On the Ground: Because our original flight from Recife to Miami had been delayed by weather and we would miss our New York connection, we were offered a flight to São Paulo, from which we could take an overnight flight to New York. Due to the resulting wait, we received vouchers for the airport’s best restaurant, Bonaparte, where we enjoyed a leisurely — and delicious — dinner from a menu of a dozen entrées and as many salads and desserts. Following dinner, we adjourned to the Admirals Club, a spacious area with a well-stocked, self-service bar; comfortable leather chairs; WiFi; showers; a business center and food service that included light meals and snacks. (29/30)
Pre-flight: Thanks to the dedicated boarding line, we were quickly seated. The closet was right beside our front-row seats and embarking passengers were blocking the aisles, so we hung our own jackets. Despite the aisle traffic, the cabin staff offered us a choice of orange juice or chilled Champagne as soon as we were seated. When the aisles were clear, they made sure we were familiar with the seat controls and entertainment system and gave us menus and amenities kits. (28/30)
In-flight: The dual interlocking tray tables on this flight were well designed for both dining and working, providing a solid surface for either and room enough so that I didn’t have to stow my laptop away while eating dinner; I could just close it and push it aside. Since I’d had a good dinner in the airport, the light meal option of a plate of fresh fruit and assorted cheeses with a glass of Pouilly-Fumé was just right. It was served quickly; and although I faced a selection of five movies in each of five different genres, I opted instead to finish up a little work before reclining my seat to its full 180 degrees to test the comfortable pillow and fluffy cotton-covered comforter. I had asked to be awakened for breakfast since I had a full day of meetings ahead in New York, and started the day with fresh fruit, hot tea and buttery, warm rolls. Before we landed, a screen showed our arrival gate, connecting flight gates and status and a terminal map, all very handy for passengers in transit. (39/40)
The Experience: Without hovering, the cabin crew always seemed to be there when we needed something, and we were very impressed with the concern of American Airlines ground staff in dealing with our unexpected routing through São Paulo and getting us rebooked to New York in time for our meetings.
Total Score: 96/100
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