Flight Review: American Airlines, Transcon Business
MAY 25 2017
Biz > First.
As sensationalist as that sounds, we did the math and it definitely checks out. It was as pleasant as a late-night long-haul flight can possibly be, especially for one of the nation’s busiest air routes: LAX-JFK.
I booked pretty last-minute, so American was asking for 62,500 AAdvantage miles for this one-way leg in Biz (and a whopping 85K for First). Granted, it’s on their famed Airbus A321T, arguably the illest high-end narrowbody for domestic flights. But still. That’s a lot of miles. Instead, I secured an Economy seat via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal with my Chase Sapphire Reserve account for ~19,200 points. Not terrible for a last-minute booking. That day, I called into AA and asked to be placed on their upgrade waitlist. Remember, this route is hyped: it’s the busiest in the US after ORD-JFK and LAX-SFO. Queueing for an LAX-JFK upgrade is a crapshoot, no doubt.
A couple days later, I lucked out. The upgrade had cleared, for a grand total of only 15,000 AAdvantage miles and $75.
After passing through the first 5 rows of First, you hit the Business class cabin, which sports a 2-2 configuration for 20 seats total.
Waiting in your seat is the customary pillow, blanket, a pair of Bose noise-cancelling cans, a glass of prosecco, and a Cole Haan amenity kit:
On American’s A321T, Biz > First due to a few simple reasons: better value and a surprisingly bigger / wider seat (especially if you snag a window), all while grubbing on the same meals. If you value complete privacy and want to be all Anti Social Social Club, then go with First in their 1-1 reverse herringbone setup. IMHO though, the solitude isn’t worth the extra miles / $$$, and you’ll find yourself in a slightly smaller seat.
There’s tons of legroom, a gorgeous IFE screen, and a little cubby that becomes an extension of your bed when you fully recline the lie-flat seat. The small screen in between the seats of you and your neighbor, combined with an ever-so-slightly staggered orientation, yields a surprising amount of privacy if you need it.
As for the seat / bed itself: MAD comfy. Easily the coziest of all the major domestic carriers lie-flat seats (verdict pending on one; coming for you soon, jetBlue Mint). The power recline was smooth, the device ports were aplenty, and the pillowcover and blanket were soft. Not sleeping-in-lotion soft, but easily enough to give me the best snooze I’ve had in the sky.
After a hot towel and some mixed nuts, it was time to dine. Here’s my very refined, very detailed, very contemplative review of the in-flight meals: it was bomb. All of it.
This was an incredibly enjoyable flight and will likely be my go-to for coast-to-coast travel. It may not hold true across all other routes and all other airlines, but for this specific itinerary, Biz > First.