Traveling is picking back up in the United States. Airports and especially planes are completely full again. For me, work never slowed down during the pandemic as well as traveling. As an on-site technician, I can’t work from home and have to respond to numerous important projects around the United States, some of them even critical infrastructure. My next trip had me going to Miami after finishing up a few projects in Los Angeles.
My goal was to get on a direct flight from Los Angeles to Miami. In Los Angeles, there are a few airports I could choose from same as in Miami. I could either fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.
The best flight options for direct flights were flights from LAX to MIA. I am a big fan of American Airlines, especially because they fly most of the routes I frequently travel on and the rest of the routes were usually covered by Alaska Airlines. Recently Alaska Airlines became a full member of the Oneworld Alliance which American Airlines is also a part of.
As I always wanted to try out the Flagship check-in of American Airlines, I booked a First Class ticket. Flagship check-in is only available at certain airports around the world and only for certain routes/classes of service.
Flagship First Check-In
I was super excited to try out the Flagship First Check-In at LAX. This was my first time actually being able to use this service of American Airlines. It was a great experience. The whole service is worth a whole lot more during normal times when the terminals are full of people. Because of the pandemic, passenger volume was still low, and not many people in the same check-in area. Check out my review of the Flagship First Check-In at LAX.
After my check-in was completed, an airline employee escorted me up to the second level of the terminal. The elevator dropped me off right in front of the TSA Pre-Check line. I assume the agent would escort you all the way to the front of the line but in my case, there was just one person in front of me and no need to cut lines. I have TSA Pre-Check but because I am using a TWIC card, it is still a nightmare to get through security because of acceptance issues of the card. Officially they do accept it but their scanner can’t read it. What else would you expect 😉 However, the TSA supervisor was super understanding with the whole situation and helped me out to get through security quickly and easily. LAX security is the worst of all. I worked on projects at the airport, just outside of the terminal buildings here, but even there they don’t accept common IDs.
Terminal 4 at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) features an Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge. Both of them use the same entrance but use normally separate areas of the lounge space. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the whole space is now temporarily an Admirals Club to better allow social distancing. As I was flying Flagship First, this would grant me access to the Flagship Lounge part of the space under normal conditions. Food was served in pre-packed packages. Even the cheese cubes came in small containers. I really missed their Mac&Cheese offering but they offered soup instead. The soup and some other items were handed out by the staff itself, while others were available for grab and go, like the pre-packed cheese cubes. The lounge offers a great view of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and all the big planes parked there from domestic and foreign carriers.
First Class Cabin and Seat
The Flagship First Cabin aboard American Airlines’ 777-300ER features eight very spacious and comfortable seats. These seats are spaced in two rows of a 1-2-1 configuration. I love my window seats, especially when traveling alone. The window seats once set up after take-off face either slightly outward or can even be turned 90° to use the built-in fold-out table.
But there is one gigantic flaw to the First Class Cabin. Overhead storage! The first row’s two seats in the center of the plane don’t have an overhead bin for storage. It’s completely missing. Therefore the guy who was sitting there put all his stuff in the bin over my seat. We both had two carry-0ns and I had to store one of my bags in one of the Business Class overhead bins.
At my seat, I had already a bottle of water, Bose noise-canceling headset, pillow and blanket, and an amenity kit waiting for me. The amenity kit was supplied by Los Angeles-based shoemaker Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL).
The seat armrests can be lowered, this is useful when transformed into a lie-flat bed. In front of the seat, slightly angeled is the main inflight entertainment screen. Once airborne, you can turn your seat slightly to align it with the monitor and the ottoman seat. To do so you have to use the seat-controls which are displayed on a small touchscreen remote next to your seat. With this remote, you can “unlock” the seat to be able to turn the seat. It also lets you put the seat in pre-programmed positions like take-off/landing, sleeping, dining,… It also lets you manually adjust all angles of the seat and the lumbar support. The seats also come with a massage function. With the same seat controls, you can also turn on/off the privacy mode. This lets flight attendants know that you don’t want to be disturbed.
Right in front of the seat controls, you have a fold-out table. This is supposed to be a work desk and space. There is a second large pull-out table that you use when you align your seat with the TV monitor. Between the two tables, you have switches for lights and a small cradle to put your phone with a USB port for charging.
Slightly behind your seat, you have the wired remote for the TV screen which can be pulled out, and a small cabinet that you can open to store stuff as well as plug in your headset. Depending on your seat position, this is either to your right or left. Unfortunately, the headset jack is one of these special ones with three connection points instead of one. This makes it harder for people who like to steal the expensive headsets to use them on their home electronics but harder for you to use your own. You can also find an AV-Input, an outdated iPod connection, a USB outlet for charging, and two universal 110V AC power outlets. On the door of the cabinet is a mirror for final (make-up) touches before landing. There is a small light next to the cabinet. It’s mainly to illuminate the area but I wouldn’t use it for reading. Use the lights in the overhead for that.
While pushing back and rolling towards the runway for take-off the flight attendants came through the aisles to take our meal orders. I choose the Barbecue Short Ribs and was able to snag the last one. The passenger behind me wanted to get them as well but had to go with an alternative.
The meal was served about one hour after we pushed back from the gate. All the different plates on the tray were wrapped in clear plastic wrap or served in individual containers as a Covid-19 precaution.
I can’t complain about the food itself but I am also very easy to please. The service was great. My wine glass got refilled without asking, sometimes I even thought they tried to get me drunk, as they just wouldn’t stop to top it off 😉
In-Flight Service and Amenities
During the flight, I watched a bunch of movies I haven’t seen before. Flight attendants were always check in on every one of us to make sure we have everything we need. Finally, they also forced the anti-maskers to put their mask back up. Officially you are even supposed to put your mask up again in between bites. That is just stupid. I don’t know how you would enjoy a meal. The crew here was very relaxed when it came to this and allowed the passengers to keep their masks off for the whole meal service. Other people abused it and just left the mask off permanently. I personally have no problems following the rules and the mask is not really that bad either. It’s also easy and quick to pull the mask down to take a sip. Even though I am fully vaccinated, I don’t mind keeping the mask on during the flight.
Luckily the other passengers, which got told to put their masks back on were compliant and no argument or fight broke out, which would divert the flight. This happened just too often lately by people freaking out about the mask. This is a topic by itself and I could talk about it for hours but that’s not the topic here.
With about 45 minutes left in the flight, the crew came through the aisles to pick up the premium headsets. This is too bad, as they are great to watch movies but I understand the concern of “missing” headphones when passengers just take/steal them. Normally, while collecting the headphones, the crew hands out a pair of their cheap headphones you also get in Economy Class. However, they didn’t do it on this flight for whatever reason. This headset can be plugged into one of the bottom two headphone jacks where you had your premium headset connected. However, the contacts are so bad that you have to fiddle with it to get good contact and sound for either ear.
Another fantastic flight. I am a loyal customer of American Airlines as they treated me well in the past and over good service and a solid product. It was definitely an experience to use Flagship First Check-In and the extra amenities you get at the airport. There is also nothing better than flying a wide-body jet across the country from LAX to MIA with the option of a lie-flat bed if you want to. If you travel with American Airlines, Flagship First is the way to fly. However, fewer and fewer planes offer now a truly first-class cabin. Lots of international flights have now only a Business Class. Business Class also offers lie-flat seats but they are a slightly smaller
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.