an airplane flying in the sky

Two words: warm cookies…

When flying economy feels like so much more, praise is due. Despite a turbulent flight experience last year, I continue to fly American Airlines for my transcontinental travels, thanks to their beautifully revamped flagship lounge at both JFK and Los Angeles (and access to the Qantas First Class lounge) I have access to as a British Airways gold card holder, which offers Oneworld Emerald satus.

But special lounges aside, on a recent flight from New York to San Francisco, I experienced without a doubt the most polished economy cabin service I’ve ever endured. While many of the superlatives loop back to elite status, there are many features I believe travelers shall relish.

a man standing in front of a signCheck In

As a non American Airlines OneWorld Emerald member, I’m able to utilize the Flagship check in services. This private area, literally guarded and cordoned off, is truly phenomenal. Agents are proficient and friendly, and happy to help. Sometimes, they’ll even walk you through security.

While this feature is not for anyone flying American economy, it’s a game changer for those with non American Airlines elite status. For everyone else- check in online and try to go carry on only. And of course, get a security fast track service.


Boarding is very orderly, by group. As a British Airways Gold Member (OneWorld Emerald) we boarded in Group 2. The American Airlines transcontinental planes (A321T) are almost entirely first and business class, so the economy cabin is charmingly small and never appears too busy, even when full.

Thanks to OneWorld status, I was able to select a bulkhead exit row seat for free. Music to any frequent flyers ears- the crew reserved overhead bin space for those seated in the first row.

a room with a table and chairsThe Seat

American’s seats are undoubtedly narrow, in a 3×3 layout on these flights, however, the entertainment screens are large and seat pitch is very sufficient, with solid recline. Subtle mood lighting creates an enjoyable cabin atmosphere and the truly small size makes things feel orderly,.

The Touches

“Thanks for being an Executive Platinum Mr. Ott”. Wait – what? American Airlines has a seat map reflecting where their elite customers are sitting. On transcontinental flights, Executive Platinum Members are given a complimentary snack box (which is actual decent).

Not only that – they’re greeted by name. For some reason, British Airways Gold, or I’d assume – any OneWorld Emerald status codes into their system as American Airlines Executive Platinum, so I was greeted by name and offered a snack box to pass the time.

an airplane flying in the skyCrew Finesse

If there was a competition to be held for greatest airplane sleeper – it would go to my wife. Before takeoff Laura is able to pass out virtually anywhere. The crew noticed that we were together early on – and politely mentioned that when Laura wakes, they’ll be happy to bring her a drink or snack box, even after the service is over. Jean Nicholas and crew were simply outstanding. We laughed that we’ve had far worse service on international business flights!

All Together

I paid $144 for this one way flight. Considering the convenience provided as a OneWorld Emerald member utilizing  flagship check in, the upgraded lounges, the orderly boarding process thanks to less overall passengers and the inspired service and thanks for loyalty.

And then… they had warm chocolate chip cookies for all passengers as we deplaned.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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