An All-American Start to a First-Class Vacation

The view from the Admirals Club, which is located on the second floor of Terminal Four (American Airlines) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

To kick off our week-long Hawaiian vacation, we decided to go big. Yes, the Big Island (Kona side) is where we spent the week, but what I mean is we went big on the flight accommodations, too. Due to C’s penchant for playing all (and I mean ALL) the airline miles games available at any given time, we got to fly round-trip in first-class for free (American Airlines on the way to Hawaii; United Airlines on the way home; yes, free tickets many times means having to be flexible and loyal to many brands, which is fine with us!). Well, OK, each ticket did make us pony up $1.50 in fees, but otherwise our flights were free thanks to a airbus full of miles.

A wide view through the Admirals Club at LAX, which is the top-level, members-only lounge for American Airlines.

The bar inside of the Admirals Club at LAX.

A close-up of the bar stock at the Admirals Club at LAX. While many drinks are complimentary with admission, some of the more premium offerings come with a price. You can order right from the bar or from the comfort of your seat in the lounge as wait staff make their rounds.

The free snack bar at the Admirals Club at LAX. Many other hot snacks and meals can be ordered off-menu from wait staff and served at your lounge seat (all credit cards accepted, just don’t forget to maximize your miles!).

Better yet, we were able to start our first-class journey well before take-off due to C scoring a couple of Admirals Club passes (with T being four-years-old, his entrance was complimentary with ours; three children under-18 are free with paid entry or member entry). This is American’s top-level members lounge, where those with top-level loyalty rewards are welcome to escape the busy concourse and relax far and away from the hub-bub of regular commercial airline activity. Or, for a mere $50 per person fee, you can buy your way in for the day and enjoy all the same benefits as members (which is what our one-day passes were the equivalent).

My gin and tonic, just the first of a few drinks I enjoyed in the Admirals Club at LAX. Vacation has officially begun – cheers!

The exterior of the kids’ area located inside the Admirals Club at LAX. Nicely set off from the more business areas of the lounge, we parents appreciate American’s attention and commitment to their youngest travelers!

I was very impressed with the LAX Admirals Club. Not only is this – obviously – an area geared for those needing to get in a last-minute business meeting with colleagues while catching a plated meal or cocktail, but there also was a special area designated as kids-only. Yes, that’s right, the Admirals Club had a playroom so that kids can get some of that energy out before being cooped up in a tube for hours on end. Now that is the epitome of classy in a parents’ world, RMT’ers!

The computer bank for kids in the kids play area at the Admirals Club in LAX.

T finds some dinosaurs and some toy trucks to pass the time inside of the kids play area at the Admirals Club in LAX.

The parents’ lounge area (notice the drink and the menu) in the kids play area at the Admirals Club in LAX.

When T needed a break from the Admirals Club kids’ play area at LAX, he could watch planes being loaded and unloaded of cargo from the main lounge seating area.

The Admirals Club kids’ area at LAX boasts a bank of computers loaded with games, bins full of toys, and ample seating for parents to relax and comfortably supervise with pre-flight drink in tow. The area is enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass walls so that if your children are a bit older in age (the area being geared toward kids ages two- to 12-years-old), you can even sit outside of the area while keeping an eagle eye on the wee ones. Cheers to all of that!

T meets one of our pilots on American Airlines’ AA247 LAX to KOA route.

A most-welcome sight upon our arrival in the first-class cabin: First-class drink menus on each seat aboard AA247 LAX to KOA.

My pre-flight mimosa in first-class on AA247 LAX to KOA. Cheers!

After our brief stop-over in the Admirals Club, it was time to board our nonstop flight to Kona (KOA). Once again, American and flight AA247 did not disappoint. We settled right into the third row. T chose to have C sit by him since the rows were two seats across only, which was a-OK with me (I think T thinks he hurt my feelings by not choosing me to sit with him, but sorry, I got by just fine). Upon boarding, we were greeted by flight attendant Cindy, who I quickly learned was a friend and fellow flight attendant colleague of one of the moms in our play group.

The first-class meal menu on AA247 LAX to KOA.

My dessert aboard the first-class cabin on AA247 LAX to KOA: Port with cheese and fruit plate. Not very tropical, but trust me, I was NOT complaining!

T enjoys his dessert in first-class on AA247 LAX to KOA. A full sundae is offered to first-class passengers, but T was plenty happy with a nice heaping scoop of vanilla. His plane-only DVD player was a pretty big hit also. Yes, plane travel is the only time we break out the DVD player, RMT’ers, as airplane rules mean anything goes so long as everyone around us (and T) remains content.

Not that we needed any extra attention already being up in the front of the plane, but I do believe our new friend Cindy was taking extra-special care of us.  Never did she walk by without offering something for T to snack on or something for C and I to drink. She really gave service with a smile a whole new definition; the first-class passengers of AA247 are very lucky if they get Cindy on their flight. C also would like to thank her personally for the double Glenlivets.

T nods off before take-off in first-class aboard AA247 LAX to KOA. We were very popular parents on this particular flight and received many compliments both while T slept and even while he was awake (thank you, travel gods, for watching over us!).

In sum, while the route was bumpy with a bit of air turbulence, our experience on AA247 was as smooth as silk. T slept a nice portion of the beginning of the flight (as always… seems that white noise of the engine roar still lulls him at take-off), we ate like royalty, and we drank like fish, er, I mean Admirals.

One more view from the Admirals Club at LAX. Thankfully the storm passed by well before our flight (and wasn’t much of a storm).

Mahalo to American Airlines for a flight full of good old-fashioned Aloha to kick off what continued to be a first-class vacation!

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2 responses to “An All-American Start to a First-Class Vacation

  1. Wow! I wish we could travel in first class, but I don’t know the first thing about all of the miles games. We head to Maui in October in coach, but at least I got the two-seat rows by the window so we can sorta be away from others. Can’t wait to see more from your trip!

    • I should get C to do a class on the miles and hotel points “games” – but there are already a lot of fantastic blogs out there that cover that (which he follows like a religion)… so if you are at all interested in that, check out these sites: frugaltravelguy.com; thepointsguy.com; millionmilesecrets.com; http://boardingarea.com/blogs/mommypoints/; http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewfromthewing/; and http://boardingarea.com/blogs/onemileatatime/. These blogs cover the basics of how to start up the game, and most are extremely detail-oriented and very well-written. Do keep in mind, the credit card game is a v dangerous one if you cannot pay off every month in full, and you can never get behind, so fair warning; meaning, if you cannot pay off the cards in full every month, the interest that will accrue will negate any benefit you are given by the banks, card companies, hotels, and/or airlines. The game requires a lot of detailed organization and a fair amount of tracking, so good luck should you (or anyone else for that matter) decide to take a try with it.

      I am very behind trying to catch up the ol’ blog… but in time, you will get to see a lot of wonderful, fantastic things we got to see and do, promise!

      Enjoy your trip to Maui in the Fall! I miss the island already! Aloha!

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