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American Airlines/First Class: JFK – LAX

On the Run, In the Air
Flying to L.A. and back in a 24-hour period this winter—a “milk run,” for those in the entertainment industry—made the six hours en route a precious nugget of time: I needed to work; I needed to sleep; and I was hoping for a bit of solitude before plunging into the frenzy of L.A.’s award season.

American Airlines has created a smooth path from curb to plane for first-class passengers, with personalized Flagship Check-In, which begins in a quiet lounge outside the main hall, expedites security and allows a quiet interlude at the Admirals Club, one of the most serene lounges at JFK.

The Seats
The first-class cabin on this A321 was laid out in a 1-1 configuration of ten expansive open suites (the seats in all three classes add up to a mere 102). I found easily accessible spots for all of my in-flight necessities—including my laptop, iPad, glasses and a sheaf of not-yet-digitized paper work—and gratefully stowed my personal noise-cancelling headphones when I saw the superior set by Bose being handed out just up the aisle.

Shortly after takeoff, I was cocooned in a capacious comforter and stretched out on the 82-inch-long, 21-inch-wide seat, with its generous 62-inch pitch. The only problem in tackling my workload was the lure of that luminous 15.4-inch touch screen and its promise of 180 TV programs, 350 audio selections and—my personal Waterloo—a brilliantly curated collection of 200 world-class films.

Work could be completed on the ground, I rationalized, but time aloft is fleeting; and there’s no finer indulgence than surrendering to a movie masterwork while rocking gently atop the clouds. Indeed, the aircraft sailed so smoothly through the strong winter headwinds that all I noticed was the frequently illuminated seatbelt sign—the glass of sparking water on my tray table never spilled a drop.

The entertainment system on this new plane still had a few headphone and rewind glitches, but the flight attendant persevered until we untangled the electronics. I admit, I was so enthralled by the films that I never even tried the upgraded Gogo Wi-Fi (ATG-4), but I did appreciate the display of our flight progress, posted at the edge of the screen, with 3-D moving maps a few clicks away. And once it was time to collect the Bose headphones, 45 minutes before landing—I’m still not sure why that much time was needed—I released my grip of steel on the loaned set when offered ear buds as a replacement.

Food and Service
Attuned to the industrious types booking this route, tray tables have been smartly designed to open halfway for work or fully for dining, to form an expansive counter top. There, I finally managed to accomplish some tasks during a breakfast that at least began healthfully - with a yogurt parfait - before I surrendered to a platter of Belgian waffles with sea-salted caramel and chicken/apple sausage, accompanied by a flaky Southern-style biscuit that would have brought tears of envy to a New Orleans chef.

There was nary a rolling cart in sight: In this cabin, flight attendants kept a watchful eye on passengers to determine when they seemed ready to dine, then laid a setting with fresh linen, china, an ample pot of butter and a flute that beckoned a pour of apple-scented Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Carneros Brut.

I was doubly grateful for such attentiveness an hour before landing, when I was served a jolt of freshly pressed espresso in preparation for that perennial snarl of traffic on the 405 Freeway.

AA’s new A321 aircraft (type “32B” on the booking page) links two of this country’s most booming business cities with the serene atmosphere usually found in international first class. By June, these planes will be flying between JFK and LAX 13 times each day, and on March 6 they began flying between JFK and SFO.

Courtsey    :     Premier Traveler
Author         :    Janet Forman

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