I arrived at JFK early in the morning as I had not been able to check-in online with USAirways. My American Airlines ticket has been re-issued several times to accommodate schedule changes and so I was expecting problems. It took 45 minutes to secure my boarding passes but fairly soon I was through the TSA PreCheck line and heading for the Flagship Lounge. The terminal, as you can see, was quiet.
The flight leaves at 0630 from the mid-field terminal and I had about an hour in the lounge before taking the 15 minute walk to the gate. The Flagship Lounge offers a wide range of hot and cold breakfast offerings:
At the moment you cannot prebook your entree on USAirways flights (unlike AA where you can do it 30 days in advance), and so I had a bagel, some quiche and sausage to make sure I was reasonable satiated for the 5 1/2 hour flight to Phoenix.
Boarding started slightly early with First Class being called. Once on board, I stowed the bags and sat down. If you’ve read my post about the weirdness of travel you will know that at the end of boarding I was told ‘Karma is a bitch’ by my seat mate after I refused to change seats with her husband/friend. Even odder was the woman across the aisle who, just as we were about to leave decided to deplane. I had to warn the staff as they had not noticed this in their pre-departure busy period. The passenger in the row in front then tried to get her husband upgraded, but there was a passenger with higher status who snagged the comfy seat. Orders for breakfast were taken from back to front.
There was WiFi, but no in-seat power on this A321. The single flight attendant working the First Class cabin was lovely and made a real effort. I chose the omelette for breakfast.
The seats were OK with limited recline. The WiFi was switched on, and I noted how expensive it has become now when you buy-on-board. It is cheaper if you buy on the ground.
You can access AA’s and USAirways web site for free which is helpful for connecting gate information.
The snack basket came round a couple of times before landing.
We arrived in Phoenix on time and instead of the very long walk between gates I had been expecting, we were moved to the same concourse as my connecting flight to Honolulu. The Admirals Club was closed for renovation and I didn’t want to trek to the other concourse. The onwards 757 was waiting for us at the gate:
This old US 757 was certainly looking its age when we boarded. The small First Class cabin was accessible through a mini-economy cabin. I was seated at the bulkhead in row 2 which had a large foot well. Perfect for storing the pillow and blanket.
Post-departure drink was accompanied by warm nuts with pineapple pieces:
The lady next to me wanted to chat, and I did for a little while until I had enough and wanted a nap. Lunch orders were taken and I chose the pasta which was much better than I was expecting:
The starter (bottom left) was a bit odd – a sort of slaw with a ginger dressing. The absence of menu’s didn’t help me understand what it was supposed to be.
About an hour after the lunch service was cleared away the flight attendant brought round the ice-cream sundae, I think with the idea of making the 6+ hour flight was bearable. We arrived slightly late in to Honolulu having changed approach it appeared after we were close to the airport. You may know that most planes approach from the west landing to the east. As you can see we did a loop and approached by flying over Waikiki to land on the runway by the ocean. The taxi took 15-20 minutes.
Fairly quickly off the plane through Door 2, although no one held passengers to allow First to deplane, I was in the cab to the hotel in around 15 minutes after getting to the gate.
These flights were not as dismal as I was expecting them to be based on other reviews but in truth the service is below the American standard. They are good for earning BA Tier Points, JFK-PHX-HNL being 420 Tier Points, which is why they are popular. (That’s 2/3rd of the way to BA Silver which secures lounge access.)
The seats are not very comfortable but the flight attendants tried to make the service as good as they could. Is it more comfortable to go via LAX on the three-class AA plane? Yes, certainly it is as it’s fully flat beds to LA.