New York (La Guardia) to Miami
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
American Airlines AAdvantage (you can also earn Qantas frequent flyer points and status credits, albeit at a lesser rate than on Qantas aircraft)
First class, seat 4E
3 hours, 20 minutes
10 daily flights between the two airports
A 40 inch seat pitch and 21 inch width in a 2-2 configuration, comparable to domestic business class on narrow body aircraft in Australia. In total, the aircraft has 16 first class seats and 144 economy class seats, of which 30 have extra legroom.
Three checked bags, a maximum of 23 kilograms each with outside dimensions of length plus width plus height of no more than 158cm. One cabin bag of up to 23cm x 36cm x 56cm of any weight is allowed as well as one personal bag that will fit under your seat.
The leather seat is roomy and comfortable, with a large storage pocket and plenty of storage space under the seat as well. The large tray has more than enough room for a laptop and it reclines several inches. A blanket is also provided.
There is a large, crisp 10.4 inch touchscreen entertainment system with an extensive selection of movies and television shows available on demand, including more than a dozen new release films. In-seat USB power is also available. Inflight wifi internet access is available for purchase for $US5.50 ($7.39) for 30 minutes or $US19.95 ($26.80) for the duration of the flight.
By the book, with the single harried flight attendant serving the first class cabin spending no time on pleasantries. We land 50 minutes early in Miami as a result of strong tailwinds, but we are forced to sit on the ground for more than half an hour upon arrival because the gate is not ready. The captain is appropriately apologetic.
Drinks are served before takeoff. After we reach cruising altitude, the flight attendants offer another drink, mixed nuts and then a lunch choice of ravioli or grilled chicken salad, but given it is being served at 10:30am and I am still full from breakfast, I decline the main. Warm chocolate chip cookies are offered as a dessert.
ONE MORE THING ...
The lack of free lounge access for all but top-tier frequent flyers for domestic flights under five hours, such as this one, is disappointing. It can be purchased for $US50 ($68) upon check in.
Setting aside the impersonal service, the product is very comfortable for a non-transcontinental domestic US flight. Flying from La Guardia, which is closer to Manhattan than rival airport JFK and far less crowded is also a plus, but free lounge access would have been appreciated.
Tested by Jamie Freed who travelled at her Qantas frequent flyer account's expense.