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April 30, 2017 / oneworld82

A much-improved catering made it for my best American Airlines First Class flight to date! London to Dallas on AA First Class (AA F LHR-DFW)

As you might know by following my blog, I fly AA quite a lot. After all, I am based in Dallas, and overall I have never had a problem with AA (plus I consider its business class hard product to be best-in-class across the Atlantic). Usually, I have two issues with the soft product. One is service. I don’t know, but AA’s flight attendants are almost never “polished” (even when super nice) and they can be outright rude (like when they throw the tray with food at you). Then you have the food, which is almost always ok but never memorable.

American seems to be tackling both aspects. Service is being addressed with an internal training campaign aimed at improving the quality of service provided to customers; while food has seen major partnerships with renowned chefs signed. First Class out of London happens to feature menus inspired by a Michelin-starred British chef (Mark Sargeant), and I can assure you that this made all the difference on my flight in terms of quality and presentation (not to mention that in First AA now serves Champagne Philipponat, a delicious, citrusy bubbly that went very well with my palate).

In any case, after a couple of meetings in the office I headed to T3 to check in my bags, and I then headed to the Admirals Lounge. Check in in T3 is always good – I find the agent there nice and competent.

The lounge wasn’t too busy when I arrived. It had some attempt at Christmas decorations…

…but otherwise it was as “meh” as usual.

I decided to head to the showers to refresh myself. This is one part that I really like of AA’s club here – the showers are nice, warm, and big – with good amenities.

It’s amazing what a nice shower can do for you!

I then headed to the lunch section just to check out what they had on offer. I find lunch to be rather good at the AA lounge (a while back they even had a “make your own slider” concept!).

Still, I do not understand why Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, and British Airways all have separate lounges at LHR. I mean, wouldn’t it make much more financial sense to have ONE oneworld lounge in a secondary terminal like T3? A lounge offering business and first class sections, with pre-flight dining and other amenities? Not sure why that’s not the case.

At T-45 I headed to my gate, where the plane was ready for our flight. Boarding at LHR is always a messy business, more because of the layout of the gates than anything else. I managed to sneak in anyways with First Class passengers, and then the show began.

Flight AA81, LHR-DFW

Dec 6th, 2016

First Class, Seat 1J

Turning left while boarding the plane is always a nice feeling! AA’s First Class cabin is really nice, especially because it only has 8 seats. While they are not enclosed suites, they do offer good privacy and a lot of side space.

I find AA seats in the 77W First Class to be very comfortable, altough not that stylish. Just like Delta and United i ntheir business class cabin, American’s cabin look and feels very corporate – but the wood trims on the side are at least very nice. I still am not a fan of the AA seat rotating – I think that having a larger suite and a bigger tray would be better – but overall there is a good amount of space to store small items, shoes, etc.

A cover and pillow were waiting for me in the footrest, while in the overhead compartment there was a mattress pad (once more, I wouldn’t see anyone being offered to have their bed made on this flight). A pajama was offered, together with slippers. I find AA’s pjs to be of good quality and comfortable, and sometimes I even use them at home, although I usually prefer my Lufthansa one.

One of the thing I do not necessarily like of this seat is the TV – it’s not very big for a first class seat and I feel like a different seat configuration would have allowed for a much larger screen.

From the beginning I could tell the crew would be good, as the flight attendant serving my aisle was cheerful and rather professional. My main pet-peeve with AA in premium cabin, though, is the fact that the crew almost NEVER keep the curtains shut; I mean, they are already very thin – but couldn’t they at least keep them close so that customers do not have to see trash and hear chatters among them? I honestly do not understand.

In any case, menus were waiting for us at our seat, and the new partnership with Michael Sargeant looked great from the start. Also, I liked the choice of champagne – Philipponat Clos des Goisses 2005 – a boutique producer that reminded me of Krug.

I have lost the menus, unfortunately, but I can tell you everything looked great. BOSE headsets were ready at my seat as well.

The crew offered newspapers from a cart.

We taxied for a while before reaching our runway.

We took off on time, and once airborne orders were taken. I find the little panel to control the seat always interesting – redundant even. What an attempt to be technologically savvy by the Old American! 😉

Drinks and nuts were offered before the meal, and I was happy to get some Philipponat – this time served in a proper flute.

Then lunch was served. We started with a lobster (yes, lobster on AA!) and orange salad, which was good. The lobster was tasty and fresh.

We continued with a yummy roasted pepper soup.

Then salad followed. It was a good attempt to make the usual AA salad less boring, and I think catering did a good job.

As main I selected the salmon with bak choi. It was very flavorful and the “Asian” combination of rice and bak choi was very well executed.

I ended the meal with some cheese – and look at this presentation! Is this Lufthansa or something…?? 😉

The quality of the cheese definitely improved, and those oatcakes were the perfect complement to it!

Overall, this was a great meal – the best I have had on AA. I have flown AA business class (and old first class) 4-5 more times ever since, and I can attest the improvements in the catering department. Now, service is still rough – and they still never close that flimsy curtain – but at least f&b has improved. Well done!

After lunch I reclined my bed and slept for a good 4 hours – jet lag was definitely kicking in. I slept well – the bed on AA F is comfortable, and when I woke up I decided to refresh myself with a good glass of champagne. We were about 2h30m out of Dallas, and the flight attendant informed me that she was opening a bottle just for me – woot woot. She then suggested I drank more of it, as otherwise it would go to waste. Who am I to decline such an offer??

Around 90 minutes before landing a snack was offered. While ever since AA has introduced a new, revised “dinner” menu (excellent cheese and bbq sandwich these days, see picture below), at the time it was still the old choice between croque monsieur and chilly Thai salad. I opted for the latter, which was not memorable.

The fruit and cookie were somewhat better.

We landed on time in Dallas, and what was a fantastic AA flight (the first, proper First class experience I have ever had on AA!) and a great trip came to an end.

I hope you have enjoyed following our Chinese adventures. Coming up: Morocco and Eastern Europe!

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