Note: I took this flight a few years back (November 2017). Very few things have changed on the soft product, and the hard product remains the same. I take this flight usually twice a year, and I decided to use my original impressions, as compared to my current, underwhelmed impressions. If anyone notes anything that is off in the current flights, let me know and I will add a note. Thanks for reading!
American offers a good option for an upgraded economy class ticket from LAX-HKG. The airline has a solid set of amenities, some of which you can’t find on Cathay Pacific. Wifi is reasonably priced. Food was decent. Considering how late the flight departs from LAX (12:55am), I was surprised the airline served a full dinner.
The Good: Solidly fast wifi at good price, easy upgrade with a SWU.
The Bad: Mediocre FA’s, meh food quality.
The Noteworthy: There were over 5 courtesy upgrades at the gate, since Economy was oversold and business class had a few seats empty.
I booked this flight originating in Houston-IAH. There were $900 round trip flights from IAH to Hong Kong, so I decided to take the short trip. I searched on ExpertFlyer if there would be any award space on the route, and I was pleasantly surprised that there were 4 seats on almost every departure to HKG. As soon as I booked the flight, I used one of my SWU’s and was confirmed on all three legs.
Arrival at LAX
I was arriving on a flight from DFW, which was supposed to land at around 11:30pm. There was, however, an issue with getting a gate, so we sat on the tarmac for over 30 minutes before we got a gate. Finally, at around 11:55am, I deplaned, and proceeded to the makeshift Flagship Lounge. To my dismay, the new Flagship would open one week after my return flight. After grabbing a free smoothie from the lounge, and having a nibble at the sandwiches they had there, I proceeded to the gate.
Airline: American Airlines
Cabin Class: Business Class
Route: Los Angeles- Hong Kong
On Time: Yes
As I proceeded to the gate, there was no one left in the terminal. This was the last departure on the American Terminal until 5am. From there, the only open gate was ours. There was a bit of a mess given the oversold situation in the economy cabin. While two gate agents were working on upgrading people, they began boarding first class. There were (to my observation) only 4 people in First Class. As soon as they boarded, they called Business Class to board. The process was fairly quick, with people who were not in Group 1-4 lining up on the Group 5-9 lane, keeping the priority lane empty.
Seat and Cabin
Every time I board the cabin of a 777-300ER I am surprised how tall it is. I can comfortably stand in the aisles, with about a whole foot of space to spare. The Business class cabin on the AA 77W is divided in two. There is a mini cabin right behind First Class with 2 rows, the remaining 11 rows are one very long cabin.
I had resigned myself seat 9J, a window seat on the far side of the plane. The seat is very similar to the one Cathay Pacific uses on most of its long haul fleet.
On the seat there was a bedding set (large pillow, thick blanket, mattress pad, and slippers). On the side table there was an amenity kit. Finally, in the locker next to the seat there was a pair of Bose Headphones.
Each seat has between 1-3 windows, I would not recommend the last seat in each cabin, as they have one less window. On the panel by the seat, there are the seat controls, IFE remote, reading light, a power port and the Media Connect controls.
There is also a small compartment below the side table where you can keep shoes, or small items. I kept my shoes and wallet in that compartment, and there was still some space to spare. The foot cuby is decently large, but it isn’t open, as there is part of the front seat above it.
The IFE screen is touch-responsive, and swings out from the back of the seat in front. The amenity kit is pretty good. It comes with CO Bigelow amenities, eye shades, dental kit, socks, earplugs, tissues and a pen. The slippers included with the sleeping set were good quality.
About 10 minutes after settling in, the FA came by to introduce herself with Pre departure beverage options of champagne, OJ and water. She also handed a menu to us. The menu was some of the last booklet menus printed by the airline, as American was switching to another kind of menu card. The Menu Read as follows:
On Transpacific Flights to Hong Kong and to Sydney, American offers Pajamas to Business Class customers. I was shocked that these are the same PJs they offer in First class on these routes. They are very comfortable and soft, and I have used them at home since then.
After managing the Oversold situation, about 3 seats were left open in business class. We closed the door on time, and within 5 minutes we were pushing back. We were the only plane taxiing to the runway, and soon after we took off. I had never seen LAX and the Tom Bradley International Terminal that empty.
About 20 minutes after take-off, the flight attendants came by to start the dinner service. I ordered the beef fillet, since I was worried the curry would simply disappoint me. Service started with the usual small hot towel they serve in Domestic Business class.
They brought out the same nut mix they use domestically, and a drink cart. I ordered a Dr. Pepper and water. After the drinks were laid out, the FAs set up the table by placing a table cloth. The canapé and the salad were both served at the same time. The canapé was literally one shrimp. The saddest part of the meal was the salad. It was basically one piece of lettuce with croutons. It was pathetic and the dressing was also meh.
The beef was actually good, however. It was medium-cooked, which is good by airline standards, and the potatoes were flavorful. The gravy was alright, but it tasted better with the broccolini. By this point, I was full, so I didn’t order dessert.
When I went to change to the PJs, I saw that the FAs had set up a bar in the middle gallety. It was stocked with snacks and lots of water, good for such a long flight. By then, the cabin was very dark and people were already going to sleep.
I made my own bed, and the mattress pad made the seat a lot more comfortable. I slept for about 4 hours.
For the mid flight snacks, I ordered both, since it seemed they had extras. The sliders were just normal burgers, although during the middle of the flight they were very welcome.
The Antipasto platter was tiny, and I was not very impressed. Something I appreciate about AA is that they serve Hong Kong Milk Tea with actual condensed milk. As someone who regularly drinks milk tea, the AA version was not good, but it was better than what I have had on Cathay.
After the mid flight snack, I went back to sleep for another 5 hours. This time around, I was woken up by the sunrise, as we were getting closer to Hong Kong.
I didn’t want to have eggs for breakfast, as I am not the biggest fan of breakfast food. I asked the flight attendants if there had been any meals left from the mid-flight snacks, and they came by to tell me they still had some gnocchi from dinner, that they could heat up. I was every happy and accepted. It was a weird looking meal to say the least, gnocchi with fruit and a breakfast smoothie. I have to say, it tasted a lot better than the eggs option would have.
As we prepared for landing, I noticed it was a very cloudy day in Hong Kong. We onyl got good views of the SAR as we were very close to landing. We landed early, and could see all the Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon aircraft parked at gates.
We arrived at our gate about 30 minutes early, and from there I proceeded to immigration and passport control.
American offers a solid hard product to cross the Pacific. The food was alright, it wasn’t great but it was good enough. The wifi was fast and efficient, and very reasonably priced. If you can find upgrade space, this is the cheapest and easiest way to make it to Hong Kong. Would I pay full price for the flight, no. I would rather fly Cathay Pacific because of their polished service and improved food. However, American is a close second place on the competition.