American Airlines First/Business class experience

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Mar 17, 2017
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#1
I’ve appreciated your continued advice about “you get what you pay for” with airline tickets. For my past two trips, I’ve upgraded to first class to try to improve the flying experience. I had a great trip last time with Delta and this time I tried American. The experience was pretty good overall but I have a question about carry-on luggage storage.

Part of my flight was business class. My understanding is part of what you pay for is early boarding and dedicated carry-on space. They did not organize the boarding well (we patiently waited until they called “group 1” but by then there were 30 people lined up) and by the time we got on the plane all overhead space in Business was full. I asked about it politely but was told “just be glad your bag is on the plane.” Because we couldn’t access our bags easily, we also had to wait awhile to get off the plane and the bags stored above us were not from Business class customers.

I would never cause an issue on a plane so I just dropped it. Is this a typical business class experience? Was there a better way to handle this situation? This wasn’t a horrible thing that happened but I did pay double for a ticket hoping for a slightly better/easier flying experience. I guess I’m trying to determine if paying extra for tickets really gets you better service or if my money is better spent elsewhere in the trip.

Side question - how do you determine if your first/business ticket gives you any airport lounge access? I couldn’t figure that part out either. Thanks for the help!
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#2
Business class should have been called to board before group 1 when they called for priority boarding. Did they call priority?

The problem is people that sit in the back of the plane often seem to think it’s ok to drop their bags in bins way up ahead of them, plus the airlines do not adhere to their own rules about the number of carry ons they allow people to bring on.

This is what you should have received in business class:

https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/elite-status/priority-privileges.jsp
 
Likes: Sweetiebeak
Dec 19, 2014
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#3
It also depends on whether your trip was domestic or international.

Domestic business/first class is not equivalent to international business/first class. At least for the most part. There are some domestic routes where there is a difference between business and first class.

Unfortunately, on domestic business/first, there likely isn't room in the overhead bins if everyone brings their maximum allowable. When you say the bags weren't easily accessible, did they gate check? or did they place them further back in coach class? Are you sure that the bags stored weren't from business class? At least in my experiences, they have become pretty strict about not letting this occur
 
Apr 10, 2017
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#4
I agree with Chris. The FAs are normally good about ensuring that the First/Business overheads are only for those customers.

As for AA lounge access it's included if you have purchased a First or Business class ticket on a long haul flight. It's not included on domestic flights or shorter international flights (i.e., flights to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean). This seems to be the case with other airlines as well, at least in my experience. There are certain co-branded credit cards that include discounted (Delta Gold or Platinum Amex) or complimentary lounge access (Delta Reserve Amex and AAdvantage Executive World Elite MC). I know United gives you 2 free lounge passes every year with the Mileage Explorer Visa.
 
Mar 17, 2017
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#5
Thanks for all the replies. This was Grand Cayman to Miami. And definitely the bags were not from business class because we left after all the business class people left. They never did a pre-board or priority boarding, just went straight to group one. But so many people lined up as soon as they said boarding would start that they just let everyone on. Part of the problem may have been that Grand Cayman airport is a hot mess right now with construction. I think they’re just trying to get people out of the departure area as quickly as possible.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
I was on a domestic first recently and there are some people who put both of their carry ons above in the overhead and refuse to put a personal item underneath the seat in front of them -- when that happens there can be first class passengers who have to store their carry on in the economy section. It happened to the last person to board in first, there was no room left.
 
Mar 17, 2017
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#7
Our bags were not gate checked, they were several rows back in coach. It wasn’t terrible, just an inconvenience and a bit of a bummer considering the tickets were pricey.
 
Mar 17, 2017
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#8
Christina, I did see that happen as well. Since we were flying into Miami, I’m sure no one wanted to wait for checked bags so there were a lot of carryons.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
Sweetiebeak I saw someone carrying what looked to be a rolled up carpet as carry on and it went into the first class overhead along with his roller bag.... Unless I am in the bulkhead/exit row I always keep personal item in front of me. By the way the dog profile pic is adorable.
 
Likes: Sweetiebeak
Dec 19, 2014
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#10
Our bags were not gate checked, they were several rows back in coach. It wasn’t terrible, just an inconvenience and a bit of a bummer considering the tickets were pricey.
It happens. So, the bags were accessible during the flight, you just had to walk a few rows back.
Think of the poor saps in coach that had to check their bags because the overhead bins were full.
I realize that does not make it "right" per se, but sometimes it is what it is.

Most Caribbean flight first class cabins are akin to domestic first class cabins. It is not the same standard as true international business class or international first class.

I believe AA operates the GCM to MIA with 737s.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#11
I am the person who will ask a FA to Gate Check a carry on if an Economy Passenger who puts their overstuff bag in the FC overhead and have done it a couple times when this very thing happened to me. The jerk was still walking towards his Row 20+ Seat when I yanked that bag out and replaced it with mine. His was gate checked with no comment or question.
When I’m tired and cranky And paid for the privilege of sitting up front don’t Piss me off.... I may only be 5’ tall but that space above me is mine. Oh and the lady who put her hand bag and Sun Hat up there gets it back in her lap too. I don’t give a rip if she’s in FC!

PS I don’t feel the least bit guilty in fact Karma for the last guy who did this to me was satisfying
 
Last edited:

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#12
I don't fly American, but boarding and overhead space is a huge topic for everyone I think. I've taken many flights sitting up front, mostly on United, and have finally figured it all out. Your group is printed on your boarding pass. There are little signs up there to line up by. Seems simple, right? OKaaaay then ... they announce boarding, you put away your book and look up ... 75 people are lined up in Group 1. They have an affinity credit card, they have status with the airline, they have a biz or first class seat or they think they can get away with it. If you want a guarantee to board earliest and put your carryon above your seat, you need to be in that line 45 minutes before boarding starts. United crew are pretty good about policing the boarding and overhead process, but if they're called away, somebody will just chuck his bag up there and walk on. I don't like confrontations, so I'm in line nice and early.

I did read a story not too long ago about a first class passenger who arrived to see the bins full above his seat. He asked if the bag belonged to anyone. Negative. So he brought it down, took it to the door and asked a FA to gate check it. A nice, quiet, inoffensive way to solve the problem I thought. Unless you get a very elusive upgrade, your tix costs 4x what they're paying in the back. You should not be inconvenienced by jerks who think they're putting one over on the people sitting up front.

As for the airline lounges, international first/biz class almost always, anything else zilch. Priority Pass is a major perk of the Chase Reserve card, and that's worth a great deal if you fly a lot. But know that you may not be missing much. Other than Virgin-Atlantic's clubhouses, airline lounges are pretty unimpressive. I'd rather find a nice quiet gate to settle down in with my book before my flight is called.
 
Likes: Sweetiebeak
Nov 28, 2018
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#13
As for the airline lounges, international first/biz class almost always, anything else zilch. Priority Pass is a major perk of the Chase Reserve card, and that's worth a great deal if you fly a lot. But know that you may not be missing much. Other than Virgin-Atlantic's clubhouses, airline lounges are pretty unimpressive. I'd rather find a nice quiet gate to settle down in with my book before my flight is called.
Alaska Airlines is one where their lounge is available to domestic first class purchased or award tickets (not upgrade tickets, unfortunately). Granted, their international flights are limited to Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica, but it's inaccurate to state that only international first/biz class gets access to airport lounges. Now, it's debatable how big of a deal the lounges are, but that's another conversation :)
 
Aug 29, 2018
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#15
Alaska Airlines is one where their lounge is available to domestic first class purchased or award tickets (not upgrade tickets, unfortunately). Granted, their international flights are limited to Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica, but it's inaccurate to state that only international first/biz class gets access to airport lounges. Now, it's debatable how big of a deal the lounges are, but that's another conversation :)
And as I learned in Boston, the Jet Blue lounge is not available to business/first travelers arriving from Lisbon and connecting to SFO.
 
Aug 29, 2015
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#16
Love Alaska First.
Love the FAs who actually stop coach passengers from putting their bags in front.

If I pay for front/first seating, and arrive at my seat to find the overhead bin full, the easiest thing to do is ask the FA to please check the manifest against the tag on the bag, and if the tag doesn’t have the name of a passenger in F, please remove and gate check. No arguing necessary.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
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#17
Love Alaska First.
Love the FAs who actually stop coach passengers from putting their bags in front.

If I pay for front/first seating, and arrive at my seat to find the overhead bin full, the easiest thing to do is ask the FA to please check the manifest against the tag on the bag, and if the tag doesn’t have the name of a passenger in F, please remove and gate check. No arguing necessary.
You mean you would have them lose the item?
 
Sep 20, 2015
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#19
I agree with Chris. The FAs are normally good about ensuring that the First/Business overheads are only for those customers.

As for AA lounge access it's included if you have purchased a First or Business class ticket on a long haul flight. It's not included on domestic flights or shorter international flights (i.e., flights to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean). This seems to be the case with other airlines as well, at least in my experience. There are certain co-branded credit cards that include discounted (Delta Gold or Platinum Amex) or complimentary lounge access (Delta Reserve Amex and AAdvantage Executive World Elite MC). I know United gives you 2 free lounge passes every year with the Mileage Explorer Visa.
This is true in the US and Canada--they never let you in to their lounges on a domestic first/biz ticket unless you qualify otherwise (e.g. frequent flyer). It's because they want to sell you membership or day passes.. European and Asian airlines tend to let you in their lounges if you're flying local first/biz class, even without status.
 
Mar 17, 2017
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#20
FYI I emailed American Airlines to tell them about this experience. I didn’t send it as a complaint, just a “suggestion” that maybe they could handle this better along with some commendation for what they did right. They emailed me back thanking me for my comments and said basically, “sorry but our flight attendants are busier with more important things at boarding and can’t monitor where people put bags.”