Review – American Airlines Business Class – London to New York – 777-200

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  1. Introduction
  2. Review | Emirates Business Class | Seattle to Dubai | 777-200LR
  3. Abu Dhabi Day Tour
  4. Dubai | Afternoon Tea in the Atmosphere Lounge Burj Khalifa | Desert Safari
  5. Review | Emirates Business Class | Dubai to Rome | A380
  6. Rome – Adventures and Landmarks in 3 Days
  7. Venice – Murano and Burano Island Photos
  8. Top 5 Best Views of Florence
  9. Cinque Terre Ferry Day Tour
  10. Review | American Airlines Business Class | London to New York | 777-200

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Cabin
Meal Service
Seat
Service
Summary


Booking frustrations

Getting this particular flight booked was frustrating.  For some context, this American Airlines business flight was actually the second flight of a three flight itinerary, taking us from Milan to London, then to New York, and finally onward to Vancouver.  Our original itinerary was as follows:

Milan Linate (LIN) -> London Heathrow(LHR)
Airline: British Airways
Flight No: BA565
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Date: Monday, June 13, 2016
Scheduled Departure: 11:30 AM
Scheduled Arrival: 12:35 PM
Duration: 2 hrs 5 mins
Class: Club Executive

London Heathrow(LHR) -> New York (JFK)
Airline: American Airlines
Flight No: AA107
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Date: Monday, June 13, 2016
Scheduled Departure: 5:00 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 7:45 PM
Duration: 7 hrs 45 mins
Class: Business

New York (JFK) -> Vancouver (YVR)
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No: CX889
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Date: Monday, June 13, 2016
Scheduled Departure: 9:55 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 12:50 AM
Duration: 6 hrs 45 mins
Class: Business

A couple of weeks before our departure, we got an email saying that our flight was changed from AA107 to AA105.  After looking into why this happened, we realized it was because the scheduled arrival of AA107 was pushed to 8:00PM instead of 7:45PM.  This meant that we had less than 2 hours to make our connection at JFK.  Unfortunately, this is less than the recommended amount of time needed to make the connection successfully, so the airline automatically moved us to an earlier flight, which was AA105.  AA105 was operated by a Boeing 777-200 instead of a 777-300ER, with alternating rear and forward facing business class seats instead of the reverse herringbone configuration.

We weren’t particularly thrilled about this, as we had hoped to spend more time in London to do some planespotting.  We called American to see if they could move us back to the original flight AA107.  After voicing her concern about the connection window, the agent told us that she was still able to get us back onto our original flight, so we told her to go ahead and process it.

After a few days, we noticed that the status of our booking was still Pending.  Uh-oh.  We called American again, and they confirmed that there was a problem; They would not allow a connection window at JFK of less than 2 hours, so the ticket didn’t go through.  Now, if you have connected at JFK before, you would probably agree with this sentiment.  Transferring there sucks, big time, and its not hard to miss your flight.

In the end, after several more calls back and forth with American, we were ticketed back on AA105, and an earlier flight time of 3:15 PM…. or so we thought.

Updated second segment of itinerary:

London Heathrow(LHR) -> New York (JFK)
Airline: American Airlines
Flight No: AA105
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Date: Monday, June 13, 2016
Scheduled Departure: 3:15 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 6:05 PM
Duration: 7 hrs 50 mins
Class: Business

On paper, this all looked good and we would have plenty of time to make our flight in JFK.  However things didn’t turn out exactly as we expected…


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Arriving on British Airways A320

Connection in London Heathrow

We landed in London Heathrow at 1:30 PM, almost an hour behind our scheduled arrival of 12:35 PM.  This was due to ground crew strike action at Milan Linate Airport in Italy, causing us to depart about an hour late.  On top of that, a google notification told us that our flight on American was delayed by 2 hours.  The good news was that we had a bit more time in Heathrow (which was what we originally intended), but the bad news was that we would have a tight connection in JFK, the very situation that American tried to avoid by putting us on AA105.

We arrived in Terminal 5, while our gate for American was in Terminal 3, so we followed the signs to the terminal connection buses.  I really like taking the connection buses at Heathrow, as they drive along the apron for some sections, and often times you’ll get to see some of the big jets parked up close, or even see some of them taxiing nearby.

After arriving in Terminal 3, we needed to go to an American Airlines connection desk to pick up our boarding passes.  The agent who helped us was extremely unfriendly, and at times we felt like we were being interrogated.  After a few minutes of being questioned on why we were transiting through New York, we were given our boarding passes and sent on our way.

Once we got that out of the way, we headed for the American Airlines Admirals Club Flagship Lounge. The atmosphere and furnishings of the lounge felt quite dated, although it was very large.  There was a section in the middle of the lounge with a buffet serving hot food, as well as another section serving a variety of drinks.  We grabbed some food from the buffet and relaxed a bit in one of the many seating areas.

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American Airlines Admirals Club Flagship Lounge
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American Airlines Admirals Club Flagship Lounge

At around 4pm, we headed to our gate.  Boarding didn’t begin until 4:50pm, and at this point we were more than an hour and a half delayed, so I was getting pretty worried about our connection in JFK.


Cabin

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As we boarded we were greeted by one of the flight attendants, who directed us towards the left into the forward business cabin.  The seats in the business class cabin are spread across two cabins, laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration with the seats angled inwards.  It is very similar to a reverse herringbone configuration but with one difference:  The seats on the American 777-200 has alternating forward and rear-facing seats.  Since I had never tried sitting backwards on a plane before, I wanted to give it a try.  I ended up selecting seat 3A, which was a rear facing seat, while Peterson chose seat 4A, a forward facing seat.

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American Airlines business seat signage
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American Airlines business class seat, 3A

The American Airlines business cabin felt incredibly sleek, modern and clean.  The recently refreshed seats and finishing gave a very comfortable and refined feel, even though the plane itself was much older.  The subdued shades of grey and the brushed aluminum trim felt elegant, and the blue and purple mood lighting complimented the overall atmosphere.  I was pleasantly surprised!

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American Airlines business class mood lighting

A blanket, pillow, and a Cole Haan amenity kit were waiting for us in our seats.  Unfortunately, the amenity kit came in a very bright, and rather feminine color.  After a few minutes sulking about the choice of color on our amenity kits, we noticed several empty seats beside us had a darker blue version!  We asked one of the flight attendants passing by whether we could exchange ours for the different color.  “Not your color?”, the flight attendant replied with a smile, as she exchanged it for us.  We were both much happier with the darker blue.

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American Airlines business class pillow
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American Airlines business class Cole Haan amenity kit

We were further delayed by a late push back, so it wasn’t until 5:30pm that we started taxiing to the runway.

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In line for take-off at Heathrow

As we were waiting in the busy Heathrow traffic for take off, we saw an American 777-300ER a few planes in front of us.  It turned out to be our original flight AA107 which was scheduled for 5:00pm departure.  So in the end, switching from AA107 to AA105 ended up costing us more time.  We would really have to rush through our connection at JFK at this point, we thought.

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AA107 leaving before us
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Climbing out of Heathrow

Meal Service

American Airlines business class menu:

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Menu cover
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Welcome message
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Starter & Entrees
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Dessert, Snacks, and Light Meal
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Beverages
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Wine List
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Departure snack

The first meal service started about 40 minutes after takeoff.  The starter consisted of a herbed chicken dish with tzatziki  sauce and red onion relish, as well as a mixed green salad with tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  I thought it was a great starting dish with a variety of nice flavors that was really appetizing.

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Herbed chicken starter with tzatziki sauce

I decided to try the Norwegian Salmon served with red Thai curry sauce for the entree.  It was pretty good.

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Norwegian Salmon with red Thai curry sauce

For dessert, I had the chocolate hazelnut truffle.  I had initially intended to order the traditional ice cream sundae (because it sounded amazing from the menu), but through some miscommunication I ended up getting the truffle.  Don’t get me wrong, it was really tasty, but after seeing the ice cream sundae which Peterson got, I immediately regret not getting one myself.

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Milk chocolate hazelnut truffle
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Traditional ice cream sundae dessert

Following the meal service, I browsed the in-flight entertainment to check out what was available.  The selection was pretty decent.  I ended up watching the movie “London Has Fallen” with Gerald Butler and Morgan Freeman.  After that, I was feeling drowsy so I shut my eyes for a while.


Seat

The business class seating on American offers a good amount of privacy and was very comfortable.  The seats were spacious, with adequate storage space for your personal belongings.  In particular, the rear-facing seats had two side tables, as opposed to just one on the front-facing seats.  The rear facing seats are angled in a position so that you get a beautiful view of the engine and wing throughout the flight, without having to lean forward awkwardly.  This is perfect for those who love to look out the window and enjoy the views!

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Cruising altitude

The seat features a video screen that swings out after pressing a latch on the side of the seat.

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American Airlines business class footrest

Above the side table is a reading light, a touchscreen device that controls the TV, and a more traditional controller that does the same.

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TV controller and remote

There are just two buttons to move the seat between upright and bed configuration, so you can’t adjust the pitch and footrest individually.

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American Airlines business seat controls

You also don’t have to worry about running out of juice on your electronics, as there are two power outlets and two usb ports for your charging pleasure.  A set of noise cancelling Bose headphones is provided for your listening pleasure.

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American Airlines seat storage shelf and headphones

A minor gripe that I noticed was the footrest, which felt a bit small.  I would have preferred if the footrest extended out a bit more.  I found that I had trouble resting my feet on the footrest unless I extended out my seat quite a bit.  It would probably be a bit better for taller people.

The configuration of the seats causes another issue.  Some seats are physically connected to each other, as in the case of Peterson’s seat 4A and 5A behind him.  Therefore, every time the person behind you adjusted his seat, you could feel the vibrations.  This could be bothersome, especially if you are trying to get some rest or if you are a light sleeper.


A small meal was served about two hours before arrival into JFK.  I selected the salad with sliced chicken breast option.  It was served alongside a pack of bread sticks and a jar of chocolate pudding.  The meal was alright, nothing spectacular.

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Waldorf salad with sliced chicken breast
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On approach to JFK

By the time we arrived at the gate in JFK and started to deplane, it was almost 8pm, meaning we had less than the ideal 2 hours to make our transfer.  A lady handed us an “Express Connection” package as we were getting off the plane, which was supposed to get us through security faster.  It ended up to be a pretty useless piece of paper.  We eventually did make our flight back to Vancouver with some time to spare, which we were very thankful for, but the transit experience through JFK is something I would never want to do again.


Service

The service throughout the flight was pretty consistent.  I received a good balance of attention and privacy.  The flight attendants were a bit “cooler” and more down to earth than the ones you’d expect from the Gulf or Asian carriers.  However, the crew was overall pretty friendly and genuine, so I didn’t have any problems with this.  It was great that they let us exchange our amenity kits colors!

IN SUMMARY:

American Airlines business class definitely exceeded my expectations for a North American airline.  I actually prefer the clean and modern interior style of the American Airlines cabin over the more blingy Emirates cabin.  I came in not knowing if I’d enjoy the rear-facing seat, but I ended up really enjoying it.  You can’t beat the views you get with this seat!  The food or the service didn’t WOW me, but I couldn’t really complain about anything.  Overall it was an enjoyable 8 hours on this flight.  I would definitely fly with American again given the right opportunity.

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