American Airlines (International)
by Sebastian Toovey
PHOTOS: SEBASTIAN TOOVEY
Airline: American Airlines
Route: New York (IATA: JFK/ICAO: KJFK)–London (LHR/EGLL)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Departure time: 0830 (0840 actual)
Arrival time: 2025 (2100 actual)
Passenger: Sebastian Toovey
I arrived at Kennedy a good two and a half hours before my flight’s departure time as required when flying internationally. I chose American’s only day flight to London-Heathrow out of the six daily flights operated with Boeing 777s. This was the first time that I had been through AA’s new and beautiful Terminal 8 at JFK since its completion in September of this year (Airways, December 2007).
Customer service agents were available to point you to the correct line for check-in. Self service check-in was offered, but I decided to go the old-fashioned way by checking-in with an actual agent. The line was not too long.
The TSA did have more lines open than I have previously encountered. However, the wait to pass through security was still far too long, taking close to 30 minutes to complete the process.
Once through security I proceeded to Gate 2 at the end of the international concourse. American has done a very nice job at JFK as there are many shops and snack places available. At the gate there were great views of Runway 31L/13R and the Terminal 8 ramp area, with plenty of activity to keep an aviation person happy.
Boarding began on time at 0745; however, as I was part of Group 5, the second to last group in coach to board, it took an additional ten minutes or so before I boarded the nearly full flight.
After asking the purser, I was allowed visit the flightdeck. The captain and first officer were very gracious, and advised that we would be departing from Runway 31L from Taxiway Z on a KENNEDY ONE Departure, Canarsie Climb, R-176, with initial vectors to HAPIE, before heading direct to BETTE. I thanked them and was on my way to my window seat in the forward section of coach. We were about ten minutes late on our push. The captain was waiting to receive the log book of the Boeing 777-223ER (N752AN-7BL) because maintenance work had been performed on the TCAS after arriving from Rio earlier that morning as flight AA950.
Our right turn from Taxiway NC got my attention as it is normally a left turn to head to Runway 31L. We continued on Taxiway A until crossing Runway 31R/13L at E. At this time my suspicions were confirmed by the captain announcing a runway change to Runway 22R and there were four departures ahead of us.
At 0900, AA142 lifted off Runway 22R. Being on the right side of the aircraft, I had a fantastic view of JFK and, after crossing the beach somewhere in Rockaway’s Queens, we started our left turn to head towards HAPIE.
After 30 minutes the flight attendants began the meal service, which consisted of a brunch menu. Our choices were either pancakes or a cheese omelet. I chose the eggs, which came with water, potatoes, a roll, fresh fruit, and a snack box. In addition I ordered a Coca-Cola.
Unfortunately, my individual remote was not working. One of the FAs tried her best to help fix it but was unsuccessful. She explained that she would log the problem for repair and that American was in the process of installing a new system that offers on-demand programming on the 777s. The touch screen was still operative, however, so I selected the flight tracker to watch our progress across the Atlantic. Off the coast of Ireland the sun started to set: a beautiful sight from FL390 (39,000ft).
About an hour before landing we were served a light snack and drinks. Unfortunately, the deli sandwich consisted of mystery meat and after one bite I decided to forgo the treat.
We started our descent over southwestern England, and the captain announced that ATC had requested we complete two circles in a holding pattern because of congestion at LHR—which gave us a great view of London by night.
AA142 touched down on Runway 27L at approximately 2045, which was about 20 minutes late. Once on the ground the captain informed us that our gate at Terminal 3 was occupied and that it would be about a ten-minute wait. Around 15 minutes later the captain made another announcement that our original gate was still occupied and that our gate had been changed. We finally arrived at the terminal at 2100.
After going through immigration, bags were already at baggage claim.
American Airlines did a good job. The cabin crew was attentive and professional, and the seat pitch in coach is not too bad. A pillow and a blanket were provided. The meal service was a vast improvement over what I have experienced on American domestically, but I think still needs work.
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