Review: American Airlines First Class A319, Los Angeles – Vancouver


For the last flight in our South Pacific adventure, we had a short connecting flight home on American Airlines. While we were initially booked on their usual Embraer 175 aircraft that served this route, we were upgraded to an Airbus 319 before we travelled. We experienced a thin pre-departure First Class experience on this flight compared to the other carriers serving transborder routes, and a lost checked bag before the day was over.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage frequent flier programs and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: American Airlines First Class A319, Los Angeles International Airport – Vancouver International Airport

After enjoying the United Club Los Angeles, we headed for the gate at about seventy five minutes before our flight. The United Club Los Angeles was accessed through separate means, and wasn’t included with the purchase of this ticket. Unfortunately, American Airlines doesn’t offer Admirals’ Club Lounge access to flights departing for Canada, so despite this being a First Class International Ticket, we were left on our own for lounge access. This position happens to be the lowest in class offer, as both Air Canada / United in Star Alliance and Delta Airlines in Skyteam both offer lounge access for First Class transborder travellers.

We left the United Club Los Angeles lounge early as we were over in Terminal 7 and we wanted to stop to get some duty free, prior to heading over to our departing gate in American Airlines’ Terminal 5.

We didn’t have a boarding group on our boarding cards issued by Air Tahiti Nui so we just boarded with Group 1-2 since American today didn’t call what the groups were – just the numbers on their own.

Departing Service to Vancouve form Gate 50B

There was a short upgrade list tonight. I guess Vancouver on the last weeknight flight of the day isn’t too popular with elites.

Only three on the upgrade list; with two groups of travellers

We picked up our duty free on the jet ramp as we boarded the aircraft, as is customary when departing the United States.

American Airlines
Compass Airlines Operated as American Eagle
First Class (U)
LAX-YVR (Los Angeles – Vancouver International Airport)
AA 1723
June 20, 2017
Booked: Embrauer RJ 175
Flown: Airbus 319
Departure: 7:50 PM
Arrival: 10:40 PM

On Board American Airlines First Class:

Once we had boarded, we settled into the smallest First Class cabin I’ve been since our Hawaiian Airlines First Class Honolulu – Maui Inter Island Flight on Hawaiian Airlines. Today, our American Airlines First Class flight had two rows of First class in a 2-2 configuration, for a total of 8 first class seats. I guess that’s one way of getting rid of top tier complimentary domestic upgrades or loyalty award redemptions; shrink the cabin to non-existence.

American Airlines First Class A319 Seats
American Airlines First Clas A319 Cabin

Aside from the tiny cabin, the seating was in next generation slim line first class seats. The cabin itself was quiet, intimate and mostly comfortable for a two and a half hour flight up the West Coast.

A View of the Leg Room and the Seat Back, with Duty Free Stashed under the Seat

Pre – Departure Services:

An open bar pre – departure beverage was offered. Today it was a continuation of Gin and Tonics that we had started earlier in the United Club Lounge. It was served in a plastic cup, along with a with lime. I have to applaud the American Carriers for offering an open bar pre-departure beverage. It is certainly a great way to start a flight.

An Open Bar Pre-Departure Gin and Tonic

We were quite delayed in departing the LAX rush hour. We waited for over one hour on the ground before we even got clearance for take off. We had an apologetic cabin public address from both the pilot and the cabin crew about the delay.

We eventually got underway for our two and a half hour flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

The Meal: A Dinner Service

Today’s dinner service started with warmed nuts and a pre-supper drink. I went with white wine, which was presented unnamed and unidentified.

American Airlines Warmed Nuts
Warmed Nuts Served with White Wine

The nut service was followed by the main course. The main course offered was chicken with quinoa, along with a terrific salad with oil and vinegar dressing After all that time in Tahiti, it was great to actually get some greens. It was a lot more generous than the usual Alaska Airlines First Class meals, but not as tasty or exotic as our recent Delta First Class meals.

Chicken and Quinoa, with a Crisp Greek Salad with Cibatta Dinner Roll

For dessert, it dinner was followed by a warmed chocolate chip cookie on a Coke Napkin. The dessert presentation wasn’t the best, but the cookie tasted great.

Dessert: A Warmed Cookie on a Tray

In Flight Entertainment:

There wasn’t a lot of entertainment directly on board. There are no monitors in the seat backs of this particular aircraft. If you had a smart phone or tablet with you, there were movies available via the American Airlines App. There was also in flight wifi with internet available for $10.

The flight itself was mostly uneventful. We eventually landed into a dark Vancouver without any delays on the approach and parked at Gate E84.

Arriving to Vancouver International Airport Gate E84
Vancouver International Arrivals Hall Welcome Totem Poles

A Lost Checked Bag:

While I was waiting at baggage claim in Vancouver, my checked bag never turned up. Despite having a seven hour connection in Los Angeles, American Airlines lost my bag or simply decided to leave it off the plane due to weight, as it never made it to Vancouver. I last saw it when I placed it on the connections conveyor belt at the Tom Bradley International Terminal connections desk in Los Angeles after our Air Tahiti Nui Poerava Business Class Papeete – Los Angeles flight. MrsWT73’ bag, on the other hand, arrived safely.

Despite assurances from the American Airlines app that my bags were in Vancouver, it turns out they were not.

A Bag Falsely Reported as Being in Vancouver

In the end, it took about seventy two hours before I was reunited with with my checked baggage. This was attributed mostly to slack organization on the part of the ground agents in Vancouver. Thanks to technology and the American Airlines in – app Bag Tracker, the bag was flown up the next day but somehow lost in Vancouver. It was eventually putt into a taxi after the third night after I telephone hassled them. It’s funny how two checked bags can be side by each on the conveyor belts in Los Angeles and one makes it and the other one doesn’t. This has been the fourth checked bag lost between us in five years. It assured me that I’m doing the right thing by continuing to carry on as a primary bag, with secondary stuff in checked bags.

My Thoughts on American Airlines First Class:

The Americian Airlines First Class service to Vancouver was pretty much the same as other carriers. The main drawback is that American Airlines doesn’t offer lounge access for it’s flights to and from Canada; something that Delta Airlines in Sky team and Air Canada / United Airlines in Star Alliance does offer despite a minimal difference in fare. While we also experienced a one hour flight delay and a loss checked bag, the flight itself was otherwise reasonable.

If you’ve flown American Airlines on a Transborder Flight, is the fact that no lounge access is available on this type of flight a deal breaker for you ?

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