Trip Report: American Airlines (A321) Domestic First PHL-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: AA490
  • Aircraft: A321
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 4A
  • Route: Philadelphia International (PHL)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 677 miles
  • Duration: 2hrs 7min
  • Departure: 5:57PM
  • Arrival: 6:40PM

The Preflight

Since my original itinerary MIA-DFW, DFW-ORD was derailed due to a mechanical issue with the MIA-DFW aircraft, I flew MIA-PHL instead. Luckily the MIA-PHL had no mechanical issues and arrived on time. I had a short 55 minute connection at PHL and spent the time plane-spotting.

There were quiet a few widebodies at PHL today including a British Airways B747-400 and a variety of American Airlines widebodies.

BA B747-400
AA A330
AA B767-300ER

Our A321 today, registration N549UW, was delivered to US Airways in Nov 2011. She was formally transferred over to American Airlines in Sept 2015 after the merger between the two airlines.

Boarding began on time at 5:10PM.


The Flight

American Airlines currently has two distinct sub-fleets of A321s. One sub-fleet consists of all the legacy US Airways (LUS) A321s (called “Classic”) while the other sub-fleet consists of all the legacy American Airlines (LAA) A321s (called “Enhanced”).

This particular A321 was one of the LUS “Classic” A321s which are definitely the worse of the two sub-fleet types. There is no in seat power and no seatback IFE. Besides the ability to recline into the bulkhead behind me, the seat felt identical to the Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat. Seats are 21″ wide and have a pitch of 36″. Compare this to the LAA “Enhanced” A321s that have seatback entertainment, in seat power, and a whopping 39″ of pitch.

Awaiting us at each was a small blanket as well. No pillows were distributed.


Boarding was slightly delayed by 20 minutes and we pushed back at 5:57PM local time. There was a surprising amount on Concierge Key members (3 total) on this flight. Flight attendants made no attempt to interact with the passengers and since I was in the bulkhead row another passenger (2A) asked me to hang his coat behind me….

No predeparture beverages were served and my seatmates request for some water was brusquely shutdown. We had a quick taxi to the runway and took off soon thereafter. Enjoy!

Once in the air flight attendants handed out warmed towels. Meal and beverage orders were taken at the same time. I think flight attendants went in order of status as she jumped around the cabin for orders. I went for a glass of red wine.

Streaming on board was with ViaSat. It was fast and the live TV had minimal pauses. I made a rookie mistake prior to the flight and forgot to charge my laptop. Since there was no individual seat power, my laptop died mid flight.


Snack options where either a Fruit and Cheese plate or a Chipotle Black Bean Guacamole plate. I opted for the guac and it was excellent. It was served with a ramekin of toasted mixed nuts, bag of multigrain tortilla chips, and a small chocolate. The tray table was so small that I couldn’t fit my own device and the snack tray at once.

Chipotle Black Bean Guac

Once the snack tray was cleared, flight attendants offered another round of drinks. I love the AA branded glassware.

Red Wine

The rest of the flight was uneventful and we approached O’Hare from over Lake Michigan with a lovely view of downtown Chicago.

Enjoy our landing on 27L!

Despite the 20 minutes delay on departure, we landed in Chicago 10 minutes ahead of schedule. In summary, I’d say the flight attendants were indifferent and just went through the motions. Would I pay extra for LUS A321 business class with no seat power, a small tray table, and no IFE? Probably not. I’m just glad my upgrade cleared on this flight.

7 thoughts on “Trip Report: American Airlines (A321) Domestic First PHL-ORD

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