Week in the Clouds: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles, American Business Class Los Angeles to Shanghai

Filed Under: American, Mileage Runs

After arriving from San Francisco I headed straight for the Flagship Lounge, which is located inside the Admirals Club. The Flagship Lounge at LAX is definitely my favorite Flagship Lounge, and among my favorite first class lounges in the US (not my favorite, but it ranks up there). I’ve reviewed the lounge in the past, so if you’re interested in reading more about it I suggest checking out my previous report.

Since it was still early I decided to have breakfast. The spread was pretty good, consisting of scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and nuts).

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread


After breakfast I spent a couple of hours getting caught up on work before boarding was called for Shanghai.

I got to the gate at around 1:30PM, only to find the flight just about fully boarded, meaning the line in the jet bridge was pretty long.

American 183
Los Angeles (LAX) ā€“ Shanghai (PVG)
Thursday, January 26
Depart: 1:55PM
Arrive: 7:45PM (+1 day)
Duration: 13hr50min
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Seat: 12B (Business Class)

Once aboard I was welcomed by a younger Chinese flight attendant. It quickly became apparent that there was a massive seniority gap between the language qualified flight attendants and the non-language qualified flight attendants, probably of over 30 years. I settled into my seat in row 12, and as boarding finished up business class was only about 30% full, meaning I had two seats to myself, which is awesome (I prefer sleeping in window seats, but don’t like climbing over someone in the aisle).


Entertainment system

Within minutes of settling in I was offered a menu and pre-departure beverage, and ordered champagne. As it turned out the language qualified flight attendant was working my aisle, and she was incredibly friendly, one of the best flight attendants I’ve had in a long time.


Before pushback the captain came on the PA to advise us of our flight time of 14hr10min, about an hour longer than usual due to strong headwinds. As a result he was anticipating a late arrival despite an early departure. Since I didn’t have a connection I couldn’t care less.

After that the purser made her welcome aboard announcement. While the crew was one of the nicest I’ve had in a very long time, the purser’s voice damn near drove me crazy. Like many pursers, she has one of those voices that’s best for either teaching a baby to speak a foreign language or getting them to sleep. If she spoke any slower or enunciated any more, she could have just spelled out each word letter by letter.

We had a quick taxi to runway 25R, and I managed to spot the sexiest plane in the world on the way — the “all black” Air New Zealand 777.

Air New Zealand “all black” 777

Once at the runway we were airborne within minutes.

View on climb out



As soon as we climbed through 30,000 feet the seatbelt sign was turned off and crew sprung into action, starting with distributing Bose noise cancelling headphones.


Shortly thereafter the meal service started. Thanks to the light load the crew was efficient, so within about 30 minutes of takeoff we were already being fed. The menu read as follows:

And for my resident sommelier, AUSTEX, here’s the wine list:

Service started with nuts and drinks. I went with a… okay, I don’t really don’t need to mention it. Nut refills were offered multiple times, though I wasn’t feeling all that nutty today.

Diet Coke with lime and nuts

The appetizer and salad tray was soon served, consisting of duck and crab.

Salad and appetizer

For the main course I went with the ginger pesto salmon, which was surprisingly delicious.

Main course

Then for dessert I went with the ice cream. I really do prefer the sundaes in business class on the 767s, though I’m not complaining because cookies and cream ice cream is pretty delicious too.

Ice cream

I do have to say the service was phenomenal. The flight attendant working my aisle couldn’t have been any more attentive or sincere, and could easily compete with the best of ’em.

After lunch I watched a few sitcoms, and then decided to get some work done on my laptop. Before I knew it we were approaching the International Date Line, where we hit a bit of turbulence (yes, turbulence, not chop). It went on for about 20 minutes, and then the air smoothed out a bit again.


I then decided to watch a movie, and decided on “What’s Your Number.” It was entertaining enough…


The mid-flight snack was served during the movie, with the following choices:

I went with the stir-fried noodles, which was delicious, though the portion was tiny.

Mid-flight snack

I also got a cheese plate from the “snack attack” cart, which I think was left over from the main meal service.

Cheese and crackers

After that I decided to get some shut eye, and woke up as we approached Japan.

View out the window


I was surprised that we literally flew directly over Tokyo.


About 90 minutes before arrival the pre-arrival meal was served, with the following choices:

I ordered the pizza, which was good as usual.

Pre-arrival meal

About 30 minutes out the captain came on the PA to advise us we’d be beginning our descent and that the seatbelt sign would be turning on shortly. After a “firm” landing (am I the only one that notices that American pilots consistently have “firmer” landings than the competition?) and a quick taxi we made it to our gate, parking right next to an Emirates Airbus 380.

Reaching our parking position

Immigration queues were virtually non-existent, so within 15 minutes of landing I found myself in a cab bound for the Park Hyatt.

  1. Tell us what you really thought about the appetizer…

    “The appetizer and salad tray was soon served, consisting of duck and crap.”

  2. I have to say that the menu for this flight looks really good. I am generally not a big fan of food on most airplanes (even F class) but I would have had a hard to choosing on pretty much every meal here.

  3. speaking of “firm” landings, I was on an ORD-DCA one morning a couple weeks ago (at the end of doing MRs), and we experienced a “firm” landing. I believe this was in a smaller bird. The guy next to me turned to me after the landing and said, “Well, I think I know where the wheel is…under my ass.”

  4. Funny the AA first class lounge doesnt look any better than the Vancouver Plaza Premium Lounge independant lounge.

  5. Ben, do you have pictures of the seat? I’m hoping to flight this route next year. If AA doesnt cancel it šŸ˜‰

  6. Just curious Lucky, but what would you consider to be the top lounges in the US (including both domestic and foreign carriers)? I wonder what your top 5 would be.

    While the menu looks good and the food quality good as well, those were some pretty skimpy meal options for the snack and pre-arrival meal, no? I’ve seen lots of trip reports in business class and usually the snack option has 4 or 5 choices…

  7. @ Andy Bluebear — I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, but off the top of my head I would have to say the Lufthansa First Class Lounge JFK, Swiss First Class Lounge JFK, British Airways Concorde Room JFK, Virgin Clubhouse SFO, and maybe Virgin Clubhouse JFK. Am I leaving out any really good ones?

  8. Lucky-

    EK’s JFK lounge is definitely noteworthy for a US lounge as well. I’d put that in my top 5 instead of Swiss’s JFK F lounge.

  9. Hmmm…interesting that JFK has most of them, and that there are no domestic carriers in the list. I guess JFK is the best airport for premium passengers to fly out of…

  10. Thanks so much for posting this! I’m heading to PVG in a few weeks in J on AA. Your pics and commentary are exactly what I needed to read (and see).

  11. LAX-PVG is awesome. I’ve flown roundtrip there twice in business class and it was awesome for a 14 hr flight. Great food, great seats, great entertainment.

  12. Again, both lettuces over the side and icecream dish messed up! Starter was off center. Def. Not he precise table setting offered in SQ or CX!

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