Saturday, October 26, 2013

The South American Altiplano March 2013 - American Airlines 2194/1267 Economy Class (LIM-DFW-SFO)

***This post is the conclusion to a full trip report. Click here for the index***

My original return itinerary included the direct LAN flight from Lima to San Francisco, departing at 1:15 am. However, a few months before the trip, a modification was made to my ticket, and I noticed that LAN had changed all of their Lima to San Francisco departure times to 9:00 am.

I wasn't about to endure a ten-hour overnight layover at the airport, so I quickly called in and was able to have my itinerary changed to American Airline's brand new 1:40 am departure from Lima to Dallas/Ft. Worth, and then on to San Francisco. This route was inaugurated on April 2nd, so I experienced their seventh day of operation, departing on April 8th.

Thankfully, the long check-in line moved quickly, and I soon had my backpack tagged all the way through to San Francisco. Of course, I still had to retrieve it in Dallas/Ft. Worth and go through international customs there. After security, I did some last-minute shopping around the departures hall and then headed over to Gate 24, where boarding had already commenced. Since our flight was bound for the United States, a secondary security screening was conducted at the gate, and all passengers were required to have their carry-ons inspected. 

Check-in line


Secondary security screening

American Airlines 2194
Boeing 757-200
Lima (LIM) - Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
Monday April 8, 2013
Departure: 1:40 AM (scheduled) / 1:37 AM (actual)
Arrival: 8:55 AM (scheduled) / 8:53 AM (actual)
Duration: 7h 15m (scheduled) / 7h 16m (actual)
Seat: 33C (Economy)

We boarded through the jet bridge, and although I already knew American Airlines operates a 757-200 for this route, I must say it was still a little sad to witness the single aisle and 3x3 configuration upon entering the aircraft. I really missed LAN's 767-300ER at this point. Seat pitch was a rather tight 31", one inch less than LAN's arrangement. There was no AVOD system, but there were shared screens overhead.

American Airlines 757-200

We pulled back from the gate three minutes early, and soon took off without incident. From what I could tell, this was a completely full flight. Upon reaching cruising altitude, flight attendants began the first round of service. Drinks were offered, along with a dry and flavorless sandwich as a late-night snack. Dessert consisted of a small pack of Charada, essentially a knockoff of Oreo. Afterwards, cabin lights were dimmed and most passengers went to sleep.

Late-night snack

I was able to get a couple hours of light sleep, although I didn't feel even close to being refreshed when the cabin lights were turned back on in preparation for breakfast service. A lot of people complain about the sad state of catering among domestic carriers. I don't blame them. After being handed my tray and opening the foil cover, I stared at what looked to be an omelet, but I wasn't exactly sure. I still don't know what that blob was below the eggs. Let's compare that to a picture of what LAN served on my flight from San Francisco to Lima.


The series of events that followed were truly bizarre, and I've never experienced anything like this on a flight before. I noticed that the flight attendants were taking an incredibly long time completing breakfast service. I was sitting in 33C near the rear of the aircraft, and even before reaching my row, the captain came on and announced that we were beginning our initial descent into Dallas/Ft. Worth. Now, typically, by the time these announcements are made, there is maybe a good 20 minutes before landing.

Still, the flight attendants seemed unfazed, and took their time finishing serving breakfast to the three rows behind me. Approximately ten minutes later, after finally completing the service, cleaning carts were rolled to the front of the aircraft, and the flight attendants began collecting the meal trays. Clearly, from looking out the window, everyone could tell we were maybe just a few minutes away from landing. By now, another announcement had already declared that we should have our seats upright and tray tables stowed. Except virtually everyone on the plane still had their finished meals sitting in front of them!

Finally, the captain came on again and announced that flight attendants should be seated for landing. By then, they were maybe halfway down the aisle still collecting meal trays. Other flight attendants began rushing through the cabin and started hand carrying items to the rear galley, while I could see others literally throwing food trays and garbage on top of the cart, which was about to collapse from the huge pile of trash. It was absolute chaos.

I think maybe within 30 seconds of touching down on the runway, the last flight attendant was still running down the aisle checking people's seat belts and collecting any remaining trash. I know it was only their seventh day of operating this route, but in all my years of flying, I have never seen such disorganization and pandemonium on a plane before landing. Fortunately, we arrived at Dallas/Ft. Worth safely, and even got to the gate two minutes early!

Dallas/Ft. Worth

After going through immigration and customs, I still had more than two hours to kill at the airport, so I grabbed a second breakfast, browsed the shops around Terminal D, and then proceeded to my gate. An announcement came on informing passengers that our flight had been oversold, and two volunteers were needed for a later departure. Since I wasn't on a tight schedule to get home, I put my name in and hoped for a nice compensation. Towards the end of boarding, however, I was informed that they no longer needed my seat. Unfortunately, that also meant I was one of the last people to board the aircraft.

American Airlines 1045
Boeing 737-800
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) - San Francisco (SFO)
Monday April 8, 2013
Departure: 11:40 AM (scheduled) / 11:49 AM (actual)
Arrival: 1:35 PM (scheduled) / 1:27 PM (actual)
Duration: 3h 55m (scheduled) / 3h 38m (actual)
Seat: 29D (Economy)

Our 737-800 looked extremely new, and was a welcome change from the last leg of my itinerary. A standard drink service was offered after a late takeoff, along with light snacks for purchase. Our flight attendants were decidedly hands off, but much more efficient and orderly this time around. The flight was smooth and uneventful, and after a long nap, I was awoken to the announcement that we had begun our descent into San Francisco. We landed more than 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and I quickly retrieved my checked backpack and headed out the door. It was good to be home.


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