When we went looking for return flights from Puerto Vallarta, there were plenty of options, but we settled on American since the airline had two returns between 1 and 2pm while everyone else was later in the day. I thought about using miles for this — space was readily available — but we had credits to burn, so the roughly $213 and change for each ticket was covered.
Let’s pick up this report right where I left off last time. We had made our way through the gauntlet of pre-departure madness and had just gotten through security. On the other side, we still had time to kill since we had arrived so early. It wasn’t too crowded nor was it hard to keep spread apart despite the fact that those stickers on the seats telling people to distance aren’t going to stop anyone.
I generally hate flying out of Puerto Vallarta, but I found out it’s way less painful if you aren’t hungover. Still, the individual gate PA systems create a terrible cacophony, and the one at our gate was particularly bad. Eventually, we figured out it was time for group 5 to board, so we walked on up. Naturally, I was flagged for an extra inspection of my carry-ons, but eventually I was allowed on the airplane.
March 22, 2021
American 312 Lv Puerto Vallarta 114p Arr Los Angeles 335p
Puerto Vallarta (PVR): Gate B8, Runway 22, Depart On Time
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 43, Runway 25R, Arrive 10m Early
N987NN, Boeing 737-823, Ugly Flag colors, 16/16 First Class, 78/156 Coach
Seat 19C, Coach
Flight Time 2h56m
This was my very first experience on an Oasis-configured 737. That’s the one with 172 seats that had people ranting and raving about how horrible it was. I had no complaints whatsoever. It looked good on the inside thanks to the Boeing Sky Interior, though I still find American’s gray/bluecolor scheme on the seats strange. Coach was half full, so we took our seats behind the exit rows and were happy to find the middles empty. In fact, a few rows around us were empty until others started spreading out, as suggested by the Captain when he asked people to try and social distance. (That seemed like a really weird announcement to make.)
Legroom on these seats was about what I’d expect in any regular coach seat. It wasn’t anything special, but my knees weren’t touching the seat in front of me.
Each seat had a 110V power outlet as well as a USB port. And though there is no seatback video, there is a well-designed holder that makes it easy to put your phone or tablet up. I should note that tablet holder is not good for kids. It angles up and is too high. But for adults, it works really well.
We pushed back on time and I waved to my old friend, the jungle-bound Aviacsa 737 that continues to recede into the jungle, before we turned on to the shortened runway due to construction and headed into the wild blue yonder over Banderas Bay before circling back around to head northwest abeam the Sea of Cortez.
The captain told us they had just flown down and it was mostly smooth. They expected the same for us, but there was some hesitation there. Turns out, it was not smooth. Later in the climb, it started to get bumpy, and it stayed that way most of the flight with only a brief break in the middle. The Captain came on to say we were going to stay low at 32,000 feet because the ride was being reported worse above that. A quick look at the weather showed why this would be the case — the jetstream was roaring east over northern Mexico, and we were fighting against it the whole way.
The flight attendants came through with little packs that had water bottles, pretzels, and a sanitizer wipe. That was the extent of the service, but they were coming up and down regularly to collect trash and check on everyone.
I decided to watch An American Pickle on my phone using the streaming offering, and it worked well. Once it was over, I realized they had Apple TV+ shows, so I was able to sneak in the first two episodes of Ted Lasso. I’m gonna need to find a login so I can finish that show.
We cruised past San Diego and then went briefly over the water before coming back over land, hanging a left, and lining up with the southern runways. With runway 25L closed for work, we landed on 25R which was so delightful. We rolled right off the runway and headed straight into the gate.
Unfortunately, the T4 customs facility wasn’t open — not sure if it has been at all — so we had to walk down, up, over, and around to get over to the Bradley Terminal. Once there… it was empty. The kids don’t have Global Entry, so we had to go through regular immigration with them. There was no line. Then we got our bag and there wasn’t anyone even looking at people walking through customs. We just walked right out.
The plan was to just get a Lyft home, but they’ve moved taxis back into the terminal area at LAX, so we figured we’d do that. That was dumb. The taxis now come in the bottom level of the parking garage, so we walked over there and… it was empty.
The taxis had spent so much time arguing they needed to be in the terminal area, and now they make you call them to dispatch someone. We would have been better off just taking the bus to the rideshare area.
In the scheme of things, that didn’t matter. Just know that if you’re flying in coach on American 737s, the new Oasis-configuration is great. First Class may be a different story, but I can’t speak to that.