American Airlines: First Class E170
Flight: AA 4197
Flight Route: RDU to JFK
Flight Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Lesson #1: Short distance work trips != luxury space.
When it comes to short-distance regional trips there isn’t always a ‘best option’, it basically means what’s the most convenient for your work schedule and which aircraft can you get lucky on with a 1-2 configuration rather than 2-2. Most of the small Embraers have a 1-2 configuration although if you’re 6’+, you will have a severe neck cramp if you sit on the left-hand side of the plane. However, if you’re 5’10” like me, you’re golden.
On this particular flight, I was traveling back home to NYC on a Friday afternoon. When flying domestic, the company I work for, and most companies in the US fly thier employees in economy. When travelling domestically that makes complete sense to me. This Friday however, after a long week, I was not planning to upgrade on the way home but when I arrived at the airport, I was prompted by the on-screen check-in if I wanted to upgrade. Whenever I see that, I usually select the option to get an idea of the cost. In this particular case I was intrigued to see that it was only $60 to upgrade to first. For a flight that was just under two hours and I was sitting in the back on a full flight, I went for it. To my surprise, not many others did and I ended up being one of only four people in first for this flight
Flight Review & Ratings
Everything below is on a 1-10 scale, to see my official ratings guidelines you can go here.
1. Quality of Seat: 4
Reality is, this is a regional plane, I would call it ‘old school business class’ at best. Fact is, it got the job done for a two hour flight. I didn’t have anyone next to me which was more luck of the draw than anything else. Why does it get four points? The competing flight on JetBlue does not have a section for ‘first class’ or a premium economy so this is a step-up from that option.
2. Quality of Entertainment: 0?
There was no IFE system or wifi so basically you need to hope you’ve brought yourself a good book. The thing is, you could say ‘well it’s a regional jet, what do you expect?’. True, at the same time, JetBlue operates a flight between JFK and RDU and they have an IFE per-seat. So yes, I do have something to compare it to that as far as entertainment is concerned, is a much better product.
3. Quality of In-Flight Food: N/A
Regional flight so if you believe food is going to be served or able to be rated, forget it.
4. Quality of Customer Service: 6
Customer service for this flight was actually pleasant. The crew can really make a difference, despite having no food to offer they were very apologetic due to a catering issue and did come down the aisles to check frequently
5. Quality of Fleet: 3
Compared to the competition, the regional American jets are extremely dated.
6. Flight Access and On-Time Reliability: 8
Flight boarded on-time and left on-time. No surprises here.
7. Lounge Access: 6
The lounge at RDU is small and generally crowded due to the heavy number of departing afternoon flights out of RDU. I was lucky to get in there early and when I sat down, the power outlet shared with the seat next to me did not work. Sub-optimal.
8. Availability & Cost: 3
American and JetBlue are competitive in the regional race, therefore when I’m paying to upgrade out-of-pocket just to avoid being scrunched in the back, I think I’ll be exploring JetBlue’s options in the future. American’s transcon and international service is worlds different than the regional service.