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The First Class Travel Blog

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JFK-LAX Just Got a Lot Better

JFK-LAX Just Got a Lot Better

One of the best bargains on the past year was American's Seoul-NYC First Class "sale",  Round trip TPAC First Class on Japan Airlines and roundtrip transcon First Class on American, with stopover, all for $2,800.  I'm using my LAX-JFK segments tonight for my quarterly trip to Montreal.   Not much traffic to LAX this afternoon and I made the 59 mile trip from Orange County in an hour.  

Even though I had my boarding pass, I used the The Flagship First Check-in which is reserved for International and JFK First Class passengers.   

Pics from last month.   Comfy seating for those waiting for others and if by chance there was a queue to check in.   

The Flagship greeter/porter escorted me to the elevator.  Like last month, not sure if he would have escorted me just to PreCheck or all the way to the lounge but I declined further assistance and thanked him.  

Upstairs, once again there was absolutely no one in line at PreCheck. 

The LAX Admirals Club and the Flagship Lounge are under renovation, with the temporary Flagship Lounge an utter embarrassment and not even close to being ready for prime time.

The entrance is the only part of the Lounge that seems finished.  Inside not much different from 6 weeks ago.

Although the monitors were plugged in and working tonight. 

Really?

While AA is promising fine dining after the renovations are completed, they offer a weak serve yourself buffet.

And if anything looks good to you, you can eat in in the elegant Flagship First dining room.  LOL.

After my 5 minute spin around the lounge, I thanked the lounge staff and headed to TBIT and the Qantas First Class Lounge.

After my tour of the joke that is the temporary Flagship First Class Lounge, I headed over the the Bradley Terminal and the best lounge in the US, the Qantas First CLass Lounge at LAX.

Great plane-spotting from the T4-TBIT connector... tonight a couple of Norwegian 787s.

Pretty quiet tonight at the main Bradley TSA security checkpoint.

And just at the end of the connector, maybe 6-7 minutes from the Admirals Club/Flagship Lounge, the best airline lounge in the US.

Pics from my visit last month.

Decisions, decisions... Dine on board AA or eat in the Qantas Lounge.  LOL.  That one was easy.  But first, a glass of the always excellent Nicholas Feuillatte Rosé.

What a great menu.

I started with the Salt and Pepper squid with green chili dipping sauce and aoili.

Delicious.

And a small second starter of the Slow cooked lamb barbacoa in chile adobo and rice, 

For my main, the sensational Herb and Parmesan Chicken Schnitzel with Italian style coleslaw.. 

And to finish, the hazelnut cream profiteroles with dulce de leche and raspberries.

OMG.  Divine.

Although I'd had three glasses of the Nicholas Feuillatte Rosé, one of the servers was making the rounds with custom champagne mixes.   Do I dare and still be able to find my way back to T4?

So hard to resist.

Wow, what a great meal and now if I can find my gate, I'll sleep all the way to New York.

At T-35, I reluctantly headed left and headed out for the 10 minute walk to Gate 46B.

LAX to JFK
AA 10
A321T
9:15p-5:15a +1
June 5, 2017
Seat 3F
 

 

AA's transcon service is all three class A321 with 5 rows of 1-1 seating in First.   It's basically international business class seating on a domestic route.  

Our "wonderful" FA tonight who decided that she wanted to close all the window shades before take-off because the sun will be streaming in when we get to New York... at 5am.  LOL.  I was apparently the only one that declined and risked being tossed off the plane by asking her "why would I close the shades before we've even taken off from LAX?"  

Tonight's menu, for the record.  Not that it mattered as I had just eaten, declined service and went to sleep just after take-off.  

 

After dinner Monday night at the LAX QF First Class Lounge, I slept pretty much all the way from LAX to JFK and arrived at the FL just after 5:30am. I had 3 hours before my JFK-YUL Eagle flight so I decided to check out the Flagship First Dining room and have breakfast before showering.

The hostess counter is right inside the front door. And don't even try to get in without an invitation card from one of the front check-in AAngels.

Very attractive but small bar, lounge area and dining room.

 

 

Very nice Breakfast menu with lots of nice looking options.

Excellent and attentive service with an offer of still or sparking bottled water.

I started with the Seasonal Fruit Kebabs with a nice honey and ginger lime sauce

And then the Eggs Benedict.

Which looked and tasted great!

What a great first impression, but at 5:30am the place was dead and I was to the only customer.  Let's see how they do at a more normal traffic time when I'm back tomorrow afternoon.  With another couple of hours before my JFK-YUL flight, I headed out to The Flagship Lounge.

And a much improved shower from the old facilities.

Then over to the midfield concourse...

And the usual Eagle Gate 31 for my flight to Montreal.

New York JFK to Montréal YUL
AA 3543
ER4
9:00a-10:35a
June 6, 2017
Exit Row 12A
 

AA's ER4 is a single class regional jet with 1-2 seating.   Exit row 12 has loads of leg room and is quite comfy for the short 55 minutes flight.

Ah yes, a lovely rainy day in my old home town.

The next day was much nicer and I headed back to YUL just before noon.

As usual, the YUL transborder US terminal is pretty empty after the early morning wave of deaprtures.

And yet another annoying airport where you have to walk thru the duty free store to get to the gates.

Lunch was the always delicious Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich. 

Montréal YUL to New York JFK
AA 3810
ER4
1:15p-2:55p
June 7, 2017
Exit Row 12A
 

My regular ER4 extra leg room seat 12A.

Less than an hour later, final approach to JFK.

And the long trek from Gate 31 back to the main terminal and the Flagship Lounge.

Major traffic jam at main check-in but after a few minutes wait, a most pleasant AAngel moved me to an earlier flight and I gave me my "permission slip" for First Dining. 

What a mob scene in the main part of the Flagship First Class Lounge. Yikes.

But beyond in Flagship First Dining, a lovely oasis of calm. Pretty funny watching hostess Adama deny wave after wave of non-international/transcon First passengers. Talk about a tough job.  

First order of business was a drink. Nothing amazing on the wine list although there were some nice offerings but way, way better than the pathetic inflight F wine list. The Specialty Cocktail list looked interesting.

Up first was the Gin Basil Lemonade. Delicious. 

The All Day Dining Menu. Wow, lots of interesting looking options.

Service this afternoon was simply wonderful and perfectly paced, from my server Scott and Javier. As soon as I sat down, I was offered my choice of still or sparkling water.

The single window seats are great for plane-spotting.

For my starter, I chose the Basil infused compressed watermelon, with whipped feta and smoked onion crumble. It was fabulous.

I went with the Olive oil poached loch duart salmon with cauliflower risotto, wild mushroom ragout and spring broth.

Wow.

And with the broth. OMG, this was spectacular. And the Livia Felluga Pinot Grigio was a lovely accompaniment.

Also tried the Paring Rosé of Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills but I preferred the Livia Felluga.

Next, I moved over the bar where I could re-charge my iPhone. Also, where bartender Karen convinced me to try the Spiced Tequila.  

And the dessert menu...

My caramelized apple tart tatin was amazing.

What a great meal and experience.  AA has hit a home run with the Flagship First Dining.   Which is good news, since their on board product hasn't improved. 

JFK to LAX
AA 83
A321T
6:00p-9:25P (sked)
6:00p-8:45p (actual)
June 7, 2017
Seat 3A
 
After all that I ate and drank in Flagship First Dining, it's amazing I found my way down to the tunnel, up the other side and to my gate.
 
 
 
 
Pre-departure offerings from our very pleasant and efficient FA.
 
 
 
'
'
 
 
 
In the air, my usual G&T to start.
 
 

Showtime, AA style.

Nothing says First Class like AA's salt and pepper shakers.

And AA's vile First Class "wine list".  Not a chance.

OK, I wasn't really hungry but took one for the team and the photo op.   The salmon starter was OK if you like

Meh.  The greens were fine but the dressing was just awful and killed the salad.

On the other hand, the mahi mahi was quite tasty.

I passed on dessert as even I occasionally have my consumption limits. LOL.    After a few hours nap, back to work and some beautiful scenery as we approached the west coast.
 
 
 
We arrive 45 minutes early and with no traffic on the 405, was home before 10pm.   In summary, AA's in flight First Class product is great for coast-to-coast domestic travel if your ignore the food and wine.  But it's the lounge and dining experience at both LAX and JFK that set AA apart and make it the best overall domestic service.
Another impressive AA Flagship Lounge. 

Spent and hour an a half here today between flights and wow, what a pleasant upgrade from the Admirals Club.  Friendly AAngel checked me in downstairs, asked if I have heard about the new Flagship Lounge and gave me an invitation to the Flagship Lounge.  Exiting the elevator on Level 2, another friendly AAngel stationed near the elevators welcomed me.  Meant to take a pic of the invitation but I realized that she took it... which makes sense in case someone is tempted to re-use the invite.

Much larger than I had anticipated based on reports of those that were invited to the press launch last week with great views of the tarmac and H/K gates.  Lots of good seating areas and plentiful work space counters with power outlets facing the tarmac.

Sure they're new, but the lav is very nice.

OK, how cool is this?  A Bloody Mary Bar.

At the far left end of the lounge is the food and dining area.

A respectable selection of low to mid price wines. 
 

And an impressive selection of serve yourself food...

Blueberry BBQ Chicken...

Stone Ground Grits...

Miso Glazed Salmon...

Forbidden Black Rice and Stir Fry Veggies...

Red Curry Coconut Tofu...

Potato Rosti...

Serve yourself bar...

 

Toasted Pepper Pork Tenderloin with mango chile lime glaze, micro arugula, and the Thai noodle salad.

Field Greens, Watercress, Eyeground Carpaccio, and Carmelized Squash Salad...

I poured myself a glass of Burgundy and had lunch.

I was pretty hungry after my pathetic "Breakfast Sandwich" on my inbound from SNA, so I tried a sampler plate of various offerings.

And then dessert.

Kudos to AA on another excellent Flagship Lounge.  Now if they would only stop serving cheap garbage for domestic meals, they might get most business from those of use that have dumped them.