aug 17, 08, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by Prospero View Post
Great report - I love your writing style
+1

Thanks for sharing!
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Old Aug 17, 08, 11:23 am
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BP checks

Good report. Thanks for posting.

AFAIK boarding pass check on entry into the aircraft is only mandated on UK registered airlines and is a CAA rule. I can't remember any other European or otherwise airline having checked my boarding pass on boarding the plane except for special cases like seat mis-match etc.

I think other authorities consider that BP check at the gate is sufficient and that the chance of rogue terrorists somehow sneaking onboard after that stage is zero.
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Old Aug 17, 08, 11:39 am
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Originally Posted by Cyba View Post
AFAIK boarding pass check on entry into the aircraft is only mandated on UK registered airlines and is a CAA rule. I can't remember any other European or otherwise airline having checked my boarding pass on boarding the plane except for special cases like seat mis-match etc.
Many airlines do that. I'm pretty sure AF do, for example.
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Old Aug 17, 08, 3:07 pm
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Thank you all for the kind words.

I am interested in a vague way about whether the champagne cognoscenti think the AA stuff is better or worse than the CW stuff
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Old Aug 17, 08, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by hsmall View Post
champagne cognoscenti
That ain't me, but...

Originally Posted by hsmall View Post
think the AA stuff is better or worse than the CW stuff
It has been the CW stuff before!
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Old Aug 17, 08, 3:13 pm
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Originally Posted by graraps View Post
Many airlines do that. I'm pretty sure AF do, for example.
IB and LH don't.

I was told by a BA CSD that it was a check to make sure that people were on the right plane rather than any particular security fears. This was in particular brought about by the gate layout at LHR T1 where gates 24 and up (if I remember right) were very close together (sharing the same waiting areas) and passengers could easily get confused as to which jetty they wrre supoposed to be using!
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Old Aug 17, 08, 4:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Cyba View Post
Good report. Thanks for posting.

AFAIK boarding pass check on entry into the aircraft is only mandated on UK registered airlines and is a CAA rule. I can't remember any other European or otherwise airline having checked my boarding pass on boarding the plane except for special cases like seat mis-match etc.

I think other authorities consider that BP check at the gate is sufficient and that the chance of rogue terrorists somehow sneaking onboard after that stage is zero.
I've often had my BP checked when boarding AA, however, it is usually when traveling on a wide body plane (which I assume would be the type of plane the OP was on). It speeds up the boarding process immensely b/c it keeps all the pax from walking down the same aisle and then having to cross to get to their seats.
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Old Aug 17, 08, 5:41 pm
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Originally Posted by G-BOAC View Post
It has been the CW stuff before!
It wasn't for long though. The staple CW champagne is the 'Mis En Cave' or the 'Heidsieck Brut Reserve' variety which is alright...haven't had any on my last four CW trips though. Does that get me my FT membership revoked?

Originally Posted by Prospero View Post
I'm not a massive fan of the NGBC seat either. Primarily because my preference is for a window seat. On a recent trip, after a short snooze I awoke to discover my neighbour had set up his tray tables with all the AV trinkets neatly arranged in an orderly, ship-shape fashion. So you can imagine my reticence before eventually asking him to let me out. In doing so, it required him to dismantle his entire set up and collapse his trays. But, you know - what else can one do? I know BA's NCW window seat receives many a complaint here with regard to ease of access but personally I much prefer it - hopping over the adjacent footstool is a minor imposition.
I find getting out of the seat to be a pain in the bottom but since I'm usually travelling with the wife it isn't so much of a problem.

I find the best way to position the NGBC seat is in the reclined but legs up position, preset #2 IIRC. The good thing about it is the various parts are all adjustable, so easier to personalise than say NNCW or F on BA. Alas it doesn't go completely flat...
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Old Aug 18, 08, 4:58 am
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Originally Posted by bdemaria View Post
I've often had my BP checked when boarding AA, however, it is usually when traveling on a wide body plane (which I assume would be the type of plane the OP was on). It speeds up the boarding process immensely b/c it keeps all the pax from walking down the same aisle and then having to cross to get to their seats.
I entirely agree it's nice and efficient for the crew to greet passengers at the door and help them to their seat. Of course it is.

I was however referring to mandatory BP checks on entering the aircraft. AFAIK, UK is the only country that imposes them though there may be others. US doesn't AFAIK - your crew would have been in violation of federal regulation otherwise.

If you enter an AA plane and tell the crew you're in 16J, for example, they'll ask you to cross the aisle and turn left or right. You do the same on a BA plane at LHR or anywhere else in the world and they'll say that they still need to see your boarding pass. Theirs is not a curtesy check. It's mandatory. That's how it was explained to me by crew many times. Maybe some of our resident crew can enlighten us?
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Old Aug 18, 08, 5:15 am
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Originally Posted by Cyba View Post
I entirely agree it's nice and efficient for the crew to greet passengers at the door and help them to their seat. Of course it is.

I was however referring to mandatory BP checks on entering the aircraft. AFAIK, UK is the only country that imposes them though there may be others. US doesn't AFAIK - your crew would have been in violation of federal regulation otherwise.

If you enter an AA plane and tell the crew you're in 16J, for example, they'll ask you to cross the aisle and turn left or right. You do the same on a BA plane at LHR or anywhere else in the world and they'll say that they still need to see your boarding pass. Theirs is not a curtesy check. It's mandatory. That's how it was explained to me by crew many times. Maybe some of our resident crew can enlighten us?
This is mandatory and there are no exceptions. There have been crew in the past that have been suspended for not carrying this out 100%.
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Old Aug 18, 08, 7:38 am
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Originally Posted by Cyba View Post
Good report. Thanks for posting.

AFAIK boarding pass check on entry into the aircraft is only mandated on UK registered airlines and is a CAA rule. I can't remember any other European or otherwise airline having checked my boarding pass on boarding the plane except for special cases like seat mis-match etc.

I think other authorities consider that BP check at the gate is sufficient and that the chance of rogue terrorists somehow sneaking onboard after that stage is zero.
A few years ago, myself and a colleague boarded a US Airways flight departing for Pittsburgh from Chicago instead of a United Flight going at exactly the same time from a different terminal (we didnt realise as it was our first time there). We only realised we were on the wrong flight when we got to row 5 and it wasnt there, a quick check by the cabin crew and they told us we're on the wrong flight. Bear in mind our tickets had been checked at the gate and spat out an error before the gate person did a manual over-ride. So we had to leg it across to the other terminal to find the the United flight was delayed 3hrs
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Old Aug 18, 08, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by Cyba View Post
If you enter an AA plane and tell the crew you're in 16J, for example, they'll ask you to cross the aisle and turn left or right. You do the same on a BA plane at LHR or anywhere else in the world and they'll say that they still need to see your boarding pass. Theirs is not a curtesy check. It's mandatory. That's how it was explained to me by crew many times. Maybe some of our resident crew can enlighten us?
On Qantas flights, they are checking to make sure that you have the correct boarding pass for the flight - of course you have, it was scanned at the gate, but if you fly the route regularly, you might have a BP from a flight the day before or whenever.

From what a QF FA told me, they are actually checking dates as well as flight numbers.

Dave
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