This flight will forever be known as "that time I got the elusive double upgrade".
American Airlines #177
New York (JFK) - San Francisco (SFO)
Sunday, February 14th, 2016
6:30 PM - 10:07 PM, 6 hours 37 minutes
A321T: Seat 1F (First Class)
Chris and I were in Manhattan for the weekend visiting some friends and booked our typical return flight on Sunday night, AA 177. We've flown this route multiple times and really appreciate the new A321T and the unique availability of three cabin classes on a domestic route. Per usual, we booked Economy tickets and hoped that each of our Executive Platinum statuses would get us an upgrade to Business. Business on this flight is extremely nice, with a 2-2 configuration of fully lie-flat seats, which are perfect for couples traveling together. On Saturday morning, we received a notification that we had both been upgraded to Business, which we were extremely happy with given that we'd be having a long weekend with little sleep.
We arrived at JFK and spent about 30 minutes in the Admiral's Club before it was time for boarding. We were at the gate in about three minutes and saw that unfortunately the plane had just arrived and passengers were only just starting to deplane. We waited about 20 minutes for deplaning and cleaning to complete and lamented the fact that American never seems to update their boarding times in the lounge. Just before boarding began, we heard our names called to come to the desk. There was a line of about 15 people and I assumed it was just to give us new tickets for our upgrade to Business, so I figured we'd ignore it and use our mobile boarding passes. About 10 seconds later, Chris was staring at his phone and said "actually, we just got upgraded to First..." We were both in shock, but made our way over to the desk and grabbed our tickets to board before they called Business.
I fly a lot - my coworkers fly a lot. I've never heard of a double upgrade on a flight. Ever. It was amazing. We knew this was due to the unique circumstances of the day and the typical demographic of the flight - it was Valentine's Day and it was a Sunday night before a Monday holiday, which meant no business travelers would be flying that night. Business Class had been completely empty when we checked the seat map a few days before and First was even moreso, hence the double upgrade. It was essentially a perfect storm of luck and we were stoked to be able to take advantage of it.
American's First class on this route is excellent with 5 rows of single seats on either side of the aisle, which are fully lie-flat and very comfortable. You're essentially getting an international product on a domestic flight and it's absolutely perfect for the 6.5 hour flight from JFK-SFO.
We found our seats, 1A and 1F and settled in. The flight attendants had already placed Bose headsets and amenity kits at the seats when we arrived and she came by shortly after we sat down to offer menus. She also took pre-departure beverage orders, but I declined. As usual, Chris started downing champagne.
The entertainment selection on American flights is definitely excellent. There is a huge selection of new releases and older movies and also a good selection of television shows as well. The TV screen is a touch screen and there's also a touch screen remote next to the seat as well. In all honesty, I find them both to be a bit temperamental and difficult to use from time to time, but I found a movie I hadn't seen yet, The Intern, and settled in.
In addition to the remote, the seat controls, a reading light, headphone jack, and USB port were all located conveniently next to the seat.
During the ascent to cruising altitude, Chris was able to snap a photo of the skyline below as we said goodbye to one of our favorite cities.
Shortly after we leveled out, the flight attendant came by to take meal orders and passed out beverages and warm nuts.
The dinner menu read as follows:
Roasted Beets and Candied Pecans
with pickled shallots and balsamic glaze
Smoked Salmon Cheesecake
with caper onion relish and microgreens
Arugula with Watermelon Radish
Grilled Beef Filet
with shiitake mushroom sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes and blistered cherry tomatoes
Pan Roasted Huckleberry Chicken
with huckleberry barbecue sauce and organic quinoa with kale
Thai Curry Shrimp
with mushroom risotto and sautéed spinach with garlic
with squash ribbons, red pepper basil pesto and shaved Parmesan cheese
vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut chips and cocoa dusted almonds
Traditional Ice Cream Sundae
Gourmet Cheese Plate
an assortment of fine cheeses
Cappuccino Mousse Cake
To be honest, I wasn't excited about any of the dishes, but I went with the roasted beets followed by the huckleberry chicken. For dessert, I chose the specialty sundae. The starter was unmemorable and the salad was fairly good since I had chosen a creamy orange dressing. The chicken was well-prepared and was actually bone-in, which I think helped it stand up to being cooked on an airplane a bit better. I didn't love the sauce, but it wasn't bad.
Chris had ordered the salmon cheesecake, which he said was good and the pappardelle pasta, which he said had a very weird taste and was terrible, so he barely ate it.
Once the dinner dishes were cleared away, my movie was over, so I switched to Goodfellas, which is a movie I've always heard about and never seen. It was pretty good, but also pretty long.
After meal service was over, the two flight attendants serving First class never showed up again until very near time for landing. Since I was in seat 1F, I could see them sitting in the galley eating their own meals, then talking and playing with their phones, and at one point, an attendant from a different cabin came up to hang out and chat with them. I thought it was pretty disappointing, but also par for the course with what I've experienced on American flights. The flight attendants really don't seem to care about the passengers and usually try to do the minimum required of them and then disappear. I've certainly seen examples of excellent service on American flights in the past, but more often than not, this is what I've come to expect.
They had, however, passed out water bottles and placed baskets on either side of the cabin with some snacks and fruit, so you could help yourself to that.
I fell asleep for a bit after my second movie was over and Chris told me they came by to offer the "light refreshment" prior to landing, which consisted of warm chocolate chip cookies.
There's no doubt that the hard product on this flight absolutely can't be beat. The seats are comfortable and spacious and there's absolutely nothing to complain about when you get a lie flat seat on a domestic flight. Sure, the service could have been a bit more attentive, but I was extremely happy to receive not one, but two upgrades on this flight. Before I knew it, we were landing at SFO and after the incredibly cold temperatures we endured all weekend in New York, I was happy to be home!
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.