Review: American Airlines new business class in the 777-300ER

It’s definitely too early to stand up this morning. At 4:45 A.M. my alarm goes off in the Grand Hyatt Berlin, but whatever. If you want to make an appoint at 3 o’clock in New York possible, you have to get up early. I arrive at the airport, as so often, by Blacklane, a limo service that always excites me. The driver awaits me 15 minutes before set time, sends me a text message, takes my luggage with a smile and puts it in the black Mercedes E-Class.

Airport, check-in and lounge

At around 5:50 A.M., which is one hour before departure, I arrive in Tegel, give in my luggage, get through business /first class counter fast and sit in my “living room”, the British Airways Lounge in TXL, for breakfast 10 minutes later.
At 6:30 I go to the gate. A05 usually means waiting in line so I go to gate A04, where you can get through behind. Personnel at the security counter greats me with “looks like it’s packed back there, huh? But stay here with us.” So this is done within minutes. We board on time, Fastlane is available in TXL at British Airways, too, but we wait for another 15 minutes at the gate.

AA Business03Meanwhile beverages and hot towels are placed in the cabin and because the first row is empty (why?) I move to 1A. If you got the choice, move to the left side, seats A and C, because the seat is broader than on the other side. Let’s go to London.
Breakfast is warm today and meanwhile they have a selection for breakfast. We arrive on time in London, thanks to a short flight time.AA Business01
London, T5 –> T3 and lounges

AA Business04Transfer in London preceded from T5, where we arrived, to terminal T3, because American Airlines doesn’t start from T5 like other BA aircrafts. But all this is totally uncomplicated: you get in the bus and drive to T3. The obligatory security control doesn’t take much time, at least if you have read my post about tips for less-fliers. Some things are so easy yet so difficult. A nice girl in front of me tried to hide away a coke can, but got caught and so she had some trouble at the counter. Well…
With a Oneworl Emerald Status and a BA / AA business class ticket the choice of lounges in T3 is huge. American Airlines runs an Admirals Club (access only with Emerald Status or first class ticket).

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Also British Airways runs two lounges, which of course can be used as AA guest. Me personally, I like the Cathay First Class Lounge in T3 and move there after making these pictures.

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And this is what Cathay business class lounge looks like.

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If you like to take a shower I recommend British Airways lounges and all those having Emerald OW status, preferably first class lounges. When in October Qatar will join OneWorld Alliance, this will work, too.

Airplane and cabin

After American Airlines has declared the new design, opinions were divided. I too miss the classic and known silver and I liked it. But looking at it closer, the new Livery seems modern, fresh and appealing and communicates a new era, which is introduced by the fusion with US Airways.

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The new cabin mirrors this. The 777-300ER is equipped with 8 seats in first class (review follows in a few weeks) and two more cabins in business class, followed by economy.

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In the first business class cabin, immediately behind the first and in the rows 3 and 4, it’s extremely quiet. The 8 seats (1-2-1 order) create a very private atmosphere, like at Swiss business class.
From row 5 on follows the “big cabin” in business class. The whole plane seems fresh and modern, to which the lightning contributes. The material looks high-class and so I had a pleasant flight to New York, which took 6 hours and 20 minutes.

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In front of row 5 you find the board bar. American Airlines offers lots of snacks, sweets, cheese and such. I don’t know who’s supposed to eat all this, but it was tasty. You can just get up and grab some, or let them bring it to you. But it’s worth a walk.

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The seat

As already written, business class is ordered in a 1-2-1- constellation and offers the right seat for not only collective travelers, but also lone ones. All seats have direct access to the corridor. I like this a lot. I can enjoy silence, the view and have a seat at the corridor at the same time.

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I don’t only like the seat color-wise, but also functionally. Whether sitting, relaxing, working, eating or sleeping, it ensures comfortable travelling.
The justification options are versatile and offer fixed positions for takeoff and sleep. The table, which is something I really like, can be extracted in a big and a small variance and you can pull it away so you can get up. Quite comfortable.

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When skewing the seat you can create yourself more privacy and still face the cabin, not sitting like in a “cage”. On the left side of my seat I find a big shelf in front of the window, plus a little cabinet with integrated mirror. Here you can perfectly store small stuff you could need during the flight. Additionally there is a shelf directly under the table, aside the window. It offers additional stowage for notebook, magazines and such.

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If you need power for your PC, cell or camera, you get it from an international socket right in the seat. It fits to American as well as European plugs. Furthermore there is a USB socket for smartphones and co.

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Inflight entertainment and WiFi

Even though I don’t really use inflight entertainment, people who read this blog frequently know that, I take a glimpse at the choice of movies. It’s controlled via remote or touch screen. You can also connect your apple ware and enjoy your content (the iPhone 5 doesn’t work).

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Also the flight map, for me a nice and important function, is nicely designed and provides the needed information during the flight, so you always know where you are and can share it via WiFi.

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The new machines of the type 777-300ER are equipped with a hotspot and offer internet during the whole flight. Until May 8th it’s free of charge. Afterwards you can book different packages, starting at one hour for 12 to 19 US$ for the whole flight. After reaching flight height WiFi can be used. The broadband is acceptable and suitable for E-Mail, social network stuff or uploading pictures or short FaceTime, while calling is generally not appreciated.
Most games must not be played alone, but come with multiplayer mode to play with others in the cabin. So there shouldn’t be any boredom coming up during a flight.
The amenity kit
Already at arrival in the plane the amenity kit was waiting for me in a shelf. It’s a small, black pocket with tooth brush, socks, eye mask and tissue, pen and ear plugs.

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Cosmetics consist of face cream, body lotion and lip care from Akhassa Retreat. You also get slippers, which is not common in business class (except AirBerlin). Black and simple, they fulfill their purpose.

The food

After having a drink before departure (water, orange juice, Champaign) we immediately got the menu. For departure they served delicious salmon with caper and fresh salad with different dressings (today Greek or oil and vinegar). The Greek dressing, which I took, was very tasty. Additionally we got a choice of bread as much as you like.

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As main course you can choose between four dishes, which can be seen quite well on the picture of the menu. My choice fell on beef with potatoes, beans and vegetables. Meat was medium, glancing pink and as delicious as can be seen on the pictures.

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For dessert I had the choice between a cheese plate or Sundae ice cream, which is common at most American Airlines, and therefore my choice was easy. So it was Sundae with berries – and getting another one later on was no problem.

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The second service was offered about 1,5 hours before landing. Again I had the choice between two dishes. Both were a fresh salad, then a pizza or chicken breast and lemon cake as dessert.

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Concerning the alcoholic beverages you find pictures of the menu, because I still don’t drink. They also offered Champaign (Gosset Brut Excellence), two white and red wines and two dessert wines. Liquors were the typical selection, as to be seen on the picture.

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The service

I am still thrilled by the kind and friendliness of the service. The amount of ladies and gentlemen who took care is an outstanding example for good service and a comfortable journey. Even if I made other experiences at AA, in which service had been quite mediocre, this is a serious alternative for further journeys. From Germany, AA flies from Dusseldorf to Chicago from where you can continue.
All together I have to say: well done American Airlines and a big up to all and especially the Twitter service, with which I had a lot of fun “chatting”.