American Airlines Means Business to Madrid
by Christopher Pittman
PHOTO: AMERICAN AIRLINES
Flights: AA36; AA37
Routes: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (IATA: DFW/ICAO: KDFW) to Madrid-Barajas, Spain (MAD/LEMD); and return
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
May 1, 2009, saw the start of new daily nonstop service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Madrid, marking the most westerly origination for such flights from the USA to Spain.
Airways sampled the new Madrid service in the business class cabin. The 767 is configured in a two-class set-up, with a total of 225 seats spread over coach (economy) and business cabins. American did not release exact figures, but reviewing the loads on its website for the first week, most flights appeared to be at more than 90% capacity - an amazing showing for new service.
PHOTO: AMERICAN AIRLINES
Of course, American launched this service with the expectation that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) will approve its application for anti-trust immunity with British Airways and Iberia, making the Madrid service an even more popular option.
Flight 36 was scheduled to depart from DFW’s Terminal D at 1730. I checked in at the airport kiosk using the passport scanner, and quickly made it through security thanks to the Priority AAccess line for Business/First and Elite customers.
Once through security I made my way to the Admirals Club at Terminal D to relax. The lounge has sweeping views of the three western runways. Showers, business center, bar, kids area, and other amenities are available during passengers’ downtime.
The flight, which boarded on time, was nearly full. pushback was at 1724, six minutes ahead of schedule. After taxiing to the east side of the airport, the 767 was soon climbing out over downtown Dallas, headed toward Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, thence toward New England and the east coast of Canada, before starting out over the Atlantic.
By the time we reached 10,000ft, the FAs (flight attendants) were busy handing out Bose headsets and personal entertainment devices. Simultaneously, serving of drinks and appetizers had begun. Throughout, in-flight service was very well done and detailed. Upon boarding, the menu had been awaiting each business class passenger. It covered the courses beginning with mixed nuts or cheese antipasto followed by shrimp and salmon, then salad; the main course offered a choice of beef fillet, pork tenderloin, chipotle shrimp, or stuffed lasagna. This was followed by a selection of ice cream sundaes, or a cheese and fruit tray.
When food service was over, passengers settled in for entertainment, relaxation, and sleep. The business section is equipped with nearly lie-flat beds in a 2-2-2 layout. Most passengers spread out their duvets and prepared for sleep.
The nearly lie-flat bed had a slight incline that was just enough to prevent me sleeping in a comfortable position, although most passengers seemed to have no trouble dozing off for several hours.
Our flight was scheduled to arrive in Madrid at 0955lt, 9hr 25min after departure. Nearly two hours before landing the sun came up and welcomed us to the European continent. About half an hour before arrival, the crew began serving breakfast. This consisted of a choice of omelet, breads, cereals, and yogurt
Flight 36 blocked on at Madrid-Barajas Airport at 1005, ten minutes after STA. Even now, before DOT’s approval of the anti-trust immunity, a significant number of passengers were connecting to Iberia flights to the Middle East, Africa, and other parts of Europe. Barajas is an easy transit airport and offers lots of room for growth.
PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHER PITTMAN
AA Flight 37 was the return service two days later, departing from Madrid at 1310 with a scheduled flight time of 10hr 35min. However, pushback occurred early, at 1258, and the 767 was climbing out to the north of Madrid by 1320. After takeoff the captain announced that the en route time would be 10hr 44min.
The return journey was as pleasant as the previous one, albeit slightly longer. Because the westbound flight is entirely during the day, and—at a duration of almost 11 hours—is nearly two hours longer than its easterly counterpart, meal service is slightly modified. American’s Flagship lunch service included a choice of chicken, steak, salmon, or a mushroom dish. Apart from lunch, the crew offered a cheese and fruit snack midway through the flight, followed by a light lunch of pizza or Asian chicken some 90 minutes before landing.
As on the Europe bound flight, the crew offered excellent and personal service throughout. Sleep came easier on this flight; perhaps the quick turnaround and jetlag helped, but whatever the reason, I slept the flight away.
PHOTOS: AMERICAN AIRLINES
We landed at DFW at 1704, 19 minutes behind schedule despite the early departure from MAD. Immigration and customs formalities at DFW were easy to navigate and within a few minutes I was on my way home. In summary, a great trip and a pleasurable experience.
(Special thanks to Alan Phillips, Weber-Shandwick, Corporate Communications American Airlines; and Ryan Mikolasik, Weber-Shandwick, AA Corporate Communications, for making this review possible.)
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