Originally booked when the service was advertised as a new interior 767, schedule changes morphed the flight in to an aged 757. Contacting American produced no movement in terms of changing flights or routing as they seem to consider all their planes and services the same. The horrid, non-lie flat, beds on the 757 hardly compare to the all-aisle access of the new interior 767’s. Hence I wasn’t expecting much on this flight and it truly delivered just what I expected.
Check-in was not open when I arrived and it took some effort to find the correct queue. This is complicated by the fact that AA operates one check-in area but multiple queues depending on whether you are flying on an AA or US aircraft. On the day I travelled the Chicago service was cancelled and so there was a lot of angst amongst the staff. The self service check-in machines were turned on but would not issue my boarding passes.
The check-in agent was friendly and generated all three of my boarding passes needed for the day.
A quick’ish trip through Fast Track security deposited me in to the shopping area. American uses the Dublin Airport lounge which was fairly quiet to start. AA advised being at US Pre-clearance 2 hours before the flight although the staff at the lounge agreed that this was excessive. There was cereal, muffins, and various other self-service snacks available. There are toilets within the lounge. It is a 5 minute walk to Pre-Clearance.
Indeed the 40 minutes I left before boarding was more than enough with Global Entry. The wait for non-GE passengers was long and so 1 hour before boarding would be my advice.
When you arrive in the Pre-clearance area you have to undergo a further security check – shoes and electronics and liquids out – before joining the immigration queue. Pre Clearance machines (there are 4) are to the right of the hall. Here I had three pieces of bad luck:
– the agent took a customer off for secondary inspection just as I arrived in the queue closing her lane
– I had a family of 4 in front of me, all with GE
– The agents at Dublin continue to do a full Q&A with passengers using GE even though the machine has already asked many of the questions. Even though your passport matches your recorded fingerprints, they still hold the passport up to check you are who you say you are
By my reckoning it took 20 minutes to get through immigration, the worst pre-clearance experience I have ever had except in Canada.
Once through there is a small coffee shop and Duty Free, so effectively you are confined to a small gate area.
We boarded slightly late and I knew that the winds were due to slow our journey although not enough to cause a mis-connect at JFK. Once onboard it was the familiar 4 row’s of Business Class between doors 1 and 2 of the plane.
The crew had laid out pillows, blankets, menus and amenity kit at each seat ready for the full load expected. There was an off-duty pilot travelling with his wife who spent most of the pre-departure time monopolising the crew – both the pilots and flight attendants. He was taking the jump seat in the cockpit and his wife was in economy at the exit row. The screens are tiny on the 757 and only contain a small selection of movies. I picked the least worst option and hoped to see most of it before take off and through the meal.
As take off time came and went the pilot explained that not enough fuel had been loaded and so he called back the fuel truck. Thirty minutes later this was finished but the crew were still loading bags. We left around 50 minutes late and a wait for takeoff made it no better. Our arrival time turned out to be about 40 minutes before my connection was due and many passengers were in the same boat.
The flight attendant came around with requests for orders after take-off and noted that I had preselected the beef. The starter of melon and parma ham was fairly tasty.
The was a yoghurt or vinaigrette dressing for the salad.
My main course came as soon as I had finished:
It was one of the toughest pieces of beef I have every had on a plane and it required hard graft to cut it and to chew! Not impressed.
Dessert was the inevitable Ice-cream sundae or cheese and fruit:
I then decided to sleep but was awoken by my seat mate trying to climb over me to get to the loo. Otherwise I napped until about 90 minutes out of New York when the second meal was delivered. I had eaten this offering before and as it was so good chose to eat the second meal. Towards the end of the flight it became clear that the pilot from the jump seat and his wife were sitting in the crew rest seats at the back of the Business Class cabin. Several times during the flight I went to visit the loo only to find that the deadheading pilot was coming or going between his seat and the cockpit causing the Business Class washroom to be out of use and for the staff to have to order me back to my seat.
We landed late as expected and at Gate 7 in the main part of American’s Terminal 8 at JFK. We deplaned through door 1, having boarded through door 2 and so I was quickly away as I was sat in Row 1. Except it seems that Gate 7 can only grant access to the terminal via Gate 5 so we had to walk in the wrong direction for the connecting tunnel. Luckily I got to my connection around the time of boarding.
All round these 757 services are sub-standard and I hope AA swaps them out soon. The contrast to the 767 booked and the new 777-300’s is vast. If you didn’t know better and got this service in error you would think it was around 2010 when flat meant the bed, not the body.