Reviews

Review: American Airlines A321T business class: New York-Los Angeles

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, January 27 2016
American Airlines A321T business class: New York-Los Angeles
Route

New York (JFK) - Los Angeles

Aircraft Type

Airbus A321

Airline

American Airlines

Flight

AA19

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

8C

Notes
The Good
  • Fully-flat beds up to 198.5cm in length
  • Amenity kits on a domestic flight
  • Lounge access is included
The Bad
  • Not direct aisle access for all
X-Factor
  • AA's yummy signature sundaes customised to your liking
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Flying from east to west in the United States is American Airlines' Airbus A321T business class, complete with fully-flat beds in a cosy 20-seat cabin and sure to keep you comfortable on those relatively short five-hour cross country journeys.

With a boarding pass from New York JFK to Los Angeles, Australian Business Traveller takes to the skies in the USA to bring you this review.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: American Airlines AAdvantage, Oneworld. Qantas Frequent Flyer members can also earn both points and status credits when travelling with AA.
  • Priority check-in, security and boarding: Yes, via clearly-signed Priority AAccess queues.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 3x32kg bags.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x115cm bag with no defined weight limit plus a briefcase, laptop bag or purse and other personal items such as duty-free purchases, books or umbrellas.

Lounge

While not all domestic journeys include lounge access in the United States, American Airlines makes an exception for travellers on its A321T flights between New York JFK and both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Business class passengers on these flights have access to the Admirals Club lounge which offers tarmac views, complimentary alcohol and buffet dining plus an a la carte menu with extra dishes available for purchase...

... while Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members can stop by the neighbouring Flagship Lounge, as can other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers prior to American Airlines flights with the exception of AA's own Executive Platinum members.

Seat

AA's Airbus A321T business class cabin sits directly behind first class with a total of 20 seats spread across five rows in a 2-2 arrangement...

... all of which convert into fully-flat beds with the leg rest linking to the fixed footrest for a total bed length of between 190.5cm and 198cm, depending on which seat you choose.

Even on daytime flights a pillow and blanket are provided with the latter wide enough to fold in half, so you can easily wrap it around and use it as a quasi-mattress underneath and to keep warm on top.

It's easy to get comfortable with pre-sets for the common upright and fully-flat positions and buttons for little tweaks for that perfect spot.

Aside the seat is a shelf space for your goodies and water bottle...

... with AC and USB outlets plus connections for both noise-cancelling and 'regular' headphones as you'd otherwise connect straight to your iPod or laptop.

However, as the space sits at shoulder height you'll often need to twist around to line up your headphones or connect your gadgets, which isn't ideal – but if you're charging your smartphone it certainly does keep the cable out of the way.

Meal

Before take-off we're offered a choice of water, orange juice or sparkling wine – in this case the Ca' Bolani Prosecco NV (Italy) – all of which are served in plastic cups rather than glassware...

... although admittedly more stylishly than the same on United between the same two cities:

Welcome drink aboard United's Boeing 757 BusinessFirst/p.s. flights, LAX-JFK
Welcome drink aboard United's Boeing 757 BusinessFirst/p.s. flights, LAX-JFK

The plastic fortunately disappears after wheels-up where we settle in with a glass of Whale Cove Chardonnay from the Western Cape region in South Africa, plus warmed nuts – no foil packets here:

With today's flight a lunchtime service the meal begins with a main salad of roasted beets, candied pecans and lettuce, joined by a smaller and almost redundant side salad of arugula and watermelon radish with either orange dressing or traditional balsamic vinaigrette:

Then it's a choice between three mains – a four cheese prawn quesadilla, a vegetarian pappardelle pasta or the Thai beef red curry with stir-fried vegetables and coconut rice which was really quite tasty, if not a little over-garnished with more greens.

Dessert offers an assorted cheese plate or more excitingly, AA's signature Ben & Jerry's ice cream sundae which can be customised with hot fudge, butterscotch, berries, whipped cream and chopped nuts as desired.

... and to cap the flight off, a yummy warmed cookie closer to arrival.

The meal service is admittedly very similar to what you'd get further forward in AA first class, but with a few subtle differences.

For example, in first class you'll get proper Champagne (Lanson Black Label Brut on our flight) while in business class it's an Italian Prosecco. Similarly, espresso coffee is offered up the very front, while in business class it's a more traditional java.

Entertainment & Service

Also in similarity to first class are the Bose noise-cancelling headphones and inflight entertainment screens, measuring at the same 15.4 inches from corner to corner...

... serving up hundreds of movies and TV shows – many in high definition – joined also by inflight Internet which was functional and can be had for just US$16 when pre-purchased on the ground.

Annoyingly though, the Bose headphones are collected before landing rather than being left in the seat, leaving you to use a supplied pair of relatively average in-ear buds for the last 45 minutes or so of the flight.

Cabin crew also deliver an amenity kit – earlier in the flight, of course – containing an eye mask, socks, ear plugs, lip balm and moisturiser...

... and were otherwise attentive without being intrusive, topping up wine glasses during meal times before they were near-empty but leaving us uninterrupted when working on our laptop or sneaking in a quick nap.

Headphones aside, when the flight caters to both US domestic travellers and also Australians returning home and relaxing after their productive business trip, that's a good approach to take: allowing passengers to make the most of their journey in their own way.

Heading to New York? Also read:

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of American Airlines.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

sgb

sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Never quite sure what is worse on US Domestic flights, the flight or the generally awful food. Boarding US Domestics is like a bun fight at the best of times.

KG

KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

To add, when flying this route with AA in the F cabin you also get access to the Flagship Lounge prior to departure.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Agreed. Regardless if you're Aadvantage Exec Plat.

You can also use the Flagship check in if flying First on this sector. Flagship check in is not available to OWE.

travelalot

travelalot

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Jan 2016

Total posts 9

This is an informative & interesting review. However, it is perhaps a tiny bit misleading. There are ony 1 or 2 routes in the gigantic 6,700 routes within the US domestic market that provides this level of service. Whilst it's great that AA provided you with the opportunity to sample, it would have been perhaps a bit more accurate to point out that this is a bit of an exception, rather than the rule. I mean, if people reading this naievely think they are going to experience this on the majority of AA's 'first' or 'business class' domestically within the USA then they're going to be a bit dssappointed. A search on You tube or seat guru would be provide a more reliable review of what you can expect. 

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2337

Except that we're not reviewing all of American Airlines' "6,700 routes within the domestic US market". As the article very clearly states in the heading and introduction and other places too, we're reviewing American's Airbus A321T business class between New York and Los Angeles. Not sure how that qualifies as "misleading"..!

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 353

The US carriers just keep on missing the finer points of premium travel eg: the plastic drinkware for pre-take-off drinks. They'll probably save money by using reusable glasses and give things a finer touch. That is only one point but you can almost fill an A4 page. They may have a reasonable hard product but the rest is sooo poor.


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