[Click above for the video review.]
This trip started out in San Francisco. We were on a red-eye flight to Dallas on flight AA614 which departed around 12:25AM. The flight itself was pretty smooth until we got around the vicinity of Dallas. It then became rather turbulent because of the storms in the area. The Captain mentioned that we had to circle around a few times as there was an active storm cell at DFW Airport. The storm eventually passed and we proceeded to land. After a very bumpy approach, we arrived in Dallas at about 6:30AM.
We wanted to try the American Express Centurion Lounge in DFW, as we have never been. We took the Skylink train from the C Terminal to the D Terminal, then walked to the lounge.
Upon arriving at the lounge, we noticed the rather imposing signage and a beautiful reception desk with a “living wall” backdrop. There were already a few people waiting in line, but it didn’t take long until we got to the desk. The lounge receptionist checked us in and briefly mentioned the features of the lounge, and that there offered complimentary 15-minute massage treatments at the Exhale Spa inside the Lounge. She asked if we were interested, and we responded with a resounding yes! The lounge opened at 9:00AM and we were first in line. Score!
The lounge is beautifully decorated with modern contemporary décor and is thoughtfully laid out. We walked over to the dining area to check out the breakfast selection. They offered a generous buffet spread with hot and cold breakfast offerings. The food was also very good quality. They also had a juice and coffee station, as well as an espresso machine. The lounge attendants were also very good at clearing the empty plates and cups at our tables after we were done.
pigging-out enjoying breakfast, I decided to walk around to explore the lounge. The lounge is really not that big compared to the Admirals Club in the D Terminal, but there were plenty of seating. I went back to my seat and lounged until it was time for our spa appointment.
We walked over to the spa and were greeted by Jason and John. We were called over to the massage chairs soon after. I have to say that these guys know what they’re doing. I’ve had massages at the Elemis Spa in Heathrow before and this was by far the best complimentary massage I’ve had in any lounge. Just what I needed before a long haul flight.
After the massage, we sat around a little bit more and then I went to the reception desk to ask for a shower. Sadly, the shower queue was very long and I did not have time to check out the shower suites before our flight.
About 50 minutes before departure, we walked down to the gate area. We waited about 10 minutes and then boarding commenced.
Upon boarding, we turned right into the business class cabin. The AA so-called
previous “next generation business class” seats (NGBC) cabin consists of 37 angled flat seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. I knew beforehand that this flight had the old business class seats, but decided to book it anyway as I have not reviewed it.
We were seated in seats 12A and 12B. Waiting at our seats were the amenity kit, slippers, and pillow and blanket. Upon settling in, we were offered Bose Noise cancelling headphones and pre-departure beverages. I chose the champagne and my companion had some water. The captain mentioned that we were running a little bit late because of the weather, as well as some minor technical issues.
I decided to checkout the in-flight entertainment. The screen size was probably 10″ which is tiny compared to newer business class screens. The IFE system was very basic and antiquated, but it still worked well. There were a few good new movie titles, as well as good audio programming. I really haven’t been watching movies on planes in a while as I prefer to enjoy “the ambiance” on board. More importantly, the moving map was also functional though I felt like it was from the 80’s.
It’s also important to note that these seats only offer DC power using a cigarette lighter adapter like the ones you use in your car.
We ended up pushing back from the gate about 45 minutes late, which was fine since we had a long layover in Narita. The taxi to the runway took about 5 minutes, and we had a powerful and turbulent takeoff because of the weather in Dallas.
15 minutes after takeoff, the captain turned off the seatbelt sign and the cabin crew sprung into action. Kyoko, the flight attendant working our aisle came and asked what we wanted to drink. We both ordered some champagne. She also confirmed that we had pre-ordered the Japanese Meal and the Halibut entrée.
Kyoko soon came back with white tablecloth to line our tables with. After a few minutes she returned with the drink cart with ramekins of warm nuts, and our champagne.
Another 10 minutes later, she was back with our meal starter. The western meal starter tray consisted of a small side salad, teriyaki glazed mushrooms, and some warm bread. The Japanese meal started off with a tray of assorted cold Japanese appetizers. From experience, I always order the Japanese Meals on flights to and from Japan as they have been consistently very good and well presented – this one certainly did not disappoint. Per my companion, the western starter was also very good.
A few minutes later Kyoko came back to refill our champagne, and soon returned with our entrées. My companion ordered the ginger poached halibut. The main Japanese Meal tray consisted of grilled salmon and veggies, rice, a side of Japanese pickles, and miso soup. The salmon was delicious, while my companion mentioned that the halibut was flavorful, but dry.
For dessert, I ordered the hot fudge ice cream sundae, and Baileys on the rocks. Kyoko mentioned that she recognized us from a previous flight and that she was on our “bumpy” flight from San Francisco earlier in the day.
After the meal, I decided to visit the lavatory to change into my pajamas (I brought my own, since AA doesn’t give out pajamas in business class). The lavatory was old and very basic, but big enough so that it was easy to change in and out of my clothes.
Upon returning to my seat, I reclined the seat into a bed and slept for a good 5 hours.
About halfway through the flight, the flight attendants came around and offered mid-flight snacks. I opted for the pastrami sandwich and a bowl of mixed fruits, both of which were very good. I took a peek into the galley and they also had a small snack bar set up with some chips, fig bars, and other sweets.
A few more hours of shuteye, and the pre-arrival meal service started. Kyoko came by and took our orders. We both had the beef donburi bowl which was served in one tray with a salad, and a slice of lemon pie. I was surprised at how good the donburi was considering we had been flying for almost 12 hours.
After the meal, our tables were cleared. I wanted to avoid the mad rush to the lavatories right before landing so I went to the lavatory early to freshen up and change out of my pajamas. When I got back to my seat, the crew collected the Bose headsets. Then the mad rush to the lavs started-Ha!
Soon enough, the captain came on and mentioned that we were starting our descent into Narita. It was a pretty smooth approach and an even smoother landing.
It was a long taxi to the gate as is the norm in Narita (in my experience), and we got to the gate exactly 45 minutes after our scheduled arrival time. We soon disembarked, and started the long trek to the transfer area. Then there was another round of airport security and back to the JAL First Class Lounge which is my favorite lounge in Narita.
We asked for a shower and enjoyed some fresh sushi and curry rice while waiting for our connecting flight to Jakarta.
I would give this flight a good 7 out of 10. The food onboard was good and a nice improvement over our previous business class flights on AA. The crew was friendly, engaging, and very efficient. The service onboard was also very good and our drinks were constantly refilled. The only negative is the very old seats, IFE System, and plane which could be a deal breaker for some.