I flew business class with American Airlines on the AA 135 flight from London Heathrow to Los Angeles. It had a scheduled departure of 1:10 pm with a total flight time of 11 hours and 30 minutes.
I was on a connecting flight from Dublin, so I did not check-in specifically for this flight at Heathrow’s landside. My Dublin flight landed in Terminal 5. From there, a quick shuttle bus brought me to Terminal 3 (follow the Flight Connection sign). Before boarding the transfer bus, there was a document control inspection.
Before heading to the gate for boarding, I positioned myself at the American Airlines’ Admiral Club. It was very average; on the hindsight, I should have gone to Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge. I left the lounge at 11:55 am and reached the gate in less than ten minutes. There was another security inspection before entering the controlled waiting area. At this point, randomly selected individuals were also subject to a bag search. Unlike last time, I was not searched.
Boarding commenced at 12:22 pm. As usual, boarding was carried out via Groups. I did not have to wait long at all to board the plane as I had a business class ticket. It was prompt and efficient.
Unfortunately, it took almost an hour for the airplane to leave the gate (seven minutes behind schedule). A fifteen-minute taxiing later, the plane took-off at 1:32 pm.
The Aircraft, Cabin and Seating
The aircraft was a Boeing 777-200. The seat configuration was 1-2-1 in a reverse herring bone formation. I was seated in seat 5L. The cabin had 22 seats with five rows and an extra row containing 1 seat (6L).
All seats were capable of transforming into a lie-flat bed. Seat adjustments could be made for the footrest, lumbar support and recline via an LCD display. There was also a reading light located on the top part of the seat. The only ‘problem’ I had with the seat was the seatbelt – it was a little too chunky.
In terms of storage around the seat, there was ample. The ledge between the seat and window turned into shallow storage; the armrest on the right side contained deep storage and there was a small storage box to the right of the footrest. In addition, there was a designated overhead compartment for each seat.
One of the shallow storage units contained two USB outlets, a headphone jack, a multi-adapter power outlet and a handheld remote control for the TV screen.
There were two toilet facilities on either side of the back of the cabin. On the left-hand side of the aircraft, the toilet was for the disabled and was thus, more roomy than the other toilet.
On every seat in the cabin, there was a pillow and quilt set, amenity kit, Bose noise-cancelling headphones and a water bottle. The amenity kit came in a Cole Haan branded bag and its contents consisted of Cole Haan shopping vouchers, a pair of socks, a sleeping mask, a pen, tissues, a dental kit, a pair of earplugs and a Co. Bigelow ‘refreshing travel kit’ which contained body lotion, lip balm and mouthwash.
Shortly after I was seated, the cabin crew came by offering champagne, orange juice or water. A food menu was provided, and the stewardess later came by to take my meal order and I was asked whether I’d like to be woken for another meal towards the latter part of the flight.
At this point, the crew had not offered to hang my coat up, so I had to get the attention of a stewardess to do so.
The pilot informed us that we would be arriving at LAX forty minutes behind schedule due to strong winds over the Atlantic. He also made the passengers aware that there would be a lot of heavy turbulence throughout the flight.
At all times, the galley behind the cabin was fully stocked with a variety of snacks. These included fruit bowls, salads and wraps.
About 45 minutes after take-off, the cabin crew served a drink of choice and warm roasted nuts. I was underwhelmed with the nuts because they tasted burnt. The crew must have put them in the oven a little bit too long.
Fifteen minutes after the snack, the starter was brought out – lemon salmon with cucumber and a side salad. For me, the starter was absolutely delicious! After I devoured the starter, my main was served along with a selection of warm breads. The main was braised beef with mashed sweet potato and creamy savoy cabbage. This meal was pretty average. It tasted good, but nothing exceptional.
After the starter and main, I was decently full so decided to pass on the dessert. I transformed my seat into the lie-flat bed and slept until I was awoken by the stewardess for my light meal prior to landing. The meal was served one hour and fifteen minutes before landing. I chose the potato and vegetable salad which consisted of potatoes, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, French beans, olives and eggs. The meal was fairly enjoyable. It was accompanied with a fruit bowl, some breadsticks and a salted caramel and chocolate ganache.
Around fifty minutes to landing, the cabin crew collected the Bose headphones. Not sure the reasoning behind this, but it left me disappointed initially as I couldn’t finish my movie! Lucky for me, American Airlines had thought this through. A few minutes later, the cabin crew distributed little Avis sponsored earphones.
Overall, I found the business class for this American Airlines flight to be slightly above average. It is still inferior to the likes of Qatar Airways, but superior to the likes of British Airways.
I’ve summed up a very general comparison between business class for American Airlines and British Airways based on my personal experiences.
|Seat configuration||American Airlines. AA has a 1-2-1 seat configuration compared to BA’s 2-4-2 (comparing the Boeing 777-200). As a result, seat is more spacious and the privacy enhanced with AA.|
|Storage||American Airlines. AA has ample storage in the vicinity of the seat whereas BA has limited to no seat storage.|
|Comfort||American Airlines. Due to the seat configuration, the seats in AA are more spacious than BA.|
|Cabin crew||British Airways. From my experience, BA crew have been more attentive and friendlier than AA.|
|TV screen||American Airlines. AA and BA both have the same sized screen, however, AA’s is a fixed mounted – directly in front of you at all times whereas with BA, during take-off and landing, the screen has to be stowed away.|
|TV/movie selection||Neutral. Both BA and AA have a wide array of movies to choose from.|
|Food||American Airlines. AA have superior quality of food compared to BA. I actually finished all the food on my plates! But BA’s new food menu from Do&Co may tip the balance.|
|Amenities||Draw. Both BA and AA had the standard amenities in the bathroom and the toiletry bag provided. If I had to choose one, AA would have the slight upper-hand.|
So for now, I’d rather fly AA than BA.
Airline Review: AA 135 American Airlines Boeing 777-200 London Heathrow to Los Angeles Business Class
Date Flew: 23-MAR-2019