To get back from Las Vegas, I booked a ticket with American for LAS-LAX-JFK. While it seems odd to fly west to go east, the fare rule I would have used to get back to JFK on a direct flight covered transiting LAX as well (so the price was the same) and the last flight from LAS to LAX sufficient to connect to a LAX-JFK redeye left far later than the last LAS-JFK flight (so I got more time in Las Vegas).
American’s corporate parent, AMR Corporation, loves to issue press releases emphasizing its “cornerstone strategy.” In layman’s terms, it means eliminating most nonhub-to-nonhub flying for the airline. Due to thunderstorms in Miami, our aircraft was progressively delayed by about two hours in arriving in Las Vegas, delaying our departure. While it’s hard to fault American for not having an “extra aircraft” to spare as any sensible airline attempts to run its planes at capacity rather than leave them idle, there’s a bit of irony in my choice of a 737 rather than an MD-80 to avoid potential mechanical delays (and a subsequent risk of a mis-connect). At least with the MD-80, the plane would have been coming from LAX or DFW rather than MIA.
Prior to heading to the airport, I saw my flight was already delayed an hour. Upon reaching the airport, I called the American elite desk and switched over to the later (11:45PM) redeye from LAX to avoid mis-connecting to my original, 9:30PM departure.
We pushed back from the gate and then started heading towards the runway, only to park parallel to it on the tarmac due to a ground delay caused by the weather at LAX. Out of my eighty or so flights touching LAX, this amounted to my first LAX-triggered weather delay. A call to the American desk once again protected me onto the last seats of a LAX-DFW-LGA routing in order to ensure I’d make it to New York by Monday morning. Surrounding me in the exit row were a number of passengers who had to make progressively tighter connections onto Qantas flights to Australia, so my potential woes paled in comparison.
My upgrade to business class cleared for the LAX-JFK segment, so I wound up in seat 7D.
I found this seat to be inferior to United’s business class seats on p.s. The seat seemed either a bit narrower or the armrests a bit higher, leaving me between two less-than-optimal choices of where to rest my arms while sleeping. A quick glance at SeatGuru confirms that American’s seats are quantitatively narrower and have less pitch than those on p.s.