American Airlines A321T First Class Flight 171 New York-Los Angeles – Review

A lie-flat bed in a Flagship First suite on an A321T

By Jesse Sokolow on 25 November 2014
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Terminal 8, American’s home at John F. Kennedy International Airport, is quiet in the early morning hours. I arrived at 4:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. departure to Los Angeles, and I was somewhat fatigued. Having flown transcon to New York a mere two days earlier, my internal clock was still askew, and the 3:50 a.m. wake up call did little to help. The early arrival was to usher in my first flight on American’s new transcontinental fleet of Airbus A321 aircraft. Earlier this year, American replaced its wide-body fleet of Boeing 767-200 jets with the far smaller Airbus on its routes linking New York with Los Angeles and San Francisco.

While my early awakening did little to help my grogginess, what did help was American Airlines’ Flagship Check-In, followed by the Flagship Lounge, though I arrived with little appetite for breakfast. However, the bountiful spread that waited in the lounge was too enticing to pass up. A bowl of fruit, a slice of toast, and a side of sausage proved to be the inducement I needed to wake up.

While the lounge’s espresso machine sang an almost irresistible siren song, I opted for a tall glass of orange juice instead, so as not to interfere with a much-anticipated nap during the flight.


Flagship Lounge at JFK


Boarding for Flight 171 began at 5:30 a.m., half an hour before departure, with first-class passengers boarding first, followed by those in business class.  I had selected seat 1A, the first bulkhead seat, so there was none of the customary waiting and shuffling to get down the aisle while other passengers located their seats.


Push-back occured promptly at 6:00 a.m. and the scheduled 6:15 a.m. takeoff was slightly delayed by ground operations until 6:22 a.m.

Our flight path took us across northeastern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York State, continuing west over Lake Ontario, southern Ontario, Canada. We were soon passing over Michigan and Wisconsin, and then headed southwest overflying Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, before reaching California and starting our final approach to LAX.

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