Monday, July 31, 2017

Trip Report: American Airlines - Dublin, Ireland to New Orleans via Charlotte (July 2017)

Trip Report: American Airlines
Dublin to New Orleans via Charlotte
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

I was originally scheduled to fly from Dublin back to America on Aer Lingus, but due to work constraints I had to come back early so I booked a rewards flight on American Airlines from Dublin to New Orleans via Charlotte.  It had been almost 4 years since I had flown American Airlines domestically, and almost 20 years since I flew them internationally; so I was looking forward to the flight to see what improvements, if any, the airline has made. 

My flight was scheduled to depart Charlotte at 9:55am, arrive into Charlotte at 1:10p and then depart for New Orleans at 2:35p.  The short connection time was fine because all immigration is done at the pre-clearance center in Dublin airport, so I would be connecting through Charlotte as if I was connecting to a domestic flight.  Booking a flight on American Airlines was relatively easy, and I was able to manage my booking including seat selection and meal selection.  On the website, I was also able to sign up for flight notifications as well.  24-hours prior to my flight, I was able to check-in online for my flight and receive my boarding pass. 

Due to the pre-clearance, it is recommended that the passenger arrives at the airport 3-hours prior to departure to ensure enough time to complete all the security and immigration procedures.  I had arrived about 2.5hours prior to departure, and the check-in desks were relatively empty.  American Airlines operates many flights from Dublin, including to New York, Charlotte, and Chicago and many of those flights were operating at the same time.  Despite the concurrent flights, check-in was a breeze and I received my boarding pass as well as checked luggage.  American Airlines provides one free checked baggage as part of their international flights.

Boarding time for the 9:55am departure was listed as 9:05a and boarding started on time by group numbers.  Prior to boarding, American had made an announcement offering to book your hand carry – free of charge – to your final destination to save overhead bin space.  The operating aircraft was an Airbus A330 in a 2-4-2 seat configuration.  I was in the first economy section in an aisle seat on the 4-seater.  Each seat contained a blanket and a pillow, and the legroom of the seat was very good (until the person in front of you reclined).  The seat width was also generally spacious and provided enough room for you to comfortably sit.  The seat comfort was not that good, especially for the longer flights and this created an issue towards the later part of the flight.  The back of each seat contained a personal PTV screen but the screens were older looking, not like the ipad-style that many airlines now have.  The screens were touchscreen but were not sensitive at all and sometimes it took a long time for the system to recognize your response.  The entertainment options were decent – not great but not bad either; the movie selection was definitely better than the TV selection.  Headphone jack was located in your armrest, and so was the USB port.  Have the USB port on the side of the armrest was a bit uncomfortable as the phone was placed in the seat-pocket in front of you but the wire was next to your seat – you had to move the phone each time the person next to you wanted to get out of their seat.

After takeoff the crew distributed headphones to passengers and then started their drink service.  First drinks (American offered full cans) and pretzels were served followed by a light meal.  The meal servings on American are smaller than other airlines but it was decent enough for a light meal.  Afterwards, coffee and tea were served along with dessert – which was ice cream.  Later on in the flight, snacks were handed out which was a mini sandwich.  Prior to landing, a small breakfast box was served.  In other airlines, they put out drinks and snacks in the galley for passengers to help themselves in case they get hungry or thirsty in between service.  American only had water out available, and that too in the last galley which was blocked by attendants; so each time you wanted water or something else you had to ask an attendant. 

Service on the plane was…interesting.  All of the attendants were older in age, and most of them acted as if it was a chore to do the job.  Some of the attendants were a bit rude, others seemed that their only job was security, while others barely cracked smile.  It was definitely not service with a smile.  Generally the flight was smooth, but the seatbelt sign was on the entire time so every time you got up to use the lavatory or to walk around, a flight attendant would come and tell you – not in a polite way – to go back to your seat.  How can passengers sit in one spot for 8hrs? 

We landed in Charlotte on time and it was a quick transfer to my next flight, which was an A319 in a 3-3 seat layout.  Again, the legroom was very nice and the width was decent, but the seat comfort was a bit poor.  There were no PTVs on this flight as the seatback in front of you had a holder where you could place your laptop and watch tvs or movies streamed through the American app.  On this, the attendants’ service was better and friendlier. 

Overall, it was an interesting flight with American Airlines.  Some aspects of the experience exceeded my expectations – the legroom on the plane, the availability of USB ports, and the decent entertainment selection – however other aspects did not meet expectations – service of the crew stands out as an area where there needs improvement.  Given all this, would I take American again internationally – most likely not.  I would much rather pay a higher price for a better quality product and usually with a nicer crew.

No comments:

Post a Comment