Good Advice Tried and Tested

American Airlines B777-300ER business class

24/04/2013

BACKGROUND American Airlines’ new three-class B777-300ER features new seats in all cabins, including the carrier’s first fully-flat business product. The carrier has received three B777s so far and 17 more are due to be delivered over the next few years. AA will also begin retrofitting its B767s and B777-200s with the new product from next January. This was the inaugural UK flight for the aircraft, which is now deployed on one of AA’s three daily services from London to Dallas/Fort Worth. The plane will also be rostered on a daily JFK flight from May 10 and will begin operating from London to Los Angeles on June 13.

CHECK-IN I arrived at Heathrow T3 at 1100 for the 1325 flight and headed to AA’s premium check-in area in Zone H, where there was no queue. Fast-track security was similarly quiet.

THE LOUNGE AA’s Admirals Club lounge offered hot and cold food, a coffee machine, a selection of soft and alcoholic drinks, free wifi, high tables with US and UK plug sockets, PCs and printers, TVs, showers and plenty of sofas.

BOARDING Boarding started at 1250 from Gate 23 via an airbridge. The flight was full but the fast-track boarding queue was reasonably short. On board, a friendly flight attendant took my jacket and offered me champagne, juice or water and a newspaper.

THE SEAT Business class is configured 1-2-1 (A, D-G, J) and is split across two cabins. Seats A and J are angled towards the window, while D and G point inwards towards each other in a “V” shape. A walk-up bar serving soft drinks is located in front of row five in the galley. I was in window seat 12A. Upholstered in grey fabric, it was generously proportioned and, when reclined, meets with a padded leather ottoman in front to form a fully-flat bed. The pull-out tray table can be folded in half and was stable for dining and working. To my left was a corner table and a cupboard. An amenity kit with Akhassa products was supplied, and there was also a reading light, UK/US socket, USB port, and a control for the 15.4-inch HD touchscreen entertainment system, which you can connect your smartphone or tablet to. Bose Quiet Comfort 15 headphones were provided, blocking out noise brilliantly. The aircraft is wifi equipped, with access costing US$12 for two hours or US$19 for the entire flight. I tried to connect on the return but it did not work.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Avoid rows five and 15 to escape noise from the galley and washrooms. Although middle seats D and G are in a pair, there is still a good amount of privacy. However, individual travellers may prefer seats A and J. Rows three and four have a more exclusive feel and passengers here disembark first.

THE FLIGHT We pushed back on time and my meal order was taken after 45 minutes, with my starter (tandoori shrimp with curry sauce and lentil salad, which had a lovely smoky flavour) served an hour later. For my main, I had Gorgonzola-crusted beef fillet (a little dry), while other options included tarragon chicken, grilled citrus halibut or wholewheat pasta with mushroom cream sauce. Wines included Gosset Brut Excellence champagne, Villa Solais Vermentino di Sardegna DOC, Fabre Montmayou Malbec Reserva and Château du Seuil Graves. For dessert, I tried AA’s Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sundae, which was a real treat. I didn’t sleep, but reclined the seat fully while watching a film – there were almost 120 to choose from, with some recent releases, as well as 150 TV shows and 350 songs. Two and a half hours before landing, pizza or cold meats were served.

ARRIVAL We landed at Dallas/Fort Worth Terminal D on time at 1750. Immigration was a short walk away and took 30 minutes to clear. I then waited five minutes for my case.

VERDICT By finally offering a fully-flat business class seat, AA has taken a big step forward. The impressive, comfortable product was paired with great service.

Rose Dykins

 

Fact file

  • DEPARTURE TIME 1325
  • FLIGHT TIME 9 hours
  • PLANE TYPE B777-300ER
  • CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
  • SEAT WIDTH 20in/50.8cm upright, 25in/63cm reclined
  • SEAT LENGTH 75in/190.5cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to Dallas in June ranged between £3,219 and £8,233 depending on flexibility.