Trip Report: American Airlines (B737-800) Main Cabin Extra SAN-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: AA2058
  • Aircraft: B737-800
  • Class: Main Cabin Extra
  • Seat: 17A and 17C
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 1,840miles
  • Flight time: 3hrs 11min
  • Departure: 9:26AM
  • Arrival: 2:47PM

The Preflight

After spending a few wonderful days in sunny San Diego, it was time for my significant other and I to head home to freezing Chicago. Unfortunately, our upgrades did not clear and we were seated in the second exit row on the B737. We arrived at San Diego International Airport about an hour before the scheduled boarding time of 8:55AM. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines both operate from Terminal 2 East at SAN which is the old portion of Terminal 2. There were self check-in kiosks available for use and we printed our bag tags.

The PreCheck lane was open and had just a few passengers ahead of us in line. We were airside in about five minutes after dropping our bags off.

Turning left after the TSA area, we headed toward the Airspace Lounge. Thanks to my AMEX Platinum card, I was able to bring my significant other in for free without a guest charge. We were each given a $10 voucher to use on food and drinks in the lounge.

The lounge had a great amount of socially distanced seating.

Due to COVID-19, the self-serve snacks were placed behind the bar and were handed out by the bartender.

The food menu had a small variety of hot and cold options.

I had my usual breakfast sandwich with bacon and sausage while my significant other had the chicken Caesar wrap. Espresso drinks were available for free and were brought to our table by the lounge staff.

With five minutes until boarding was scheduled to begin, we made our way to the gate area. Our B737-800, registration N862NN, was delivered brand new to American Airlines in November 2010.

Boarding began exactly on time at 8:55AM and was done by groups. Unlike other airlines who changed the boarding process due to COVID-19, American continues to board via groups.

The Flight

This B737-800 was recently retrofitted to have American’s newest economy seat and cabin dubbed “Oasis”. The “Oasis” cabin densified the B737-800s and added 12 more economy seats in the same space at the expense of pitch. In total, there are 16 first class, 30 Main Cabin Extra, and 126 Main Cabin seats.

The new economy seats are Collins Aerospace Meridian slimline seats which offer 17″ of width. Main Cabin Extra offers 33″ of pitch while standard economy offers 30″. My SO and I were both seated in row 17 which is the last exit row and marked as MCE. This row probably had up to 38″ of pitch.

The benefit of row 17 is that row 16 in front cannot recline into your space. In addition, this seat features 4″ of recline while standard economy only has 2″.

The new slimline seatbacks have a tablet holder for personal devices as well as a conveniently placed USB port.

The tray table was basic but was large enough for my laptop.

The legroom in the exit row was very generous and unobstructed. Each seat in MCE also has individual 110V outlets.

17A was directly adjacent to the emergency exit and the armrest was split in half. This did get uncomfortable during the flight since I could not really rest my arm on it.

The middle armrest was very narrow and had the recline button.

Unlike all of my previous flights with American Airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, this time we were not given sanitizing wipes on boarding. The boarding process was completed within 30 minutes and we pushed back five minutes later at 9:26AM.

It was a very brief taxi to runway 27 and soon we were off bound for Chicago.

I inserted my tablet into the device mount and loaded the AA inflight entertainment system. While there is no longer an inflight map, there is still a bar with how much longer is remaining in flight.

Due to COVID-19, American Airlines has greatly reduced their inflight service.

Flight attendants came down the aisle once with snack bags and that was it for the main cabin service.

Each bag contained a water bottle, pretzel bag, and sanitizing wipe.

I watched a few episodes of the new AppleTV show For All Mankind which were great as we cruised over the Rockies.

I also checked out the rear economy class lavatories which are the new Collins Aerospace “Spacewall” design. It was incredibly narrow and definitely felt claustrophobic.

The sink itself was tiny and the water sprayed all over the wall when I went to wash my hands. Interestingly, there was C.O. Bigelow branded soap which I thought was reserved for first class only…

On our initial descent into the Chicago area we passed over the beautiful Lake Michigan and had some clear views of downtown Chicago on our final approach for the runway. We touched down at 2:47PM local time and had a 20 minutes taxi to Terminal 3.

Thanks for the ride!

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