81 Hours To Europe: LHR-JFK, Awake On American Airlines’ New 777-300ER

This would be my second time flying on the new American Airlines 777-300ER.  Even though I had slept most of the way on my first flight I did take a bunch of pictures of the Business Class seat.  If you’re looking for those, you can find them in my post about my flight from JFK to LHR.

My gate was the farthest distance from the lounge possible and I’d gotten a bit of a late start so boarding was well under way by the time I arrived at the gate.  Business and First Class were already on board and coach boarding was just getting ready to begin.  I was able to board quickly and store my bags so I had a bit more time to explore the plane prior to takeoff.  Here are a few more observations about the Business Class seat itself:

Inside the cabinet that holds the headphones and amenity kit is a small post with a snap attached to it.  It seemed like a good place to hook my watch while I was sleeping, though I couldn’t think of another use beside a watch or jewelry.

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The Bose headphones are pretty much the standard over-the-ear version that are now labeled QC15.  However, they have a proprietary 3-prong jack, likely as a theft-deterrent.  The cabin crew had 2-prong adaptors to hand out for folks who brought their own headphones.  I did have my own and the 2-prong adaptor worked just fine and produced a good quality sound.  Plugging my single headphone jack into any of the three receptacles produced a mono feed (only one ear) so be sure to bring an adaptor or ask for one if you plan to use your own headphones.

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It’s a bit hard to see, but at the base of the seat to the left of my legs (on the aisle side) there was a sliding door with a storage compartment.  The smaller magazine bin has a label prohibiting storage of items like laptops during takeoff and landing, so this compartment is assumedly for items like that, allowing you to keep these larger items handy without having to unbuckle and get them out of the overhead.

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Lastly, there’s a metal threshold that differentiates two different floor levels in the seat.  It comes at an awkward spot for someone of average height and I couldn’t really figure out the purpose.  Not a big deal, but an oddity.

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I had taken advantage of a semi-new feature American Airlines rolled out last year that allow you to pre-select your meal in First and Business class and selected halibut.  This would turn out to be a bit of a mistake.  The halibut wasn’t bad.  It was actually one of the most tender pieces of fish I can recall eating in a long time.  It was just very absent of flavor.  The citrus flavor was virtually non-existent.  Here’s a look at the full menus:

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I started with the Tandoori Shrimp, paired with a glass of the Gosset Champagne.  I don’t love the Gosset but it’s serviceable enough for a glass.  I switched to the Spotted Owl blended red wine for the entree since it was the more interesting of the two choices.  I also tried a different red blend that was “Chase’s Choice”.  Also a red blend, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.  But it was tasty.  And, to be a glutton, I finished it off with a sundae.

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The sundae plus 2 and a half glasses of wine had done it’s part to make me sleepy.  I got a chance to test out the lie-flat seat again and was again duly impressed.  I slept for a bit over an hour and then got up to watch movies and work on e-mail.

I signed up for the in-flight wi-fi service so I could work.  I definitely consider it worth the value, though I understand why some might find it pricey.  I think American did a good job of coming up with different packages based on flight length but could have done more to make the pricing attractive for the lower tiers.

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I can see reasons to choose the 2-hour pass by concentrating your work during one part of the trip (7-hour flight).  And, the 4-hour price is in theory set to maximize people buying the full pass.  But, I bet you could pick up a lot of business at the margin by dropping the 2-hour price to something like $8.  Business travelers that need longer are still going to buy the bigger package.  Also, a brief note about signing up for the service.  You’ll be prompted to create a user-name and password, and you may get an error message when you create your password.  The instructions and the error message don’t actually tell you that you need an upper case letter in your password (you do).

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I awoke in time to enjoy the light meal served before arrival.  It was a choice of pizza or a cold salad with roast beef, chicken and couscous.  I chose the cold plate and was duly impressed.  Easily the best airplane food I’ve had in quite some time.  The beef and chicken were both incredibly tender and juicy, especially considering it was a chilled plate.  The couscous , something not normally part of my diet, was awesome.

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It was shortly after that when I got up to use the restroom and saw the display of food in the galley found midway through Business Class.  It’s too bad I was stuffed because the flight crew did a great job making this look very enticing.  I think this is another nice “plus” feature of the new 777-300ER service.  I’m biased as a long-time American fan, but I think the praise is well deserved.  It’s also worthwhile to note that the Business Class lavatory is the nicest Business Class lav I’ve seen in my somewhat limited experience.  Easily double the size of any standard airplane lav, and almost double the size of the lav onboard the JAL 787 I flew last year.

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It was an easy flight overall, with some clear views shortly before landing.  I’m guess that’s Martha’s Vineyard based on the timing in the flight but I didn’t bother to check the map.

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We were landing a few minutes early and Global Entry would assure me a quick trip through customs, though it was destined to be a quite time on a Saturday evening anyway.  I’d zip off to the lounge for a shower to refresh myself and prepare for the smallest plane of my trip, an Embraer ERJ-145.  Touching down at JFK marked 77 hours into my flight.  Shockingly, I actually worked out this whole 81 hour thing to the T, since I had about 4 hours before my flight would touch down at DCA to wind up the trip.

I’ve got one more post in me where I’ll sum up my thoughts on the trip, note some facts and figures and ask for your thoughts.  Thanks for flying one last leg!

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