American Airlines PHL to SFO (AA1742) [A321neo] in First Class

Flight: Philadelphia to San Francisco

Airline: American Airlines

Flight Number: AA1742

Plane: Airbus A321neo

Cabin: First Class

Seat: 1A

This Flight

This flight was East to West coast flight with American Airlines from Philadelphia to San Francisco, which I flew First Class in. American’s First Class is essentially Business Class – the next ‘step down’ is Main Cabin/Economy.

I believe American operate 3 daily flights to San Francisco from Philadelphia – one at 08:11, another at 17:42 – and the one I took at 19:01.

The flight time is usually around 4 hours, but in this case it was 5 hours due to a very strong headwind coming from the West!

Checking In

This was actually a connecting flight from the UK, so I was already ticketed – meaning I didn’t need to check in again.

With that said, Philadelphia is a large airport with Terminals A, B an C serving American Airlines. A little trick is that no matter what your departing terminal is, you can check in at any American Airlines desk – at least in Philadelphia!

So if you’ve landed internationally from somewhere into Terminal A and leaving from Terminal C – after collecting your baggage, it may not be necessary to walk it all the way to Terminal C – you may be able to check it in at terminal you’ve just come in from!

It’s not always the way though, as I’ve previously written about – it depends on the gate agent……….and possibly your OneWorld status!

The Lounge

During my visit I actually visited to lounges, the Admirals Club at B/C Gates, and also the Centurion Lounge.

I was hoping to also visit the British Airways Lounge – but it was too busy!

The Plane

This was American Airline’s A321neo, which I’ve spent quite a bit of timing flying in!

Neil Scrivener reviews American Airlines' First Class service from Philadelphia to San Francisco on the Airbus A321neo

Currently, American operates 68 Neo’s – which are configured in 20 x First Class and 176 Main Cabin/Economy configuration.

The Seat

As always, I’ve reviewed the seat separately, which you can find here.

Neil Scrivener reviews American Airlines' First Class service from Philadelphia to San Francisco on the Airbus A321neo

The headlines are that it’s very comfortable for 5 hours of relaxing or working, however space is tight, and there is a lack of charging for devices!

Food Drink

Drinks

Before leaving I was offered a drink – this can be anything, and isn’t restricted to water or champagne. I really like the Dos Equis beer which both American and Alaska Airlines are stocking – so I took that!

Once airborne, more drinks were offered with hot nuts.

Neil Scrivener reviews American Airlines' First Class service from Philadelphia to San Francisco on the Airbus A321neo

During the course of the flight, I switched from beer to white wine. Around 90 minutes to landing, I asked if I could have a refill – and was (fairly abruptly) told that crew were no longer serving alcohol! Was it me? Was I drunk? I didn’t think so! It turned out they had ran out of booze!

Food

Similar to international and Transcon routes, American offer the ability to pre-order food.

On the menu was;

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lasagne

For a minute, the lasagne interested me………….until I found it was vegetarian. So I took the chicken.

Neil Scrivener reviews American Airlines' First Class service from Philadelphia to San Francisco on the Airbus A321neo

The chicken was served with potatoes, and on the side had come weird salad that looked like a cross between humus, ice cream and guacamole. Eventually……….and I mean eventually, the bread basket brought around.

The food was nice, but it wasn’t quite as nice as the food I’ve had on international flights.

Then……… the trays were cleared! This seemed strange………..no desert? There was nothing for around 30 minutes.

At this point, Brandon, one of more flamboyant members of the Cabin Crew stood at Row 1 – and did a presentation of the deserts. This was something I’d not seen before on American!

Options were;

  • Pineapple cake
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream sundae

Naturally, I took the ice cream sundae!

Neil Scrivener reviews American Airlines' First Class service from Philadelphia to San Francisco on the Airbus A321neo

Towards the end of the flight, a basket of snacks was offered around – this included chocolate, crisps, popcorn, etc.

Amenities Kit

No Amenities Kit was offered for this flight – although it is offered on the Transcon route.

Wifi

On this particular flight, American offered two types of Wifi.

The first was free for 20 minutes, if you watched some kind of advert. This was pretty good, and speed tested at 23mps.

The other was the paid for service at $29. Because I had quite a lot of work to do I paid for the service (for 4 hours). The speed fluctuated between 20mps and 4mps.

However, when we got in the Utah/Nevada region (around 1 hour before landing), the whole thing just stopped working!

Usefully, American’s supplier ViaSat so offer a coverage map – but it was annoying to have paid $29 for 4 hours, and to get 3 hours!

With that said, I have usually found American’s Wifi to be pretty good!

Entertainment

I’d previously reviewed my trip from Dallas to San Francisco, and on this plane there was an entertainment system.

American have developed a forward strategy for domestic flights where they no longer fit screens on their domestic fleet. Instead, it is reliant on the passenger providing their own device and streaming (for free) using the onboard network.

I’m not sure about this! It seems a backwards move – but I do understand the cost outlay and maintenance savings!

If you did want to use your own device, there was plenty of movies, TV and music available.

Cabin Crew

The Cabin Crew were fine for this flight. The rather flamboyant Brandon and his desert presentation sort of made up for the lack of entertainment!

But, the way in which it was explained to me that “we’re no longer serving alcohol”, was abrupt and not really well put. In particular as it didn’t conclude with a “can I get you something else?” followup. The lady in question basically said “no” and walked away.

Another thing that annoyed me was during the meal service, there was no proactive offer of a refill of any kind. I could see the lady looking at the tables out of the corner of her eye – but nobody was offered anything else. This may have course be to do with the chronic shortage of drinks?

Unfortunately the abrasiveness and abruptness of the Cabin Crew, lends itself sometimes to feeling like a kid in the classroom with angry teacher – having to sit quietly until spoken to, scared to ask for anything.

So……..unfortunately, it wasn’t a premium feeling given from America’s Cabin Crew – which sadly seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

Landing in San Francisco

Landing in San Francisco was great. It’s always very straightforward, and the baggage came quickly!

Conclusion

I think for many Americans this is considered more of a ‘bus ride’, than a long flight. Perhaps this makes the approach to flying in a premium cabin a lot more ‘relaxed’. But the prices aren’t always cheap – and if it’s viable for your route – Alaska Airlines are a great alternative, with great Cabin Crew!  

Score

66 out of 98 – or 67%.

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