Review: American B737-800 First Class (AUS-DFW)

Not long after returning from our trip to Switzerland and Germany, I was off on another adventure! This trip was much less exotic but still fun as it included a trip back to my alma mater, a week in New York City, and celebrating another wedding with friends! But first, I started this trip like many others before and, I headed off to the Austin Airport to start my journey.

Booking

My dates and times for this flight were pretty set as I needed to work a full day in Austin on Thursday and still make it to my meeting on Friday morning in Baton Rouge. I started my search on Google Flights and, while I would typically fly American or Southwest direct to New Orleans and make the hour long drive to Baton Rouge, this time it was actually cheaper to take the connection and fly straight into BTR.

The ticket, taxes and fees came out to $154 for my one-way Economy ticket (AUS-DFW-BTR) and for $100 I was able to upgrade both legs to First Class which seemed like a reasonable premium. I purchased the upgrades for both segments a week before departure.

Pre-Flight

Mrs. ATX dropped me off curbside just before 7:00p and, with no bags to check and mobile boarding pass in hand, I headed straight for security. The Austin Airport was eerily quiet compared to most of my visits and, with no line at security, I was airside a couple of minutes after being dropped off.

Austin Bergstrom International Airport Security Checkpoint

Since I didn’t have lounge access for this flight and with boarding starting in 20 minutes, I headed straight for the gate.

people walking in a terminal
people at a counter in a building

My flight was departing from Gate 28 and N969AN, a 22 year old Boeing 737-800, was waiting to shuttle us up to Dallas. I overheard the gate agents and Captain chatting and we were going to have a very light load up to DFW with roughly 80 seats on the flight being occupied.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 N969AN at Austin Bergstrom International Airport

Boarding

With such a light load there was no urgency to get boarding started and they started with pre-boards 25 minutes before our scheduled departure time. After a steady stream of wheelchair passengers headed down the jet bridge, Concierge Key members and Group 1 were invited to board.

American Airlines

AA 1316

AUS-DEN (Austin-Bergstrom International – Dallas/Ft. Worth International)

Seat: 1A (First)

B737-800 (N969AN)

Scheduled: 8:00p-9:17p

Actual: 7:53p-9:07p

Seat

Once on board, I was greeted with the familiar site of American’s domestic First Class cabin. nThe seats are in the standard 2-2 layout and, after project Oasis which effectively killed all narrowbody IFE, there is no in flight entertainment screen or any color whatsoever. The entire cabin is drab and gray. The cabin did feel fresh and new though and without looking up the tail number I would have had no clue that the aircraft was over 20 years old.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 First Class Seats

I selected a seat in the first row which is my go to whenever I’m not traveling with Mrs. ATX, as she likes to keep her bag under the seat, and it had decent legroom for domestic First Class.

a row of seats in an airplane
a person's foot in a black and purple shoe

The tray table was stowed in the center armrest and came out with the push of a button. The tray could fold over in half if needed and was sturdy and level, which isn’t always the case with armrest tray tables. The center armrest also doubled as a storage area and a power outlet was available here as well.

a book on a seat
a person's legs in a seat

With no IFE screens, the bulkhead was pretty bare and only held a small literature pocket that had space for the safety card and a streaming brochure.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 First Class Bulkhead Wall

Departure

Our flight ended up departing with 88 passengers on board so it was a very light load. Every AAdvantage elite cleared into First Class and we still departed with some empty seats. The flight attendant working the First Class cabin came around and offered open bar pre-departure beverages. I had a vodka soda which was served in a plastic glass.

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 First Class Pre-Departure Beverage

After boarding was complete our Captain addressed the flight from the galley and thanked AAdvantage frequent fliers and members of the military. We pushed off the gate early and the flight attendant came around taking beverage orders for after takeoff during our taxi.

American Eagle Embraer 175 at Austin Bergstrom International Airport

We taxied out to Runway 18R and, after a short hold for inbound traffic, we rocketed off to the south before turning west and finally north to head towards Dallas.

In Flight

Once we were airborne, the crew started their in flight service. Beverages were served in real glassware and were accompanied by a prepackaged bag of mixed nuts. With no seatback IFE, I passed the time working on trip reports for the short flight.

a hand holding a glass with ice and a stick
a hand holding a blue package

After the first round of drinks and snacks, the flight attendants disappeared into the galley and played on their phones for the remainder of the flight. They finally came around to clear tray tables as we were on approach into DFW.

The lead flight attendant also did the credit card pitch as we descended into DFW. While she said she would keep it short, it was one of the longest American credit card pitches I’ve ever heard. She also emphasized the fact that this was a “special offer” of 50k miles even though it has been around for years and recently dropped from 60k to 50k.

Arrival

We had a strange approach as we neared DFW. The airport was in the process of switching runway directions and we made a hard left turn out towards Stephenville before turning back to land from the south.

American Airlines flight path from Austin to Dallas/Ft. Worth on FlightRadar24

Though they had spent a majority of the flight in the galley, the First Class flight attendant reappeared as we were on final approach an asked if we needed anything else. Since I hadn’t eaten dinner, I asked for another bag of mixed nuts and she brought me three.

Once we were on the ground, we had a 15 minute taxi over to our arrival gate of C21. We ended up blocking in ten minutes early and, after deplaning, I headed towards the SkyLink train and Terminal E for my connecting flight to Baton Rouge.

an airplane at an airport
a group of people walking in a building

Summary

I went into this flight with very low expectations, based on my previous experiences with American, and found myself satisfied at the end of the flight. The crew wasn’t overly attentive or friendly but the provided good service, especially at the start of the flight. With the flight from Austin to Dallas/Ft. Worth being very short, I wouldn’t pay too much more to upgrade to First Class on this route but spending $50 felt like a good deal to me. This is especially true considering no service is offered in Economy and the seats, though missing IFE, were much more comfortable. While I won’t be racing to book American anytime soon, if the timing and price is right I would fly with them again.

In This Trip Report

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