Earlier this year I wrote about How I Booked American Airlines Business Class and Paid Economy for this summer and we’ve finally flown it earlier this month. So I won’t tell you again how I managed to get these seats without paying a fortune.
Flying with a toddler can be challenging at times and having that extra space while sitting for 5 hours can do wonders, especially when you count the benefits of free check-in baggage, priority line and access to airport lounges.
Our flight was at 6.00AM and we got to LAX at around 4.30AM. Checking-in at the priority desk was a breeze and took less than 10 minutes including baggage drop-off. It was barely 5.00AM and LAX airport was already quite busy.
We could see the TSA (Security) line filling up and predicted the wait would be dreadful – the last thing you want at 5 in the morning. Unfortunately at the American Airlines Terminal in LAX, if you don’t have a TSA Pre-Check benefit or membership you will need to get in line with all other passengers even if you’re flying in Business or First.
Luckily as we got into the TSA line, they opened up another checkpoint and the whole process took less than 20 minutes. Phew!
Generally when flying business or first class within the US you won’t automatically get access to an airport lounge because of the hundreds of flights that operates domestically on a daily basis, I cannot imagine having the business/first class passengers crowding up the lounge at a domestic terminal as these lounges are not as fancy or as big as the international ones. American Airlines prides themselves with their club lounges called the Admirals Club, access to these lounges is based on your class of service, elite status and membership, to be frank the whole access guidelines are quite complicated – details can be found here on AA Club & Lounge Access.
One excerpt from AA website mentions this:
Lounge access is not available if you’re traveling on American Airlines solely within the United States or between the United States and the Caribbean, Canada, or Mexico (except Mexico City) unless you’re a oneworld Emerald or Sapphire customer. However, AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Platinum members regardless of Emerald or Sapphire status, are not eligible
So technically even if you hold the highest elite status of Executive Platinum with AA or flying first class, it won’t grant you automatic access to Admirals Club.
However, on AA operated 3-cabin flights (Economy, Business, First) – when you are Business or First Class passengers you have the privilege to access the Admirals Club, which is the case for all AA operated flights between Los Angeles and New York – so yay! a great perk for us.
Admirals Club at LAX (photo: AA)
It turns out the Admirals Club at LAX was not that impressive, coming in that early in the morning the lounge was almost packed making the lounge feel less exclusive. Other than the usual pastries and hot beverages, they didn’t really offer a good selection of hot breakfast like what I have seen in other airport lounges. The floor to ceiling clear glass window did offer a good view of the tarmac and of course the basic services such as free wifi and work stations were very adequate.
We only spent a good 20 minutes here for a quick bite and coffee before heading to out to our gate.
The boarding process was executed systematically and well-organized, after first class passengers were called (which there seemed to be none at the time of boarding) then it was business class passengers and executive platinum members and so on.
Inside American Airlines A321 (Transcontinental Route)
AA 292, Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK)
Departs: 06.00 AM, Arrive: 02:34 PM
Duration: 5 Hrs 30 Mins
Aircraft: Airbust A321 – Three Cabins
Configuration: Business Class, 2-2, 20 Flat-Bed Seats
Seat: 7A & 7C
AA 321 Seat Map (Seat Guru)
First Class Cabin – American Airlines A321
First Class Seat – American Airlines A321
Business Class Seat – American Airlines A321 – Seat 7A & 7C
Business Class Seat Width: 19.5″ (50cm), Seat Pitch (when turned flat): 78″ (198cm)
I intentionally chose the second row seats (row 7) because seats on row 6 (front of Business Class) would be too close to the lavatory and service galley. You don’t want people standing around near your seat while they’re waiting for the toilet and you don’t want to hear what the flight attendants are chatting about when you’re trying to rest.
Personal In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) System in Business Class
I was very pleased to see the personal IFE monitor size that was generously large, especially for an American carrier.
Ottoman / Foot Cubbie
Under the IFE is a foot rest or ottoman, or some call it the ‘foot cubbie’. It was adequate for someone my size and height (5’4″ / 162cm), but for taller passengers it might be a little too small.
The IFE control system placed on the right hand of the seat next to the magazine pocket.
The IFE control system is about the size of an iPhone (6?), but you can also use the touch-screen TV to control and select the menu.
On the side of the seat is small storage where you can put drinks, headphones and various plug-ins for your your electronics.
The seat comes fully flat to a 78″ (198cm) pitch. The bedding was good quality and comfortable.
Food was nothing but ordinary and not tasty enough for my palette.
View from Seat 7A / 7C.
It was hard to see other passengers in the cabin (when seats are reclined), which makes it a great private space for passengers, even though you can still see what they’re watching on the IFE.
The amenities kit is designed by Cole Haan. We thought it was a good reusable pouch to store our chargers cables or toiletries..
Sunrise as we flew out of LAX
Clear sky as we flew closer to New York.The service on this flight was satisfactory considering how early the flight was, all the crew was courteous and made an effort to say hello and was friendly with my toddler, one lady flight attendant even tried to hold my son to give me a little break but he cried straight away, so that was unfortunate (for me).
After flying Business Class on this route we were exceedingly satisfied and we didn’t find it necessary to sit in First Class because there were more than enough leg room, large IFE monitor and a perfectly wide seat that can turn into a fully flat-bed – as long as we can put our feet up!
If you are seeking for extra privacy, then First Class would be perfect for solo travelers.American Airlines operates 13 daily flights between LAX-JFK on A321 (transcontinental configuration), make sure when you book it’s a 3-cabin aircraft.
Prices for one way would go for $270 in Economy, $1,000 in Business and $1,700 in First – airfares would depend on the day and time you fly.
If you find this Business Class is too pricey (which it kinda is), another alternative to fly between LAX-JFK is with JetBlue on their JetBlue Mint Class which is exceptionally luxurious and cost almost half the price of American’s Business Class at only $600 one way (again depends on the day and time you fly, but this fare is almost always available).
JetBlue Mint Class (Photo: JetBlue)