Flight: London Heathrow to San Francisco via Dallas Fort Worth
Airline: American Airlines
Flight Number: AA51 and AA1175
Plane: Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A321
Cabin: Business Class then First Class
Seat: 10A to DFW then 1A to SFO
This was a business trip, pre-covid to San Francisco via Dallas Forth Worth. I thought it worth reviewing as this was one of the last flights I took before America shut its borders to the UK (until they were re-opened again in November 2021).
LHR to DFW is one of American’s biggest and most important Routes. Pre-covid they had had (I believe) 5 direct flights per day, and two via British Airways. It’s a flight I’ve taken very often as a gateway to the West Coast and Central America. Fort Worth is a HUGE Hub for American Airlines – and where they are HQ’d.
You may be wondering why I didn’t fly straight to San Francisco on a direct flight?
Well, there is a very straightforward answer to that – the direct flight would have been over £12,000! Yes, you read that right – £12,000!
Admittedly, I wasn’t paying (my Client was) – but I was happy to make my journey more ‘interesting’ and save some money at the same time! Going via Dallas was around £2,200 return in Business.
AA1175 is one of American’s many shuttle routes from Dallas.
American Airlines occupy Heathrow’s Terminal 3, along side other OneWorld partners such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas, FinnAir and Japan Airlines – as well as a few British Airways flights.
As I warned in my About Me page, I quite often forget to take pictures. This was one of those occasions!
Check In on the American Airlines desks is very straightforward – there are lines for First, Business and Economy. It’s not quite as grand as BA’s First Wing – and even the Business lines can form fairly long queues – but after 10 to 15 minutes you’re through.
Passengers flying Business Class on American Airlines are allowed to use the Priority Security Lanes, which is really handy as at the wrong time of day T3 gets pretty busy!
Heathrow’s Terminal 3 is one of my favorite Terminals in the world for choice of Airport Lounges. I will get around to doing proper reviews of each and every Lounge at some point, but the Lounges available to OneWorld members are: Cathay Pacific Lounge, British Airways Lounge, Qantas Lounge and the American Airlines Lounge. There are also Aspire and Number 1 Lounges for Priority Pass holders.
As this was an 11am departure from Heathrow (and I was at the airport decidedly early, as always), I decided to head to the Cathay Pacific lounge for breakfast.
Most flights going to the Far East tend to leave the UK in the afternoon/evening, but despite this, the Cathay lounge is open all day. Consequently, the Cathay Lounge is usually very quiet in the morning!
This plane was American’s Boeing 777-300ER, with 8 First, 52 Flagship Business Class, 28 Premium, 28 Main Cabin Extra and 188 Main Cabin.
Sadly, I didn’t make a note of the registration (and I’m not as equated with AA’s fleet compared to BA’s) – but it was equipped with Flagship Business, making it fairly new……I think!
American’s Flagship Business is an absolutely wonderful product in terms of the seat, space and storage. Its perhaps not the most luxury or premium looking – but it is perfectly functional!
It is to be noted that it is very similar to BA’s Club Suite product – without the door! For example the Flagship Business has an almost identical little holder, with power/USB inside, and the remote for the IFE.
The tables are very solid, and didn’t flex whilst using my laptop.
It’s also great that with AA’s Flagship Business seat is that you can save your settings. This is great for going to the bathroom, and getting your comfortable position back!
There was a Washbag offered. I didn’t manage to get a picture for it – but it had the usual pen, socks, eye mask, etc.
Food and Drink
Before departing, American offer champagne or water, in a plastic cup. This feels more transactional than anything else – it’s handed out with a smile – and swiftly collected before takeoff.
Once airborne, the Cabin Crew came and introduced themselves to me, I wasn’t 10A – I was Mr Scrivener to them, which was nice! I’d already pre-ordered my food, so they just asked what pre-dinner drink I wanted.
I have to say, I greatly commend American Airlines’ choices of drinks. They had 6 different beers on offer – which was a welcome change to BA’s 3.
If you’re flying Business or Premium on American Airlines you can pre-choose your main meal. I prefer to do this when I can, to avoid the Maldives Fish type of scenario.
Starters offered were prawns then mixed greens salad.
Main choices were grilled steak beef, pesto marinated seared chicken breast, honey and soy marinated salmon or tomato and mozzarella stuff cannelloni.
Deserts offered were American’s traditional ice cream sundae, gourmet cheese plate or red fruits charlotte.
I offered the prawn starter to the Cabin Crew (I don’t eat fish) – so I had the salad instead.
The beef was nice – but it was still mooing! It was extremely rare – but maybe that’s what you expect from an airline based in Dallas? Was this the best presentation of food I’ve ever had? Not really!
For desert I chose the ice cream sundae, which was really good!
What is smart about American’s approach to dining is any leftover food they put in the galley. This means that quite often because most people take the sundae, there is a cheese platter you can have later on during the flight!
The ‘light meal’ was mini pies with a chocolate and salted caramel pudding posset. For me personally, this was an ideal choice of meal. BA offer ‘afternoon tea’ – but I am really not a fan of this, perhaps more personal preference than anything else – so American win!
I forgot to get any pictures of the entertainment system, other than the screen when I sat down.
American’s entertainment system, in my experience, is a mixed bag. I personally can’t stand American TV (apart from Judge Judy) or so-called American ‘comedy’, and I tend not watch movies on the plane. So, for me, it’s a bit of a lost cause. However, if you’re more tolerant of American TV than I, you’re spoilt for choice!
American’s audio system is something else! Thousands of albums are available and it’s really good! I detail how good the entertainment is in my review here.
For me, American’s Cabin Crew are usually the difference between a good and bad flight. This cabin crew were pretty good!
I was addressed by name and introduced by the cabin lead, I was regularly asked if I wanted more drinks or snacks. Throughout the meal, I was asked if I wanted more wine. Once the meal service was done, every 30 minutes or so the cabin crew asked passengers if they wanted more drinks or snacks.
All in all, this cabin crew were great – nothing was too much trouble – and the meal service was nicely done.
My only niggle about American’s cabin crew is that their presentation is rather variable. This doesn’t affect the service of the flight itself, but when taking the walk through the airport, they don’t look as ‘on brand’ as say BA or Virgin’s cabin crew.
Landing in Dallas
The plane landed in D-gates at Dallas Fort Worth, D29 to be precise!
Once here, I went down the Global Entry line and scanned my passport, and was quickly in the luggage area. After this, I then left, went back to check in with American before re-entering security.
What is really handy about Dallas is that once you’ve entered security, you can then move between the terminals on the Skylink.
I had (what started) as a 3hr layover, so went to the Flagship Lounge in D-Gates.
Flagship Lounge, Dallas
I’ve let the side down slightly on pictures – mainly because the lounge was so busy!
In essence there is a wine/champagne bar, self-service food and vending machines.
The Wifi was pretty good – but the Lounge was very busy and showed little signs of quietening down!
There were also very nice showers! I wanted to take a shower after a long flight – and a 7hr wait for my connection!
Boarding Dallas to San Francisco
Well, my 3hr layover quickly became a 7hr layover as my flight to SFO was delayed, delayed, delayed than canceled!
Eventually, after some 7 hours in the Lounge, I headed over to Terminal A on the Skylink to board the flight.
American very quickly board their planes – so quickly boarded and in 1A for departure, on the Airbus A321.
Seat & Entertainment
Really, apart from more legroom, the seat in First was the same seat as standard Economy (or Main Cabin, as it’s called on American).
There is an entertainment system – but I think this is also available in Main Cabin.
In the side of the seats there is a flip out table. I wasn’t particularly impressed by this – it was very flimsy even for a drink – let alone a laptop!
Food and Drink
Although when boarding there is no champagne offered (like long haul) the cabin crew quickly ask what pre-departure drink you would like.
There was a limited choice of beers, wines and soft drinks – similar to the long haul menu.
I’d pre-ordered the food when I booked the flight. I’d gone for the cheese platter – I can’t remember what the other options there were.
After the cheese platter, I was offered another sundae – which I may have accepted!
Cabin crew on this flight were pretty good. They were attentive, quick to dispense more drinks – and really couldn’t be faulted over a fairly short flight.
Landing in San Francisco
After many, many hours of traveling I eventually landed. From takeoff at Heathrow to landing in San Francisco it took a total of 20 hours. It could have taken closer to 11 hours, paying the full £12,000!
I was glad that my luggage arrived with the flight, and from here I walked to the ride share area to the hotel!
Both legs of this flight were very enjoyable.
The LHR to DFW flight was without a hitch.
The DFW to SFO flight was more problematic due to the delays and eventual cancelation. The problem here, as I’ve set out in my Philadelphia trip is that American’s policy is that you have to wait for the flight to be canceled before they’re move you – not ideal for making plans. However the flight was changed without issue, and my luggage still made it!
For LHR to DFW: 104 out of 118 – or 88%.
Fantastic points about this trip were the Cathay Lounge, the seat, the choice of food and drink.
Points for improvement are making the check in experience a little more premium, presentation of the food and presentation of the cabin crew – if I am being fussy!
For DFW to SFO: 88 out of 112 – 78%
I’ve marked lower the Check In experience as it took a while, Flagship Lounge as it was so busy! Whilst the seat on the plane was comfortable – it wasn’t private and had a poor table, which for a much longer flight may be required to work on. I’ve also de-marked the experience of dealing with problems, as it’s very annoying to hanging around waiting for a flight to cancel before you know if you’re going to make your destination!