AMERICAN AIRLINES AA1771, DALLAS-LAS VEGAS: MAIN CABIN PLUS REVIEW

Flight: AA1771, Dallas – Las Vegas

Loyalty Scheme: AAdvantage (Oneworld alliance)

Frequency: Multiple flights daily

Duration: 2 hr and 55 mins

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American Airlines has usually been my first choice when it comes to flying hopping airport to airport within the USA. The staff are generally efficient (and mostly friendly) and the offerings of food and drink whilst simple are generally more generous than its competition. American Airlines recently introduced complimentary enhancements to their Main Cabin Plus passengers including free alcohol priority boarding and storage. I was keen to give their newly enhanced product a try to see if it was truly ‘enhanced’.

Seat

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The aircraft has two cabins (16 first and 165 main cabin seats). There are 18 main cabin plus seats on this aircraft. The interior was fresh and relatively new with IFE seatback entertainment and smart leather seats. Leg room and seat pitch is more ample with 34 inches in main cabin plus as opposed to 31 inches in the main cabin. The only negative was that the bottom cushion of the seats was relatively thin and when I got up to leave the aircraft I felt rather sore. The seats despite looking the goods in terms of design do not feel comfortable after a certain period of time.

 

Entertain me

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American offers free entertainment via seatback or through your own personal device. On the A321 seatback was on offer. The entertainment selection of movies and tv series was strong.

 

Wine and dine me (the food)

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Whilst snacks and non alcoholic drinks are complimentary in the main cabin, the difference with main cabin plus is the introduction of free alcoholic beverages. On my flight was a selection of spirits, wines and beers. I went with a bottle of the Les Papillons Grenache Rose from France which was quite smooth and light. A great choice with the sadly small bag of mini pretzels that was handed out as a ‘snack’.

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American Airlines do offer more substantial sized meals for those feeling peckish but it will cost you. Even after the drinks service has come through the cabin the attendants on board seemed more than happy to offer additional drinks to passengers upon request.

 

Summary

The flight was relatively smooth and despite being delayed an hour, the aircraft did their best to try and make up for lost time. IFE entertainment was good quality as were the selection of drinks for main cabin plus passengers. The pitch despite being 3 inches more than main cabin wasn’t really noticeable and the seats after a certain period of time were a tad uncomfortable. Other than that the flight experience was generally good and one I would fly again on in the future. The big question is would I pay extra for the main cabin plus cabin? To be frank not really. However if you are an Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire member where the seat is complimentary to you, I’d definitely take advantage of selecting this seat as soon as you book your flight as it’s a nice little extra incentive to enjoy on your flight!

 

Service: 4 Stars

Seating: 3 stars

Food: 3.5 Stars

ETIHAD REVIEWS PLANE ORDERS AS PART OF RESTRUCTURE

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Etihad has had a bit of a rough trot of late and is struggling due to a bad combination of failed investments in other airlines, poor strategy in building profitable network of routes as well as a lack of government investment.

As a result of the tough times that Etihad is facing the airline has had to make some strong cost cutting measures including cutting off Airberlin (my favourite European airline – still sad by their departure from the aviation world) and Altitalia as well as the passenger experience within the plane.

It has been reported that Etihad is considering canceling some of the 165 planes they have on order.  This would be in addition to the 110 they currently have in their fleet. The orders are astonishing (if overly ambitious) and include:

  • 8 Boeing 777-8s
  • 17 Boeing 777-9s
  • 22 Boeing 787-9s
  • 30 Boeing 787-10s
  • 26 Airbus A321neos
  • 40 Airbus A350-900s
  • 22 Airbus A350-1000s

The orders which were placed in 2013, were part of Etihads quick expansion plan (which wasn’t as time went on wasn’t really a plan at all). When you are trying to keep up with the Joneses (aka Emirates and Qatar), a quick fix as they say never solves anything and Etihad would have been best to build slowly. It seems only now after the airline conducted a company wide review that they have taken this on board.

With no details on numbers and what is being cancelled this is a watch and see story.

Having flown with them a number of times across all three classes I can say that the airline offers a great product and service offering and the thought of losing an airline that is quite forward thinking would be a major loss to the aviation industry. I only hope that Etihad makes the right decision in the end as I would like to see this great airline with a hell of a lot of potential continue to fly for years to come.

Thoughts

Have you heard anything else about the potential Etihad plane order cancellation that we haven’t covered? Which orders should they keep and cancel? Keen to hear your thoughts.

China Eastern Shanghai – Beijing: One of the worst flights I have experienced (REVIEW)

Flight: MU5186, Shanghai – Beijing (29 March 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Eastern Miles (a partner of the Skyteam program) 
Frequency: Numerous flights daily
Duration: 2 hours and 50 minutes

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For a few years I had heard and seen online poor reviews and feedback around China Eastern. Rarely had anything been glowing of the airline. On route to Beijing from Sydney this month I stopped over in Shanghai and connected from there to Beijing but being Shanghai meant flying straight into China Eastern’s hub and therefore the natural choice for connections domestically.

The Australian Traveler test flew the airline’s A321 across China and the results won’t surprise you.

 

The Seat

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Economy 53L. Being a non-Skyteam frequent flyer, I was seated towards the back of the plane, even after this was purchased as a QF numbered flight. The flight took forever to board and the seating plane seemed quite confusing to most passengers. Upon observation the interior and seating was drab, dated and in desperate need to updated. As a self confessed avgeek, being on this plane was testing my spirits with the tired blue and white colour scheme leaving me depressed.

Seat comfort was also appalling with my seat feeling quite hollow through the back of the seat. I was just waiting for that moment through my flight for the seat to finally give way and send me backward onto the passenger behind me.

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Entertain me

No wow factor here – no seat back or even drop down screen entertainment. Be prepared and armed with a laptop or tablet or you’ll find yourself twiddling your thumbs the whole time.

 

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Again nothing to really see here but on the plus at least a food offering was provided at a time where so called premium airlines like BA were scaling back this simple basics. On offer on the flight was a choice of soft drinks or water as well as a packet of salted peanuts. Admittedly on a long domestic flight such as the one between Shanghai and Beijing a larger snack would have gone down better here.

The service seemed rushed and looked as though the two attendants were throwing snacks and drinks at their passengers. Impersonal at best comes to mind here. I noticed when staff were asked for a top up or a second drink the casual roll of the eyes was given.

 

Verdict

China Eastern really puts the no frills in flying. Considering the airline is one of China’s leading, this is a really sad precedent in terms of Chinese aviation standards. I don’t know if their local passengers expect this kind of service but other countries such as Australian travelling passengers would come to expect more, if not better under the circumstances.

The underwhelming/ lack of customer service coupled with an extremely delayed plane (1.5 hours late) and you find yourself quietly frustrated and ready to get the hell off this tin can. The only redeeming feature was the complimentary snack and drinks service.

Avoid China Eastern at all costs if you don’t want to be a) delayed and b) bitter for the rest of the day.

Comment

Have you ever flown China Eastern domestically within China? Was your experience comparable or better than expected? Keen to hear your thoughts.