Before the flight to LAX, I killed some time in the American Airlines First Class Lounge in Heathrow. Just as they announced that the flight is boarding I left the lounge and headed towards the gate. The gate was a short walk away and they already started “boarding”. Boarding here means that they scan your boarding pass and check your passport and you get in another room where you will wait for the actual plane to be boarded. Some of the people got selected for additional screening and questioning inside the waiting area. This is a new procedure all airlines have to do on all U.S.-bound flights.
My business class ticket put me in boarding group 2, which would board after Concierge Key members and First Class passengers. I headed down the jetway to the plane and my seat, 4A, was just of the left after entering the airplane. The business class cabin is split by the boarding door into 2 rows forward and 11 rows to the back. This gave the 2 rows in the forward business class a little bit more of a private area feeling even tho I shared it with 7 other passengers in that area.
I stowed my carry-on bags and settled into my seat. The crew was coming through the aisles with pre-departure drinks and I settled for a glass of Champagne. While I enjoyed the Champagne I also studied the dining menu and made my choices to be ready once they flight attendants come back to take the food choices. Every seat had already a Bose noise-canceling headset, blankets and an amenity kit sitting there for the passengers.
The plane was still in the boarding process but because I was located forward of the boarding door of the plane, I didn’t get to see the buzz of people boarding and taking their seats. While we were still boarding, the FAs came through the aisles and offered newspapers. A short while after that they came again through the aisles to take the food choices of the passengers.
Boarding was completed, the doors closed and we were off to the runway. While waiting for us to get on the runway to take off, I could watch other planes taking off and the line of planes behind us. London Heathrow is a very busy airport and the rain didn’t help to unclutter the whole narrow timing of planes landing and taking off. A few minutes it was our turn and we shot down the runway to get to our takeoff speed and we lifted off. We headed through some bumps on our way to cruising altitude but the flight smoothened out as soon as we went through the clouds.
I folded my TV screen out and tried to find the socket to plug in my headset. There are connectors right below the buttons for the seat adjustments and the connector of the headset fits in there. They were different connectors and are actually Audio/Video Inputs to connect your own devices. However, I was able to plug the headset in but I wasn’t able to hear anything. I asked a flight attendant as she came by where to plug in the headset and she showed me the secret connection socket on the inside of the little cabinet which hides behind all the buttons and opens from the front. Once plugged in there, the headset just worked fine, but you had to find the spot. I wasn’t the only one having trouble to get them connected.
Every seat had a 110V power outlet, Audio/Video Inputs, a reading light on the side, seat control buttons to adjust the seat and a little remote to operate the TV screen. My TV had some touch issues. I had to press really hard to make the screen accept my touches. It was easier to use the little cable remote on the side of the seat. This is also convenient once you fold down your seat in a more convenient position.
I started watching some movies. A short while later they served the three-course main meal of the flight. To start off, we got served a lettuce wedge salad and sliced smoked chicken. My choice of the main plate was the Grilled Angus Striploin which was a very good meal. Better as what I got as some so-called steakhouses on the ground. For dessert, I decided to go with the all-time favorite Ice Cream Sundae.
I kept on watching some movies and kept a short nap as well. The lie-flat function of the seats is just amazing and lets you rest really well. Prior to landing, we got served a light meal.
My choice was the Barbecue Beef Cheese Toastie instead of the Japanese Rice Bowl. As sides, we got chips, fruits, and a “Chocolate and Salted Caramel Pudding”.
The cabin crew picked up the remaining trays and started to collect the Bose headsets. I guess some people thought they could keep them rather than returning them. Now they get collected before landing which will leave you without a headset for the last 40 minutes. However, they will distribute small earbuds to use instead. After a pretty bump free descent, we touched down at LAX and taxied to our gate. We arrived about 50 minutes early.
We stopped at the gate and everyone got up to collect its belongings and got ready to disembark. After I left the plane I went as quickly as I could to the immigration and passport control. Even tho that I have Global Entry, I wanted to get this part behind me as quick as possible as I had a short connection time in LAX and had to go to a different terminal and clear security again, where I had some troubles. So getting through immigration was quick and easy. I used the kiosk and filled out the questions there, from there I headed to an officer which asked me some quick questions and it only took 2 minutes to get my passport stamped. From there I headed down an escalator to claim my checked bags. Remember that I tried to get as quick as possible through immigration, well now I had to wait a long time for my bags to arrive. First, they displayed the wrong baggage claim on the monitors but they made an announcement as they started loading the luggage on the carousel. Even with a priority sticker, my bag was one of the last ones to arrive. I headed through customs and re-checked my bag. As it already had the bag-tag with my final destination on it, I only had to drop it right in front of the conveyor belt, where an airport employee took care of it. With my carry-on, I headed over to Terminal 4 to get through security. Here I had some trouble with TSA, as they didn’t believe me that I had TSA Pre-Check even tho after telling them and that my boarding pass scanned positive but my it was missing the actual TSA Pre logo itself printed on it. They wouldn’t allow me to leave my shoes on or any of the TSA Pre advantages. If you are TSA Pre, try to re-print your boarding pass somewhere before you get to the security checkpoint. You can do it at one of the counters where you will re-check your luggage again. Since the lane is a mixed lane with TSA Pre passengers and regular passengers it took forever to get through. The line was long and they only had one x-ray machine running. You could circumvent that whole hassle if you don’t go to the connecting flights after re-checking your luggage. Instead, you go out of the terminal and straight to whichever terminal you have to go to for your connecting flight if you have one. This will give you also the opportunity to use a dedicated TSA Pre-Check lane.
Once through security, I headed over to American’s Flagship Lounge in Terminal 4.
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.