Review: American Business Class 767 New York To Madrid

Introduction
Review: American Economy Class A321 Los Angeles To New York
Review: American Business Class 767 New York To Madrid
Review: American Flagship Lounge Dallas DFW Airport
Review: British Airways First Class 777 Austin To London
Review: Westin Palace Madrid Hotel
Exploring Madrid
Day Trip To Toledo
Review: Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid
Review: Sala VIP Amnios Lounge Madrid
Review: Iberia Economy Class A321 Madrid To London
Review: American Business Class 777-300ER London To Los Angeles


I had a roughly three hour layover at JFK, and during it visited the Flagship Lounge, which I’ve reviewed before. Boarding was scheduled to begin at 6:15PM, though I headed to the gate at around 6PM since I was getting a bit bored in the lounge.

Conveniently the flight left from gate 7, which is located in the concourse closest to the Flagship Lounge and security checkpoint.

Inconveniently at the gate next to us was the flight to Birmingham, which shared a single boarding door with our flight, and the flights left just a few minutes apart. So the gate area was borderline chaotic.

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JFK Terminal 8 departure gate

At around 6:10PM a guy was escorted to the gate by an American representative. I’m guessing he was using American’s Five Star Service, or something. I was most fascinated by his carry-on, which was perhaps bigger than Santa’s sack (and I don’t mean that in a dirty way).

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Impressive carry-on

At 6:15PM boarding was called, starting with business class. I was quite excited for this flight, as it would be my first time flying in American’s refurbished 767 cabin.

American 94
New York (JFK) – Madrid (MAD)
Thursday, October 29
Depart: 6:55PM
Arrive: 7:15AM (+1 day)
Duration: 7hr20min
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 8J (Business Class)

Upon boarding I was greeted at the door by the super friendly purser and two of the business class flight attendants. I find JFK-based crews to be a mixed bag, though this crew was exceptional.

I was seated in seat 8J, which is the window seat on the far aisle in the very back of the cabin. As I walked down the aisle I hit my head on the overheard and nearly tripped, and looked at the flight attendant standing there and said “sorry, apparently it’s not my lucky day.”

Without a pause she responded with “honey, I’m working your aisle today. Trust me, it’s your lucky day.” I appreciated her confidence, her sass, and most importantly, her friendliness. I told her “I like the way you think, Delphine.”

American’s new 767-300 business class consists of a total of seven rows in a 1-2-1 configuration, for a total of 28 seats. The seats are staggered, making them very similar to the products offered on AustrianBrussels, Delta, Jet Airways, Swiss, etc.

Since the plane was only relatively recently refurbished, I must say that it looked quite “fresh,” and that I liked the finishes at the seats.

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American 767 new business class cabin

As I’ve stated before, this type of staggered configuration is far from my favorite, and I don’t find it to be nearly as good as American’s new business class product on the 777-300ER.

The seats alternate so that in one row the window seats are closer to the aisle…

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American 767 new business class, seat 7J

While in the following row they’re closer to the window (with the console being on the aisle side). The even numbered rows have the seats closest to the windows, which would generally be my preference, since it’s more private.

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American 767 new business class, seat 8J

The seats in the center stagger similarly by row.

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American 767 new business center seats

If the business class cabin looks a bit odd, it’s probably because there’s no built-in seatback entertainment.

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American 767 new business class cabin

It’s worth noting that while American recently refurbished the business class cabin on these planes, the economy cabin looks ancient.

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American 767 Main Cabin Extra

After taking a quick look at the Main Cabin Extra cabin behind my seat, I finally settled into my seat, 8J.

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American 767 new business center, seat 8J

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American 767 new business class, view from seat 8J

While the seat has a tray table to the side of it, it’s worth noting there’s an additional tray in the front, which also has a second power outlet. The portable entertainment system is supposed to go into the space behind where the tray folds, and really that power outlet is intended to keep the portable entertainment system charged.

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American 767 business class seatback

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American 767 business class power port

As usual, my biggest complaint about these kinds of seats is that the foot space is extremely limited when you’re trying to sleep, since it’s confined to the space “next” to the seat in front of you.

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American 767 business class seat legroom

The seat controls were located to the left of the seat on a touch-screen surface, and were easy to use. Perhaps too easy to use, as you can easily accidentally push the controls to adjust the seat throughout the flight, as happened to me.

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American 767 business class seat controls

What’s not easy enough to use, however, is the tray table. I don’t know who designed it, but you need a degree to use it.

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American business class tray table

Immediately below that were the controls for the lighting and audio selection.

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American 767 business class entertainment controls

To the left of my seat along the back was the amenity kit and a bottle of Dasani water.

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American 767 business class storage

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American business class amenity kit & bottled water

For a while American has offered special heritage amenity kits to commemorate all the airlines which formed the “new” American. I got an AirCal kit. For a business class amenity kit, I thought it was pretty well stocked.

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American business class AirCal amenity kit

Also waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket. It was fairly comfortable, though after my recent flight on Delta with Westin Heavenly bedding, I have to say that it doesn’t really compare.

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American business class pillow & blanket

It’s a bit tricky for flight attendants to offer service while at the gate on the 767, given that the aisles are quite narrow and everyone has to board through the forward door.

Nonetheless Delphine quickly stopped by to offer my a pre-departure beverage. I selected a glass of champagne, which was actually drinkable. American must have change their champagne since the last time I flew them internationally in business class, because last time it was borderline vile.

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American business class pre-departure champagne

Shortly thereafter the purser came through the cabin to distribute menus for the flight.

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American business class menu

At 6:35PM the purser came on the PA and said “if you’re trying to go to Birmingham, now is a good time to deplane.” Two passengers actually deplaned. Whoops!

A couple of minutes later the captain came on the PA and informed us of our flight time of 6hr30min, anticipating we’d get into Madrid on-time, or maybe even a few minutes early.

At 6:40PM the cabin door closed, which was 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Every seat on the plane was taken. From then it was another 10 minutes before we began our pushback, though.

The safety demo played as we taxied out, and much to my surprise we were airborne 25 minutes after starting our taxi, which was pretty darn good for JFK on a Thursday night. Our takeoff roll on runway 22R was smooth, and then we began a very, very gradual climb out to our cruising altitude (we must have been under 10,000 feet for a good 15 minutes due to our sequencing on departure).

About 20 minutes after takeoff the crew began their service. It’s also worth noting that seat 8A is a pilot crew rest, so shortly after takeoff one of the three pilots came to start his break, and they have a curtain which goes around that seat. It’s a bit of an awkward setup.

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American 767 business class pilot crew rest

The crew was very quick to begin their service after takeoff. While we were still climbing out the crew came through the cabin with portable entertainment players and Bose headphones. They helped with setting them up, including plugging them into the power plug. The whole setup is a bit clunky. In the future I’d probably just not take it, since I bring my own entertainment on my iPad.

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American 767 business class portable entertainment & headphones

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American business class Bose headphones

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American 767 business class portable entertainment selection

After distributing portable entertainment players Delphine came through with hot towels.

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American business class hot towel

Dinner service then began.

The dinner menu read as follows:

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And the wine/beverage list read as follows:

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Service began with hot nuts and drinks. I had a glass of still water and a gin & tonic.

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American business class hot nuts & drink to start

About 15 minutes later the crew rolled a cart through the galley with the salad and appetizer.

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American business class dinner — salad and starter

The appetizer was simple, though a bit odd, as it was basically a piece of bread with some cheese and tomato.

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American business class starter — tomato tart with artichoke heart and olives

The salad was quite simple, though perfectly edible.

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American business class salad — mixed green salad with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts

The pretzel bread was too delicious for anyone’s good, as usual.

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American business class dinner — pretzel bread

For the main course I ordered the salmon. When I ordered it I said to myself “what was I thinking, fish is never good on American?” This salmon dish was actually excellent. It was flavorful and moist. When fish is super dry I like when it has sauce, though in this case it was moist and the corn relish complemented the dish beautifully, as it didn’t overpower it. Absolutely fantastic.

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American business class main course — blackened salmon

Then for dessert I had the ice cream. American no longer offers custom made sundaes on eastbound transatlantic flights, which I suppose is to save time with the service and allow people to maximize sleep.

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American business class dessert — ice cream with heath bar crunch

Was the food amazing? On the whole, nope. But the salmon was fantastic, and everything was perfectly edible.

Most importantly for a 6hr30min redeye, the service was fast. Dinner service was done less than 90 minutes after takeoff.

I should also note that service throughout the meal was fantastic. Delphine couldn’t have been more professional, sassy, efficient, and fun. She was constantly smiling and genuinely seemed to enjoy her job. I can’t say enough good things about her.

After dinner the cabin lights were dimmed and I reclined my seat to sleep. Despite the confined space for my feet, I slept surprisingly well for about 3hr30min, and woke up about 90 minutes before landing. That’s not bad for a 6hr30min redeye.

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American business class cabin after dinner service

After that I decided to watch another show on my iPad. About an hour before landing, smiling Delphine rolled her cart through the aisle for the breakfast service.

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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I just had the fruit bowl, which came with granola and yogurt. It hit the spot, given that I wasn’t really hungry after such a short flight.

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American business class breakfast — fresh fruit bowl

As I finished up my breakfast the captain came on the PA to advise us we’d be landing at 6:50AM, anticipating that we’d get to the gate a bit early. At that point we began our descent, and I took the chance to freshen up in the lav.

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American business class cabin on descent into Madrid

The views on descent were beautiful as the sun slowly began to rise in the distance.

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View on approach into Madrid

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View on approach into Madrid

Sure enough we had an extremely smooth touchdown at 6:50AM, and from there had a 10 minute taxi to the gate.

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Taxiing at Madrid Airport

We parked next to an Avianca 787, which was sort of funny since it’s a plane I’ve been excited to try.

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Arriving at gate at Madrid Airport next to Avianca 787

Upon exiting the plane I bid the crew farewell, and was off into the gorgeous Madrid Airport terminal. The terminal is gorgeous as could be, though it was one of the most fitness minded airports I’ve transited. Which is to say that it was a good 25 minute walk till I found myself in a taxi to the hotel, despite the fact that there were no queues for immigration.

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Madrid Airport terminal

American 767 business class bottom line

American’s 767 business class product isn’t my favorite hard product out there. I far prefer the reverse herringbone seats they have on some of their other planes.

That being said, everything else about this flight was great, in particular for a short transatlantic flight. The food was perfectly edible, the service was efficient, and Delphine couldn’t have been friendlier or more courteous.

If you’ve flown American’s new 767 business class, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Hi Lucky! I think you made a slight mistake in the URL for “Review: American Economy Class A321 Los Angeles To New York”. Right now it shows this message when I click on it “Oops! That page can’t be found.”

    Thanks for all your reviews anyway! I am gonna try American for the first time next May, kinda looking forward to it.

  2. Wait, so you’re saying that Avianca is more than a frequent flier program? 😛

    Interesting to see the entertainment setup here, but it does look quite practical if you’re taking advantage of your own entertainment, using the space as an office desk, etc. I think I might prefer it to normal fixed seatback screens, actually, though if less content is loaded onto the portable systems I may change my mind. How does the content selection in the fixed seatback devices compare to the content in the portable devices?

  3. @Kevin T.

    The link is working for me.

    @Lucky
    Did economy have the entertainment screens handed out as well?

  4. @dave – no, economy doesn’t get tablets handed out. There are the overhead screens for economy. 🙁

  5. They should hand out the entertainment on the ground. The standard on other planes and flights is that you can start watching your movie as soon as you sit down. Having to wait for pushback, taxi and takeoff sucks.

  6. Hi Ben,
    Great blog and post. I’m planning biz class travel to Europe soon on American. I have an option of flying on the newly renovated 767 or the (previously UsAir’s) tried and true Airbus 330-200er, which would you suggest?

  7. I flew this cabin from JFK-CDG in the summer. It was my first time flying business as an adult, and it was pretty good! My only major complaint was that I found the small area for your feet when you’re lying flat got really hot and uncomfortable. The space is small, and not ventilated, and it seemed like my body heat would just fill up the foot hold really fast and broil them. Lucky/anyone who regularly flies biz class: did you find the same thing? Is this just a part of flying business class in this type of seat? Totally curious if this phenomenon was just something i experienced or if other people do too.

  8. I’m still baffled they didn’t: a.) install AVOD in business class, at least. b.) freshen up the rest of the cabin with new interiors. Other than that, I think the business class seat and finishings look great.

  9. There are many nice, top-ranked airports in the world, where a 25-minute walk from your gate to a taxi (with no wait at immigration/customs) is pretty much standard. It all depends on your gate.

  10. I tried this cabin MIA-ORD (also in 8J) and really liked it. For a daytime flight (due to how private it feels and I thought the seat itself was comfortable) I would love it but I agree that the seat is not great for sleeping. It took me FOREVER to figure out the tray table though… After messing with it for over an hour I finally realized you have to press the button to make it work (oops).

    As far as the tablets.. At least there is a dedicated place for it on the new 767…. I flew the last CLT-DUB flight of the year (last weekend) on the legacy US 757…. There is no place to put the tablet other than your lap. I had to balance the thing on my knees while trying to eat dinner on a tray table that was so flimsy it would barely hold the food tray. Completely unacceptable for international business class… On top of that the poor flight attendant (who was absolutely AMAZING, cannot say enough good about her) kept tripping over my chord.. One time almost causing the tablet to rip right out of my lap…

    PS– a couple weeks ago I tried to register for the “ask lucky” section of this site and it never has worked for me… (my user name is FlyingLaw)

  11. We flew that equipment JFK FCO 2 1/2 weeks ago. The seats were certainly an improvement from the last generation. I was pleasantly surprised. Our Samsung tablets were loaded before we boarded, not afterward as you experienced. That system has some benefits over the standard AVOD but I think I prefer the built in screen. Having had he exact same meal you did, I agree that it was great. Actually I thought it was good enough to put up against my favorite meals on Singapore or Asiana. The Italian white wine was excellent as well. I ordered my dinner as an express meal. I had all the courses, just served at the same time. I will always order express in the future when available. It didn’t cut into my sleep time, which is important to me. However, my overhead light, as well as about 1/3 of them in the cabin, could not be turned off. It took two eye masks to try and dim the glare for sleeping. I will see what AA offer me for that pretty awful situation on an overnight flight.

  12. @lucky “seat 8A is a pilot crew rest, so shortly after takeoff one of the three pilots came to start his break, and they have a curtain which goes around that seat”

    Just like La Premiére on AF. I’m looking forward to seeing you review of that product, but I’m sure the 767 crew rest is a nice preview.

    http://www.airfrance.us/US/en/common/guidevoyageur/classeetconfort/nouvelle-premiere-airfrance.htm

    I expect that all your crediting Delta flights to Flying Blue is an attempt to qualify for miles redemptions on the new AF product, n’est pas?

  13. AA did not install screens in J since this cabin refresh is a stop gap measure. The 763’s are being phased out within 5 years.

    The cabin colors are much more soothing and sophisticated when compared to Delta’s nasty color palate which looks tacky in J.

    The 787 J class is beautiful ..although the seats are a bit narrow when sleeping. With that said, I still slept 6 hours in one a few months ago.

  14. Hey Ben,

    I’ve been reading your reviews for some time now via Zite. I live in Dubai and fly Emirates almost exclusively. My favorite airline has priced me out of my usual Business Class ticket home this Christmas and I’ll be flying BA and AA from DXB to TPA. Thanks for the AA review as I have avoided them like a plague for years. I’m not nearly as concerned as I was.!!

    Scott

  15. Thanks for the review!

    I agree it is a nice product. I have flown MIA to Europe in the retrofitted 767 business 3 times and have found it to be a great experience… comfortable and nice looking, easy to sleep at night, plenty of space to watch movies during the day. Unfortunately, on one-way of each of my 3 round trips, they swapped out the aircraft about 8-12 hours before departure and flew us in the old 767 business class cabin… so half my 9-10 hour flights were downgraded and my experiences in the old cabin were utterly miserable… just awful… night vs day… and not what I thought I was buying when I booked my flight.

    Lesson learned, buyer beware, the new American Airlines 767 retrofitted business cabin is great, but it is a crap shoot as to whether you will actually get it, and the old cabin is horrible… felt like 3 of my system-wide upgrades were flushed down the toilet. And American could not care less. Basically, if they deliver you to your destinations in a cabin they classify as Business, they have fulfilled their contract…

  16. I think I might know why the bubbly tastes different. Just flew AMS – PHL in business with the same wine list and noticed that they were pouring a cava instead of the listed champagne.

  17. Same question as Kevin MW–would you take A330 reverse herringbone J with built in AVOD over this? Seems like the obvious choice, but the 767 cabin looks so much prettier than the A330 cabin… 😉

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