It wasn’t until long ago that, at least if you were based in the UK, when flying transatlantic you chose either BA or Virgin Atlantic.
They each covered the major gateways from Heathrow and differences between the two airlines were largely a matter of personal taste. You only ever countenanced a US airline if there was an exceptionally good fare.
A combination of financial restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and the launch of transatlantic joint-ventures led US airlines to raise their game.
In the case of American Airlines, a step change came with the introduction of the Boeing 777-300 aircraft six years ago. This operates from Heathrow on selected frequencies to Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK. It also operates one frequency to American’s biggest hub in Dallas Fort Worth, which is the subject of this review.
Check-in at a very quiet early morning Terminal 3 was swift.
For some reason American’s premium check-in desks are located separately in Zone B from its main check-in area. Fast track security was similarly quiet.
Arriving at the gate 40 minutes before departure, boarding was already well under way. There were no queues and it was straight on board the aircraft for an on-time take off.
This is a four class aircraft that has been retrofitted with premium economy.
The business class cabin is divided into a small “demi-cabin” of two rows behind First Class. Behind the galley is a much larger cabin of 11 rows. The cabin features Safran (formerly Zodiac) Aerospace’s “reverse herringbone” design where seats face inwards in a 1-2-1 configuration.
There are no bad seats in the cabin but, for reasons explained below, it’s best to be seated away from the galleys.
There is no question that this is a superb business class seat.
There is plenty of room at the shoulder and at the foot. All the seat controls are intuitive and close to hand. There is ample storage in a personal vanity unit, and by your feet in the side of the seat and under the foot rest. At seat power is provided through a three pin plug and USB charging port. Whilst the seat does not offer complete privacy, it is more than enough. Only one awareness point is that the arm rest on the aisle side of the seat needs to be lowered for take off and landing.
You certainly couldn’t ask more for space to work on a day flight. It did make for a very comfortable flight. Even with a relatively long flight time of nearly ten hours, there was never any sense of the flight dragging.
Having previously flown on this aircraft on a night flight, only one minor quibble is that as your head is positioned towards the aisle when sleeping, you might find yourself easily disturbed by noise in the aisle.
In a potentially unpopular opinion, if an alternative aircraft such as the Airbus A380 was available for a night flight, I would choose this, even with an inferior seat, because the 777 is so noisy.