I have been recently flying a lot over the Atlantic and I thought I would share you with my recent experience on AA's 777 Business Class product. There seems to be quite a few reports of AA, but the more the merrier...!
Anyway, on with the show... I arrived to LHR with my inbound flight at around 9am, so I had over five hours to spend in LHR. First I went to AA flight connection centre to get my boarding pass. The agent was very friendly, she asked me if I need any help finding my way around the terminal and wished me a pleasant flight. My first stop was the AA lounge complex where the attendant scanned my boarding pass and wished me welcome to the Flagship Lounge. I have been to LHR Admirals Club before and find that barely decent lounge, so I had slightly higher expectations for the Flagship Lounge. The door to Flagship Lounge is pretty invisible, it would be easy to miss if the agent would not guide you there. When I entered the lounge, my first impression was that it was very similar to the Admirals Club. It was also surprisingly crowded which didn't improve things.
I found myself a table, and was soon approached by a waitress who asked me if I would like to order some breakfast from the menu as they were just finishing the breakfast service. As I was not feeling particularly hungry, I declined the offer and settled with some juice and pastries. I worked with my laptop few hours and when the busiest hours were over, I switched to a recliner seat which was very comfy. All in all, I was not very impressed with the Flagship Lounge, there was no feeling of exclusivity over the Admirals Club. The only visible difference to me seemed to be the a la carte breakfast. As I still had several hours to go, I decided that I will try the BA Galleries Lounge as well.
The Galleries Lounge complex is big and my previous experience from the Club lounge was very positive. I entered the lounge reception area which is divided between Club and First lounges. The agent scanned my boarding pass and welcomed me in to the First section. My first impression was indeed much better than the Flagship Lounge. It looked really stylish and it was virtually empty. I checked the food and beverage offerings and they seemed to be pretty decent to say the least. They also had pretty nice looking dining room which I did not try. While I was in the lounge, they cleared the breakfast offerings and opened the salad and soup buffet. I took some salad which was very nice and fresh. If I have the choice between Flagship Lounge and BA Galleries First, no question about it, BA wins hands down!
After few hours it was finally time to head to the gate. When I arrived to the gate, I tried to snap a photo of my ride, but this is the best I managed to get:
Route: London, LHR to Miami, MIA
Airline: American Airlines
Flight number: AA 215
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 12J, Business Class
Wheels up: 3.19pm
Wheels down: 7.32pm
Date: March, 2012
Boarding started few minutes after I got to the gate and I was one of the first ones to board the aircraft. I was greeted at the door by two flight attengants and asked if I know where my seat is. Yes, I do know! I setteled to my controversial AA NGBC seat and was happy to find out that I had no seatmate for today's flight, yay! On the seat was pillow, blanket and AA's new Eames Amenity kit, which clearly is an upgrade from the previous amenity kit with Dermalogica products. Although, I have to say that I miss Burt's Bees lip balm..! Even though AA is adverising that they offer slippers for the passengers in premium cabins, no slippers were given during this flight.
View from my seat:
Mandatory legroom shot:
Flight attendants came thru the aisles and collected the jackets and distributed menus. I was mostly served by female f/a in her 60's. She was very pleasant and polite, addressing me by my name in every interaction we had. I was sure that this would be a great flight!
Pre-departure champagne was offered along with orange juice and water:
When boarding was completed, business class was only half full, and economy seemed also have some open seats. The pilot made his welcome speech advising that we would have strong headwinds but we would try to push early in order to arrive close to on-time in MIA. Boarding door was closed early, but nothing happened for ten minutes or so. Finally the pilot was on horn again and he told us that due to the bad weather in LHR area, we had a slot time approximately an hour later than the scheduled departure time (2.15pm).
As you can see, not the best weather:
Flight attendants took the meal orders at this time and distributed BOSE noise canceling headsets. Finally we started the taxi from the gate and the crew played the new safety video. I find it very good and different from the previous version.
Yes, we're on AA:
Start of the safety video:
Well, I'm glad to be here, thank you:
And this was the safety video:
The taxi took quite some time as we passed several terminals. At least the weather started to clear little bit.
Construction of new Terminal 2:
When we reached the holding point for the take-off runway, there was long line of departing BA aircraft waiting for their turn:
Luckily, we didn't have to wait very long, just few BA flights and QR 777 were taking off before it was our turn.
BA 767 in front of us:
And finally, it was our turn to take off. Take-off roll was very powerful, as usual for the 777, in a mere minute we were up in the skies heading to Miami.
Just after take-off:
When the fasten seat belt sign was switched off, crew started their work with hot towels and drink service from the carts.
Champagne and Diet Sierra Mist with nuts:
I have to say, I prefer the 767 business class on AA, as the drinks are delivered by hand from the galley and no carts are visible on the aisles. Anyway, now is a good time to look at the menu for this flight.
Warm mixed nuts
Smoked salmon and citrus marinated shrimp accompanied by capers, red onion and our cream
Fresh seasonal greens and an assortment of fresh vegetables offered with Greek vinaigrette or premium extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Assorted gourmet breads
Tomato Almon Beef Fillet
Grilled fillet of beef in a tomato almond sauce, offred with mixed vegetables and broccoli mashed potatoes
Seared breast of chicken enhanced by a tarragon reduction, served with a fava bean and sundried tomato medley and truffle mashed potatoes
Citrus Grilled Halibut
Citrus-grilled halibut accompanied by assorted vegetables flavored with lime and orange basmati rice
Penne Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes
A blend of tomatoes, basil, black olives and mozzarella cheese served over penne pasta with a Parmesan and creamy goat cheese tomato sauce
A scoop of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream
Fruit and Cheese
A selection of gourmet cheeses offered with fresh seasonal fruit and assorted crackers
Fruit and Cheese
A selection of gourmet cheeses offered with fresh seasonal fruit and assorted crackers
Assorted snack items are also available
Uno's Spinach and Garlic Pizza
A deep-dish spinach pizza seasoned with garlic, offered with a fresh green salad topped with broccoli, tomatoes and Italian herb vinaigrette
Cold Plate Sampler
Sliced roast beef and grilled chicken breast offered with Asian couscous and a Greek Salad
A moist, rich date and toffee cake
For Your Enjoyment
Chilled sparkling or still water with a fresh citrus garnish
Salmon and shrimp appetizer with seasonal salad and greek vinaigrette:
The appetizer was good, but honestly, AA, please use some imagination with the appetizers, I've had this same one for the last four flights. Some variation would be nice.
Citrus grilled halibut:
Fish was so-so, the looks were not very premium, but the taste was ok and the texture was moist and tender. Veggies and rice were nothing to write home about.
While the dessert looks kind of spartan, I have to say I prefer the Ben and Jerry's "pre-made sundaes" over the "hand-made sundaes" which are offered in 767 business class and 777 first class. And this is simply because I'm not a big fan of vanilla ice cream.
After lunch the cabin lights were dimmed and window shades pulled down. Flight attendants distributed bottles of Evian water. I reclined my seat and dozed off for few hours. When I woke up, the flight attendants were handing out cheese plates. I took one as well as I was craving for someting to eat. On my way to the lavatory I was checking, if there would be any snacks available in the galley area, but for some reason the crew had not set up the usual snack station...wonder why?!
As I could not sleep anymore, I started to explore the ON AMERICAN entertainment system. There were several newly released movies available and I watched My Week With Marilyn, which was surprisingly good. When I was finished with the movie, I raised the window shade and noticed that sun had already started to set:
About an hour before arrival the crew started serve afternoon snacks. As my expreiences with AA pizza's have not been the best ones, I decided to go with the cold deli sampler:
Snack was ok, although I could not locate any greek salad on my plate even though it was mentioned in the menu.
After the dishes were cleared, we started the descent to Miami area. The pilot advised that there would be some rain showers in Miami are but the temperature was still pleasant 23C...nice! The landing was uneventful and we touched down in Miami some 25 minutes later than scheduled. Quick taxi to the gate and a run to the immigration line, which was surpringly short tonight and I had the luck with the chosen line as it was clearly the fastest one. I was out of the terminal in less than 40 minutes after the arrival.
Very solid flight with AA. As for the lounge in LHR, no reason to go to AA lounges as BA offers so much better product for both first and business class. My feeling is that the difference is even bigger in the first class lounges. During the flight service was very nice and professional, food was what one can expect from AA and the seat is good enough to get several hours of solid sleep. As I have indicated before, I'm not a big fan of the coffin like flat seats, such as Delta's new BusinessElite seat on 767-400, I prefer much more the traditional recliner style seats. I'm really looking forward the new AA business class seat which will be rolled out when they launch 777-300ER.
Thanks for reading, all comments and questions are welcome!