Peter Wheeler flies aboard AA1976, from Charlotte, North Carolina to Los Angeles International Airport.

The aircraft:

Airbus A321. Good, clean and modern.

Airport experience: Charlotte is American Airlines' East Coast hub and the eighth-busiest airport in the US. It has a main concourse with around 20 shops and eateries and six terminals leading off it. The concourse has a good selection of seats and unsecured Wi-Fi, but absolutely no ability to charge devices. We didn't need to check in as we were checked through from Key West via Charlotte to LA.


Class: Standard.

Our seats: 27A (window) for me and 27B (centre-block) for my wife. Entertainment delivered via Wi-Fi and onboard app but again, no ability to charge devices so we ended up with nothing halfway through.

Passengers: Full of Americans including a very pleasant chap on his way home to Fresno, who was sitting next to us.

Food and drink: Soft drinks, coffee and biscuits served by friendly staff.

Toilets: The usual two at the back and one at front. The usual "efficient" size!

Luggage: 25kg per person.

On time: We departed at 8.36pm, and after 5hr 30mins had landed on time, but another aircraft on our gate was defective and needed to be towed off, leading to a 50-minute delay. This meant that we had 20 minutes to get from the aircraft to our flight for Auckland. It was here that service dropped dead — we asked the flight attendant to help expedite our eventual departure from the plane and she criticised us for (our travel agent) booking too short a connection and was initially hostile to doing anything for us. With good Kiwi charm and manners, we managed to persuade her to at least try to move us up the plane to row 5. A further inquiry to the polite male attendant at the front elicited the promise of a golf-cart shuttle and the captain asking for Auckland passengers to be let off first. However, the promised golf-cart shuttle to the Auckland flight didn't happen so we had to run through the terminal, getting lost several times. Oh, and one of our bags didn't make it on to the aircraft.

Would I fly this again? Absolutely no way. I had challenged our travel agent and also the gate agent at Key West about this short connection and was told that it was okay. You really need 90 minutes to be safe for an international connection. LA-Hell lives up to its name again!