Airline review: American Airlines economy, San Francisco to Miami

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE ROUTE

San Francisco to Miami.

THE PLANE

Boeing 767-300.

LOYALTY SCHEME

AAdvantage. American Airlines is also part of the Oneworld alliance.

CLASS

Economy.

DURATION

Flight time is five hours or, as the captain says, "Four hours and 58 minutes, folks". That's when we eventually get under way. Maintenance issues delay our departure by almost two hours, but the ground crew give passengers detailed regular updates over the PA (the upside of America's service-oriented culture) and SFO domestic is a great airport to be stuck in. It has free Wi-Fi, desks to work at (with AC charging stations; remember to put your international adapter in your carry-on luggage), groovy red modular armchairs and Peet's, a San Franciscan Starbucks for coffee-lovers.

THE FREQUENCY

American flies direct from San Francisco to Miami three or four times a day.

THE SEAT

The configuration is 2-3-2 and my window seat is 17.2 inches wide and has a pitch of 31 inches. It's nothing special, but perfectly comfortable.

BAGGAGE

American lets you check up to 10 bags on US domestic flights as long as the total weight is less than 23 kilograms (32 kilograms for first and business passengers), but you do have to pay for them – it's $25 for the first one, $35 for the second, $150 for the third and $200 per bag after that – unless your flight is part of an international journey, as mine is, in which case your bags travel free.

SERVICE

The flight attendants are friendly and mature-aged and have a no-nonsense attitude; the two female attendants on my side of the aircraft remind me of New York cops Cagney and Lacey from the 1980s television series of the same name, in looks and demeanour (not a bad thing).

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ENTERTAINMENT

Communal screens show a new release movie followed by a television drama, which is a bit skimpy for a five-hour daytime flight; headphones cost $US5 but my iPhone ones work fine. There are also audio channels and two inflight magazines, American Way and the Spanish-Portuguese Nexos (business class passengers get a third magazine, Celebrated Living).

FOOD

Water, soft drinks, tea, coffee and pretzels are complimentary, beer costs $US7, a glass of wine $US8. There's also a selection of snacks. My sweet chili quinoa wrap costs $US8.99 and although it's a bit on the small side, it's fresh and delicious and served with fresh grapes.

THE VERDICT

Excellent, all-American service on this comfortable cross-country flight is let down by the limited entertainment options (although newer 737-800s on this sector have on-demand entertainment and seatback screens), but overall flying with the largest airline in the world (by fleet size) makes you feel part of a well-oiled machine.

Reviewed by Louise Southerden, who flew courtesy of Fathom Travel.