John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) – Ministro Pistarini International Airpor (EZE)
STD: 3:25 PM ATD: 3:12 PM GMT-5
STA: 4:32 AM ATA: 3:46 AM GMT-3
Flight Number: AR 1301
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 LV-FNI
Flight Date: November 14, 2017
Class of Service: Business Class / Club Condor
Seat Type: Angle-flat seats
Seat Pitch: 60 inches
Seat Width: 21 inches
Meals: Lunch/Dinner after take off, Breakfast before landing
In-Seat Outlets: Yes
IFE: Yes, Personal TVs at every seat
Argentina had long been on my bucket list – Iguazu Falls, great culture, plus, I’d never met a glass of Malbec I didn’t like. So when we finally decided to visit, Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) came up as an obvious choice since it’s the only SkyTeam partner that flies nonstop from New York to Buenos Aires. While it doesn’t have a stellar reputation, I’m always down to fly an airline I’ve never flown before – especially if it means no layovers.
Unlike its SkyTeam partners (the bulk of which fly out of Terminal 1 or Terminal 4), Aeronlineas Argentinas flies out of Terminal 7, which is primarily a oneworld-dominated terminal. Check-in was managed by British Airways, and was fairly quick and painless – there was barely anyone else in line to check in. The agent let us know we had access to the British Airways Galleries lounge, which was located right after security.
The lounge was large and lofty, but felt pretty basic in terms of amenities (especially since the spa wasn’t open). Read the detailed report here.
We were seated in the last row, seats 8A and 8B. As we arrived, we found our pillow and blanket neatly folded and tucked on our seats. The seats themselves looked worn with age and lots of crumbs in the nooks of the seat – yikes! Could definitely use a good high-suction vacuuming.
With a 60 inch pitch, there was plenty of space between the seat and the seats in front of us. In contrast to the aged seats (the leather of which was beginning to peel in places), the touchscreen TVs looked new with a USB port located on the right side. Within the TV console was a coat hook on the top right and the bottom right of the screen (do people travel with multiple coats?), and a storage area between the two TVs, which held a couple bottles of water, a newspaper, and headphones. The headphones had a small compartment for little sanitary slipcovers for the earpieces, but there weren’t any covers in there, unfortunately.
Back to the seat, it felt a little narrow, but it was fine. The cushioning wasn’t particularly comfortable, which is disappointing on a red eye flight – especially since this seat is an angled lay flat seat. The pillow was remarkably small and felt flat-ish, but the comforter was fine – not terribly thin, at least for the cabin temperature. It’s worth noting that I found a few dirt marks on my blanket, and though I’m not saying they don’t clean these, it is clearly a dirt mark that has simply not come out over the numerous washes through the years – they could surely use a refresh.
The seat controls were located between the seats, and were pretty standard to operate. Bonus(?) – the seats came with a massage function. Not sure how often these get used. I tried it out – it’s not life altering and I would say they could probably do without them when they decide to update the seats.
The seats also had a small storage area, enough to tuck your phone, a bottle of water, and a small book into. The seats also were fitted with an international outlet and another USB port! A big bonus for me since my phone’s battery life is absolutely terrible. Tucked into the arm rests where the TV remote control on the center side, and tray table on the aisle/window side. Interesting note about the TV remote – instead of up/down/left/right buttons to navigate the TV screen, there was a small finger touchpad you would use to move across the screen. It was a cool idea, but in practice, it was a bit of a struggle to use since it wasn’t always incredibly sensitive and you’d have to swipe your finger across it several times to get to where you wanted to go.
As I mentioned, there was ample room between the seat and the TV console I had about 3 windows to myself. I enjoyed the space, though would have absolutely loved if there were storage compartments by the window, like there was on my Korean Air flight on their A380.
As everyone settled into their seats, the Flight Attendants came by with some sparkling wine and water. They seemed friendly enough (I’ll admit my expectations were not incredibly high), and didn’t push me to finish my drink even as he was coming through the cabin to pick up glasses shortly before take-off.
We pushed back at 3:15 – a full 10 minutes early! We took off about 15 minutes later with no issue (and a nice view of… Long Island).
On today’s flight, we were being served two meals – an early dinner and breakfast. I opted for the sirloin in a Malbec reduction, while Brian selected the barley risotto with chicken bocconcini for our meal.
The beverage service started shortly after the menus were handed out – I, of course, had the Malbec, which I almost never find served on a flight. While it wasn’t the best glass I’d ever had (I prefer something a bit less full-bodied), I was happily sipped on it the heavy-handedly pored glass over dinner.
Our starters were served first, the crown of which I assume was meant to be the mixed green, tabbouleh, mozzarella, and sun dried tomato salad with olive oil. It was a disappointing dish on a number of levels, mostly because it was 80% greens and was only served with 4 mozzarella balls. The small bottle of dressing was too cold when it was served – the olive oil looked sort of frozen. I saw a couple people send theirs back, but I found that after rolling it in my palms for a few seconds and giving it a good shake, it was fine.
I enjoyed the soft cheese selection on the fruit and cheese platter, though the babybel seemed a little unusual for a business class meal. A win if you’re a fan (I wish they hadn’t unwrapped it, I would have saved it as a snack for later in the flight).
After our starter plates were cleared, a cart came by with our dinner options. While the salad was underwhelming, I’m glad to report that the main courses came out better.
Brian had the chicken and risotto which he really enjoyed – the chicken was fried (who doesn’t love that) and juicy, while the risotto was cooked to a nice al dente texture, bursting with just the right amount of mushroom flavor.
I had the beef, which I also liked. It was cooked to a medium/medium well consistency (I hadn’t ordered it that way, it was just served as is), so if you prefer your meet less cooked, it might be wise to speak up when they hand out the menus. The beef was good and decently tender, though not soft enough to cut with a table knife, so it did take a little effort to slice it up. Was definitely worth it though. I would order this dish again, though I do wish my piece was a little leaner (this is not a popular opinion, I’m aware).
We hit some turbulence in the air, so there was a delay with the dessert service – a generous scoop of chocolate ice cream. Underneath the scoop was some chocolate sauce (I’m pretty sure it was Hershey’s but can’t confirm), which I actually thought went well with the ice cream (I’m a big chocolate fan), but there just wasn’t enough, given the size of the scoop.
The FAs came by to pick up our trays, and that would be the last I’d see of them until breakfast. On other airlines, I’ve found the Flight Attendants walk the aisles mid-flight to see if anyone needs anything. Even when I’ve slept through the night, I’ll find a bottle of water at my seat when I wake up. Well, they might have come by, but no water bottles were handed out (unfortunately).
After dinner, I flipped through the entertainment offerings. The “Current” options (I assume these are the new releases) included Trolls, Miss Sloane, Hacksaw Ridge, and The Edge of Seventeen. Blockblusters offered The Boss Baby, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Logan, to name a few. I much prefer to watch TV on flights, and their TV offerings were a little on the light side, (a few episodes of The Last Man on Earth and Modern Family, plus a full season of Mom and the Middle), but I settled on Big Bang Theory, which I don’t watch regularly, but moderately enjoy, so I often catch up on planes.
I popped open the amenity kit, which was pretty basic in offering – socks, eye mash, brush, toothbrush and tooth paste, and earplugs. A nice touch were the L’Occitane products, which included a cleansing cloth and a small tube of hand lotion.
Before turning in for the night I popped into lavatory, which was pretty basic by all means. No special amenities here, just the usual hand lotion next to the soap (nothing branded either, rather unfortunately). The lav was pretty clean when I stopped by, but later on in the flight it was less so and could certainly have used some freshening up.
I crawled into my bed and tried to get some shut eye. I’ll admit this is my first time on an angled lay flat bed, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I always had heard that once you’ve slept on a flat bed, anything angled will feel unremarkable. Now I can’t speak for all angled beds, but in this case, I did feel the difference. The top half of the seat came down pretty close to flat, but the leg area did not come up very high, which was a bit uncomfortable. Also worth noting – the footwell area felt cramped when the seat was in sleep mode, which is unusual that I noticed it since I’m not very tall.
I was worried I wouldn’t’ fall asleep, but fortunately I managed to get a few hours of shuteye before landing.
About 4 and a half hours later, I stirred and found the cabin lights on and the flight attendants in the aisles, serving breakfast.
For breakfast, our options were scrambled eggs with ham or a ham and cheese sandwich accompanied by fruit, bread, a croissant, and cereal (frosted flakes) or yogurt.
Brian had the scrambled eggs, which were dry and pretty tasteless. I had the ham and cheese sandwich, which was surprisingly pretty good. The bread was a little soggy, since it was served on a creamy cheese sauce (which I could have done without), but it was pretty tasty and I don’t regret my selection at all. The sides that accompanied the meal were pretty standard – I didn’t really need the croissant and the bread, but having the option of both was nice. Major points on the fruit though, the selection was nice and sweet.
Not too long after breakfast was cleared out, we began our initial descent into Buenos Aires. I had heard that sometimes AR has been known to serve meals at odd times, so I’m glad we weren’t woken up until we were closer to our destination, especially since we were landing at 4 AM local time.
The landing views aren’t too exciting in the wee hours of the morning, unfortunately, but we made it on the ground and to our gate 10 minutes earlier than scheduled – never a terrible thing.
I’m not sure I know how I feel about this flight to be honest. It arrives in Buenos Aires at a terribly inconvenient time – scheduled to get in at around 4:30 AM! We had an 8 AM flight to catch to Iguazu, so the early arrival didn’t impact us too much, but American Airlines and United both offer nonstop flights from JFK that leave around 10PM and get in at around 11 AM – a much better time to get in.
In terms of flight quality, I’d give this a middle of the road rating. Food was better than expected, but the seats were worse than I’d hoped for. That being said, Aerolineas Argentinas is notorious for its flight delays, and while I wasn’t expecting anything too terrible on such a long haul flight out of a major airport, I was pretty thrilled that there weren’t any major hiccups along the way.
Would I fly them again? Well, I wouldn’t go out of my way to again, but I will admit in terms of pricing, they offer the cheapest nonstop option out there (the other two charge almost double), so that’s pretty hard to beat. I’d be more inclined to fly them if the arrival time into Buenos Aires wasn’t so inconvenient, but I suppose convenience comes with a hefty price tag.
Check in & Boarding: 9/10 – Easy and quick, though nothing spectacular.
Food: 7/10 – Better than expected! The beef was pretty good, though wasn’t tender enough to be able to slice through with a table knife. Side dishes were a little on the underwhelming side (I’m talking about you, dinner salad), but could have been worse. Being served almost frozen olive oil was admittedly annoying.
Seat: 6/10 – Old (spotted some of the leather peeling off the back side of the seat), with crumbs lodged in nooks. Seat was not terribly comfortable either.
Crew: 8/10– Prompt and polite, though I wouldn’t say they went the extra mile to provide exemplary service.
Flight Experience: 7/10 – The seat really took points away from the overall experience here (plus a super basic lavatory), but since I’ve heard chatter of times AR flights are extremely delayed or worse – cancelled – for no real reason, I’m just glad we made it in the air.
Overall: 37/50 (74%) ★★★★★