Saturday, August 23, 2014

**REVIEW** American Airlines Mobile (app)

Because I have trouble remembering things (and because I get stressed when traveling), my niece recommended that, for this recent trip, I utilize American Airlines travel app.

This is what to look for in Play Store


I lost the notes I took for this review so bear with me.

PROS:

  • I didn't have to keep track of a paper boarding pass. (Just had to keep track of my phone!)
  • Gate and flight info updates (sort of)
  • Update of flight changes/delays
  • Because I created an account with American, I got expedited TSA screening because of my "pre-check" status - no removal of my shoes and pretty much a sail through security.
  • To board my flight, I only had to hold my phone up to the scanner at the gate. Done.

CONS:
  • Saving my flight/reservation info didn't work. At all. If I closed the app, I had to re-enter my 'locator' info all over to view my boarding pass and flight info. I ended up just leaving it on and locking my screen
  • I had a "Duh" moment of confusion and panic when I didn't realize I had no paper boarding pass. When I checked in my luggage, the rep gave me that ticket-looking paper with my claim tickets attached. When I tried to use that to enter the checkpoint, the TSA agent is the one who explained that I had to use the mobile boarding pass. She also explained that I was cleared for expedited clearance through the checkpoint. (Shouldn't the airline rep have done this? I think the rep assumed that if I was savvy enough to have the app, I was savvy enough to properly use it!)
Even though the app is pretty glitchy, I was happy to have it. It was SOOO nice not to have to remove my shoes and reveal the ugliest part of my body to all those strangers. Also, because of the expedited security, I had a lot less hassle to deal with when sending my carry-on through X-ray.  Not that I had anything to hide, but I didn't want to explain my prescriptions (or that very large bottle of liquid makeup remover.) I figured out later that my laptop battery was dead, but I didn't need to turn it on for security, so... the expedited entry was pleasant.

In the CON department, I should probably mention that the app went a little haywire on the last leg of my flight. The gate changed randomly about 8 times in a row - while I am looking at the app - and then it corrected itself. It started with C7 and cycled through until it ended with C24. Perfect. There was a Wendy's right across the way. I bought a burger and settle in for my flight to be called in the next 10 minutes. As I chatted with a lady sitting next to me, she asked if I lived in Phoenix or was just going for a visit. Phoenix? Oh, HECK NO! I checked the app and it still read C24. I checked with the gate agent and she informed me that gates had changed. I was supposed to be at C7 after all...



Ugh!

Add backpack & burger bag. And my clumsy self...

I had to do an awkward trot to the right gate. Thank goodness that my backpack was all I had to worry about. Well, that and my hamburger. I hustled down to C7 just as they were calling my group number for boarding. ~sigh~ 

All in all, this app saved me some time and stress. It also caused me a couple moments of stress, but I would use it again.

Peace
--Free

**REVIEW** American Airline's Admiral's Club

For a poor chick, I get to experience some of the coolest things. Usually thanks to my fam. This time, I got to use the private lounge at the airport. One of my nieces and nephews gifted me with the money for this right after I was sobbing buckets of tears at check-in and after I thought about running back out of the airport and just returning home.

Have you ever used one of the private lounges at an airport? Years ago, when my sister and I were traveling with her (then) 3 year old twins, my brother loaned us his Delta Crown Room card. My sister and I didn't get to enjoy much of that treat because we were too busy changing diapers and hosing down the kids - who got all kinds of stomach-sick the minute we got to the airport. I remember that it was nice to have hot, fresh coffee, pastries and private changing/dressing rooms to use. Very nice.

Beats sitting in the main gate areas, yes?


I stayed away from the bar...
 Now, I didn't know before that a traveler can purchase one-day passes for American Airlines Admiral's Club. I got that information from a super-nice airline rep named Erin Moore (I think I got his name right, but I lost all my notes. He works out of Miami & you can hear the sincere kindness in his voice.)

On to the review:

One might think that these private lounges are only for business travelers. That was the type I saw most of, but I also noticed that there were parents with children; Coach-class-looking men and women; and a lot of young techy-type folk. (One of the most interesting fellows I noticed was the one who paced around, talking on his phone to someone about a "late supply order." He switched between English, Spanish and Chinese. A real workaholic type, no more than 25 years old.) I also ran into a really pleasand woman in the ladies washroom. She was from Australia. She gave me tips on how to fight my fear of flying: "Just pretend that the floor of the plane is terra firma. Don't think about being up in the air."

What's so great about the private lounge? Well, if you want free food and drink (everything from pastries and cookies to all kinds of  beer, wine and spirits), the lounge is perfect. I didn't drink because... Well, we all know I don't handle my liquor well - even if it's free. I did drink plenty of coffee. If I had gotten tired of plain brew, I could have tried the mocha, latte, espresso, etc. Nice.
Snacks, coffee, pastries

I spent most of my time in the part of the lounge that was set up for passengers using their computers. Plenty of charging stations and regular outlets, comfy chairs of all kinds - from loungers to straight-backs arranged around worktables.



Of course, I called and checked in with my family about a million times. When I told my niece about how nice the ladies washroom was (and it was nice), she was impressed. When I told her that their were other washrooms complete with showers, she wasn't as thrilled. She has a thing about showers in gyms, lounges and other shared spaces. I still thought about exploring the showers because I was told they were stocked with premium soaps and shampoos and such.


Nice, right?

Since I just wanted to relax for the 9 hour layover, I parked myself in a spot where I could charge my phone and computer and play Farmville. I did read about all the other amenities: meeting and conference rooms, a gym, etc. For the travelers who smoke, there was even a place for them. It was pretty packed.

Here are some more photos from American Airlines (and, yes, the lounge actually looks like this!)
Get some work done...

...Or just get some drinking done. It's complimentary.

Nice, huh?

My basic suggestions for anyone wanting to try out one of the lounges on a day pass:

  • Don't worry about not being dressed right. I was worried that I'd look out of place in my jeans and "Alaska Grown" hoodie. I saw people dressed in shorts, ripped jeans, beautiful suits and wrinkled dresses. I understand that other lounges have a stricter dress code.
  • Do try everything. Explore all the different parts of the lounge, from the gym to the showers. 
  • Sample as much of the free food and drink as possible. The food served on board the planes is over-priced and underwhelming. Go ahead and grab a pastry or two to take on board.
  • Because the lounge in in the secure part of the airport, you don't have to worry about enduring the TSA screening when your journey continues.
  • $50 sounds like a lot of money, and it is, for most of us. On the other hand, your being fed and hydrated and kept nice and cool while other travelers are 5- and 10-dollaring themselves to death at the various food courts. The day I was at DFW, the temp was somewhere around 87-90 degrees. The temp in the lounge was a nice steady 70 degrees or cooler.

My one-day pass was worth every nickel that my family paid for me to enjoy my travel. If you are a more frequent fliers, you can get a 30-day membership for $99/per visitor. Annual membership prices vary. I have to tell you: though I was on a day pass, every member of the staff treated me the same as everyone else. The service was courteous and I was made to feel as much a valued customer as the business travelers. Super.

Peace
--Free