A visit to the HOM: My American experiAAnce – if you jump ship – what to expect!

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A visit to the HOM: My American experiAAnce – if you jump ship – what to expect!
A visit to the HOM: What it is like at the HOM that is the House of Miles
A visit to the HOM: My American experiAAnce – the return including a coach leg.
A visit to the HOM: AA Tech, compAArisons & final thoughts – should “we” switch?

azo airport sign dark-30 delta points blog

It was my turn. My turn for what? A visit the fabled HOM or House of Miles that is the home base of Frequent Flyer Services that runs BoardingArea and some time with the BA team to update DeltaPoints.com. But I am getting way ahead of myself today. The trip out that I was really excited about since it had been YEARS since my last flight on American Airlines. Many of us, including yours truly, hold AA as the mark to beat since Delta in 87 days will destroy their frequent flyer program, and as the “be all to end all” we should all think about switching to. So did they live up to the “hype”? During Sundays in October I will give you my comparison to consider.

First off, how did I pay for this trip? Thanks to the US Air card that is soon to go away (how soon I do not know but any day could be the day) I was able, for very little cost, to book a 1st class round trip. When I say 1st class I mean business class with a leg in coach and a few regional jets as well. I found low level seats (as I always do on any airline I fly) with the perfect times and dates. Well, it was not totally perfect as the departing 1st leg from COS or Colorado Springs never opened up with 1st class seats for me so it was the “walk of shame” for part of the trip (regionals don’t count as we are all ducking and sad to be flying regional to begin with)!

departure sign azo airport delta points blog

Clearly each step along the way I compared everything Delta to AA. I have to say that the ATC situation in Chicago I do not in any way hold against AA as it was not in their control. Even so, I just happened to win the “travel lotto” that is, AA did fly the day I was after canceling flights the two days before out of Kalamazoo.

my logo vs aa logo

One thing I love and am SO impressed with is AA’s social media interaction. They interact not just with bloggers like me but with anyone. Much of it is just fun “fluff” stuff but they will respond often in a fun and kind (and sometimes funny) way. I desperately wish my beloved Delta would ease up and train Delta folks to have some fun with followers. Yes, I understand there is an “end point” where interaction stops, but how hard is it for someone to know when enough is enough. I guess the points where a tweet goes viral is too far, but I think the positive social interaction is worth the risk.


aa Embraer jet azo to ord delta points blog

On to leg one. A regional jet but NOT a CRJ – YEAH – one with 1-2 configuration. I loved it. Now before you go “ape” on me do keep in mind I am comparing a garbage can to a garbage truck so I am no way saying it was amazing just stunk so much less than the Delta 50 seaters! Again, I was just beyond tickled to be in the air (at MAX 10k all the way) on my way to ORD.

aa admirals club ord entrance delta points blog

Shockingly I made it more or less on time to ORD and headed off to check out the Admirals club pre-flight to Dallas or DFW and my first class MD AA bird. I have visited this club before thanks to my Citi 100k card (I know many of you got a BUNCH of them). It is an OK club and I still find it strange they sell food in the club (yeah, I get it is strange DL sells drinks, but that could be a whole other post). I do love, as did AA on twitter, the reflection of the AA birds in the glass doors!

American Air 1st class domesic seat delta points blog (1)

On to boarding and my AA 1st class domestic seat on an MD aircraft.

American Air 1st class domesic seat delta points blog (2)

Well 1st class is really, as my friend Gary Leff would say about most domestic products, not all that great.

American Air 1st class domesic seat delta points blog (5)

My seat was cloth and down right dirty and the floor was down right nasty (left over food bits were all over the place)! Again, giving cleaning less attention over on-time departure and in consideration of the ATC situation I will let this go, but I still like Delta all leather seats much better.

American Air 1st class domesic seat delta points blog (3)

The recline was a lever rather than a button (no big deal just strange as a DL flyer).

American Air 1st class domesic seat delta points blog (4)

And as you can see one of the two “drink” fold outs was just missing from the window seat.

These jets are OLD. I know AA is working on replacing them, but gosh they are beat up. No std power or IFE. Space is not all that great and I picked the front row on the way back to avoid someone reclining into me (ok to be fair I do the same thing on the old Delta 757 & 767 domestic birds)!

Before I get to the lunch service I will say on just one of the 3 first class flights I took I was offered a pre-flight drink (other than a cup of water – no mini bottles like Delta).

hot nuts american air delta points blog

Now as I started out saying everything in this series will be a comparison to the familiar Delta product and service. Delta food to me is good. Often very good in fact. Delta also does not try to make short haul food something it is not. On a short flight you get cold peanuts, pretzels or biscoffs then a sandwich and chips, and when it is done well it just works. A snack basket for dessert works too. Pre-flight and mid flight drinks works. That is my benchmark. AA attempts to offer 1st class and fails to me. They start with hot nuts that is nice, but when you start with that you expect something, well, impressive. I got:

american air 1st class lunch delta points blog

Yep – that! The “mystery meat” was nasty. The broccoli was floating in water. The mac-n-cheese was dry and bad. The salad (if you can call the lettuce core and veins plus tons of pine nuts and feta cheese a salad) was worthless. The roll (I know pretzel would have been better choice) was dry even with butter! It was just nasty!


The sad result was something I have never ever after hundreds of airline meals experienced – a long visit to the men’s room and a great deal of, ah hem, discomfort! Oh yeah it was THAT BAD!

first class cookie amerianc air delta points blog

To end this 1st class dining experience I put up with a mostly raw cookie that could have either been the culprit to my distress or added to the “event”!

1st class american air food service from cart delta points blog

The last bit is one more thing I really dislike, especially when “you” are trying to present a first clAAss experience, that is serving from the cart. Really? Just classy AA. You call that 1st class? Delta FAs, even on the tight new 737-900 serve from the galley! Think about it AA!

So was this a total bust for my 50,000 US Air miles (flow all on AA)? No, as the service from the FAs was truly good. I had GoGo so that was nice and even got an e-mail in advance telling me my flight would have GoGo (funny to me, again comparing to Delta, because I expect GoGo on Delta and they don’t need to e-mail me to tell me there will be wifi on my flight because it is almost always there)!

american airliens first class ticket delta points blog

Now I have been trying to be somewhat fair throughout this post about my expectations and comparisons to Delta. I expected a TON! I had built AA up in my mind to a platform that honestly would be nearly impossible to attain. They DO have a very good frequent flyer program (for now – until they destroy it) and I was hoping the product and service would match my hopes. So far, FF program was mostly as expected, AA people were great, product and the rest were much worse than Delta. Disappointing is a good word to describe it – a total let down would perhaps be a better phrase. I really don’t get why my fellow bloggers like AA domestic product so much – Delta crushes them on every level (i.e. Delta has NOTHING to fear from AA so far)!

That brings me to Dallas, a very nice visit to the AMEX Centurion Lounge again and my final flight to COS that was in a similar product.

good service from aa fa

What was not similar was the service by the DFW-COS FA. He was just the best. I always YELL how great Delta folks are but I have flown with a bunch of Chairman’s award winners and nominees who would not hold a candle to this FA – yeah he was THAT good.

So this far into this 4 part Sunday post about my visit to the HOM and my first AA flight in years I would have to sum up by saying that AA has some strong points, but let’s see how they do on the way home as well as their tech and customer service! – René
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  1. I’ve been wanting to switch (Delta Diamond here) and I’ve been told, wink and nod, if you will, that AA will status match me to Executive Platinum with no challenge requirement. They aren’t advertising this for now, but I’m told they are doing it. I suspect they will not change their frequent flier program — despite what you claim or predict — because it’s a competitive advantage for them.

    My concern about switching to AA is what you experienced. The domestic product isn’t any better than Delta; in fact, the planes are ancient. What does, however, appeal to me is international. I do an international flight to Europe or Asia every six weeks. American has much more glamorous partners, in my opinion. The only advantage Delta has on this front is Virgin Atlantic, but, to me, it isn’t worth paying for Virgin from New York when it’s such a short flight and all I want to do is sleep for four or five of the seven hours to London.

    If AA, as they claim, improves domestic service, I might just switch.

  2. You are totally letting your Delta Fanboyness show on your sleeve here, Rene.

    You totally neglect to mention the difference in AA’s F seat pitch to that of DL – AA’s Main Cabin Extra has the same leg room of DL F… with AA F having 2-3″ on top of that.

    Next, you talk about how old the MD-80s are. Guess what, they are as old as DL’s MD-88s.

    Finally, the food. You couldn’t have timed this trip worse to compare the airlines. AA did downgrade their meal service on 9/1, but will be upgrading it after all the complaints on 11/1.

    If DL flew DFW-ORD (800 miles), you would have just gotten a snack basket. Here there is at least an attempt at a meal.. and before 9/1 it would have been a GOOD meal. After 11/1, the quality should improve…

    And finally, before 9/1 you would have even gotten a GOOD meal DFW-COS. Show me a 592 mile route DL has served a meal on in the last 5 years.

  3. The MD80s have in-seat power throughout both cabins. Not sure how you didn’t notice it.

  4. Good points, Greg, about pitch/legroom and meals. I will, however, interject and say Delta’s MD-88 and MD-90 planes are practically new because they were completely refurbished. The same can’t be said for the old interiors of American’s.

  5. Oh.. one more thing.. I find AA’s F seats FAR more padded and comfortable than DL’s.

  6. My experience matches yours. To be fair, though, I’ve had Delta provide first-class meal service from the cart between MSP and MCO several times, always on a 757. Today, I few that route on the same bird and mealtime came from the galley, no cart.

  7. Rene, You should remember that AA is in the middle of a merger. Also AA has ordered hundreds of next generation 737 and A320 family aircraft to replace the MD-80s and other older models. I believe there was some advertising to the effect that AA would soon have the newest fleet of all the domestic carriers. When NW and DL merged, the service, and a lot of other things, suffered. I agree that the DL in-flight service and GAs have come a long way since the initial days of the merger and the union organizing campaign. Even though I think AA is more unionized, I would expect its in-flight service will also improve as the chaos of the merger fades.

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