Flying American Airlines to Brazil form the United States is very different now due to the pandemic. Yet, even with the service changes, I argue that flying international is a real treat. Even with the reduction in service and frequencies, I am enjoying flying. Although options are more limited due to border closure and restrictions, it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to travel.
In March of 2021, most of Brazil went back into lockdown, closing all non-essential business. Yet, since we already had tickets and been vaccinated, we went. This wouldn’t be a vacation, but instead a family visit.
During the day we worked and at night we spent time with my partner’s family. It was great to see the family after more than a year of lockdown and covid.
However, this isn’t a trip report about our uneventful days and nights. Instead this is a review of American Airlines 777-300er Business class from Miami to São Paulo.
The flight left on time and arrived slightly early. The plane was no different than any other American Airline 777-300ER. The flight wasn’t as special as the last TAM First Class flight to São Paulo, instead just a typical American Airlines flight to Brazil.
The American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER offers four classes of service. My partner and I were in the mini business class cabin between first class and the main boarding door. We love this mini cabin for the lack of noise and it feels more intimate. Almost like Business plus. On today’s flight there were 4 of 8 seats in the cabin. Yet the entire plane was empty. Overall, only 10 passengers in all of business class. An American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER offers 52 business class flat bed seats. So overall tonight’s flight was very light.
American Airlines Business Class Inflight Service
Like all airlines, American Airlines has modified their onboard service to reduce contact with flight attendants. This was all done to be more covid-conscious and protect both flyers and employee. Business class and First class still offer the soft product offerings. Each seat has blankets, pillows, noise canceling headphones and amenity kits with lip balm and eye masks.
The real difference right now, there’s no glasses or china. Instead, food is served in plastic cups and food is placed on the tray table still covered. College party anyone? Oh wait, they aren’t red. 😀
Then during flight, all beverages are served in single use plastic cups. It has a cheap feeling, but it’s not terrible. At least there is still service. Some airlines have cut service all around, therefore I am happy to at least have this. The full bar menu is back and there’s several wines and spirits to choose from as well. The international catering game is much better than domestic flights in the United States. Most of the wines retail for around $20. Not great, but not terrible given the times.
I remember on my flight to Hong Kong, I was flying American AIrlines First Class and the wines were so cheap. In first class, every wine was basically undrinkable. Most wines retailed as low at $7. Furthering the argument that American Airlines was killing first class, even before the downturn from the pandemic. The current selection is a significant upgrade from previous flights.
Then during flight, all beverages are served in single use plastic cups. It has a cheap feeling, but it’s not terrible, but not ideal. The full bar menu is back and there’s several wines and spirits to choose from. The international catering game is much better than domestic flights. Most of the wines retail for around $20. Not great, but not terrible given the times. And better than some American Airlines business class flights. Wine and alcohol list plus all menus pictured below.
Other changes include meals being served at once. I find this to actually be more normal on late night departures. Crew want to maximize sleep. So really, this really isn’t much of a change, as the red-eyes to and from Brazil are typically express meal service. The only difference now from memory is that the ice cream sundaes have been replaced by a chocolate cheesecake. I will forever miss the sundaes and do hope they return once the pandemic gets under control. (which they did!)
In the morning, service was similar to dinner. About 90 minutes before landing, breakfast was served. Once again, everything on a single plate and covered in tin foil or wrapped in plastic. There’s no bonus points for the presentation. But hey, at least the food and drinks are basically back to pre-covid levels. Coffee is now served in single use papercups.
American Airlines 777-300er Business Class Thoughts
Overall the flight on American Airlines was great. I never expect an amazing experience when flying American Airlines. After all, they aren’t known for world class service. Doug Parker and US Airways executives have ruined nearly everything that was one good about American Airlines since the merger. American Airlines’ hard product remains great with all aisle access and lay flat reverse herringbone seats. American Airlines’ soft product is actually fairly good given that we’re in a pandemic.
On this international flights, the crew members were extremely friendly. Each cabin crew member was happy to pour a drink, provide seconds etc. They were attentive and interactive. It likely helped that there were so few passengers and they had so little to do. It was amazing to fly with a crew that was happy to work for a change. Flight attendants can make or break a flight, and this crew made it!
I look forward to some better amenities returning. Such as simple things like hand lotion in the bathrooms and the sundae for dessert. I also believe if they can hand me a plastic cup, they can hand me a glass one. However, it’s easier to load and store extra plastic cups. If everything is single use, a full plane would go through a lot of glassware in first and business class.
If you can meet the requirements due to travel restrictions at your destinations, American Airlines’ product is pretty good right now. Just be sure to mask up, wash your hands often, and keep your distance while boarding and disembarking. Let’s hope this pandemic passes, so travel can fully return. At time of writing, the Miami Flagship lounge was closed, but it is now open again!