REVIEW: American Airlines Business Class
(JFK-LHR), June 2017
I was lucky enough to get tickets to one of Adele’s final concerts in London but unlucky enough to have gotten them for one of the two she canceled. Of course, I hadn’t known that before I booked this flight and was already in London by that announcement. But honestly, I wasn’t that sad about it because I’ve been a longtime fan (since Hometown Glory) and have been fortunate enough to have seen her live a few times already, and wish her the best in her health, happiness, and recovery. Even though it was one of the reasons I made the decision to fly to London, it wasn’t the bulk of my plans since I wanted to visit my best friend and travel with another best friend to Dublin.
I boarded a little late around 10pm, and was one of last to board. We had an on-time gate departure at 10:25pm, and lifted off at 10:48pm, with an estimated flight time of 6 hours, 10 minutes.
When I got to my seat, I saw most things already laid out for me: plastic-wrapped pillow and blanket, Cole Haan amenity kit, Bose headphones, and a bottle of water. When I moved the pillow, I noticed there was a stain on my seat. A bit unsightly but I moved past it when I was offered a preflight beverage, which I of course picked up the champagne.
I was really impressed with the amenity kit. I already love Cole Haan shoes, and they did not disappoint with this kit design — beautiful etched leather, great shade of blue with contrasting natural zip, and a good size for actual use. Inside, it came with socks, sleep mask, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries mouthwash and refreshing travel kit (lotion, lip balm), dental kit, tissue, headphone covers, a Cole Haan coupon, and an AA pen (great for collectors). The headphone covers were hard to put on and I actually ripped one trying to do so. Overall, this ranks very high in amenity kits and I’ll probably make this my main one now (I’ve been using the older corduroy Loewe JAL first class kit). As much as I love Rimowa kits, they are too small to fit all the things I need (contact solution already accounts for a lot).
There were several interesting and new things on this flight to note. First, this flight is configured as only two-classes: Business, and Economy (including Main Cabin Extra). These Business class seats have some rear-facing seats in its herringbone configuration. I sat in 2A, which being at the front and to the left of the gateway gives you extra privacy. Another thing I hadn’t experienced before was Business-only announcements, which they used to talk about food, amenities, and the over the shoulder belt for take off and landing. Unfortunately, that shoulder belt was so uncomfortable. I needed to either lean further away to the other side or have fabric covering it or else it would cut into my neck.
There’s wifi on this flight but I didn’t try it since it was an overnight flight and the last thing I wanted to do was work. Instead, I used that time to watch movies. Unfortunately, my media screen had some noticeable discoloration around the edges, especially at the top and bottom. I had to up the brightness a good amount to counter it.
Seats are controlled with a touch screen panel, which has both preset and custom options. At 5'9" and an average build, the lie-flat length was a bit cramped, especially since the point at the feet area gets narrower. My arms weren’t very comfortable either bumping between the armrest and other side. Taller and bigger builds might have a problem here.
Something I didn’t notice until later in my flight, with the way these seats are configured, you feel a lot of the movement of the seat connected to you. I actually got woken up from heavy movement from the seat attached to mine. Every seat in Business class is connected at the head to another except for one. After having this happen, that one seat at 1A might be the best seat to pick if you want to avoid this. Sitting in front also gives you a more private bathroom with access to the others as well. The front bathroom would more likely be used by the front and left portions of the Biz cabin. The bathroom was a good size, nicely designed with wood and textured lines. It also had C.O. Bigelow products for use.
I had two crew members tend to my area throughout my flight. They were a bit hard to read, and the service is hard to explain. It wasn’t very warm or as welcoming as most other premium flights. I’ve had a whole spectrum of service on AA flights but this one specifically felt like the bare minimum of service, kind of robotic and lazy. They never came around to collect empty glasses, and I had three of them after dinner service and while sleeping. It’s weird to nitpick but when asking if I could possibly have two desserts, an attendant kind of made me feel bad for asking. In hindsight, it could have been interpreted as her thinking aloud to herself like “Maybe, usually you can’t and this flight is full but nobody is eating, which is strange.” It didn’t seem like attitude but it made me feel bad for asking instead of just starting with a “Let me check for you.” or “After this first round, I’ll let you know.”
I had the option of preordering my meal but when I checked, they all sounded good enough / none stood out more than another so I opted to just wait until my flight.
The menu cover image with a bunch of garlic seemed out of place. It evoked this rustic farm to table feel but then the chef is Indian (Chef Maneet Chauhan from Chopped) and the food options were Korean, Texmex, and American. I think the graphic is a bit unnecessary and works better to just have a simple color or graphic like other airlines.
While I was deliberating, warm mixed nuts came with drink service, which I got a nice glass of Italian white wine. For my main, I opted for the Herb-Crusted Snapper. When it arrived, it smelled delicious, and I understood where Chef Maneet’s influence came in with a lot of Indian spices and fragrances.
I really enjoyed the Quinoa Mango Vegetable Timbale. The wasabi mayo dressing was tasty and bright, and the pickled ginger gave it great texture and zing. The Super Grain Salad on the other hand was forgettable. Along with dinner service came a selection of breads, which I chose the pretzel bread. It came warm, soft, and was very good.
In my main, the butternut squash was a bit over seasoned but had good texture, and was not too mushy. The cauliflower puree unfortunately had no seasoning. Parts of my fish were overcooked, probably was reheated too much. The fish had no seasoning as well, so I had to add the creamy Indian sauce that comes with it on the side. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the sauce, and it felt too creamy without adding much in flavor.
For “research,” I asked for two desserts: Raspberry Tart and Caramel Cone Ice Cream. I was lucky and got it since most of the cabin wasn’t eating, choosing to sleep instead.
I had originally assumed from the way it was listed on the menu, that the ice cream would just come prepackaged in a mini cup. Instead, the Häagen-Dazs ice cream arrived beautifully presented and scooped in a glass tumbler with a flute wafer. This happens to be one of my favorite Häagen-Dazs flavors so I was happy to indulge in this again.
The Raspberry Tart was quite good. It had good texture, and a ton of beautiful raspberries. I’m not sure if this is intended but the almond custard was barely noticeable because it had completely soaked into the pastry. It might have been better with the cream in tact to add some respite from the tartness of the raspberries.
After dinner service, a flight attendant asked if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast, which I did. I opted for a light breakfast of just fresh fruit and yogurt since I wasn’t too hungry (and American breakfast options on planes rarely appeal to me), and knew I would be trying some food in the arrivals lounge. The cinnamon roll pastry was good, a bit sweet but went well with my tea.
Near the end of breakfast service, the crew handed out a few papers: Fast Track pass, Landing Card customs form, and an AA Arrivals Lounge invitation with map and directions.
American Airlines Business Class — New York (JFK) to London (LHR)
Flight #: AA 104. Boeing 777–200, only two classes (Business, Economy)
Duration: Original Itinerary: 10:25 pm — 10:30 am.
Estimated 6 hour, 10 minute flight time. Landed ~10AM.
Ticket: Purchased through American Express Travel website paired with Amex Platinum card to get 5x points. Also, I took advantage of an AA targeted promotion to earn 3x bonus miles for paid premium flights between Europe and got a little over 14,000 extra miles.
Overall, I enjoyed my flight despite my slightly odd experience with the crew. For an international redeye flight, I can see why these flights would be good for people flying for Business or just tourists who want to hit the ground running when you arrive. With the new AA Flagship Lounge at JFK, it makes this a more comfortable and worthwhile flight and experience, especially if you can maximize miles and points with a promotion and credit card bonuses.