Trip Report: American Airlines (A321) Main Cabin SAN-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: AA518
  • Aircraft: A321
  • Class: Main Cabin
  • Seat: 25A
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 1,814miles
  • Duration: 3hrs 11min
  • Departure: 9:20AM PST
  • Arrival: 2:45PM CST

The Preflight

After a fun weekend in San Diego with my college buddies, I was on my way home to Chicago. Thanks to my Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite status I was able to use the Priority check-in counters. There was a fair amount of passengers this morning in Terminal 2 East.

Once past TSA Pre-check, I made my way to the Airspace Lounge. Thanks to my AMEX Platinum Card I had access to the lounge which also doubles as the Admirals Club for American Airlines passengers.

There was a self-serve espresso machine as well as some Chex Mix.

There was also a bar which was where additional food was available.

There was an assortment of chips and packaged pastries.

Thanks to my AMEX Platinum Card I also had a $10 food voucher to use on more substantial food.

I went with my usual Breakfast Sandwich with sausage.

The lounge had great views of the apron and the A321 that would be taking me to Chicago.

Our A321 today, registration N143AN, was delivered to American Airlines back in August 2015.

Boarding began at 8:50AM.

The Flight

American Airlines currently has four separate versions of the A321 in their fleet. This version was a legacy American Airlines A321 with 181 seats. Each seat had a seatback screen which other versions of the A321 do not have.

I was seated in my favorite American Airlines economy seat, 25A.

While this seat was a standard Main Cabin seat, the major benefit was unlimited legroom.

Since it was directly facing the jumpseat there was no seat in front of it. I could stretch out my legs fully throughout the entire flight.

The other Main Cabin seats only offered 31″ of pitch and 17.7″ of width.

Since there was no seatback in front, the tray table and screen were stored in the armrest which decreased the width.

The tray table was fairly sturdy.

The entertainment screen was definitely showing signs of wear and tear. It was also covered in dried liquid.

There was also a 110V outlet beneath the seat.

The recline button was located in the left armest.

The boarding doors were closed 25 minutes after boarding started and we pushed back four minutes later. There was a line of aircraft waiting to take off from runway 27 and we waited for about 15 minutes for our turn. We had beautiful views of Point Loma and San Diego on our climb out.

Once we reached cruising altitude, I opened up the inflight map.

There was also a limited selection of movies and TV shows on the inflight system.

Twenty minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants came through the cabin with the only cabin service. Each passenger got a bag with water, pretzels, and sanitizing wipe. Due to COVID-19 all other drinks and food offerings had been cut.

I enjoyed the PHX labeled pretzels as we flew over PHX airport.

Halfway through the flight, we encountered some minor turbulence.

As we neared Chicago, I made my way to the rear Main Cabin lavatory.

We passed south of O’Hare as we turned into the approach the airport from the east.

It was a beautiful day in Chicago and I had great views of Wicker Park and Logan Square.

We had a very smooth approach into runway 28C and landed at 2:46PM local time.

I was surprised at how quickly we got to the gate area as it took just 10 minutes. That was probably a record time from landing to gate. Thanks for the ride!

This was a perfectly average flight with American Airlines in Main Cabin. It was pleasant due to the fact I was able to score my favorite seat in the cabin (turning down Main Cabin Extra). Meanwhile, the inflight service is severely lacking compared with competitors.

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