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.
However, this isn’t a trip report about our uneventful days and nights, but instead 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 777-300ER offers four classes of service. My partner and I were in the mini cabin between first class and the main boarding door. We love this mini cabin for lack of noise and it feels more intimate. On today’s flight there were 4 of 8 seats full in the cabin. Overall, only 10 passengers in all of business class. An American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER offers 52 business class seats. So overall tonight’s flight was very light.
Inflight Service Changes
Like all airlines, American Airlines has modified their onboard service to reduce contact and be more covid-conscious. Business class and First class still offers the soft product offers of blankets, pillows, headphones and amenity kits. However there’s no glasses, instead food is served in plastic cups. College party anyone? Oh wait, they aren’t red. 😀
There is still the welcome bubbly. Now served in a plastic cup. Then during flight the warm nuts have been replaced by pre-packaged nuts.
Then during flight, all beverages are served in single use plastic cups. It has a cheap feeling, but it’s not terrible. 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.
Other changes include meals being served at once. Although 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.
In the morning, service was the similar to dinner. About 90 minutes before landing, breakfast was served. Everything on a single plate and covered in tin foil or wrapped in plastic. There’s no bonus points for presentation. But hey, at least the food and drinks are basically back to pre-covid levels.
American Airlines Business Class Covid 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. Their hard product remains great with all aisle access and lay flat seats. American Airlines soft product is actually pretty good given that we’re in a pandemic. On my flight, the crew members were extremely friendly. Happy to pour a drink, provide seconds etc. They were attentive and interactive. It likely helped that there were few passengers. It was amazing to fly with a crew that was happy to work. Crews 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. Lets hope this pandemic passes, so travel can fully return.