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American A321 Flagship First Class LAX-JFK

As I mentioned in a previous post (United’s BusinessFirst Transcontinental Service) the competition is really heating up on the cross-country routes between New York and California.  The newest service between NY and CA began in January when American Airlines started replacing their old 767′s with their brand new A321′s on the JFK-LAX route.  Just like United, American offers lie-flat Business Class seats on these transcon routes in a 2×2 configuration, but unlike United, American also offers a First Class product on these routes arranged in a 1×1 configuration.



United offers only Economy & Business Class
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American offers Economy, Business & First Class
(Picture from

Originally Dhara was booked in First Class and I was booked in Business Class which was nice because it would have given us the opportunity to review both classes, but about a day before the flight a second First Class seat opened up and I couldn’t help myself from jumping on it.  Since we were both flying American’s Flagship First Class we were given access to the Flagship Lounge in LAX as we waited (Business Class passengers only get access to the less impressive Admiral’s Club).  The Flagship Lounge is easily the nicest lounge we have visited within the United States (not saying much) and is far better than the Admiral’s Clubs we have visited in the past.  The lounge had lots of space, wifi, showers, a decent food offering and a truly great drink selection.  Unlike in the Admiral’s Club (where only the liquor brands you’ve never heard of are complimentary) all the top shelf drinks in the Flagship Lounge are complimentary and self serve.  They even had a section with directions how to make the lounge’s signature martini with Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, Beluga Vodka & Cointreau.


Flagship Lounge Soft Drinks


Flagship Lounge Salads & Sandwiches


Flagship Lounge – Chips and Fruit


Flagship Lounge – Wine & Spirits


Flagship Lounge – More Spirits


Pomegranate Martini Making Station


The Martini came out pretty good

After appreciating the new plane smell upon boarding, the first thing I noticed was how wide the center aisle is in the First Class Cabin with only one seat set on either side.  Everyone boarded though the forward door of the aircraft so after we found our seats (5A & 5F) we sat and waited for everyone else to board.  As I mentioned before, this is a brand new First Class product, and it was priceless seeing the looks on peoples faces as they entered the plane and saw these ridiculously massive seats for the first time.


All the First Class seats are both Aisle & Window Seats


A321 First Class seat from above


Another angle

The seats were so massive and private that I barely saw Dhara the whole flight.


I had to sit forward and lean out of my little pod just so she could see me for the photo

Something interesting to note is that the First Class seats on American’s A321 are almost identical to the Business Class seats American uses on their new 777-300er’s, whereas their Business Class seats on the A321 are very similar to the Business Class seats United uses on international flights.  So, in essence, what American Airlines is saying is that their new International Business Class seat is so far superior to United’s International Business Class seat that when it comes to transcontinental flights they brand the United style Business seats as Business, and the American style Business seats as First.  And I would have to agree with them on this.  Their new reverse herringbone seat (also used by Cathay Pacific and EVA) is really a cut above the others, and their new A321 First Class service is easily the best and most luxurious way – short of a private jet – to travel across America.

While still on the ground the most energetic and attentive flight attendant I have ever met (named Tom) made the rounds in the First Class Cabin introducing himself to all ten passangers and making sure to remember everyone’s name (no cheat sheet for him).  After the introductions he distributed printed menus, took drink orders, and gave out Bose noise cancelling headphones.


Flagship First Menu

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I had pre-ordered the chicken online and he noted that when he came around to take orders while I investigated the storage room within the seat.


Nice desk area beside the seat


More storage, power ports, seat controls and TV remote


Ottoman and side storage

Shortly after takeoff the meal service began, and after a nice 4-course meal Tom kept an eye on our wineglasses making sure they were never empty.


Salmon Starter




Stuffed Chicken


Ice Cream Sundae & Cappuccino (they have a cappuccino maker onboard)


A few hours after dessert we could smell them baking these cookies for our snack

After dinner I tried to enjoy a movie but my screen froze and I was unable to use it.  The flight attendant tried to reset it multiple times but there was a problem with the system.  I ended up using the onboard wifi and surfing the web on my laptop instead, and American Airlines gave me 5,000 bonus AAdvantage miles for the inconvenience which I thought was a nice gesture.  Dhara, as per usual, took a nap.


Really nice size screen – too bad it kept freezing


Touch Screen iPod style TV remote


Dhara taking advantage of the large lie-flat bed

Aside from the frozen screen (which I was given 5000 AAdvantage miles for) the flight was perfect, and although we really enjoyed United’s BusinessFirst product on the way out to California, American’s Flagship First is the obvious winner and best way to travel between JFK and LAX/SFO.


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