We recently had to fly back to the United States unexpectedly at the last minute and quickly began our search for airfares. As we had to book about 5 days before our departure date, we feared the worst and thought we would have to pay an arm and a leg for a last minute transatlantic flight.
We were using skyscanner.com and looking at all of our options when we discovered a roundtrip flight on American Airlines for less then $800 US dollars. The route was Frankfurt-Dallas-Houston with the same route on the return. I quickly booked this trip, as the flight times and layovers worked well for us.
We frequently fly between Europe and the United States but it had been years since we have used a US airline as we normally enjoy Lufthansa or KLM. We were interested to see how our upcoming American Airlines flights would turn out.
We stayed the night before our flight at the Park Inn Frankfurt Airport. (You can read our review here.) American Airlines departs from Terminal 2 at Frankfurt Airport, which was a quick 8-euro taxi ride from our hotel.
We located the American check in counters with many people lined up checking in for flights to Charlotte, Dallas, and Philadelphia. Check in is where we noticed our first difference in flying a US airline versus a European airline. We were asked many detailed security questions such as the status of our relationship, our jobs, our purpose for traveling, etc.
After check in we enjoyed a McDonalds breakfast (you can take us out of the US, but you can’t take the US out of us!) and were quickly through security in the pleasant but somewhat basic Terminal 2.
Before long it was time for boarding. Our flight today would be on a Boeing 777-200 with a flight time of 9 hours and 40 minutes. The flight was completely full in economy class. First impressions of the cabin were positive. There was nice blue mood lighting and the cabin appeared to be clean. Our seats were comfortable with average legroom and the standard pillow and blanket. The layout of the cabin in economy was 10 abreast (3-4-3) and we did notice the slightly narrower seats and aisles.
Economy Class Seats
We pushed back and after a very short taxi, we rolled down the runway and lifted off into the gray cloudy skies above Frankfurt.
New Lufthansa livery (looks better in person) Departing Frankfurt
Once we reached cruising altitude, the drink service started along with a bag of mini pretzels. We both opted for a Dos Equis, as it had been a long time since we had a Mexican beer. Sadly, there were no limes to go along with our beer.
Meal service started soon after the drink service and the catering out of Frankfurt on American was better than we were expecting. The two choices were chicken (of course!) and vegetarian pasta. We tried both and both were good. The vegetarian pasta was a cheese tortellini in a tomato sauce and the chicken was Asian-style with rice and beans. Beer and wine are complimentary in economy class on longhaul flights.
Vegetarian Pasta Asian Chicken
The cabin crew was really the only negative on this flight. The senior crew on this flight appeared to be somewhat jaded and made it seem like the passengers were just an inconvenience that needed to be dealt with. They definitely lacked the polish and customer service skills that we encounter on other airlines.
It seemed they just wanted to rush through the service so they could get to their magazines and chatting in the galley. When they came to collect the meal trays, we weren’t finished yet and one flight attendant rudely rolled her eyes and stood there until we handed her the tray…I’m not even joking, she literally stood there staring at us until we wolfed down our meal and handed her our trays.
Apart from the cabin crew, the flight progressed smoothly and relatively quickly. We found the inflight entertainment system to be very good on American Airlines. There were more than enough movies, TV shows, and games to keep us fully occupied.
Mid-flight View Economy Cabin
In the rear of the plane, there were some snacks laid out such as potato chips and chocolate bars as well as bottles of water. There was a midflight snack of chocolate ice cream. The flight attendants were also visibly annoyed with passengers standing back there stretching their legs.
Before starting our descent into DFW airport, a pre-arrival snack was served which consisted of little filled pies, one with meat and one vegetarian. They weren’t really remarkable in any way but nonetheless appreciated.
Soon after, we were on approach and touched down in Dallas-Ft. Worth on a very hot and sunny day.
Our plane after landing in Dallas
Layover in Dallas
It had been a long time since we had been at DFW airport and we were impressed with the airport itself and the transfer experience. Customs and immigration was very quick and we enjoyed the terminals and the many amenities. Our 2 and a half hour layover passed very quickly.
There is not much to say about this flight since it was so short. This flight was on a Boeing 737-800 and the flight time was only 40 minutes to Houston Intercontinental Airport. The flight was completely packed with a very long stand-by list.
Our plane heading to Houston
After take off, the crew quickly started the service. Due to the short flight time, only small bottles of water were being offered in economy class.
Soon after reaching cruising altitude, we were already starting our descent into Houston. As were approaching the runway, a United plane was descending as well towards a parallel runway which was fun to watch.
About to land in Houston
We finally touched down in Houston marking the end of our journey. We would be returning to Germany exactly one week later with the same exact routing.
Heading back to Frankfurt
I won’t add too much about the return flight as there weren’t that many differences, therefore, lack of pictures. However the flight from Houston to Dallas was on an ancient MD-80. I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to fly on this plane again and enjoyed the experience.
Our MD-80 Cabin of the MD-80
The flight from Dallas to Frankfurt was again operated by a Boeing 777-200 but wasn’t as pleasant as the way over. It was another full flight and we were not able to reserve our seats next to each other. We both had aisle seats this round. Normally this isn’t a problem, but Margaret had an aisle seat in the center section and the inflight entertainment box was under the foot area of her seat. This didn’t leave much leg room, therefore, felt like a very cramped flight.
The catering out of Dallas was completely subpar compared to Frankfurt. The meal lacked an identity and consisted of BBQ chicken with cheesy pasta and vegetables. It was almost inedible.
Being a night flight, there were no snacks laid out in the rear of the plane and breakfast was a lame yogurt and fruit. We were completely starving by the time we arrived Frankfurt. It was also freezing cold throughout the flight. The crew again couldn’t seem to be bothered in providing a decent customer service experience. We didn’t see any of the crew after dinner service.
Despite some negative aspects, our flights were OK. The seats, inflight entertainment, and cabin cleanliness as well as the catering out of Frankfurt exceeded our expectations. The only negative was really the cabin crew who seemed to just not care.
We will definitely stick to KLM or Lufthansa in the future on our flights back to the United States although we cashed in some AAdvantage miles to return to the United States in a few months using American Airlines again. This next time we will be routed through Philadelphia and are looking forward to comparing our flights.