As you may know, I presented at this year’s Chicago Seminars. While I normally fly Delta, a couple of circumstances came together a few weeks ago that led me to book American Airlines for my roundtrip flight from Atlanta to ORD. Both flights were on large RJs, both flights were in first class, but both flights could not have been more different. My trip began with a visit to the American Admirals Club in Atlanta on Friday. The lounge staff is pleasant, seating and power outlets were mostly plentiful, and they offer a decent menu of sandwiches and salads for a reasonable charge. I arrived early so I could get a bit of work done, finding the bar the least crowded, I took a seat there. The bar in the club is equipped with power outlets. Charge up!
ATL-ORD, CRJ-700 operated by Envoy Air dba American Eagle
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t catch the fact that I’d booked the one Envoy operated flight to Chicago on my day of travel. I really wanted to fly the EMB-175 that predominates on the route for American, but I digress. One could do worse than a first class seat to Chicago on Friday, even if I did have to valet my carry on thanks to the CRJ-700’s small bins. The tone of the flight was set when a passenger in coach offered his first class seat to another passenger so he could sit with his spouse. The flight attendant happened to pick up on the conversation and would have nothing of it. When the lucky passenger tried to take her now upgraded seat, the F/A responded with something to the effect of “that’s nice for you, but I cannot let you do that.” She did offer that the two passengers could go work it out with the agent. At least she managed to offer pre-departure waters.
We departed on time, and the flight was smooth….and incredibly fast. One feature of the Eagle inflight service I had not anticipated in light of American’s recent meal changes did delight me.
They weren’t warm, but I still love them! We landed early, waited for a gate, waited for a jet bridge operator, and then waited for our valet bags. In the end, I walked off the jet bridge only 10 minutes after our scheduled arrival, so all was well, but it served as a reminder of why I seek to avoid RJs where possible.
ORD-ATL, EMB-175 operated by Republic Airlines dba American Eagle
After spending a bit of time in the Chicago Admirals Club, I made my way to our gate on the L Concourse. No G madhouse. Within a minute or two, an announcement was made that the flight was oversold and they were seeking volunteers in exchange for a $500 travel voucher. Yes, please! In the end, they did not need a volunteer so we boarded a tiny bit later than scheduled, but still with plenty of time to depart on time. I walked onto a very new EMB-175, was greeted warmly by a polite flight attendant, and took seat 4A, the last seat on the left in first class. Pre-departure waters were offered in the midst of a rushed boarding, and we were buttoned up and ready to push on time. I was pleased with the legroom and comfort of the seat. I was further impressed that there were no pen marks….must’ve been a really new airplane.
Soon enough, we were on our way to Atlanta. Shortly after takeoff, the flight attendant was in the aisle checking on passengers and taking beverage orders. No mixed nuts on this flight.
Admittedly, the second flight seems to be most in line with American’s posted snack offering for the flights I took.
This wasn’t my first flight on either aircraft type, but it was my first for the EMB-175 under the American Eagle brand. The flight experience was much better than the CRJ-700, which wasn’t unexpected. Being in first class, it’s hard to compare, but I didn’t see anything that changed my opinion that the EMB-17X-19X aircraft are as comfortable as any airliner in the marketplace for domestic flights.