For whatever reason, there appears to be a dearth of trip reports on the internet covering Eastbound transatlantic flights on American’s’ new(ish) 777-300ER product. I flew on AA 50 from DFW to London Heathrow in late December, 2016 and was excited to try the Business class product for the first time.
Unfortunately, check-in was a bit of a disaster. There is not a dedicated check-in counter for passengers traveling in International First or Business class in Terminal D, and instead, everyone is expected to use the Priority counters which serves Gold, Platinum, ExPlat and all Oneworld elite tiers, in addition to Premium customers. Sadly, this is a surefire way for everyone to get stuck in the queues.
To make matters worse, there were 3 out of 5 functional kiosks in the area, and most people who were standing in the priority lane were in need of extra assistance due to INF laps, misspelled names on Boarding passes, etc. I could not check-in because I had to show proof of return journey on my docs. This required calling the return carrier I was flying (Emirates) in order to put my record locator into the Global Distribution System. This was cumbersome and required several rounds of calling between the check-in staff and Emirates’ call centres. In total, the end-to-end experience took about 55 minutes, which was disappointing. I was glad, however, that I had shown up to the airport early.
Admirals Lounge – Pre Flight
Thankfully, the security process was very easy thanks to TSA precheck, and I was able to also get a quick visit to the Admirals Lounge. I used my “one complimentary premium drink” voucher to get a glass of Prosecco. I also took advantage of the made-to-order guacamole station to get a quick snack before I boarded.
Literally as I sat down, it was already time to board, so I made my way down to D25, fortunately close to the AL.
Group 3 was already boarding by the time I arrived at the gate. I selected 6J and was very impressed by the level of privacy that the Business class seat on the 77W offers.
At the seat were the standard amenities including a blanket with duvet, amenity kit, menu, Bose headphones and water bottle. I had boarded relatively early, and room to explore. I did spend some time familiarizing myself with the seat. The in-seat controls are fairly standard but easily accessible, however the headphone jack was located within the compartment that hosts the headphones, mirror and water bottle. I thought that was interesting.
Within 15 minutes of boarding, FAs came by with the standard champagne, water and orange juice offerings. Combining it all into two glasses made for two mimosas 🙂
They also came around with newspaper offerings prior to push-back, including the Dallas Morning News, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
The amenity kit was a standard Cole Haan bag. It contained socks, eyeshade (with a leopard print no less!) toothbrush, ear plugs, headphone covers, a pen and a towel.
The menu today was designed by Chef Manet Chauhan of the Chauhan Ale and Masala House of Nashville, TN.
Today’s meal would feature a 4-course dinner starting with an appetizer, a salad, main and cheese and dessert. We’d also receive a hot breakfast shortly before landing.
At cruising altitude, we received a warm mixed nuts as well as a first round of beverages.
Take-Off and Meal Service
After push-back, we waited quite a bit for our take-off slot, although being on such a comfortable and large plane, I didn’t mind the extra wait. We climbed smoothly out of Dallas/Ft. Worth and I started to work a bit while I watched some TV. WiFi was available for the full duration of the flight for $19, and worked relatively well. I knew I wouldn’t sleep much on this leg, so I figured I might as well be productive.
The first drinks service came promptly once we were cruising, and shortly thereafter, the starter and salad were served, along with a selection of warm bread. The starter featured a Quinoa Mango Pepper Timbale with wasabi mayonnaise, pickled ginger and cilantro, while the salad was a, “super grain salad” with blood oranges, radish, pumpkin seeds, popped quinoa and grapes.
The timbale was a bit underwhelming and slightly bland, whereas the salad was surprisingly delightful. It was a nice mixture of sweet and savory, and a really refreshing departure from the traditional mixed greens or balsamic affair.
For the main course, I had pre-selected the Korean Braised Short Ribs, which was served with brown basmati rice, kimchi pickled red cabbage, bok choy and a spicy marmalade.
The beef was phenomenal. By far, this was one of the best in-flight dishes I’ve ever had on American. The meat was cooked almost perfectly, with a tender, succulent finish. The bok choy was just the right amount of crisp, and the kimchi cabbage paired perfectly with the brown rice. I was super impressed! Kudos to American for hiring Chef Chauhan.
After dinner, the FAs came around with after dinner drinks. I had been drinking Glenlivet throughout the meal, but then after dinner, I decided to have a cup of tea to detox then have an amaretto.
For dessert, I selected the Raspberry tart. Oddly, it wasn’t on the menu, but I decided to give it a try and was glad that I did! It had a nice, rhubarb taste to it, and certainly allowed me to feel less full than the traditional ice cream sundae.
Overall, a truly solid dining affair on American Airlines tonight! I was a bit apprehensive, after my experience flying them on a previous trip from Paris to Philadelphia, but I was very satisfied with the end result.
As I mentioned earlier, I paid $19 for the full in-flight WiFi, which was valuable in terms of allowing me to be productive during the flight.
The entertainment system on AA is fantastic with plenty of options. I worked while simultaneously watching Jerry Maguire on TV.
The FAs set up a self-service snack area in the galley between First and Business Class. They were practically begging people to take items, saying that hardly anyone eats what is put out for stock. I was impressed by the selections on offer: it included small dessert nibbles, fruit and yogurt, veggie and ranch dip, marinated olives and cheese antipasto, as well as a variety of chips, popcorn and cookies.
Roughly 2.5 hours remaining in-flight, my body gave up and I went in for the sleep, but it was remiss with only one hour before I was awoken for the breakfast service.
The Breakfast menu included the option of a Three-Cheese and Poblano Pepper Omelette or a Fresh Fruit Bowl with Granola and Greek Yogurt. I went with the former and was pleasantly surprised by how yummy it was. They served it with the usual hot and cold beverages as well as a selection of warm baked goods (raisin roll, cinnamon roll or buttermilk biscuit).
Interestingly, roughly 45 mins prior to landing, the crew made an announcement for all of the Bose headsets to be collected to do an inventory count, as this was considered part of duty free? I thought that was interesting and never had heard of before, but hey, what do I know?
Fast track and immigration cards were distributed prior to initial descent. We had a gorgeous view of the sun on the right side of the aircraft as we began our descent into Heathrow. I suggest thumbing through the slideshow to get a second-hand glimpse into the view we had 🙂
After disembarking, the walk to the immigrations and flight connections center, per usual, was rather long. Such is the life at Terminal 3 at Heathrow. The facilities are definitely showing their age, but it still retains an aura of charm, albeit stressful charm, aided by the plethora of foreign carriers and eclectic people passing through.
The Fast Track lane only marginally saves time during the morning arrivals bank into Heathrow, given that virtually all of the American, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and Middle Eastern flights arrive into T3 during that period. Even with fast track, moving through took a good 30 minutes, even though my immigration took only about 30 seconds.
After clearing, I headed towards the exit and searched for the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow, which I will cover in a separate post.
American Airlines 77W Business Class: Bottom Line
I have to say that my expectations were exceeded greatly on this flight. Having had a mediocre experience on the previous American Airlines transatlantic business class sector that I had flown, I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements in catering and soft products.
I also really enjoyed the crew serving my flight. Gina and Lisa were my two attendants this evening, and they provided very friendly and efficient service with a smile. Sometimes, the simplest touches delivered with just the right amount of warmth help everything feel smooth and effective. I was sure to let AA know by sending them a compliment letter.
I highly recommend American’s Business Class product on the 77W. I will say it is a bit of a loss flying it on Eastbound transatlantic routes that generally do not afford much sleep time within an American’s body clock, but so is life.