Trip Report: American Airlines (B737-800) Domestic First ORD-SAN

The Details

  • Flight: AA1543
  • Aircraft: B737-800
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 4D and 4F
  • Route: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)-San Diego International (SAN)
  • Distance: 1,763miles
  • Flight time: 3hrs 49min
  • Departure: 4:40PM
  • Landed: 6:53PM

The Preflight

This flight was the first time that my significant other was flying since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost a year ago. We had both just gotten fully vaccinated and felt much safer flying together again.

After parking in the self-park lot, we took the shuttle over to Terminal 3 at O’Hare which was relatively empty. The first class check-in was empty and no one was ahead of us in the TSA PreCheck line.

We made our way to the Admirals Club which was open.

There were at most 20 people scattered throughout the lounge.

There was self-serve beverages available including the soda machine and coffee machine.

All of the food choices were individually packaged.

Behind the bar there was potato cheddar soup and snack towers.

At around 3:30PM, more hot food was brought out. There was a staff-served roasted tomato soup and build your own mac & cheese bowl.

In addition, there was made-to-order guacamole.

We had great views from the lounge as the afternoon bank of flights arrived.

With 10 minutes until boarding was scheduled to begin, we made our way to the gate area. Along the way, we passed by a B777 which were a rarity prior to COVID-19 at O’Hare.

Our B737-800 today, registration N920NN, was delivered brand new to American Airlines in March 2013 making her just eight years old.

While this was a relatively full flight, most passengers remained socially distanced in the gate area. Boarding began exactly on time at 4:10PM and was done by groups. Unlike United and Delta Airlines which began boarding back to front, American has continued to use their pre-pandemic boarding process.

The Flight

This aircraft featured American’s newest first class seat dubbed “Kodiak”. There were a total of 16 first class seats across rows 1-4. In addition, there were 30 Main Cabin Extra and 126 Main Cabin seats for a total of 172 seats.

The new first class seats are Collins Aerospace MiQ seats with 37 inches of pitch with 21 inches of width.

While American had decided to forgo seatback entertainment screens, they did install a device holder for streaming on personal devices.

Next to the device holder was a conveniently placed USB port.

There was a small literature pocket which did not impact the legroom at all. I appreciated how there was no obstacles underneath the seat restricting legroom.

In between the seatbacks was a small cocktail tray.

The right hand armrest was non-adjustable and was where the tray table was stowed.

The large bi-fold tray table was very sturdy and had a built in tablet stand.

The center armrest also featured a small tabletop for drinks.

The recline button was located beneath.

Under the center armrest was a large storage bin as well as 110V outlet.

While the older B737-800s featured an actual wall between the first and economy class cabin, the newest cabin has a board instead.

The boarding doors were closed a 4:38PM, 28 minutes after boarding began. Unfortunately, the flight attendants had to remind more than a few passengers during the boarding process to keep their masks on properly. Push back commenced at 4:45PM.

After about a 10 minute taxi to runway 9C we took off.

Once in the air, I connected to the inflight entertainment system on my phone. Unlike Alaska, Delta, or United Airlines, American does not offer an inflight map on their inflight streaming service.

Service began with a round of drinks served front to back of the cabin. The lovely flight attendant served my Bloody Mary as a double with a slice of lime.

Due to COVID-19, American Airlines has limited their food offerings on board. On flights more than 900 miles, they provide either a turkey sandwich or fruit and cheese plate.

I went with the turkey sandwich which came with a chocolate chip cookie. The sandwich itself is pretty good and much better than the sandwiches United Airlines offers.

My significant other went with the fruit and cheese plate that also came with some cold nuts and a piece of chocolate. Compared to the Alaska Airlines fruit and cheese plate, this one was average at best.

Once we had finished our food, the flight attendant came through the cabin and offered another round of drinks. I switched to a Gin&Tonic which was also served double.

There was a beautiful sunset as we cruised westwards above the clouds.

I also browsed the inflight entertainment on my laptop.

As we neared San Diego, I went to use the first class cabin lavatory. It was unremarkable but at least was semi-clean.

There was C.O. Bigelow branded soap but no other amenities.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and we had a very smooth approach into San Diego coming in from the east. We landed on runway 27 at 6:52PM local time.

The taxi was short and direct to gate 30 in Terminal 2. Thanks for the ride!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s