Last week, I had the chance to fly from LAX to New York JFK on American Airlines’ new A321T (transcontinental). These specially configured planes only fly from LAX and San Francisco to JFK. I wasn’t lucky enough to snag an upgrade to business class, which was full as it was a Monday morning. Watching the evolution of American over the past few months has been exciting. I last flew LAX to JFK in early January on a 767. I love the 767 as an airplane, but American had clearly let these planes become quite old, dirty, and rundown, even in Business class. It was almost shocking that American’s bread and butter route for Hollywood stars and corporate executives had faded carpets, red wine stains (hopefully not blood), and an overhead television straight out of the 1990s.
Stepping onto the new American A321T was like stepping onto a different airline. In fact, the person next to me as they sat down asked, “Is this American, I don’t even recognize this airline, everything is too new!” The first class was American’s international flagship first class product. The business class (pictured) had lie flat seats for the 5 and a half hour flight, the same as you would find on a 14 hour flight to Asia or Europe. Even economy was nice, with a large individual touch screen TV, and plenty of legroom (both pictured). Every seat had a pillow and a blanket. The one thing that didn’t change was American’s lackluster service. Granted, the flight attendants weren’t mean and we actually arrived early (shocking, it is JFK after all), but the snack/ meal service was buy on board pushed by a cart of very old flight attendants who looked and sounded like they were serving a prison chain gang. I did praise the business class flight attendant, who handed out water to the first few rows of coach (even though it wasn’t her job) whenever she could throughout the flight.
All in all, Americans new hard product is very exciting. I would jump at the chance to use AAdvantage miles for a business or first class redemption between LAX and JFK. The hard product is great, every bit as good as Americans new 777-300ER, just without the jetlag that comes with flying that distance, or the taxes involved in purchasing an international mileage redemption ticket. Unfortunately, the smaller plane means less business class seats and therefore less upgrade opportunity, which I am convinced is a smart move by American given their competitors frequency (but does suck for us frequent fliers/ elites).
In summary, the A321T is basically the best of American Airlines. Great hard product, but a soft product of employees and attitude that in general needs some work. I just hope that American keeps up the good work with their new planes and that the right employees are promoted in the new American to match the beautiful new jets that they have on order and are finally being delivered