This is my first time flying Flagship Business transcontinental on a three-cabin aircraft with American Airlines. I was looking for a trip to fly from Los Angeles to Miami. As it is a pretty long trip, flying in a three-cabin aircraft has the big advantage of lie-flat seats. There are other non-stop flights from LAX to MIA but they are only in a two cabin narrowbody aircraft and offer no lie-flat seats if you fly with American Airlines.
Finding this trip on Saturday, just one day after the biggest earthquake in Southern California, I was surprised that the prices were decent and people are not getting crazy to leave the area for a few days.
What I liked most, was the departure time. The flight was scheduled to depart at 1:20 p.m. and that gives me enough time for a good breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach and to drive to the airport. I gave myself too much time and just barely made it to the flight, but wasn’t able to use the lounge. It was not a big deal, as I just had a late breakfast and a short drive to the airport without traffic.
The priority check-in line was not busy and I was able to get an agent right away, without having to wait even a second. She tagged my bags and handed me my boarding pass and I was off to the TSA PreCheck upstairs. There was just a small crowd. But an a**hole of passenger walked up to me and asked me if he could step in front of me as he is about to miss his flight. I told him that I am about to miss mine too and he jumped me and the guy in front of me, without even asking him. What a douche! I even had to get my carry-on to go through secondary inspection. My carry-on has always the same contents in the same exact location. Not more and not less, but sometimes it just gets straight through and other times it won’t. Sometimes even at the same security lanes after coming back to the same airport.
I walked over to the gate, which was to my luck, just past the security checkpoint and along the corridor to get to the Tom Bradley International Terminal from Terminal 4. I tried to get closer to see if boarding already started but people just blocked all of the boarding lanes. Maybe, it’s just me as a frequent flier, who complains about that, but you know exactly that you are not in First or Business Class and that the agents will board by group number, why block the aisles? It even gets announced before the boarding process starts. While checking my app, the upgrade list showed a bunch of names but my name was not on the list. As it was just seconds before boarding started, I asked if they can put me on the list, but they were unable too. Normally Executive Platinum frequent fliers get put automatically on the upgrade list. I guess I will miss out on being upgraded to First Class.
Even once boarding started and my group (Group 2) was called, I had to fight my way through the masses as people just stand in front of the boarding lanes and block the access. As I made it down the jetbridge to the door of the aircraft, I was greeted by a flight attendant and she asked for my seat number to direct me into the right aisle and direction. As a frequent flier and aviation geek, I knew the plane’s layout, but not everyone does and it is a great service to help people out and speed up boarding. Otherwise, people would end up in the wrong aisle and you can only cross over at a few spots by the galleys. This would become a mess.
I stowed my bags in the overhead bin and settled into my seat. I double-checked the upgrade list and about 3 or 4 people got upgraded. The only thing it didn’t show was from which class in which.
Every seat was already fully equipped with noise-canceling headsets, an amenity kit, an in-flight dining menu, pillow, and blanket. While boarding was still in full swing, the flight attendant assigned to my part of the cabin came through with pre-departure drinks and a choice of water or orange juice.
Once boarding was complete, flight attendants walked through the aisle to take food orders for today’s flight. My choice fell on the ribs, which I know from experience are very delicious.
Boarding was completed, they made the announcements and started the safety demonstration. The plane also pushed back from the gate and we were sitting quite a while on the tarmac. Flight attendants came through the aisles again to collect the cups of the pre-departure drinks and to double-check passengers for safety before take off. But a few minutes after that an announcement from the captain over the PA.
There are issues with one of the boarding doors and the captain has decided to roll back to the gate and have maintenance come on board and check the door. We started rolling towards the gate and sat there for quite a while. After a few minutes, I saw the maintenance crew walk through the aisles down towards the mid-section of the plane. I started watching a movie on the big in-flight entertainment screen. You have to fold this one out to watch but have to stow it for taking off and landing. As we were sitting at the gate, I kept watching and when we finally got another announcement from the captain that everything is good to go, I stowed the screen again. By now we were already an hour late from the original departure time.
The plane made it out to the runway and off we went into the skies. After a few minutes of climbing, flight attendants came through the aisle with hot towels and shortly after that with a cart for the drinks and nuts. I decided to have a Chardonnay while watching Captain Marvel. The plane is my movie theatre. I haven’t been to the movies in years, as I watch them all while flying. Of course, movie theatres have a better sound system and a bigger screen, but if you fly business class. You have your own lie-flat seat, you can enjoy a glass of wine and once ready, my order of ribs. To be honest, the Bose headsets are not bad either.
My food order came out while watching the movie and I actually paused the movie to enjoy my food and not miss a scene from the movie itself. Just as I thought, the ribs were amazing and very delicious. They were so good, that I asked if could have more if there are any leftovers. Unfortunately, there weren’t any.
After finishing my food, I ordered the ice cream sundae for dessert and kept on watching the movie. As I was done eating, the flight attendant picked up my food tray and I stowed the table, folded the seat back and finished the movie.
After the movie ended, I unpacked the pillow and blanket and went for a short nap of about 2 hours. I woke up just shortly before we started the descent into Miami. I put the seatback in the upright position, stowed all my stuff and went to the bathroom for a second time during this flight. The bathroom in the back of the Business Class cabin, just before Premium Economy is small. Not uncomfortable small, but small. While the other bathroom, just two rows behind the first-class cabin, is way more spacious. Hey, it’s a bathroom, I don’t really care too much about the size, as I want to spend at least as possible time in there.
I got back to my seat and got ready for landing. The cabin crew went through the aisles the last time before landing, to pick up the remaining service items. Shortly thereafter we touched down in Miami. We landed just a few minutes before 11 p.m. EDT, which brought us into Miami almost 1,5 hours late.
At least the gate was not too far from the exit and baggage claim. However, it took American Airlines forever to get the bags delivered to the carousel. Then the usual behavior of passengers. Everyone stands right in front of the baggage claim, so other people can’t get to it or can’t see if your bag is coming out. Maybe they don’t know but priority customers backs come out first, followed by the rest. I always stand quite a bit away from the carousel so other people could walk in and grab their bag when they see it. Unfortunately, I got cut off by a bunch of people which had to step right in front of me. Nobody has respect or uses their brains while waiting for bags. Maybe it’s really because I am flying so much, but for some reason, I can compare these people to a hoard of zombies.
Anyway, I got my bags, took the MIA Mover to the rental car center and went off to my hotel in Miami Beach, the Kimpton Angler’s Hotel.
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.