Booked flights direct via aa.com during a promotion they were offering for flights from Dublin to the continental U.S and Hawaii with the outbound routing being DUB-JFK-LAX-HNL.
AA.com is a very clean site and easy to use and also allows you to choose all seats at booking stage for free. You can also select your choice of meal before travelling. When we first booked a 757 was rostered for the DUB-JFK flight. This then changed to a 767 with the new fully flat seats. However a couple weeks before departure it reverted to the 757 originally rostered.
AA also has a reliable useful app for iPhone and android that can be used to view your reservation, get flight status information, change seats and check in. We were unable to check in online, probably due to the multi legs of the journey. We had bags to check anyway so this was no inconvenience.
On the ground at DUB.
We arrived at the airport the recommended three hours before departure as Ireland has U.S pre clearance facilities which adds a bit of time. AA departs from the newer terminal two at DUB.
There was no line at all at the Business Class/priority check-in desk and we had our boarding cards to LAX (we were overnighting there), bags tagged and proceeded through security and to the lounge. There was a priority lane at security – again no wait. The usual laptops and liquids out. We then headed to the lounge.
AA uses the 'DAA' lounge which i'm guessing is operated by the Dublin Airport Authority. There are no lounges after U.S immigration so you need to factor this in when you decide how long to spend in the lounge. We waited around 40 minutes to pass immigration and wanted to be at the gate -45min so realisitically time in the lounge is short. The lounge is pretty basic anyway so this was of little consequence to us. Decor is nice and modern, staff very friendly and a modest breakfast spread of whole fruit, yoghurt, juice, pasties and some cereals. There was a nespresso branded coffee machine with an assortment of pods which was a nice touch. Immigration was pretty well organised and it is a huge bonus to have this before an international flight instead of after – especially if transiting to a domestic flight in the U.S as we were. It all seemed quite high tech.
When you reach the immigration counter a photo image of your checked bag is displayed on a screen and you are asked whether it's yours, anything to declare etc etc. We proceeded to the gate which was only a short walk away. Forty five minutes before departure boarding started with priority given to Business Class and top tier frequent flyers.
On the aircraft – boarding/pre departure.
We were onboard within minutes and two crew were at the door greeting passengers. The 757 is no new bird – ours seemed in good condition though and it looked clean and fresh. We turned left and took our seats 2A/B. Already at our seat was a large pillow and duvet, our washbag and menu.
The Business Class cabin has sixteen seats (1-4 AB-EF) although 4A and 4B were blocked out for pilot rest. The crew hung jackets and offered a pre departure drink of juice, water or prosecco. The door was closed five minutes ahead of our scheduled departure and we were given the 'welcome' announcement by the Purser which to be honest does not sound very welcoming ('stay out of the galley areas').
The 757 does not have AA's newest Business Class seats although they did earlier this year say that the 'international' 757's will be refitted with fully flat seats. Currently the 757's sport the last generation product still found on some of AA's 767 and 777 aircraft. The seats are angle lie flat and while I wouldn't relish a long overnight flight on one of these aircraft I found them great for a seven and a half hour day flight.
Seats are arranged in four rows of pairs, two each side of the singe aisle aircraft. The seats have four one-touch pre set positions although all components of the seat can be controlled individually. The seat can also be slided forward and backwards. Privacy between the two seats is virtually zero, storage space is at a bare minimum and if you are sat by the window and the aisle seat is in bed mode it will take some effort getting out. They are fine for travelling as a duo though. I liked the tray table – it's in two halves that meet up in the middle. The IFE monitor is fixed in the seat back. There was an adaptor plug for PC power but no USB port.
It had been an early start and we had a long day ahead of us so I did want to try get a little shut eye on the flight. I'd read a tip about getting comfortable with these angle flat beds by putting an extra pillow under your calves and I brought my own inflatable one. Lucky I did as every seat was occupied so no spare pillows. This helped as it stopped any sliding down the seat and takes the pressure off of the knees when in bed mode. I managed a couple hours sleep.
Inflight Service and crew.
OK, I know crews of the U.S carriers have a reputation out there of their staff being old, cranky, disheveled and downright rude. In fact my mate challenged to me a game before my flight – find two flight attendants wearing the same uniform. I wasn't able to by the way. In fact i'm pretty sure the absolutely delightful lady serving us in Business Class was wearing some kind of black trainers/sneakers inflight.
But I can say hand on heart that on all three legs we took on AA we had nothing but pleasurable, funny, interested (and interesting) flight attendants. The Dublin – JFK sector really stood out though. Two crew worked the 16 seat cabin – the male Purser who predominantly ran the galley and a lady who worked the cabin. The lady working the cabin was amazing. I can only say absolutely positive things about her attitude and there is nothing I could say 'she would have been better if…..'. Apart from a change of footwear maybe 🙂 The entire service was run by hand from the galley – no sight of trolleys in the cabin.
Drink and meal orders were taken after take off (in our case our pre order confirmed). I had a Bombay Sapphire and tonic which was served with warmed nuts in ramekins (no packets here). Our great flight attendant kept coming back and refilling our nuts and drinks without the need to ask. After drinks our meals were served. First up was the starter and side salad served with wine. Both were fresh, well presented and tasty. For the main course I had ordered the beef. It was hands down the best piece of meat I have ever had on an aircraft. It was still pink inside, a generous portion and a tasty sauce. Dessert was the must have ice cream sundae – topping choices included butterscotch sauce, pecans, chocolate and cream. It was divine. There was also the option of a cheese plate.
The flight attendant was constantly in the cabin offering top ups of drinks, clearing used items and asking whether she could get us anything else. Come to think of it I don't think a single passenger used the call bell the whole flight in Business as the crew presence in the cabin was constant.
After the meal water bottles were given out and lights dimmed. There wasn't much on the iFE so I rested. About an hour before landing we were offered another meal – a warm ham and cheese sandwich or a thai beef salad with noodles. I had the thai beef salad and was again impressed with the quality and presentation. If wine is your thing you are unlikely to be blown away. The staff service on this flight set the tone for all three of our AA flights – fantastic crews.
The IFE is AVOD and has a reasonable amount of content – although by no means vast. The screen size and resolution is inferior to what you would find in premium cabins on most airlines these days. The Bose noise cancelling headphones were fantastic though. What was a little frustrating however is the provision of the headphones.
The IFE is up an running from boarding until arrival at gate. However it was a good forty minutes after take off that they were distributed and they were requested back 45 minutes before landing (same on the JFK-LAX leg). It's a shame they aren't on the seat already for boarding and then collected in say twenty minutes before landing if they are concerned some will go 'missing'.
A great daylight flight. Crew and in particular catering were far superior to what of the european carriers offer across the pond. The only negatives are the IFE and the seat – especially if you are travelling solo or on a night flight. However, once new fully flat seats are fitted I would chose to fly on an AA757 any day than BA or Virgin Atlantic to NYC. On top of that every one of our three AA flights to Honolulu departed and arrived on time.
Prosciutto and Mozzarella with melon
Spinach and frisse salad with strawberries, walnuts and blue cheese – choice of dressing.
Beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, potato croquettes and creamed spinach.
Marinated chicken breast with indian butter sauce, cumin rice and tumeric cauliflower.
Roasted cod with coconut chili sauce, basmati rice, sugar snap peas, grilled pineapple.
Pasta rustica with sundried tomatoes, black olives and pesto cream sauce.
Traditional ice cream sundae with choice of toppings.
Gourmet cheese plate (three varieties)
Light meal prior to arrival:
Croque monsieur with greek salad
Thai beef salad with mixed greens, glass noodles and chili-lime dressing.
Treviso Vignetti Zanatta Prosecco
Dry Creek fume blanc, Sonoma / Tresolmos Lias verdejo, Ruenda Spain.
Maggio family vineyards petite Sirah, Lodi, California / G.D. Varja, Barbera d'Alba, Italy.