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Sunday, May 19, 2024
HomeFLIGHT REVIEWSAmerican AirlinesAA SJU-MIA-LAS: Borracho in Business (First)

AA SJU-MIA-LAS: Borracho in Business (First)

AA SJU-MIA-LAS is part of the TPOL Won’t Visit All 50 States And That’s OK Trip Report.

I finally took my first ‘first’ class flight from San Juan to Vegas (see The AA ‘First Class’ Flight That I Did Not Take). The cost was 25k AA miles. Like my first business class flight on AA, I wonder if it was worth it (see MDE-MIA: My First Business Class Flight on AA, Worth It*?)

Rather than write a separate review for each leg, I will commit blogger malpractice and put it all in here.

Flight Delayed 

At the time of booking, the only itinerary available arrived in MIA at 6:50PM and departed at 7:51PM. Any delays would cost me my connection and force me to miss my conference the next day. If this was an international connection and not an interline ticket, I would not take that chance (Cutting It Close: Will I Make My JFK-HKG Connection?). But, since it was domestic and since I was not checking bags, I assumed everything would be fine. Assumption wrong. The day of departure, I received a notification that my flight from SJU would be delayed. I immediately called AA and asked if they had other options. They said yes, but I would have to be at the gate in an hour.

I hung up the phone, threw clothes in my carry-on, and hustled out the door. With no traffic, I can make it from Rio Grande to SJU in 22 minutes. While there was mild traffic, I was still making good time. Not one to text and drive, I nevertheless broke my rule to check the status of my flight. I was relieved that it was delayed by thirty minutes. I arrived at the airport in 26 minutes to find that my flight was further delayed. This gave me enough time to go to the Priority Pass Lounge (see Priority Pass Lounge San Juan: A Good Start).

Sipping on a Don Q and Coke Zero, I noted that my paranoia about missing connections should be extended to include business obligations (see Travel Lessons). The thrill of making it is what makes travel fun, but here it was unnecessary.

a glass with ice and a lime wedge on topa plane parked on a tarmac

Leg 1: SJU-MIA

If I’m flying from San Juan to Miami, I’m fine flying coach. The flight time is less than three hours. I splurged for business/first because the flight from Miami to Vegas is over five hours. Even contortionist TPOL can’t sit in coach for that long anymore (see The Kama Sutra of Airplane Sleep: Surviving a 17 Hour Flight).

Here’s what you receive if you fly business from SJU-MIA:

No Wi-Fi: “There should be,” is what the flight attendant said when I asked about the unavailability of Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi never worked and the flight attendant didn’t bother following up with an update.

a close up of a grey surface
Guess I’ll stare at the wall.

Too Hot a Towel

a white towel on a metal box
This thing was scalding hot.

Decent Food 

a glass of water and a can of nuts on a table

a plate of food on a table
What is the butter for?

Weird Movie Choices

a screenshot of a movie
Contagion? Really?

Inconsistent Service: Flying domestic, it feels like a sin to hit the call button. Unlike SQ where the flight attendants can sense the needs of their passengers, domestic carriers make it seem like they’re doing us a favor when they come by. Sitting in the front row, I made eye contact with the flight attendant. She impatiently said, “I’ll be there in a minute.” What could she be doing in a cabin with 16 people none of whom is asking for anything?  While waiting, a flight attendant from coach walked by. She turned off my call light and said they’d get to me when they are free. This is insanity, I thought to myself. Is the flight attendant prepping for her next flight, I wondered. And the attitude. It’s like she thinks I’m interrupting her obligation to fly the plane.

a close up of a sign and lights

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the flight attendant came out with more vino and entertained my request for my fifth drink, a Jack and Coke Zero. On top of that, she gave me an extra pilota for my enjoyment.

a drink and a can of soda

Perhaps I’m the impatient one. Or, perhaps, I’m looking to fault domestic carriers because I’ve bought into the stereotype that they’re inferior. Or, perhaps, I’m guilty of ageism. I see an older flight attendant and automatically think, “Here we go.” And, perhaps, she sees another antsy passenger in ‘first’ and has the same thought.


I would skip business on AA from SJU to MIA and sit in the back where being ignored is expected.


I do not care for the Centurion Lounge in Miami (see Amex Centurion MIA in Cachet), but I’ll take it over the Admirals Club (see Admirals Club MIA: Under Construction) and maybe even over the Flagship Lounge when it comes to drinks (see AA Flagship Lounge MIA: Drink Your Stress Away). After multiple rounds on my last flight, the last thing I needed was more drinks. So, naturally, I had more, including this rusty nail.

a glass with a drink and ice

Leg 2: MIA-LAS

My strategy was to drink my way through this long 5.5-hour flight. One more glass of wine should have been enough for me to pass out. What I failed to take into account was how uncomfortable AA’s business class seat is. Unlike Fiji Airways‘ amazing 737 (see Fiji Airways Nadi to Tonga: The Best Business 737 Experience), this 737 had no foot rest and the seat barely reclined. I attempted to sleep but could not. I was too far from the window to lay my head. The tray table was too close so I could not lay my head there either. Exhausted, I wanted to sleep on the floor. Uneasy, I thought maybe I could catch a few zzz’s by sleeping in the toilet. In the end, none of it worked. I was trapped. All I could feel was that rusty nail going through my skull. I learned yet another Travel Lesson: don’t drink and fly if you can’t lie flat.

a bowl of pasta and salad on a tray
First bad idea.
a cup of ice cream on a napkin
Second bad idea.


Businsess, ‘first,’ or whatever you want to call it, that was brutal.

Overall, Overall 

This was a miserable experience. I need to get rich and fly private. Or stay sober and sit in economy.




  1. Nice post. They kept the drinks coming and even served food. That’s about as good as it gets on an AA narrowbody in first/business/whatever they’re calling it these days.

    Rusty Nail-the preferred drink of Saul Goodman!

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