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After a number of Economy Class flights across the Atlantic it was nice to have one of my systemwide awards clear – that’s how I found myself in the American Airlines 777-300ER Business Class cabin.
As is almost the norm for American Airlines I couldn’t confirm the upgrade at the time of booking (those were the halcyon days!) but I was delighted when it cleared on the morning of my departure – anything that means I avoid the tortuous wait in the lounge wondering if I’ll be flying in comfortable or cramped conditions is always welcome news.
The American Airlines 777-300ER cabin is set out across 13 rows with seats set out in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone formation.
All seats have direct access to the aisle and the front two rows form a very private mini-cabin.
American Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Cabin
My go-to seats on this aircraft are usually 3J and 3A as I love the privacy the mini-cabin offers and the lack of traffic going past these seats means they’re among the more peaceful seats on the aircraft…but I wasn’t in either of those seats on this flight.
With my upgrade clearing as late as it did I had a limited number of seats to choose from so I ended up with a centre seat in row 12.
The Business Class seats on the American Airlines 777-300ER are very similar to those you’ll find in Cathay Pacific Business Class and in Air France’s 777 Business Class and, until Delta announced it would fly its Delta One Suites to Amsterdam, they were the best Business Class seats available across the Atlantic.
The seats are comfortable both as a chair and as a bed and the ottoman ahead of the chair offers ample room for a passenger’s feet (unlike ottomans you’ll find in a number of other Business Class cabins).
The seats offer a good amount of personal storage space too.
There’s a magazine rack at floor level just ahead of the seat….
….and shoe storage compartment built into the seat itself (also at floor level)…
…and there more storage space (at ankle level) in the divider between the seats:
Also between the seats, at chest height, is a small cubicle which houses the Bose headsets which American Airlines provides for the flight:
Once you remove the Bose headset it’s surprising how much these small cubicles can store – they may not be big enough for a laptop but they can hold small tablets/kindles and most other small items you may wish to have access to during the flight.
The controls to everything you’re likely to use on the flight are conveniently located at shoulder height by the storage cubicle.
Here’ you’ll find the seat controls…
…a universal power outlet and audio inputs….
…a reading light and the remote control for the in-flight entertainment:
Here’s a view of the seat across the aisle from me which should give you a good overall idea of what a Business Class seat looks like on an American Airlines 777-300ER:
One of the things I appreciated most on this flight was the fact that most seats get a whole overhead bin to themselves in the American Airlines 777 Business Class cabin. After struggling for storage space on my recent Economy Class transatlantic flights it was nice to have more room than I actually needed.
I deliberately added a caveat in the paragraph above because things aren’t quite so rosy if you’re seated in 13A (and possibly 13J – I didn’t see). The overhead bin above 13A seat is filled with what appears to be a row of oxygen/air cylinders so there’s absolutely no storage space at all:
This is worth remembering when choosing seats if you’re traveling with a lot of hand baggage.
The last thing to note is that there’s no moveable partition between the centre Business Class seats on the American Airlines 777-300ER but the seats are neither great for couples nor are they great if you don’t know the person seated next to you.
The center section housing the storage cubicle means that you have to lean forward in your seat if you wish to talk to the person in the seat next to you (not ideal) but it also doesn’t jut out so much that you feel cocooned off if you’re looking for privacy.
The window seats are definitely my preferred option in this cabin.
American Airlines Business Class Food & Drink
The cabin crew came around with menus shortly after I boarded….
…and food orders was taken before we pushed back.
The food orders were taken starting at the front of the cabin (row 3) and the fish option was no longer available by the time the crew reached me in row 12 – not an issue as I wanted the chicken anyway.
One disadvantage of having my upgrade clear once I was within 24 hours of departure is that I couldn’t pre-order my meal and guarantee that I would get something I wanted – in this case it didn’t really matter but it’s good to remember that you can reserve the meal of your choice up to 24 hours before you’re due to depart if you’re already confirmed in the Business Class cabin.
While ordering food I was asked if I wanted to be woken for breakfast…to which the answer was “yes” as I wanted to review it.
The crew offered water, orange juice or champagne as pre-departure beverages….
…and, although it wasn’t as nice as what was on offer in the Flagship Lounge, the champagne was fine.
15 minutes after we took off the flight attendants came around with table cloths
27 minutes after take-off hot nuts and drinks were served:
50 minutes after take-off the first course was served – “poached shrimp rémoulade” with arugula, lemon wedge & New Orleans rémoulade sauce
The rémoulade sauce which covered the shrimp was spicy and ok… but it was spicy for the sake of being spicy with no real taste or finesse to it.
Airlines like to serve spicy food onboard as it’s easier to taste spices at altitude and I normally enjoy the spicier items on the menu because of this…but this dish was very dull.
The salad of “baby spinach and arugula” was fine….
…although I confess to believing that whoever started the trend of putting arugula into salads is an enemy of good food and should be given a life-term of eating arugula with no leave to appeal!
The flight attendants brought around a bread basket (which I declined) before serving my main course – “Buffalo skillet chicken” with jalapeño cheddar corn cakes, Gorgonzola, golden beet and carrot slaw:
The chicken was fine but the hot sauce was, again, hot for the sake of being hot – it added absolutely nothing to the dish.
Joanna, who was also on this flight with me and much further ahead in the cabin, had ordered the “herb-crusted snapper” which she later described as being “grey and very dry”.
Unusually for me I ordered a glass of wine with my main meal (I wanted to see what it was like) and, although it was served too cold, the Merlot was nice once it warmed up.
Once the remnants of my main course had been taken away dessert and tea/coffee were served from a cart.
I chose the “raspberry tart” with almond cream custard glazed raspberries and butter crust:
It looked ok, the texture wasn’t bad but it tasted very fake – it’s what I expect raspberry tart tastes like if bought from the freezer section at Wal-Mart.
The flight attendants were good at not leaving passengers waiting to have their plates cleared so dinner service took a little over 1 hour and 15 minutes in total.
I was woken for breakfast approximately 1 hour 45 minutes before landing and the meal was served ten minutes later.
I chose the “fresh fruit bowl” with granola and Greek yoghurt over the “traditional American breakfast” because history told me that the eggs in the traditional breakfast would be terrible.
I also selected a cinnamon roll from the bread basket which was brought around.
To top things off I ordered coffee to go with my meal.
Overall the meal was fine if unspectacular but the coffee was pretty bad. Actually, it was worse than pretty bad. It was one of the worst cups of coffee I’ve ever had in the air.
I’ve no idea how coffee can be made that badly without some sort of extra effort being made but it was undrinkable swill.
Overall the food and drink were very poor on this flight. I’ve had some reasonable meals in American Airlines Business Class in the past but this was not one of those occasions.
American keeps telling us that its investing in its onboard offering but, based on this flight, I have no idea where the money is being spent.
American Airlines Business Class Amenities & IFE
There was a blanket and a pillow bundled up on my seat when I boarded….
…and a closer look revealed the bedding to be by Casper.
Possibly not as good as the Westin Heavenly bedding you’ll find in Delta’s international Business Class cabins but still quite a good brand to have onboard.
Both were more than adequate when I tried them out when it came time to try to get some sleep.
An amenity kit was also waiting for me in one of the storage compartments by the seat but, as I forgot to take photos of the one offered, you’ll have to make do with these images of the contents which are from a different flight:
Lastly there was a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones placed in the storage cubicle between the seats:
The inflight entertainment selection on American Airlines has been good for some time and finding something worth watching isn’t usually and issue.
The airline offers an ample selection of movies…
& music & games…and the noise cancelling headphones are a blessing when others around you don’t know how to behave.
I only have two gripes American’s entertainment/amenities:
- The crew always come around to collect the Bose headsets at least an hour before landing and that’s just too early. Other airlines manage not to collect their headsets until after arrival so I’m not sure what makes American special.
- All the shows I watched had annoying Booking.com or BusinessExtra commercials playing before every episode and there was no way of fast forwarding them – this gets very tedious very fast.
I realise that airlines are trying to eek out profits from every single possible part of the flying experience but do we really have to be subjected to the same mind-numbing commercials over and over again?
American Airlines Business Class Service
The crew working my aisle were great – very friendly and super-helpful to passengers asking for help.
Interacting with them was pleasant and even fun. If we could clone these flight attendants and distribute them throughout the American Airlines network we’d all have considerably better onboard experiences.
As it is, the truth about American Airlines cabin crews is that they’re very hit and miss. You’re as likely to encounter flight attendants who should be nowhere near a customer facing role as you are to encounter the gems that I had on my flight.
The sooner American finds a way to weed out the deadwood and introduce a proper meritocracy the better.
One annoyance was how long it took the crew on the flight deck to turn off the seat-belt signs. There was no sign of turbulence and it wasn’t until 56 minutes after take-off that the sign was finally extinguished.
I’m sure someone will comment that I have no idea what the crew were seeing on their instruments (true) and that there may have been a specific reason why the signs remained illuminated for so long (possibly true) but the fact is that, in my experience, American Airlines crews seem to leave the seatbelt signs on a lot longer than most other airline crews (with no evidence for why the signs are left illuminated) and it’s starting to get annoying.
Has anyone else noticed this?
- The food was generally pretty bad. I know that how you end up in Business Class (whether you pay or are upgraded) shouldn’t matter but had I paid thousands of dollars for this Business Class experience I would have been seriously annoyed by the quality of the food.
- The repetitive commercials before each and every episode of a TV show are unnecessarily irritating.
- The centre seats in the Business Class cabin are not ideal for couples nor are they ideal for those traveling solo so they’re neither one thing nor the other – that’s poor design.
- The seats are very comfortable and, when turned into a bed, should offer enough room for most sizes of passenger. I particularly like the fact that there’s even enough room for those who like to sleep on their fronts.
- The amount of storage space around the seat is impressive and there’s no shortage of spaces to store thing that you can then easily access during the flight.
- The IFE selection is good. I never rely on an airline to keep me entertained but I still often find myself perusing American’s onboard offering.
- The flight attendants I encountered on this flight were great and a credit to the airline – I really wish we had more exactly the same.
American Airline’s 777-300ER Business Class may no longer offer the best seat across the Atlantic but it still offers a very hard product indeed.
Having said that, American Airlines still suffers from the age-old issue where, excluding the flight attendants on this flight (who were very nice), the hard product is great but the soft product lacks SO much.
A Business Class experience is primarily a combination of the seat, the food/drink and the service and in American Airlines international Business Class only one of those is consistently good.
The seat is great but the food ranges from “not bad at all” to “this is inedible” and the flight attendants range from “if only I could always fly with this crew” to “how do this lot still have jobs?”
While this remains the case there’s really only one way to sum up American Airlines international Business Class – expect a very good seat and well stocked IFE but if anything else turns out to be good/great consider it a very nice bonus.