On the Ground: I didn’t mind having a long layover between flights in Miami because the Admirals Club in Concourse D is well appointed and comfortable. A number of small, well-lit seating areas are spread along its circular glass wall overlooking the main lobby, along with larger lounges and separate rooms for working or listening to music. Tea, various coffees, cookies and fruit are always available; and roomy showers provide a place to freshen up. Flights are not announced unless there is a change, so peace and quiet prevail. (29/30)
Pre-flight: Priority boarding lines mean that premium-class passengers can board first or at leisure. Once on board, we were welcomed to an almost clubby atmosphere in the business-class cabin; the crew and passengers chatted amiably as we drank Piper-Heidsieck, and our coats were whisked off to hangers. As we settled in, the genial staff made sure we knew how to operate our entertainment system and seats, handed out menus and took our dinner orders. (30/30)
In-flight: Once we were airborne, the cabin staff offered a good selection of wines, from which I chose a Pouilly-Fuissé to accompany a dish of American’s signature snack — lightly salted whole cashews, almonds and pistachios served warm — and dishes of marinated Parmesan. The interlocking dual tables at each seat made enough room for food, wine and my laptop, so I could finish up the work I had begun in the lounge. Dinner, served on china plates with white linens, began with a generous plate of smoked salmon with fresh dill, grilled shrimp and crisp chicory. The fish I ordered for my main course was properly cooked and moist, and my salad had roasted tomatoes and Portobello strips over fresh-cut romaine. For dessert I chose a dish of fresh pineapple, papaya, blueberries, raspberries and melon with mango sorbet. After dinner I was offered a selection of liqueurs, brandy and wines; but I declined and instead reclined my seat to its 180-degree position and snuggled into a real pillow and blanket for a good night’s sleep. I had turned my preference card to “wake me for breakfast,” so I enjoyed a warm, flaky croissant and another dish of fresh fruit with my hot tea and juice before landing. At no time in the flight was it necessary to even signal the cabin staff — they were always visible and seemed to anticipate every need before I thought of it. (39/40)
The Experience: The attitude of the cabin crew set the tone for the flight, which maintained the private club feeling throughout.
Total Score: 98/100
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