After my fantastic ANA First Class flight from Tokyo, I finished up with something more plain vanilla. American runs one flight daily between Dallas and Los Angeles in an internationally-configured 787-9; I’ve reviewed Business and Premium Economy on that plane, but not the coach cabin. The flight provided an excellently timed connection, so I booked a seat in Main Cabin Extra. I redeemed 10,000 British Airways Avios for a standard Main Cabin seat, then paid $73 for MCE.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my long weekend to Japan in July. Click here for the introduction and trip report index.
American Airlines (AA) Flight 2543
- Tuesday, July 16, 2019
- Depart: Los Angeles International (LAX), Terminal 4, Gate 48B, 13:35, 1m early
- Arrive: DFW International Airport (DFW), Terminal A, Gate A21, 18:41, 2m early
- Duration: 3 hours 6 minutes
- Seat: 14J
- Equipment: Boeing 787-9
Check-In and Boarding
Given that my flight occurred during American’s summer of discontent, I nervously watched the flight status for delays. Thankfully, boarding began on time and we pushed back without incident. I mention boarding, though, to vent about something that happened to me. I originally booked seat 13L, a window one row ahead. When I get to row 13, though, I find all 3 seats occupied. Turns out a family had the aisle and middle in 13 (mom and child) and the aisle in 14 (dad). The dad in 14J decided to park his young child in the window. Mom: “Oh, I’m sorry, we got these seats assigned at the last minute, is it OK if you take the aisle right behind you”?
No, not really, but I’m not about to be that guy who takes a window from a kid. So I gave mom the stink eye roll and took 14J. And so time for a public service announcement. Folks, just don’t reseat yourself without at least asking first. It makes you a jerk. And I really think I need to just start saying no…
American B789 Main Cabin Extra – Seating/Interior/Entertainment
On the 787-9, Main Cabin Extra consists of 3 rows (12-14) in a 3-3-3 configuration, plus the Row 24 exit row, for a total of 36 seats. And of course, window seat passengers enjoy the dimmable, oversized windows. (Note: the second photo is Row 15 in regular coach; however, the seats are identical to Main Cabin Extra, except for seat pitch.)
MCE provides a fairly generous 35″ of seat pitch, which provides good legroom. However, the seat width of 17.2″ makes for a tight fit, even for me.
Leg and thigh support seemed decent; even with the slimline seats, I felt no soreness after a 3-hour flight. However, that tight width is really going to be an issue on the long-haul flights American usually use these planes for.
The Dreamliner’s interior is certainly nice, especially with the blue ceiling mood lighting. And as you can see, the extra pitch actually makes it possible to comfortably use a laptop.
And of course, the Dreamliner is one quiet bird, and the lower cabin altitude helps. I’ve mentioned before, I have issues with my ears when flying, and the 787 is the one plane where descent doesn’t tear them up.
American also reserves overhead space for Main Cabin Extra customers. as on other aircraft. As for how strictly the FAs enforce this, well, I can’t say.
As for entertainment, American offers seatback TVs on the 789, though you can also stream to your own device. It’s the same selection you receive in Main Cabin on other American flights. The resolution is quite good on these screens. There’s also a 110v power port on the lower right hand side of the screen. (Notice the blooper on the screen. It’s most definitely not 2,399 miles from Los Angeles to Dallas.)
In addition, you’ll find a USB port just below the screen.
If I had one complaint about the system, it’s the small controller. I found the directional pad especially difficult to modulate, resulting in the cursor jumping all over the screen.
Food, Beverage, and Service
Main Cabin Extra customers receive the same meal service as Main Cabin, with one exception. Those paying for MCE also receive complimentary alcoholic beverages. On this flight, Main Cabin beverage service began about half an hour after takeoff; MCE gets served first since it’s at the front of the cabin. Besides beverages and Biscoff, you can also order off of the buy-on-board menu, featuring Zoës Kitchen products. I didn’t order anything on this flight, but options include items like this turkey wrap.
Now, free alcohol sounds great, but don’t get overly excited. A 3-hour flight like this one typically includes one drink pass. So, that’s about all you should expect, unless you fancy ringing the call button for refills.
As for service, there’s not much to say. The Main Cabin flight attendants made one drink run and came through for trash a couple of times, but that was about it. They were friendly enough, but in typical fashion, not terribly proactive.
As for flightseeing, no window seat meant no flightseeing this time. But I did grab this cool shot of a 737 in retro TWA livery upon landing at DFW.
American B789 Main Cabin Extra – Final Thoughts
The American B789 Main Cabin Extra product is a mixed bag. As far as domestic flights go, I received an on-time flight, satisfactory service, and a reasonably comfortable seat. That’s about all you can ask for on a domestic hop these days. But it does seem like Main Cabin Extra pricing is a bit out of whack these days. I paid $73 for this seat, and often see prices approaching $90 between DFW and both Los Angeles and New York. Though westbound flights usually come in cheaper ($40-50), that often puts your all-in fare north of $450. That’s a lot for a regular coach seat.
But the more important question – how about long-haul international flights? The extra 4 inches of pitch certainly helps; however, I feel like the narrow seats aren’t going to be terribly comfortable. KLM’s Economy Comfort seats on the 789 measure 17.5″ wide, and even those made it difficult for sleeping. Honestly, as much as American charges for MCE – window seats run $129 from Dallas to Seoul – I’d just as soon go for Premium Economy.