American Airlines 757-200 first class Phoenix to San Diego

American Airlines 757-200 first class Phoenix to San Diego

Why is it that the most interesting aircraft only fly at the most inconvenient of times? American Airlines has like a billion flights every day between Phoenix and San Diego, and nearly all of them are on 737s or the more typical A319/20/21 family of aircraft. There is one exception of course, which happens to be a 757-200 departing Phoenix at 8:20 AM and arriving in San Diego at 9. Oh, come on! Why so early?

The 757 is one of my most favorite airplanes of all time (mostly because it’s not a generic 737 or A3somethingorother), and these days I’ll go pretty darn far out of my way to get a chance to fly on one of those things. Even if it means getting up at 6 AM on Sunday morning.

Phoenix, AZ – San Diego, CA
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Aircraft: 757-2B7
Registration: N206UW
Duration: 49 minutes
Seat: 3F (first class)

American Airlines 757-200 side view rendering
American Airlines 757-200 (N206UW) side view illustration by
PHX to SAN route map
Our route from PHX to SAN this morning: JUDTH6 MOHAK J2 HOGGZ LUCKI1
Curbside PHX
It was so early that I wasn’t even sure if I was at the right airport. I don’t think I really cared either.
American Airlines check in PHX
This must be the right place – I see American Airlines logos everywhere.

The only nice thing about flying that early on Sunday mornings is the fact that security lines are generally short and it never takes that long to get through. If I was a little bit more awake I probably could have appreciated the fact that I made it through the entire security process in less than five minutes.

That had to have been a record of some kind for me in this airport, because I always get stuck in the slowest line. The stars were definitely aligned this morning, but unfortunately I was too tired and groggy to realize the significance of what had just happened.

Having spent nearly the entire day on the road yesterday, waking up super early on a day that I didn’t have to go to work was especially difficult. Choosing to fly on a Boeing 757 instead of an A320 several hours later sounded like a fantastic idea at the time that I booked this ticket, but I wasn’t into it as much as I thought I would be once I was actually there living the experience. Sleeping in is always the better option. Always!

Phoenix Airport American Airlines departures
And there’s my flight to San Diego – somehow I managed to get to the right place despite being half asleep, which was kind of impressive. I didn’t want to go as far as saying “damn I’m good”, but I was awfully tempted.

Once through the security checkpoint, everybody else ran for the nearest coffee shop (collectively) in order to stand in yet another line. I was able to bypass all of that nonsense since I don’t drink the stuff.

I guess that’s one good things about having never developed a taste for coffee! Skipping breakfast is not an option for me however, so I do have to pay dearly for having to buy food at exorbitant prices at the airport in the mornings.

PHX Airport Walk between terminals
The long and lonely walk over to the A gates to find food. By the way, it’s these walkways which make short layovers in Phoenix possible. Without them, you’d have to re-clear security if you wanted to move between terminals. Which would totally blow.
SANspotter selfie PHX
A quick pause while I eat. Food is imperative if there’s any hope of this trip report continuing beyond this point!
American Airlines 757-200 PHX
The plane that was responsible for getting me out of bed at 6am on a Sunday morning. Damn you 757. Damn you.

I only had about an hour or so to wait before the flight to San Diego started boarding, so I spent most of the time eating breakfast and wandering around taking pictures as the sun was coming up over the horizon.

I had considered checking out the Admirals Club here in this terminal, but I wasn’t in the mood for it considering that it looked as if it was more crowded in there than it was the main terminal. Airport lounges aren’t always the oasis they claim to be!

American Airlines departure board PHX airport
Those three people listed there on the upgrade list are about to be dissapointed – first class had checked in full, and I wasn’t feeling anywhere near generous enough to give up my seat this morning.
Gate A29 PHX Airport
All set to go here at gate 29A. Well, I’m ready, but I can’t vouch for everyone else.
AA 757 PHX
Is there not a better looking airplane than the 757? Nope – I don’t think so.

As I was standing in line to board the plane, I couldn’t help but wonder why they are using one of their largest domestic aircraft in the fleet for the early morning flight to San Diego.

I wouldn’t have thought that there would be enough demand to warrant such a large aircraft, but apparently such is not the case and American Airlines knows a heck of a lot more than I do about the amount of passengers traveling between Phoenix and San Diego at that time of day. I’ll trust their judgement.

PHX Airport jet bridge
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if there is a picture of me walking down a jet bridge, taken by a trip-reporter that I didn’t know was there. I’ll bet this woman in front of me never knew that she’d be a part of an American Airlines 757-200 trip report!
American Airlines 757
Who else misses the old polished aluminum livery?
Boarding an American Airlines 757
Get ready to turn left, because the best part about boarding a 757 is about to happen…
American Airlines 757 interior
Pardon me people – I’m on my way to first class!
American Airlines 757 first class
There are only three rows of first class seats this particular 757, and yeah, it felt weird.
American Airlines 757 first class seat
Seat 3F is mine today. Did I really need a first class seat for this 45 minute flight to San Diego?  Absolutely not, but it’s fun to feel better than everyone else stuck in economy.

Once onboard and having plopped my butt down into the seat, I realized that this is the first time in my life that I had ever been on an American Airlines 757. That’s kind of significant considering that I’ve been on over 100 757 flights in my life so far, and American Airlines had one of the largest 757 fleets of any airline not too long ago.

How I managed to avoid each and every one of those things is quite impressive actually. I have no idea how I did it, but it’s a fun tidbit of SANspotter trivia that you probably never knew. Unless of course, you study my flight log every night memorizing every flight that I’ve ever taken…

American Airlines 757 first class seats
Domestic first class isnt much to rave about these days, but I’ve got to say that American Airlines has the best looking first class seats of them all. No, it’s nowhere near as nice as American Airlines 787-9 business class (which you can sometimes find on domestic routes), but still. This is legit.
American Airlines 757 first class seat pitch
Seat pitch is pretty good too – much better than what I’ve seen on a lot of other airlines lately. No, it’s not as good as what you’ll get in business class on the American Airlines 777-200 or anything, but C’mon. This definitely still qualifies as “fancy pants” good.
American Airlines first class arm rest
There’s a tray table in there somewhere, but it’s way too early to figure this contraption out. I’ll deal with it later…
American Airlines 757 first class cabin
Domestic first class seats have come a long way in the past 10 years ago, haven’t they? Of course this is nowhere near as nice as American Airlines Flagship First Class (or Flagship Business Class for that matter), but these are pretty nice.
American Airlines 757 first class in seat power
Power ports between the seats come in really handy if you’re like me and you have an old iPhone 6S with a battery that doesn’t have the strength to capture gobs of nerdy trip report content anymore.
American Airlines 757 first class
There isn’t much of a view forward here in this first-class cabin. With only three rows, it feels a bit claustrophobic. Good thing that I was too sleepy to care.
American Airlines 757 safety card
If you’re ever on a flight where you think you spotted me, but you’re not quite sure if it’s me or not, you’ll have no doubt once I whip out the safety card and take a picture of it.
American Airlines Phoenix Arizona ground crew
Where the hell is everybody?
SANspotter selfieAmerican Airlines 757 first class
No, I’m not vain or anything. But I am ready to go home!

It took a while for the first-class cabin to fill up, but it eventually did and it was a full house once we pushed off the gate. From there it was a short taxi out to runway 7L and we were on our way to San Diego.

American Airlines 757 in Phoenix
If you’re wondering what happened to all the American Airlines 757s, they are here in Phoenix. It’s been along time since I’ve seen so many 757s in one place at one time!
Pushing off the gate Phoenix airport
Praying to the high heavens we would be taking off to the east today, because an easterly departure would yield much better photo opportunities (due to the sunlight lighting up the engines).
American Airlines 757 take off from PHX
Score! It looks as if the AvGeek gods granted my wish, and into the sunrise we go! I wonder what kind of favor they are expecting in return though?
Taking off from PHX
Hold onto your hats boys and girls – because the soon as we start making the turn to the west, that engine is gonna get all lit up.
American Airlines 757 wing and engine
Bingo! This was the shot I was hoping for. It feels so satisfying when it happens!

I realize that this post is all about the American Airlines 757-200 first class experience, but the fact of the matter is that flying time between Phoenix and San Diego was a short 49 minutes and there wasn’t much happening to warrant thousands of words about the experience. Yeah, the flight attendants came by offering snacks and beverages, but there were no made to order omelettes or pancakes offered, and all I could do was just sit back and enjoy the scenery of the dry desert landscape passing by below.

American Airlines 757 first class snack
A much-needed glass of water to begin the process of re-hydrating myself after two days in one of the driest climates in the world. The flight attendants also came around with the snack basket, but water was by far the most important thing on my mind. Well, I was having fleeting thoughts of pancakes and omelettes, but water was the most important.
American Airlines 757 first class experience
A quick look forward to see if I could see the flight attendants prepping a large breakfast service. Unfortunately, there was no sign of life up there and I was stuck nursing my dwindling supply of water.
SANspotter selfie American Airlines
Pondering pancakes and omelettes as we cruise west.
Flying over the desert
I’ll bet there are people eating pancakes and omelettes somewhere down there on the desert floor.
Flying into San Diego
Keeping my eyes peeled for a restaurant serving pancakes and omelettes as we cruise on into San Diego.

Ok, it was too early for omelettes and pancakes anyway, and the truth is that I wasn’t even feeling hungry as we swooped in over Balboa Park and Little Italy before dropping down on runway 27 here at SAN. I was feeling a bit nostalgic though, considering that I used to fly on 757s all the time and I wouldn’t even be able to count all the times (without looking at my flight log) that I arrived San Diego on one of these birds over the past 20 years or so. It used to be such a common occurrence back then, but today it felt a little bit special and oddly different from all the 737s and A320s that dominate this airport now.

 Air and space Museum Balboa park
Can you believe that I’ve been living in San Diego for 20 years now and I’ve never once been to the Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park?
Approach into San Diego Airport
Another typical approach into San Diego. Just once I want to be on a plane with a pilot who can’t resist buzzing the tower Top Gun style. Now THAT would make for interesting trip report content!
Welcome back to San Diego!
Welcome back to San Diego!
American Airlines 757 San Diego
Taking pictures of an engine all lit up by the low sun is one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Yes, even better than one of those triple sneezes you get when you have the flu.
American Airlines a321 San Diego
The airplane responsible for killing the 757. #evilglare
American Airlines 757 first class under seat storage
Well, that was fun. I’m not totally sure it was worth getting up at 6am on a Sunday morning for, but it was fun.
The 757 interior
More 757-specific fun: walking backwards down the aisle to reach the boarding door. You can’t do that very often the A321!
End of American Airlines 757 flight
I’m not really sure if this pic is necessary to help tell the story, but it was on my memory card so I might as well use it.
San Diego international airport jet bridge
Hmmm…I’m starting to think that SAN and PHX got the same good deal from the same jet bridge manufacturer. Why are jet bridges in the US so dang boring? I smell a business opportunity…
Terminal 2 east San Diego airport
Terminal 2 east. She ain’t pretty, but I’ll take this over terminal 1 any day.
San Diego international airport arrivals level
I never realized how pointy the San Diego international airport terminal is until I was staring at this picture trying to think of a caption. Anyway, it’s good to be home once again!

I hope you enjoyed this quick little trip to Arizona (and SFO) with me! Next up will be a very quick series of trip reports about my first class experience on Alaska Airlines to Florida and back. And I do mean quick – there will be no hotel reviews or anything else to go along with this one – unless of course you’d be interested in reading a review of my parents house. Come to think of it, that would be pretty funny actually…

Comments (2)

  1. Wyatt

    January 17, 2020
    • SANspotter

      January 18, 2020

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