The continuation of Day 1 saw me boarding a flight from JFK to London Heathrow airport. I was especially looking forward to this flight because it would be my first on American’s new 777-300ER. American Airlines debuted this plane and it’s new lie-flat business class seats earlier this year and I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity to fly it.
The unfortunate part was that I would be on a red-eye to London. Most people who don’t fly frequently think of London and Europe as far away places. In reality, if you live on the East coast it’s quicker to get to London or even Rome than it is to get to Hawaii. And, the flight to London is about the same length of time as a flight from my home airport of IAD to Seattle. Since this was a rather short international flight and I knew I had a busy few days ahead of me, I chose to sleep on my flight instead of enjoying the meal service.
I boarded my flight early so I’d have some time to explore the new seat a bit. The business class cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, meaning every seat has direct aisle access. All the seats are the same size but I can easily say I enjoyed my window seat more than the center seats. In this seat, I was diagonally pointed towards the window so unless I turned my head I felt like I was in my own mini-cabin, not able to see anyone else. Plus, the 2 center seats share a bit of space whereas my window seat had a bit of extra space beyond my table that went to good use. Unless traveling with a companion the window seats seem like the obvious choice.
I was in the back third of the Business Class cabin and the service seemed a bit slower back there for the short period I was awake. I’m hoping to get one of the seats in the smaller forward Business Class cabin for my return flight to see if there’s a noticeable difference.
The first impression I got when I got to my seat was that everything was very well laid out. There’s a sizable cabinet with headphones and an amenity kit. There are well-marked buttons for seat controls and lighting as well as a universal outlet for charging plus a USB charger. The armrest is fairly removed from the seat itself and stores handily. Flight attendants instructed us to make sure it was down for take-off. I never found a need to have it up so it stayed there for the entire flight.
The in-flight entertainment screen stows with the use of a push-button as well. The screen has decent resolution and the touch capacity is responsive, though I still prefer my iPad for entertainment purposes. One of the few flaws I found in the design is that the screen needs to be stowed for landing which technically means you can’t keep watching a movie during final approach. Not a big deal but some may find this annoying. The headphones supplied use a 3-prong jack. They’re standard Bose noise cancelling headphones that fit over your ears. I did see adaptors being requested by some passengers and supplied by the crew in case you bring your own headphones. The jack location is in the small closet in a bit of a tough spot to reach. It’s actually easier to plug the headphones in while standing than sitting. Once they’re plugged in though, it’s easy to close the closet door with the cable fitting in a convenient slot.
The seat easily folds down into a lie-flat bed with a quick touch of a button and slides back into an upright seat just as easily. Unlike the United BusinessFirst lie-flat seats, I didn’t feel cramped around the shoulders or feet in this seat while lying down. I’m not a big guy but I definitely felt the difference in this seat. My slumber was a bit restless but certainly better than any slanted Business Class seat I’ve experienced. When I did need to readjust I found it easy to do so with plenty of room. I didn’t plan well and forgot that there wouldn’t be pajamas in Business Class so I’ll need to remember that for the future.
While I didn’t end up dining I did take pictures of the menu for those interested in what was being served.
I awoke a bit before final descent and couldn’t even manage to squeeze a glass of OJ out of the crew. I don’t think it’s fair to judge the service on this flight based on two short interactions, but it did feel a bit rushed/understaffed when I did ask a few questions.
The landing and deplaning was easy and I was off to customs. Since it was now 7:45 in the morning local time, this was/is semi-officially day 2. I was hopping off the plane 13.5 hours after my trip started. That’s a lot longer than it would have taken if I flew direct to LHR, but price and the desire to try the new 777-300ER necessitated this structure. Next post, clearing transfers at London Heathrow and my first experience at the new T5.