Why Does American Bother With International First Class?

About two years ago American introduced their first new Boeing 777-300ER. As far as I’m concerned it was the real start to the “new American,” whereby we saw them transforming from an airline that I associated with an almost unlimited fleet of ancient MD-80s, to one that was actually trying to keep up with the times. And all things considered they’ve done a great job with the transformation.

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American 777-300ER at London Heathrow

American’s 777-300ER business class is fantastic

Up until now, all of my travel on American’s 777-300ERs has been in business class. Here are a few reviews I’ve written about the product:

American has reverse herringbone seats in business class on this plane, which is my favorite kind of business class hard product. Beyond that, American has wifi on their 777-300ERs, which to me is one of the most important airplane amenities.

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American business class cabin 777-300ER

While American’s food is decidedly mediocre (though edible) and service is hit or miss, a top notch hard product plus wifi puts them pretty high on my list in terms of quality.

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American business class seat 777-300ER

Is American’s first class better than business class?

Over the weekend I flew American’s first class on the 777-300ER for the first time. I flew roundtrip between London and Miami on a discounted business class ticket, which I upgraded to first class using systemwide upgrades.

American’s investment in first class on the 777-300ER is fascinating. They’re actually eliminating first class entirely throughout their 777-200 fleet, so long term the only international aircraft that will feature first class is the 777-300ER.

American will have a total of 20 of these planes, so they’ll literally have 160 international first class seats in their longhaul fleet. That’s it.

American 777-300ER first class seat

American’s 777-300ERs feature a total of eight first class seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Business class is also in a 1-2-1 configuration, for what it’s worth.

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American first class cabin 777-300ER

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American first class cabin 777-300ER

The thing is, the seats have absolutely no privacy — they’re completely exposed. Like, there’s really not even a partition between the seats and aisle.

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American first class seat 777-300ER

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American first class seat 777-300ER

It’s ironic, because the business class seats actually have more privacy.

The first class seat is also quite narrow. And that’s not to say I can’t comfortably sit in it, but in premium cabins I sometimes like to kind of put one leg under the other and cross it, and the seat isn’t wide enough to do that. In the business class cabin the armrest goes down so there’s plenty of room to do that, while the armrest doesn’t go down in first class. That makes the sleeping area pretty narrow as well.

The technology setup is pretty similar in first and business class as well.

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American first class seat controls 777-300ER

American 777-300ER first class amenities

First class seats come with the same pillow and blanket you get in business class. You do get an extra pillow, and on top of that you also get a thin mattress sheet (I wouldn’t call it a pad).

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American first class amenities

You do also get pajamas, which you don’t get in business class. I actually really like American’s pajamas.

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American first class pajamas

The amenity kit also comes in the form of an iPad case. The contents are the same as in business class, but I suppose the iPad case is unique.

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American first class amenity kit

American 777-300ER first class food

The quality of the food was virtually identical to business class. You get nuts and a drink to start.

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American first class drink and nuts

Then there’s an appetizer, which is somewhat larger than in business class. I wouldn’t exactly call mediocre chicken breast gourmet, though.

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American first class appetizer

Then there’s a soup course.

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American first class soup

And a salad course, much like in business class.

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American first class salad

Then the main course is about the same quality as in business class, except it’s plated a bit better.

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American first class main course

And then dessert is the same as in business class.

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American first class dessert

Then pre-arrival it was the same crap salad they serve in business class. Seriously, does this look like an international first class meal?

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American first class pre-arrival meal

For that matter, does any of this look like an international first class meal?

So the food is truly ever so marginally better than in business class. The quantity is a bit bigger across the board, but I wish they’d instead focus on quality. How about some protein on the salad, or how about a soup that doesn’t look like it came out of a Campbell’s can.

Actual differences between first and business class

Wifi is the same in first and business class.

Entertainment is the same in first and business class.

I actually don’t prefer the first class seat to the business class seat.

So what’s the difference?

Well, first class does have drinkable champagne. American serves Gosset Grande Reserve in first class, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Contrast that to the recycled, concentrated cat piss they serve in business class.

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American first class champagne

In first class you also get a box of Lily O’Brien’s chocolates before landing… yay?

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American first class chocolate

Then in terms of the meal you get a soup course, which you wouldn’t get in business class.

And the pajamas and mattress pad are nice.

Why bother with first class?

So here’s the thing. Maybe this is just a backhanded compliment. American’s new business class is really good, in terms of the hard product and the wifi. The amenities are great as well — I like the pillow, blanket, Bose headphones, etc.

It’s interesting to me that American would keep first class on such a small portion of the fleet when the product isn’t really differentiated.

Then again, I guess it all makes sense. On the flight out there were two “revenue” passengers in first class and then four non-revs, while on the return I was the only “revenue” passenger, and then there were six non-revs. I guess really it’s just non-rev and upgrade class.

I think American is on the right track in eliminating first class on the 777-200. If you have a great business class hard product and aren’t going to invest in the first class soft product, what’s the point?

Bottom line

I’m happy to have finally tried American’s new first class. If I were flying an old 777-200 with the angled business class seats I’d find a ton of value in American’s new first class, but with American’s business class being so good on the 777-300ER, I don’t really see the difference.

Does anyone that has flown American’s new first class on the 777-300ER feel differently? Does anyone actually think the hard product or food is substantially better than in business class?

Comments

  1. I’ve flown the 777-300 in F twice and in J maybe 6 or 8 times.
    I think F is MUCH better. You have so much more personal space. The food is definitely better, and, being a smaller cabin, you generally have better service.

  2. Think you missed the mark on this one.

    I found AA’s F on the 773 to be pretty darn good. Two awesome features: 1) Air nozzles! How airlines can offer F without air nozzles is beyond me, and 2) the ability to swivel the seat 90 degrees to work at what honest to goodness feels like a work desk with the lamp on. I was able to get some real work done.

    As for the bed, I slept very comfortably for 6-7 hours on the flight from DFW-GRU–didn’t find the bed at all too small. (Sure, it’s not CX, but it ain’t AA’s business class bed neitha.)

    All in all, I was quite impressed with AA’s new F, and that’s especially so–not because of–considering we’re dealing with a US-based product.

    Sure, they’re not SQ or LH or EY, and sure, they could have made the seats a bit more private, but I think your review is unduly critical.

    /.02

  3. Regarding the seats: does the business class seat fully recline so that a passenger can actually lie down and sleep? If that information is in the article, I couldn’t find it.

  4. When travelling as a couple in the middle seats, you can swivel to face each other during the meal (or I guess during the rest of the flight too but legroom is super limited). But yeah, that’s pretty much it along with what you said.

  5. @ AJK — Right, but business class has air nozzles as well. As far as the “desk” feature goes, I find that to just be a bit awkward, and am not sure the benefit of that over just using the tray table. Interesting perspective though, thanks!

  6. I will be flying the new C from MIA-GRU in Feb (paid C so I may get upgrade to F) and new F from LAX to LHR in April, I will let you know how I feel after my travel

  7. You are right in your assessment.

    Business class caught up and now the first class fan boys only have air nozzles to point to.

  8. That is the only thing Delta has done right. No First class!!!! They cannot compete with European, ME or Asian airlines so why bother? I flew AA first class JFK-GRU once (upgraded at the gate from my original business class ticket) and I was feeling bad for the folks that actually paid to fly in First. Food was mediocre, beverage options were OK and seat was not that much to brag about it. Thus, for the amount of money they charge and the number of miles you need I would never consider flying AA First.

  9. Hahaha this one of your first posts where I’ve genuinely laughed out loud… “Recycled, concentrated cat piss.” :,)

  10. The food and presentation was much better prior to Hector Adler and USAir’s influence. The amuse bouche was the first course with the soup and salad courses being different than J. The presentation also included the water glass, place mat, and white table cloth. While non of these are ground breaking it was a somewhat differentiated experience that felt much nicer but the entrees were still the exact same. The flight attendants did not care for it and it was one of Hector’s first “upgrades,” streamlined F service.

    F is going to be removed from this plane eventually and honestly I’d be surprised if the -300 is kept for the long term as they have had a really hard time consistently filling it. Bottom line, with the guys running AA now, who previously had a small airline with mediocre J service and have introduced Swanson TV diners with paper placements to domestic F, what do you expect?

  11. The same could be said for United also if you ask me. Granted AA has a better configuration in J at 1-2-1 vs. 2-4-2, but the catering is pretty much identical in Global First and Business First. This is where International carriers do a much better job at differentiating their Business Class and First Class offerings.

  12. Nice review. I think long term it will be Envoy(Business) and then coach with maybe a coach+ section. My wife and I are on the DFW-HKG-DFW route in 2015 so I’ll have a better opinion then as we are booked in F out and business coming back.
    Thanks.

  13. I booked a business class ticket on the flight to HK from DFW and then upgraded to First using systemwide. I had the same reaction you did, as I’ve flown business class on that plane many times (and enjoy it immensely). American does nothing anymore to differentiate their first class on the 777-300. No turndown service, same amenities, entertainment and food as business. And what is up with the iPad case? If you’re flying in first, chances are you already have an iPad case and/or you wouldn’t use what they provide anyway. Flight attendant was terrible (rushed through service so she could head back to the galley and play candy crush on her device). And we overheard her referring to us as “high maintenance”. Sorry mam, but I didn’t get into first class by being low maintenance. I wonder if it is intentional on American’s part b/c they will eventually get rid of it altogether, even on the new planes. Very disappointing.

  14. As a big guy – 6’3″ and 250 lbs – I find the new business class seats on all 3 planes (772, 773, and 321) to be too narrow for my taste, with the privacy partition on the 773 the worst offender of the three. So I like the width of the 1st seat as I have a better chance of sleeping when it goes flat. I would agree with you about the food options being very similar btwn J and first, but I found that in first they at least have everything on the menu and don’t come to you and ask “chicken or beef” like they do in Y or J for that matter. AA J feels to me like Y service with much nicer seats. Since the food and service is marginal in both cabins, if I have to fly AA I would go for first if I could since to me it’s all about the seat.

  15. Looking at Cathay Pacific’s 77G configuration, instead of 2 rows of first and 2 rows of business, they can squeeze 7 rows of business with the same seats.

    I have to wonder – would those extra 12 business class seats generate more revenue than the first class seats? Probably. Or keep the same number of premium seats and add more Y seats. Either should make more sense and I’d expect that to happen once most of the merger situation is settled and they have time to fine tune things. Also – i’d expect the seats to need a lot of leadtime and you can’t just flip a switch and get more.

    F on American made sense when the had an angled flat J. Across the Atlantic, you could fly BA in a narrow flat bed, or you could buy J on American and upgrade to F. The argument was F on AA was better than J on BA (hard product for sure) – and it makes sense. Now, AA J is better than BA J seat wise, so the F upsell isn’t as big of an advantage.

    To South America, they would have the best J product – and Latam is reducing F as well.

    Across the Pacific, AA F doesn’t compare, but the 77W and refurbished 772 J seat is quite competitive.

    My thoughts are 1) Get rid of F, or 2) reduce the size of the F cabin further (perhaps 1 row of 4 seats) and make the F hard product another step above J. Add 2 more rows of J as a compromise between not having F and better economics.

  16. Your first picture of the meal service (the nuts and beverage) will delivered to you in a US Airways-branded glass.

    At least it was not as bad as when I worked Envoy in FRA-CLT flight, and all our glassware was United branded.

  17. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if F goes away, the EXP SWUs will effectively have no value to high rev passengers that buy J fares. Keeping F is a way of keeping high rev loyalty, even if it’s a small improvement over J.

    I for one would rather see improvements to F and keep it as an aspirational product (even if it’s subpar to Asian/Middle East airlines) than eliminate it altogether.

  18. It does sort of blow my mind that this first class exists. On the one hand there’s no way that the first class seats and service cost AA twice as much as their new business seats, yet they can charge twice as much for it. On the other hand as you mention, there probably aren’t that many revenue passengers in first class on any given flight, and AA probably could fill (or at least would have the best chance of filling) the space with paying J passengers if they got rid of first class altogether. I have to imagine there are some corporate contracts which would go away if AA got rid of first class on all of their flights or maybe OneWorld/BA doesn’t want them to completely do away with F.

  19. I love that both AA and UA highlight “soup!” as a differential feature of First vs. Business. Meanwhile Delta serves soup in Business anyway, and I can’t imagine that the marginal cost of adding soup to the existing business class meal service is at all significant.

  20. As OW Emeralds, we often forget one significant benefit of flying in F is F lounge access which is a considerable step above biz lounges.

  21. I flew American a great deal during the Crandall years in International Flagship Service first class and it was the envy of the industry. Great seats for the time (sheepskin covered), and an inflight service second to none. Menus were reviewed by the “Chefs Conclave,” which included luminaries such as Alice Waters and Dean Fearing. Sevruga caviar to start, salads tossed at your seat with a choice of dressing, and a selection of five main courses, including a “Destination Feature.” (I’ll never forget the lobster fajita main course, the seafood lasagne, or the designer pizzas.) Right before landing you received a box of Godiva chocolates — not the mini four-piece box, but a one layer box of about 8 to 10 chocolates if memory serves me correctly. The amenity kits contained colognes by Dior and Evian water sprays. Today, I won’t fly American. Even with terrific seats in business class, it is a let down from the old days.

  22. I guess I should I should be thankful that I can’t redeem any of my nearly one million AAdvantage miles for two first class award tickets next summer to Europe at the saver rate. Phew!

  23. If AA got rid of F in all their flights, wouldn’t the SWUs lose a lot of value to those EXP that only fly J?

  24. No US airline should pretend to offer international F unless and until they figure out how to provide F service. Some of my very best friends are AA FAs, but it’s just a fact that no US carrier provides cabin service that is consistently strong enough to call first class. In fact, it’s so often downright rude. Given the constraints of US labor laws and contracts, I don’t have the solution. But it’s a real obstacle.

  25. I remember reading somewhere a while ago that sometimes certain contracts (actors on press rounds, for example) would require first class; that was supposedly the reason American kept three-class cabins for its cabins, and that it would have an advantage over United once they converted their p.s. flights to two-class cabins. Perhaps this is something similar?

    I also seem to remember that U.S. government employees can fly in cabins outside of coach when their travel time—including connections and plane changes—exceeds 14 hours, but they MUST fly a US carrier unless the connection time outside the US is >4 hours or the itinerary with U.S. carrier flights would extend travel time >6 hours.

  26. mmmh, maybe United GlobalFirst isn’t so bad after all! Seems like a better seat, and definitely better food than this nonsense (United just has better food than American in general). That food in your photos looks horrendous.
    United gives out Lily O’Brien chocolates in Businessfirst, it’s part of the pre-arrival snack on westbound transatlantic flights — they’re delicious!
    I agree that US airlines should simply phase out international First Class. I’m pretty sure United will do so eventually.

  27. Equally perplexing is that having flown the 777-300 TATL last summer, after many previous FC flights on the regular 777, my wife and I both preferred the older hard product to the new one. The seats on the 300 seemed narrower, (although according to Seat Guru they have the same measurements), and the controls much less intuitive. Overall we found the 777 hard product to be far more comfortable.

    And I have to admit, the J product now seemed much more competitive w F than before. Looked back during the flight, and instead of the old cattle car seating, now it was fully flat, and reasonably private. More over, I noted that the J passengers were indeed eating the exact same main courses we had in F, just served on a tray instead of course by course.

    I’ll still look to F for awards, of course, since the required amount of miles over J is minimal. Plus it’s often easier to book an award in F, probably because AA can sell out J, but rarely comes even close with revenue passengers in F. But if I was paying actual $, there is no way I’d pay that premium for F.

    As Dennis said above, maybe the reason to have F, is so that revenue Corporate passengers get their companies to pay for J, and use their SWUs for F, instead of paying for Y, and upgrading to J.

  28. Equally perplexing is that having flown the 777-300 TATL last summer, after many previous FC flights on the regular 777, my wife and I both preferred the older hard product to the new one. The seats on the 300 seemed narrower, (although according to Seat Guru they have the same measurements), and the controls much less intuitive. Overall we found the 777 hard product to be far more comfortable.

    And I have to admit, the J product now seemed much more competitive w F than before. Looked back during the flight, and instead of the old cattle car seating, now it was fully flat, and reasonably private. More over, I noted that the J passengers were indeed eating the exact same main courses we had in F, just served on a tray instead of course by course.

    I’ll still look to F for awards, of course, since the required amount of miles over J is minimal. Plus it’s often easier to book an award in F, probably because AA can sell out J, but rarely comes even close with revenue passengers in F. But if I was paying actual $, there is no way I’d pay that premium for F.

    As Dennis said above, maybe the reason to have F, is so that revenue Corporate passengers get their companies to pay for J, and use their SWUs for F, instead of paying for Y, and upgrading to J.

  29. How does this review compare to Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER flights for business and first class? Is the Krug Wine the only big benefit of Cathay First class or is it really that much better all around it’s worth the extra points?

  30. As a regular on the MIA-LHR route I’ve flown BA F and J as well as the AA 777-200 F and J over recent years. The 77W AA J is a massive upgrade to both BA J and compares favourably with the old AA F as well as the old BA F (thought not the newer BA F).

    I too can’t see the point of F on the 77W, unless it is linked to the reasons given already (related to people’s travel privileges, upgrades to paid J etc).

    Very happy with the 77W in J, as well as the through fares from GCM via MIA to LHR, which are a great deal for paid J travel TATL.

    Now, one wish.. a mattress pad. The flat bed in AA J on the 77W is quite hard. First world problems, eh ?

  31. Having flown both F and J on LAX NRT I much prefer F. It’s become notably harder to get though on points.

  32. AA in recent years has treated international F as an upgrade class. I’d imagine their preference is to have people use SWU’s to upgrade paid J to F rather than upgrade paid Y to J. If they kill F on all international flights, SWU’s will become so difficult to use that they will become a phantom benefit, like 2 for 1 premium tickets using an AX card. AA wants those Exec Plats buying paid J on their metal, not on CX, BA or QR.

  33. Nice to see that your crew didn’t wait and got right to serving in the early stage of the climb.

  34. I suspect AA put F on the 773 to provide an F cabin to be in sync with BA, CX, and QF. If someone is flying F on one of these OW partners and then a long haul AA – then they likely are going to want a F cabin on AA.

  35. If there isn’t caviar, is it really first class???

    Any airlines with a crappy hard product but with delicious caviar? Qantas doesn’t even serve it anymore… (free black cars on AA points tix do still exist however).

  36. “Recycled, concentrated cat piss”

    lol … im always curious how someone would know that that taste like. I wouldn’t ask how you know what cat piss tastes like. Good humour. Good one.

  37. Nice job.

    I would question the sanity of whomever paid to fly on AA F given the other options out there.

    AA F has entered the death spiral: a product so out of whack that it can’t be sold, and therefore will get axed by the uncreative rear-mirror only bean counters of the airline. Which will then look at EK/AY/QR/QF/BA’s profits and whine.

    BTW BA is actually investing in new F seats and putting it back on markets it removed it from. Go figure.

  38. @ Shane — Oh, Cathay first is MUCH better than American’s first, and much better than business too. Amazing bedding, great food, truly attentive service, and much more privacy and personal space.

  39. @ Marcus — To clarify, LAX-NRT is the old 777-200, though, featuring angled seats in business class. Agree there’s a huge difference there.

  40. I flew business from OGG-LAX, and was singularly unimpressed. Virtually no food and sub minimal service. These are long in the tooth 757’s
    However MiA-SJO has somewhat modernized aircraft and great cabin crews. Most pleasant and efficient.. Same with MIA-JFK
    I still like AA as the best US owned line.

  41. Lucky,

    One correction and my observation on the 777ER F product:

    – The armrest actually does go down, on both sides. There are handles on the side of each armrest that allows you to completely lower it. It actually allows you to seat with both your legs crossed. Also makes it more comfortable to sleep. What I usually do is to lower the armrest opposite the aisle side, so I have support on the aisle side and space on the inner side.

    – I fly F GRU-JFK/DFW about 5-8x a year, all using SWUs from paid J bookings. I agree that in no shape or form it is comparable to the likes of ANA/JL/CX/SQ/LH in terms of hard or soft product. However, it provides a little bit better service than J, if only due to the fact that there are only 8 passengers, so things happen quickly and you can maximize your sleep after the meal. It also feels more private in the smaller cabin (although the same is true for the J mini-cabin) and the seats are wider and overall more spacious, in my view.

    As I always fly paid J, happy to continue burning the SWUs for J-F … and ocasionally finding the cheaper “A” fare vs. “D/R/J”.

    Hope that can be helpful!

    Cheers

  42. I’ve flown AA First from Hong Kong 3x now and biz one time and probably 100 First on Cathay. For a paid ticket, AA First wins hands down.The wine was superb, the seat is as comfortable for me as Cathay and the lack of privacy does not bother me. The FA’s are hit or miss. On the last flight I had an older (as in my age) FA and she was maybe the best I’ve ever flown with. The internet is a must for me as I can rarely sleep anymore on planes. AA biz was distressing. The space was a little cramped. No service whatsoever and after two glasses of wine, I was informed that biz class was out of wine. Not likely I’ll routinely fly biz with First available. The food is just OK, but then again, I live in China and am pretty jaded on all Asian food (JAL excepted) so the Cathay meals I usually just decline (mentally it is Chinese food even if the western option is chosen). There is likely nothing AA can do about the FA’s, but what would it really cost to make First on par with Asian airlines? The hard product is superior because of the internet, so change the food a little, a sensational amenity kit and perhaps a thicker sleeping pad. Maybe for less than $100 per pax it would challenge the competition. Seems on the flights I’ve been on all the seats were revenue with a number on full F fares. With that kind of cashflow, it seems a little attention to detail would go a long way towards making it a truly top end First class.

  43. As noted, the armrests do go down in F.

    I also like to sit with one leg crossed under the other, and I can do that in AA’s F seats even without lowering the armrests. (I must be less wide than you.)

    Having flown many int’l F flights on AA, BA (old and new), CX, QF, and JL, I think AA’s F hard product is better than BA’s in multiple points: there is much more space, far more usable space, you can stow a backpack under the ottoman (BA prohibits this) and the ability to swivel and use a laptop without taking up meal tray space is very nice. I do agree that AA’s F seats would be much better with privacy dividers all around.

    There’s no comparison between AA/BA F and CX/JL/QF, which have much larger and more comfortable seats. CX’s F seat easily seats two people side-by-side.

    As far as service and food, AA has really nose-dived in the past six months. Service was always hit-or-miss on AA, but lately the food has joined with the cat piss beverage you spoke of to become Purina passenger chow. I have no idea why AA thinks this is sustainable, unless they really do view F as merely upgrade class.

  44. I flew AA business last week, and totally agree with two of your remarks:
    – champagne served in AA business class is “recycled, concentrated cat piss”
    – food is mediocre to say the least
    – service is a “hit and miss”

    I am wondering why is that asian/middleeastern carriers are so much better? is it a cultural thing, like, American’s flight attendant don’t get tips so they don’t bother providing good service?

  45. Ben,

    Can you address the NRT AA first class lounge and or the One World Alliance lounge? I can’t seem to find any reports.

    Thanks.

  46. I worked for Aal in the 80’s under Crandall on the international routes. Everything was outstanding. The inflight service was created by the one and only Hector Adler. He was awesome and inspiring. How blessed everyone is that he is back!

  47. Anyone have any thoughts on whether you would rather be in a 77W J product vs. 777 Old f product. How about 77W J vs 777 new J product?

  48. @Kevin,

    AA 77W J vs 777 F is very much a your-milage-may-vary situation. Many people would be fine in either or even prefer 77W J. Personally, I find F always worth it, and would always pick 777 F over 77W J. That’s because I really appreciate having all the extra space and extra storage (being able to keep my laptop bag under the ottoman, which can only be done in F). I also like having the work desk, so when I do want to work, I can keep my laptop open and plugged in without taking away from the meal tray. I can work for a bit, then swivel away to eat and watch TV, then swivel back to work.

  49. Recycled Cats Piss???

    Is this the language a writer uses to express a professional point of view.

    You’re just an immature hack behaving as a spoilt little brat.

  50. On a recent 777-300 SYD-LAX, I was in Business class and we had a thin topper for the bed and pajamas were handed out! So even less differences now between the First cabin.

  51. You must not have figured out that the armrests in the first class seat actually do decline. You can even see the release handle in one of the photos you posted. When both the armrests are down it is actually a very comfortable and wide flat bed.

  52. My goodness Ben this is a great review but i gotta be honest, It was clear you probably were getting progressively angrier as the review further progressed. And i loved every bit of it haha. ” recycled, concentrated cat piss” ………”soup that came out of a campbell’s can”………………..”same crap salad served in business class”……….”_____ just like in business class” But I couldn’t agree more. The first class actually seems like a downgrade from business class. I think the only thing better in F class at this point is the name of the class and the flagship first lounge access. But anything on that plane is still better than United’s horrendous 8 abreast business first product. Thank god for Polaris business coming in a month.

  53. As an Executive Platinum for 9 years in a row (that’s 100,000 base miles per calendar year) I have flown the new 777-300 ER (also known as 77W on AA.com) more than 30 times since it came out, whether on LHR-MIA, LHR-DFW, DFW-GRU, GRU-MIA, MIA-EZE, etc., etc., whether in Business (always in seat 3-A or 4-A, and exceptionally in 5-A when I reserve less than 6 months in advance), or in First class whenever I can get a free upgrade or a free Award ticket in First (always in 1-A or 1-J)
    Yes, it is true that there is virtually NO difference between the new Business class and the First class on the 77W EXCEPT for the seats:
    In Business the seats are in angle and fixed, while in First they are parallel to the aisle and swivel 90 degrees to face the window and use a very convenient desk, as I always do. Also, both armrests go down, while in Business only the out one collapses. That’s a BIG difference for me, BUT I wouldn’t pay a full fare for the difference!

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