American Airlines First Class Chicago-New York LaGuardia – Flight Review
Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which owned the title of world’s busiest airport for half a century, first served as the site of a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54 aircraft during the Second World War and became Orchard Field Airport (which survives in its airport code, ORD) in 1945. By the 1950s, Chicago’s primary airport, Midway, had become overcrowded and plans were made to develop ORD, now named after Edward O’Hare, the Navy’s first flying ace, as the city’s primary airport.
I arrived somewhat early at O’Hare’s Terminal 3, American Airline’s hub. The terminal, which has 80 gates and four concourses, is huge and modern. American is the second largest carrier at O’Hare handling 37% of passenger traffic. (United is the largest, with 45%.)
Thanks to PreCheck, available at security lanes seven and eight, I went from curbside to airside in roughly three minutes. No one was on line ahead of me at the PreCheck line, something that is becoming more unusual as more passengers are opting in for the service.
The busiest route from O’Hare is to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. American and the three other airlines that serve this route carried 1.3 million passengers in the 12-month period ending May 2013. (The second most popular route is to London Heathrow and the third is to Los Angeles International Airport.)
Gate K13 is about two-thirds of the way down the K concourse. With ample time until departure, I stopped briefly in the Admiral’s Club and then continued to the gate.
American boards first-class passengers ahead of all other groups including higher-status elite passengers, which results in a leisurely boarding process without a crush of people. As I entered the Super 80 aircraft, the flight attendants were busy preparing the galley and cabin for the flight (the flight time is short yet there is a full service in first class) but stopped to greet passengers as they boarded.
I quickly found my seat, 4F, in the second row of the aircraft.
First class seats on American’s Super 80 aircraft are in a 2-2 configuration, starting with row three. The 16 first-class seats on this plane, which is a mainstay of American’s current fleet (the airline has 190 although they are being retired in favor of newer Boeing 737s and other aircraft), are among my favorites: comfortable, well-padded, and 19.5” wide with a pleasing 39” seat pitch. The pitch on similar aircraft on other airlines is typically 37”.
Each seat provides its own DC power outlet. While there is no in-flight entertainment system the aircraft does have Gogo in-flight Internet.
American only provides blankets in first class, no pillows, but the charcoal grey blanket (which was sealed in a plastic bag) made for an adequate substitute. The BE Aerospace-manufactured seats have a manual recline mechanism and an adjustable headrest with wings and were quite comfortable.
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