Review: JFK American Airlines Flagship Lounge
Review: American Airlines 767-300 Business Class, JFK-MXP
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Review: American Airlines 767-300 Business Class, MXP-JFK
I was looking forward to flying home from Milan, since my outbound trip was on the older 767-300 and had a non-functioning angle flat seat, and this trip was scheduled to be on the newer 767-300 with fully lie-flat seats.
Arriving at Milan airport, the American Airlines check-in is in a secluded off area where you need to go through a quick security checkpoint, where a police officer glances at your passport. In fact, all of the US based airlines such as Delta, United and American are based in this area.
There was a business class and economy class check-in queue, and I stood in line at the business class line, only to be shuffled to an available economy agent a few moments later. Milan airport appears to be staffed by contract staff (who are visible with their embroidered jackets in a branding of whatever firm they represent), though interestingly they all have official American Airlines nameplates. When I asked AA of whether they were contract staff I was only told that they may be, but there wasn’t a definitive answer.
After checking-in, there was a long walk to the security area, where I was entitled to use the faster lane, and then to the lounge. If you’re a fast walker, it’s at least a 30 minute process, so plan ahead – the airport is large and spaced apart.
Once through security, I walked quite a bit of distance to the Sala Montale lounge, which is the airport-contracted lounge American Airlines, and a number of other airlines use.
Inside was a pleasant atmosphere, overlooking the terminals and runways. It actually had a very open feel, and was a nice place to sit, relax or watch tv. In fact, I’d argue it was better than some of the domestic US lounges I’ve seen. There was plenty of drinks, both alcoholic and non, as well as some small food selections, non of which looked appetizing.
About 10 minutes prior to scheduled boarding, I left for the gate. I’d highly recommend leaving at least 15-20 minutes prior to scheduled boarding if you want to board with Business Class, since the gates are not near the lounge.
Once at the gate, there was a large queue to begin the boarding process, though the gate staff did a reasonably good job of trying to ensure Business and Priority AAcess passengers boarding first.
After boarding, I entered the plane to take my seat at 2J, on the right hand side. This aircraft is laid out in a 1x2x1 configuration, and you can find the best business class seats by reading this post. My seat had a large console against the aisle, with the seat closer to the window. At the seat was a Samsung tablet in a small fold-down compartment in front, as well as an older style amenity kit in a holder on the console.
The seat itself is very spacious, though there are two complaints I have:
- The tray table, which swings out from the console, requires a PhD to take out and put back in. Even the flight attendant had trouble, and apparently this isn’t a new issue and has been reported before. It takes quite a bit of figuring out to tinker with it.
- The controls on the console to raise and lower the seat are too close to where you would lay your arm, as if it was an armrest. On more than one occasion, my arm laid over the controls and because they’re touch sensitive, the seat started to jolt and move. I wish these controls were placed in a better area.
After a short bit, I was introduced to the flight attendant who would be serving my row, and I was glad he was up-beat. He passed around menus, as well as a pre-departure beverage selection of orange juice, water or sparkling wine. I chose the sparkling wine.
I had pre-ordered the herbed chicken, which was notated already on the manifest as he was taking food orders.
The cabin door was closed, and we taxied to our runway for take-off, which only took about 5 minutes due to there being no other aircraft in the area.
Once airborne, a hot towel was offered and I took out the Samsung tablet to begin previewing the inflight entertainment. Bose Quiet Comfort headphones were passed out, and I promptly plugged these in to begin watching.
Beverage service was offered from a trolley, to which I ordered more sparkling wine as well as a Coke Zero. Soon after, an appetizer of chicken and tzatziki sauce was offered, which was quite delicious. Then, came the chicken breast with brie, followed by an ice cream sundae – my favorite.
About an hour and a half prior to landing, a lunch meal was offered, and I chose the croque monsieuer sandwich, which was very heavy and full of bread.
The noise canceling headphones were collected and the cabin prepared for landing. One thing I’ve never seen before is a video shown by the folks at Customs and Border Protection, which must be a new thing. It’s shown in both English and Italian, and an opportunity is given to fill out the blue immigration cards during this time.
Upon landing at JFK, we were delayed in reaching the gate for about 1 hour, due to a broke water pipe in Terminal 8. This caused a backup of traffic, and a re-location of all of the American aircraft that were effected by the now flooded gates. What would have been an early arrival turned into an hour delay, but it was an airport issue and not one controlled by American.
I liked American’s new business class, though had some frustrations with the tray table and seat controls as I noted. I would have preferred for the inflight entertainment to be included in the seatback in front, but can understand why this may not have been done due to them retiring this aircraft in a few years.
Make sure you get one of the single seats if you’re traveling alone, and preferably those with the console against the aisle so you have more privacy.
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