Finally I head off from the hotel to JFK to take my next flight onto LAX. It will be my first time in Los Angeles, so I am quite excited. I have avoided Los Angeles for so many years and now I am making the trek away from my beloved NYC to the west coast. I have access to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge in JFK and I head there straight after check-in.
The lounge has beautiful views across the tarmac (above) and is complete with a dining area, expansive lounge area and a business centre near the entrance of the lounge. Here are some highlights of the lounge:
Extensive Buffet Selection of Hot and Cold Dishes
To be honest if this was a business lounge it would be top notch in terms of the breadth and the selection available in the buffet.
There is also a self-serve bar available with wines, beers and spirits.
The beverage selection is sufficient and passable, although a few additional top-shelf pours would have been nice.
There is plenty of seating and the sofas are quite comfortable with plenty power sockets for the recharge of our beloved smartphones and laptops for those workaholics and instagrammers out there.
I opt for the roast chicken with some salads and a glass of wine as I await my flight.
The lounge is certainly a premium in that it would eclipse a regular domestic or regional lounge, however that this lounge is meant to be a First Class Lounge (and a Flagship lounge at that) with international flights departing from the terminal indicates that it probably falls short of say the British Airways Concorde Room or Qantas First Lounge in Sydney. On a more positive note renovations are underway and I understand the new lounge will be a substantial improvement from the current offering.
The flight to LAX is a transcontinental three class services (First, Business and Economy Class). Each of the First Class seats have direct aisle access and it is secluded little pod which is a good seat for a domestic flight but probably not as spacious as the Qantas domestic business suites on their A330-200 services from the east coast to Perth.
The seat has the detachable remote control, a reading light and seat controls to turn the seat into a fully flat bed. There also various power sockets for you to recharge your devices.
Complimentary water and an amenity kit are also provided.
The amenity kit is actually quite practical and rare to be offered on domestic or regional flights around the world. It has a Cole Haan bag which stores all the items which include C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries products (lip balm, Lime & Coriander body lotion and mouthwash), tissues, pen and foam headphone covers, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye-shade, socks and ear plugs.
I start off the flight with a glass of champagne… which happens to be brought out in a paper cup which is just poor form. In asking if I wanted a drink from the bar, the flight attendant didn’t actually ask, he motioned with putting his hand to his mouth in sign language which was quite surprising.
Pretty soon we have lift-off and we are on our way to Los Angeles
The dining menu features three course menu with a salad course and a couple of refreshments served just before landing. Here is the full menu.
So to put the flight experience in context, I am seated in row 5, the last of the First Class Cabin, so all airlines pack a selection of each dish and unfortunately they tend to run out and the choice is limited if you’re seated at back. That’s my fault for not selecting the seat upon booking. However disappointingly they didn’t (or forgot to) pack enough Champagne post the introductory drink meaning the whole cabin had no champagne for the rest of the flight.
First Course – Smoked Salmon Cheesecake
I have salmon for the first course to start proceedings.
The salmon is rich and oily while mousse has a buttery creaminess to it. The capers interrupt this with a tang to balance the strength of the salmon flavour. It is a reasonable small dish to start. I choose not to pair it with any of the white wines on the menu.
Salad – Baby Arugula and Watermelon Radish
The salad is dry and not particularly exhibiting of any flavour or flow. I decide to eat as part of a detox for broader dietary sins on this holiday.
Main Course – Pan Roasted Huckleberry Chicken
This wasn’t my first choice but it was a good dish. The succulent tender chicken was cooked well with the smoky sweet and tangy sauce providing some good flavour to the dish. The vegetables were firm on touch but soft to eat and the quinoa and kale was well cooked to provide support for the dish.
I paired with the cabernet, not a good pairing but I did desperately want to try the Cabernet and it was a good drop. The wine is a blend from the Napa Valley (which accounts for the majority), Sonoma County, and Lake County. The wine has fine cassis aromas followed by flavours of dark cherry and blackberries on the palate with hints of sweet spice and herb notes. The wine has good acidity to balance fruit with integrated tannins which flow into the finish.
I dispense with the notion of dessert as the prospect of an ice-cream Sundae doesn’t quite appeal and I flick through American Airlines Luxury Magazine and continue to sip my wine as the flight continues.
The inflight entertainment is not up to scratch. The movies keep skipping and reverting to start midway through each film which made it impossible to watch anything. I decide to revert just sipping on the wine enjoying the magazine until the end of the flight.
I am grateful for having a good private (direct aisle access) seat which to be honest is a very good product for domestic travel. The service probably could have been improved to meet premium standards for a domestic flight (I am using Qantas business in Australia as benchmark not other International First products as that would be unreasonable) such as general attentiveness and ensuring drinks were loaded prior take-off. However the flight wasn’t overly long and it was good to be in LA in the most comfortable way possible.