Last month Jess and I left Baby M at home with her grandparents and took a week long trip to Bora Bora to celebrate our five year anniversary. Due to our anxiety about leaving the baby for too long, we ended up postponing our flights by a day (you can change award ticket dates for free on AA). This was great for our family but made for an annoying routing that was compounded by some bad weather – leading to some stress on the domestic legs! I wanted to share some thoughts since it was my first time flying cross country on US Airways in domestic first and also my first taste of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
Bad Weather and Delays
Pushing our flights to Tahiti back from Friday to Saturday put us smack in the middle of one of the many storms that hit the Northeast this winter. It wasn’t a blizzard, but it definitely increased the stress. Originally we were supposed to fly three US Airways flights from Boston to DC to Philly and then get to LAX by 9 PM. I was looking forward to spending two hours wandering Tom Bradley International Terminal, but it wasn’t to be. We got from Boston to DCA just fine, but then we started getting hit by delays.
First we spent an extra hour in the terminal in DC, which was compounded by another hour delay on the tarmac. We got to Philly with only half an hour to make our connection, so we had to hustle (and exit security before re-entering, thank goodness for TSA Precheck!). Of course, once we were on our plane from Philly to LAX we were delayed for another forty-five minutes for de-icing. In the end, we finally arrived at LAX around 10:15 PM and only had an hour and fifteen minutes to explore Tom Bradley International (though our flight to Tahiti then got delayed by another half an hour). Anyway, needless to say, it was a pretty stressful 15 hours of domestic travel – and by the time it was over we hadn’t even left the United States yet!
US Airways Domestic First Class Experience
Well, I don’t fly domestic first very often, but US Airways wasn’t really that great. We flew two shuttle flights – from BOS-DCA and then DCA-PHL – on regional jets. The seats were fine and the service was okay as well. I’ve been in the US Airways lounges in Boston and DCA before, they are pretty nice. For some reason they didn’t want to let me into the Admiral’s Club in Philly, which was annoying since I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive card and have every right to go in (not to mention the fact that we should have been allowed in on account of our tickets), but we were short on time and I didn’t want to argue – but negative points on the merger there.
Our transcontinental flight from Philly to LAX had an excellent purser, Johanna, who was very attentive to the entire first class cabin and very proactive. In fact, I’d say the flight attendants on US Airways were the best part of the experience. Other than that, the food was decent, but US Airways doesn’t have in flight entertainment on domestic flights anymore so I just slept as much as I could. Still, for someone who only gets to watch movies on planes thanks to an infant, this was a little disappointing!
I’d have to say that overall American did a much better job on our domestic first flights back and I also prefer Delta’s domestic first products, both hard and soft. Still, we arrived safely and they did manage to get us their without delays in relative comfort, so thanks US Airways!
Tom Bradley International Terminal
I was super excited to visit this new terminal but was disappointed that I didn’t get too much time to spend there. I had really wanted to try Umami Burger due to a recommendation from a friend but by the time we got there my internal clock was reading 1:00 AM and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
The new terminal in one word: beautiful. It really reminded Jess and me of Barcelona’s El Prat airport which we hadn’t been in since our honeymoon. The terminal feels very spacious due to the high ceilings and looks super clean and modern. There are high end stores like those you’d expect to see in international terminals and the food court looks great too. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the terminal because we were too rushed, I’ve included a nice image I found online at Economic Times.
Los Angeles International Lounge
Part of the reason we didn’t have as much time to tour the terminal itself is because we needed some time to decompress in the lounge. Even going through the business class security line was hectic at Tom Bradley because there are SO many late night departures. Since we were flying in business class, Air Tahiti Nui gave us a pass to visit the Los Angeles International Lounge.
The lounge wasn’t really anything special, it had some food items and some cup noodles and snacks that we procured for later, but it felt more like a domestic lounge than an international one. The one thing it had going for it was that it was quiet – a real oasis in the madness that was the check in and security process at Tom Bradley! OK, I guess it had another thing going for it – Doritos!
OK, so to save money on plane tickets, sometimes you have to accept crazy routings. By the time we were in LA Jess was ready to give up and go back to Boston. Still, coach tickets to Tahiti would have been over $1500 and the business class seats we flew in would have been much more than that! So in the end, a tough routing was a small price to pay to go to a dream destination. Still, I would have loved to spend more time in Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX – I’ll have to put that on my to-do list!
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