Trip report: American Air MGM-CLT-ORD-ANC

In Alaska Travelgram by scott

Flying over Prince William Sound inbound to ANC on an American Air A321neo.

Since Alaska Air and American Air have joined at the hip in the oneworld alliance, Alaskans need to pay more attention to the Dallas-based carrier.

In today’s issue of the Anchorage Daily News, I wrote a trip report about three airlines: United, American and Breeze Airways. Read it HERE.

My return trip from Montgomery was 100 percent American/American Eagle. Here is my report.

CHECK IN at MGM. My in-laws live a little more than an hour away from the Montgomery, Alabama airport. It’s a sleepy affair. There were no lines when I approached the counter at 9:00 a.m. for my 10:42 a.m. flight. Even tho’ I checked in with the American Air app, they still printed out some boarding passes for me. 

After clearing security, I searched around for something to eat. Luckily, I was all caffeinated with the Kaladi Bros. blend we brought with us. There was a little gift shop that cooked up an egg  & bacon bagel. Nothing special…but one of the young women wasn’t wearing her mask. I asked her if she knew there was a mandate….and she replied that it was just a suggestion to wear masks (she added that she was vaccinated). I was happy that she got her shots and corrected her about the TSA Mask Mandate. Cue the lovely eye-roll. Almost everyone else in the airport wore their masks.

American Eagle (operated by PSA) CRJ700 approaches the gate in Montgomery, Alabama.

My first flight of the day, American 5358, was on a CRJ700. Our itinerary was Montgomery-Charlotte (372 miles). The CRJ is a tiny RJ, so we all bowed our heads and made our way to the puny seats.

Yeah. Watch your head on the way back to your seat on the CRJ700.

Since I’m MVP Gold on Alaska,  I got seats in the “peasant-plus” section which had a little more legroom (no additional charge). Even so, my knees were jammed up against the seat pocket. My guess is that it’s a 30-inch pitch….even tighter for the cheap seats. 

“Main Cabin Extra” legroom on the CRJ700. Humorous.

Charlotte is a big hub for American. I checked in with the fine folks at the Admiral’s Club to see if my “Sapphire” status entitled me to lounge access. “Only if you’re traveling internationally,” they said. If you have membership in the Aalska Lounge, you can use the Admiral’s Club. I don’t…so I couldn’t. Instead, I went back out in the crowd to find a nice micro-brew bar with a blend they make JUST for the Charlotte airport.

Wicked Weed Brewing…in the Charlotte Airport. Don’t take that beer on the plane!

There was a BIG sticker on the glass saying you cannot take your drink on to the airplane. In fact, American has banned all alcohol in the cheap seats through Jan. 13. It’s a move to mitigate nasty behavior on board the planes. That doesn’t stop travelers from getting smashed in between flights, of course.

American Air 737-800 parked at the gate in Charlotte.

My next American flight, AA1883 from Charlotte to Chicago, was aboard a  Boeing 737-800. I was in the front row of coach, directly behind “F”. The legroom was great. No food service. Their idea of a snack is a cookie and some pretzels. You don’t have to remind me more than once to get food at the airport to bring aboard! 

Much better legroom on AA’s 737-800. “Main Cabin Extra”

There are no onboard tv screens with American. So I downloaded the American Airlines APP on my iPhone. There are free movies and tv shows to watch…although it is on your phone. But the app also has updated info on gate changes, time changes…even baggage info. Later, I used it for in-flight internet, which was BLAZINGLY fast (ViaSat).

In Chicago at O’Hare Airport…an AA hub.

Chicago is one of AA’s main hubs (along with DFW). There were jillions of AA planes and jillions of passengers. Thankfully, the weather was good.

I grabbed a salad from Wolfgang Puck’s restuarnt near the gate to tide me over on the six-hour Chicago-Anchorage flight since there was NO FOOD. 

Legroom on the A321neo (Main Cabin Extra)

AA flight 1448 was on a two-year-old A321neo. These are beautiful planes. It’s the same kind that I flew down from Fairbanks to Chicago last week. Again, I was in the peasant-plus section with a little more legroom. The seats are hard and skinny. I got a  window seat since the scenery was bound to be glorious. 

Watching clouds on the climb out of ORD.

Once we got up in the air, I connected to American’s satellite-based internet (Viasat). Since they don’t guarantee coverage ont he whole trip, the cost was $15. The service is much much faster than ANY go-go product on any airline. Or…should I say….”No Go”. HA

We arrived in Anchorage about 90 minutes ahead of schedule, but it took about 40 minutes to get my checked bag.

On this particular itinerary, booked in “V” class, I received 75 percent of the actual miles flown toward my elite status (EQM). 

American’s tie-in with Alaska Airlines definitely is a plus when selecting another carrier besides Alaska. Particularly helpful is access to the extra-legroom seats. It’s a big reason to achieve elite status, IMHO.

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