May 14

3 is not equal to 2+1 on American Airlines

I thought I knew AA well.  I am exec plat and follow the airline industry – especially AA because I worked there a long time ago.  But I learned something new yesterday.

My wife and daughter were traveling yesterday (on the same PNR) to India without me. They had 3 bags between them. They are allowed a bag each.  They have no status with AA.

So we expected to pay for one additional bag – $100. We were charged $200. I noticed the following day and called customer service. I was told that it was our mistake – When asked how many bags to checkin – we said 3 bags. We really should have said, 2 bags for my wife and 1 bag for my daughter.


Shouldn’t the gate agent have said something? She knew very well that there were 2 passengers and 3 bags. I find it appalling that the agent did not say anything. I was told by the customer service agent that the gate agents have to go with the response and it is our responsibility to know that we should split the bags between the people on the PNR explicitly. Shocking!!

Wow !  FAAIL !!

So whats the difference between 3 and 2+1?  A hundred dollars according to AA math!

Jan 14

No dreams possible on the Dreamliner !

K63965 03 lg

Boeing 787 (photo credit: Boeing)

I flew the Dreamliner (Boeing 787) for the first time recently.  It was a Qatar Airways flight between Bangalore and Doha.  I was looking forward to the experience having heard and read so much about the aircraft.

I thought the environment was definitely comfortable.  The windows were nice.  The seats were good considering that it was just a 4 hour flight.  Qatar Airways uses the same 3-3-3 configuration for both 777 and 787.  777 being a wider plane translates into slightly wider seats which are definitely needed on the long distances over which the 777s operate.

Qatar Airways AVOD system as phenomenal.  Ultra modern/futuristic and entertainment selection was not bad either.

But the sound – it was the loudest I remember a modern day aircraft to be. Ever!  There was a lot of vibration as the engines started up after pushback. I have never experienced so much vibration as engines were started on any Boeing or Airbus aircraft.  The vibration was felt for a good 15 seconds or so and went away as engines revved up.

Then it was loud throughout. The engines were loud throughout the cruise speeds, the whirring of hydraulics and the whine of the flaps was exceptionally loud during take off and landing.  I wish I had an app to measure the decibel levels in the plane but by golly they were loud.

Hard to dream on the dreamliner….

Jan 14

American’s new lie flat seat

American Airlines B777-300 ER in new livery (courtesy AA)

American Airlines B777-300 ER in new livery (courtesy AA)

I got an opportunity to try the new lie flat seats in business American Airlines introduced recently.  I flew on the new 777-300 ER from DFW to LHR and here are my views on design of the seat and the business class section.  I will leave out any commentary on the food and service.

Business class configuration B777-300 (Courtesy AA)

Business class configuration B777-300 (Courtesy AA)

The Good

  1. Simple controls and easy to operate
  2. Good access to electrical outlets
  3. Should accommodate most adults in the flat position – people as tall as 6’4” should have no problem
  4. Very private.  The seats angle away from each other and create carve out a nice private space.
  5. All seats have aisle access so no need to leap over sleeping travelers
  6. The toilets and the faucets are really nice, faucets are easy to use and are upscale compared to the typical AA toilets. Boutique hotel-esque.
  7. Corny patriotic mood lighting (red and blue) at night but it grows on you and is actually nice and pleasant
Mood lighting (photo credit - The points Guy)

Mood lighting (photo credit – The points Guy)

The bad

  1. Terrible location for headset socket.  It is inside a small compartment that has a door, with no direct view since it is angled away from the seat.  You will actually have to use the mirror on the compartment door to plug the headset jack.  Incredibly poor design!
  2. American Airlines takes away the Bose headsets an hour before arrival – ostensibly to take inventory and lock things up before they land.  There has to be a better solution to this problem that has existed forever with American Airlines.
  3. If you are traveling with someone or with family, the private nature of the seats will make it hard to have a conversation.  The two seats in the middle may be a little better.

In all, a great update to American’s business class product.  I enjoyed it and welcome the changes American Airlines is making.