I have not been paid by any entity in any way (financially and/or benefits) to write the following post.
This trip occurred in mid-March of 2018. Any airline, lounge, and/or loyalty program policies may have changed since then.
Having a 6:30AM flight is not an easy task for me. Waking up early is never an easy task for me. However, after having Snowstorm Skylar wallop my original connecting airport (Newark Liberty) and my backup option (Boston) on United, I was left with no other option and had to fly this early morning flight on American Airlines from LAX to Dallas, then Dallas back to my home airport in McAllen. So after spending a lovely, unexpected night at the Sheraton Gateway LAX hotel, I begrudgingly got myself up to catch my flight.
I started my early morning trip with the intention of utilizing the Flagship First Check-In Area at LAX with my Oneworld Emerald/LATAM Black status. The policy for Flagship First Check-In from American’s website is as follows:
I was unfortunately denied access to the Flagship First Check-In by the agents, claiming it wasn’t available to Oneworld Emerald members flying American domestically, despite their official policy on the website. I always refrain from acting like a stuck-up snob (saying “I am entitled, I am this, I am that, I paid, blah blah blah”), and considering these lovely agents had to be up earlier than I did, I instead thanked them and made my way to the closest TSA PreCheck checkpoint and headed airside to the Flagship Lounge LAX.
The Flagship Lounge is hosted at the same location as the Admiral’s Club in terminal 4, and opens from 4:30AM to 1:30AM. Thanks to my LATAM Black/Oneworld Emerald status, I had access to the lounge even though I was flying American domestically. I proceeded to review the food spread, having breakfast in the buffet section of the lounge.
As I toured around the lounge, I found myself outside this fancy looking entrance.
I unfortunately did not have access to American’s signature “Flagship First Dining” area, an a la carte dining experience which is reserved for American’s intercontinental and transcontinental First Class customers. If you are flying in international First Class on a Oneworld member or are an Emerald member, you are able to use the First Class lounge offered by Qantas in the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), which also offers an a la carte dining service.
After finishing my breakfast, I headed over to the gate to board my early (ugh) morning flight to Dallas.
N149AN American Airlines 2015 Airbus A321-231 – cn 6812 by Tomas Del Coro (CC BY-SA 2.0). Unfortunately, I was too tired to remember to take some pictures of the aircraft, so apologies! I have credited all the photos to their original owners.
I got situated in my window seat, admiring the first class cabin in this A321S (Version 1), which included Audio Video on Demand (AVOD)!
Also, the seats were stocked with a throw blanket in case you got chilly during the flight. Soon a flight attendant came by with a pre-departure drink request (oh the luxury). I ended up ordering a cup of water to hydrate me up for the flight.
One thing I have begun to embrace, especially for the long-haul flights, is to drink as much water as possible the night before and a few hours before the flight, and buy/take as much water as you can onboard to constantly keep drinking while you’re awake. It will help you combat jetlag, and helps prevent your skin from drying out inflight. I took a ton of water with me on my San Fran to Taipei flight, which you can read about here. (Shameless plug to my own site!)
As I stretched out into the (amazing) leg room provided in this cabin, I scrolled through the AVOD system, finding some good content that was definitely more than enough for the flight.
Anyways, after getting both the passengers and the baggage onboard, the main cabin door closed and we pushed back from the gate, ready for our 3 (give or take) hour flight to Dallas/Fort Worth. Before I knew it, we were taking off. (Spoiler: Air Force One makes an appearance at 1:40!)
Post takeoff, I reclined my seat and started watching Justice League for what must have been the millionth time. The only difference is that this time, I actually watched the entire movie. All of it. 100%. When my Island Hopper trip review is up, you’ll understand what I mean… (and you’ll read about it here [another shameless plug!])
The flight attendants then came for our meal order, and a little while later the breakfast had arrived.
Now, I like inflight meals as much as the next person, but I must say that the sandwich was very poor. How poor? Extremely poor. I had a few bites but I just could not eat it. Thankfully, you can’t really screw up fruit, and the cinnamon roll was great! I was
very extremely glad I had a full breakfast at the Flagship Lounge, because American definitely needs to step it up with their catering if this is any indication of what they are serving across the network.
After the meal service I passed the time listening to some tunes and watching some shows, and before I knew it we were over my home state of Texas, landing in Dallas.
I think the overall experience was great. Although it was a bummer not being able to use the Flagship First Check-In, the lounge was absolutely fresh and modern with great food and drinks. The flight itself was great, with amazing and friendly flight attendants. The first class cabin and the plane was new and spacious (for now, try to keep it that way), really giving me an improved perception of American. The American Airlines I have always known consisted of the old “Maddog” MD-80s, constant delays, and grouchy service.
The only bad part of this trip was the meal, so if you’re banking on that AAirline food, I’d suggest eating before boarding, or buying a snack to take onboard. Besides that, I must reiterate that it seems American is heading in a better direction.
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As always, remember to keep living life one trip at a time!