In the Air for the Holidays: American Airlines First Class A321T New York-San Francisco – Flight Review

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Storage space is abundant at each first-class seat including a place for a laptop computer.

Storage space is abundant at each first-class seat including a place for a laptop computer.

Having finished my initial cappuccino, I asked for a second, which came promptly although the flight attendant told me that they had used up the ten espresso capsules that each flight gets so my next coffee would be more conventional, albeit with steamed milk.

After the breakfast service, the flight attendants put out a selection of snacks at the front of the cabin. This included a large basket of fresh fruit as well as a selection of other snacks including chips, popcorn, and cookies.

At one point, I was having trouble watching a movie I had chosen, “Mr. Holmes,” the story of a retired Sherlock Holmes. The purser had already twice reset the in-flight entertainment system at my seat and the movie continued to inexplicably pause and restart as if it had a mind of its own. When I came out of the lav, the purser told me she had gotten one of the Samsung tablets from business class, made sure it had the movie, and plugged in it all in for me at my seat. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was very appreciative of the extra attention my small issue had received.

Since it was a holiday, I decided not to allow my inner workaholic to take control but I did stay connected throughout the flight using Gogo in-flight Internet so I could chat with friends and extend holiday greetings. American’s A321T fleet has Gogo’s newer ATG-4 service, which delivers more than triple the amount of bandwidth to the aircraft (9.8 Mbps, to be exact) as the previous system. I was surprised to get a warning that many users had logged onto the system and that I would be experiencing slower than usual speeds. However, I didn’t notice any significant degradation in speed.

Given the long flight time, a nap was in order and I managed two hours sleep, coddled by American’s comfortable duvets and pillows (there were extras on board so I borrowed them). I woke up to find a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie next to me and shortly thereafter, the cabin crew served glasses of sparkling water heralding our imminent arrival.

ARRIVAL

Unlike most transcon flights, which are well under six hours, this one – due to significant headwinds – took over six hours and gate-to-gate was over seven and a half hours so I had a chance to truly sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.

We landed at 12:15 p.m., 34 minutes later than scheduled, and were at the gate at 12:20, 35 minutes late.

BOTTOM LINE

This was my first experience on the new A321T aircraft and I can now understand why my colleagues Jonathan Spira and Jesse Sokolow both enjoyed their flights (coincidentally, or perhaps not, they were also in 1A or in one case, on the other side of the aisle in 1F). While some other airlines may offer more opulent surroundings, what I value most about a flight is comfort and privacy. In these two respects, I don’t think that American’s A321T first-class seat can be beat.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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