Having flown on British Airways and Qatar Airways in First Class numerous times, and in ‘The Apartments’ on Etihad Airways, I decided I must try the American Airlines new First Class suites. My 15-hour journeys from the Cayman Islands, at Christmas, seemed the perfect opportunity to do this.
There was an enclosed dedicated First Class check-in area but a line there. When I did get served the Portuguese lady was very friendly but computer problems meant my baggage tags had to be reprinted several times and this made it a long process.
Fast-track security at Terminal 3 was a ‘painless’ as it ever is at Heathrow.
Check-in to the lounge was friendly and an ice bucket full of Moet champagne was the first thing you saw in the lounge.
Staff was attentive and helpful, immediately offering to pour me a glass but I decided to wait until breakfast.
The seating areas were fine but a dedicated dining area, with waiter service, looked better and I got breakfast there. The staff could not have done more for me (eg got me a glass of champagne) but the eggs in the Eggs Benedict were a little too watery.
I was in seat 1A. I was impressed by all the space and explored my First Class Cole Haan wash bag. It contained 3LAB products that I love and can be reused as an iPad cover. In fact, on my Miami to London First Class flight the crew gave me a large tub of the 3LAB hand cream, which saved me buying it in Barneys New York at New Year.
We were quickly offered champagne, newspapers, and pajamas. I took the XL pajamas but, from my Miami to London First Class flight, know they are tighter than those in British Airways First Class.
The champagne came in tumblers, as it had on the ‘domestic’ flight from the Cayman Islands to Miami. All I can think about when I see this is that even water will taste different depending on the glass it is served in. I wish American Airlines and Qatar Airways would pay more attention to this subject.
The crew turned my seat to face the large TV monitor, a very nice feature, and I tried the massage function on my seat. It was not bad. There were hot towels but I prefer the Qatar Airways choice of hot or cold.
Champagne then came in a glass with a stem and I tried to work on www.sifrew.com but could not access the WiFi.
Instead, I reviewed the menu and drinks list, while being impressed by the Bose Noise Cancellation headphones.
After a lamb Scotch quail egg main course dish that was disgusting, both in terms of texture and taste, on my Miami to London First Class flight, I tried to be careful with my choices. I am still shocked American Airlines can produce such inedible First Class food. My worst First Class meal with them was a chicken baked with cheese dish on a Buenos Aires to Miami flight.
I picked the ‘Tortilla de Patatas with chorizo, pickled shallot, and Romano pepper jam’. It was the chorizo that attracted me to this dish but I took several mouthfuls without any of the punch I expected. It was a bland dish to point of being insipid and I eventually gave up on it. Not a good start from English Chef Mark Sergeant.
The celeriac and wild mushroom soup, with white truffle oil, was another story with delicious chunks of mushroom and a perfect truffle flavor. Delicious with the warm bread.
For the main course, I picked the ‘Umami Crusted Filet of Beef with confit barrel chips and mushroom “ketchup”‘. The beef was dry to the point of being unpleasant, the chips soggy and the Umami did not improve any of this.
Far from Michelin starred food Mr. Sergeant is said to be renowned for.
With this, I tried the Napa Valley Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. However, this wine was too earthy and dry for me and I switched back to champagne. Not much was going right at this stage of the meal.
I tried to salvage the meal by ordering the cheese board with no goat’s cheese.
The Coastal Cheddar was rich rugged and mature and Blacksticks Premier Cru creamy with a peppery taste. No problems with these and the jellied plum worked well with them.
I was bemused to be given two coffees when I ordered a double espresso. Not sure what this was about?
During dinner, I watched Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Beguiled’ starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst. A gripping film but after this, I got talking to the Munich based lawyer sitting in 1B. It turned out the whole First Class cabin was interested in ‘my gang’ and www.sifrew.com. I had to explain things to almost all of the First Class cabin.
I got the crew to make up my bed and tried to get a few hours sleep.
Before landing, I got the gourmet steak and melted cheese sandwich, with a warm cookie and a Spicy Bloody Mary. This was the perfect food to end a flight and all delicious.
Before the flight ended I asked for champagne but was told I had “drunk it all” before some more was then “found”. American Airlines is the only airline that ever tells me they have no champagne left in First Class.
I should also mention I had to point out the champagne first served on the Miami to London First Class flight was totally flat. The other passengers only noticed when I pointed this out. I’m doing my best to keep standards up!!!!
I ended the flight with a refreshing gin & tonic holding my calming stone again, regarding a weather-related, bumpy landing.
Two poor courses; the initial, incorrect, glassware; no WiFi and the “no champagne left” comment lost the new American Airlines First Class some scores, despite great seats/beds, crew and TV.
Here’s my tip: do not be experimental with your choices from the menu, American Airlines are serving bad dishes in First Class.
Because oneworld-related airlines all have different names for their membership tiers in their frequent flyer programmes(FFP), the alliance has created tier names that are common right across oneworld(Emerald, Sapphire, and Ruby), so you can be clear of the benefits to which you are entitled wherever you fly through the alliance network. You’ll get the membership automatically when registering the FFP of oneworld airlines.
The Cayman Islands-based luxury travel blogger working with Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental & Veuve Clicquot.