American – I want those 100 minutes of my life back

American at JFK

 

I include this image not because it is the plane that took me from JFK to Los Angeles but rather because the clouds in the distance should have warned me about problems ahead.

I was travelling, as were a good half dozen of my fellow passengers from BA1, to Los Angeles. A number of them were going on to Honolulu – just in time for their recent storms. I was stopping short by getting off at LAX which was lucky as it happened.

The food had been indifferent on the flight from London so I enjoyed a hearty lunch in the Flagship Lounge at JFK, where they seem to have added some decent new options:

AA Flagship Lounge at JFK AA Flagship Lounge at JFK

Who can not love a lounge with Macaroni Cheese?

The lounge was getting busy but soon it was boarding time and with a 10-15 minute to the gate I left in plenty of time. American is famous for boarding earlier than the time shown on the boarding pass and so it was this time. A good ten minutes before we were supposed to be boarding, they were doing the announcement. The A321, three class plane to LAX is super but has relatively few passengers. Anyway, AA actually boarding First Class separately from elite members and Business Class passengers.

The 10 seat First Class cabin was full, although some passengers boarded right at the last moment. The crew were not terribly pleasant. The last flight I had taken on this plane, had wonderful crew. The contrast was stark.

After everyone was on, and bags stowed, we pushed back and then waited. And waited. And waited.

It was the start of what turned out to be a 100 minute weather related delay.

After we stopped on the jet way for about 20 minutes I thought something odd was going on. We then started to pull forwards, yipee! Stopping at the point where we met other planes trying to get to the runway. The pilot then explained that there likely to be a delay because of a range of storms approaching New York causing all planes to have to book new flight plans. It was then that we joined the line of planes – there were two it seemed, those going somewhere and those that weren’t. We were in the latter queue. 100 minutes after we pulled back from the gate we were finally airborne on the way to LAX.

The grumpy queue finally stopped telling people to go back to the seats as they tried to use the loo. They passed out the Bose headsets to First and Business and even brought around drinks. We were allowed to pop out our video screens for the duration of the delay.

AA JFK-LAX delay

The food was OK РI had the starter on my previous flight on this service and so knew it would be good.

AA First JFK to LAX starter

The salad was OK – not as good as the last flight:

AA First JFK to LAX salad

The chicken with lime was fine, but not superb – if I can put it that way.

AA First JFK to LAX main

It was the ice cream or cheese options for the dessert and I skipped it in preference to a little nap before landing.

IMG_1616 JFK to LAX American

The sun set as we headed west. Late only about an hour, I think most people’s connections were OK and although there was a little wait after landing for access to the gate, it wasn’t as bad it initially seemed to be.

So, a perfectly good flight on the A321 with American.

I won’t be taking this again until November and then I am consigned to ‘only’ Business Class, in truth a perfect alternative to First as the food is the same and I think the seating a little nicer.

 

 

Comments

  1. Really? A 39 minute arrival delay out of JFK on a summer afternoon when storms are always a possibility, and you’re complaining about “want[ing] those 100 minutes of [your] life back”? 39 minutes late on arrival is nothing when the FAA has a severe weather avoidance plan in effect at JFK and departure procedures are forced onto only a few waypoints with in-trail restrictions.

  2. Congratulations on being one of those annoying passengers who things everything including the weather is the airlines fault. First time I’ve read your blog, and the last.

    MilesFromBlighty – I want the 5 minutes I spent reading your blog back. And unlike you, I have a valid reason for asking…

  3. @Frank – Sorry you didn’t enjoy the post. In truth there was a lot that American could have done better – keeping us better informed, it was a good thirty minutes before anyone told us what was going on. We then only had two announcements for the whole of the delay. Weather delays happen but it surely doesn’t take 100 minutes to re-file a new flight plan? The flight left as scheduled and these days weather is a known quantity – why board us when they knew there were problems? So, please don’t think American is blameless.

  4. I’ve just retired as an Air Traffic Controller. Whilst I understand the lack of communication from American to you, it is only to be expected when the company are trying to re-file flight plans to minimise the delay. Often the crew won’t know until they are given the new route by the company and upload the new data into the aircraft.

    Weather is a really tricky phenomenon. ATC can act on forecast weather data and apply reduced flow rates/offer reroutes, but unless it’s severe, the airline customer doesn’t tend to like that too much, especially if it doesn’t materialise exactly where it was predicted, so it’s quite common for it to be a last minute thing, when the weather has developed to such an extent that everyone wants to avoid it. This causes an exponential workload for the controllers and results in a need to stop the flow for safety reasons; I could go on with examples and ‘war stories’ from aircrew who rang in after on landing, but that would be scary. Suffice to say that American, like everyone in the chain, want to get to destination asap, but safely!

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