Note: I took this flight on January 2017. It’s been a while, and I have taken similar flights since. The product has hardly changed, except for the amenity kits which the kit itself has gone from good to absolute trash. I hope you enjoy this trip report down memory lane.

 

TL;DR

American has really stepped up their game on Transatlantic Flights. Although not the best airline to cross the Atlantic, the improvement over their previous product(s) is noticeable. Their 777-200ER with the Zodiac style seats are not as bad as people make them sound. Wifi, good food, and good bedding make for a pleasant and relaxing flight.

The Good: Comfortable seat, although a very interesting design. Improved food quality and functionally fast wifi.

The Bad: Indifferent/robotic crews.

The Noteworthy: My seat did not rock/shake when the other person moved, I don’t know if it was because of where I was seated, or because I lucked out!

 

Booking

I booked this flight via Google Flights, as there were affordable tickets between DCA and Barcelona. I had been meaning to go to BCN for a while, so when I saw cheap tickets, I made it work. The flight was only $385, and I easily upgraded using Business ExtrAA Points.

 

Arrival at JFK

Since my flight from DCA ended up being delayed about 30 minutes, it only gave me 30 minutes from landing to the scheduled start of boarding at JFK. This meant no Flagship Lounge 🙁 . As soon as I got to the terminal, I walked over to the gate for my Barcelona flight, which was some distance away. Once there, boarding was only 4 minutes away. Quick note: there were 8 people who cleared at the gate for upgrades (most were non-revs).

Fast Facts:

Airline: American Airlines

Aircraft: 777-200ER

Cabin: Business Class

Seat: 7L

Route: New York JFK- Barcelona

On-time: Yes

American Airlines 777

American Airlines 777

Boarding

Boarding began quickly and efficiently with Concierge Key members. I was expecting there to be maybe one or two CK members (as is what I have come to expect from transAtlantic flights). Surprisingly, there were none. About 5 seconds after they realized, they called Group 1 to Board.

 

Cabin

The Zodiac Aerospace Cabin is quite elegant, but also very sterile. The seats are in variations of the color grey, along with the walls. Mood lighting makes the cabin feel more welcoming. It is worth highlighting, however, that at the entrance there is a cool light fixture. It is lit red, white and blue, and gives the galley a patriotic feel. The business class cabin consists of two separate sections. The front section and the back section are about the same size, but the front section avoids extra traffic during boarding. I also find turning left on a plane to be an awesome feeling.

Business Class Cabin

Business Class Cabin

Alternating Business Class Seats 777

Alternating Business Class Seats 777

Alternating Business Class Seats 777

Alternating Business Class Seats 777

Business Class Cabin

Business Class Cabin

Center Seats

Center Seats

Center Seats

Center Seats

Behind Business Class there was the economy cabin. It was set up in a 3x4x3 configuration, which is one more dense than the old style.

American Airlines Economy Cabin 777

American Airlines Economy Cabin 777

Economy Cabin American 777

Economy Cabin American 777

Economy Cabin American 777

Economy Cabin American 777

Seat

I had selected 7L, a window seat on the right side of the plane. The seats, as mentioned before, are staggered, some are front facing and some are back facing. I personally prefer the back facing seats, since they offer better views of the window, and more privacy when sleeping.

Seat 7L

Seat 7L

Unconstrained Footwell

Unconstrained Footwell

On my seat there was already a pillow and a blanket. American now uses the Casper Bedding. I really like their pillows, but the new blankets are thinner and less soft than the old ones. So I would call this one a toss up in terms of improvement.

 

The seat has a mini ottoman, which you can’t use for very much. Above the ottoman is the IFE screen. They are pretty high definition, but not as High Def as the ones on the new 787-9 (in my opinion).

IFE Screen

IFE Screen

Next to the seat there is a small storage compartment, where the amenity kit was stored. One of the nice things of this version of the Business Class seat is that it comes with two USB Ports and two Universal Power outlets. In proximity to the outlets there is a small compartment where you can store small things. I kept my phone and wallet there during the flight.

USB Ports

USB Ports

Storage

Storage

The seat controls are found on the opposite side of the window on the rear facing seats. They are touch screen controls, and are a bit overly responsive. They turn on easily and a slight touch will move your seat. The IFE controls are on the window side, as well as a reading light.

IFE Control and Reading Light

IFE Control and Reading Light

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

Amenities

As I mentioned before, there was a Casper bedding set waiting for me at my seat. There was also an amenity kit, a menu and a pair of Bose Headphones. The Cole Haan Amenity Kit was stocked with the usual CO Bigelow products, and all the rest of the basic items.

American Airlines Business Class Amenities

American Airlines Business Class Amenities

American Airlines Amenity Kit

American Airlines Amenity Kit

Amenity Kit Content

Amenity Kit Content

Departure and Take off

While I investigated my seat, a flight attendant walked by offering passengers the option between orange juice, water and champagne. I selected the OJ, and it was presented in a plastic glass. By this time, the business class cabin was totally full, and the flight was about 85-90% full, per my estimates.

Pre Departure Beverage

Pre Departure Beverage

The captain came on the PA to announce that we would be departing about 5 minutes early, and he expected us to arrive about 40 minutes ahead of schedule at Barcelona due to favorable winds. We pushed back and began our taxi to the runway at JFK.

 

It kinda sucks that you can’t take very good pictures from any of the business class seats because of the angle. The rear facing ones are angled away from the window, and the forward facing ones are too far away. A true design flaw for those AvGeeks out there.

 

We took off after a shorter-than-expected wait in line for the runway.

 

Dinner Service

Dinner began very quickly after the captain signaled the crew could begin. The flight had both dinner and breakfast service, which was a bit a food considering the flight time of just over 6h30m. The menu read as follows:

The crew began by distributing hot towels, the same ones they offer in domestic business class. Afterwards, they came by and set the table.

Warm Towel

Warm Towel

Tray Table

Tray Table

Table "Set up"

Table “Set up”

Following, they brought out warm nuts and drinks, and I ordered my favorite soda: Dr. Pepper.

Nuts and Dr Pepper

Nuts and Dr Pepper

The appetizer was a Thai Chicken breast with some fruit garnishes. It was rather bland, and tasted just like the Subway chicken breast. The salad was small and simple, but the dressing was pour at your seat, a nice touch.

Salad and Appetizer

Salad and Appetizer

Bread Rolls

Bread Rolls

For the main course I ordered the beef fillet. It was tender and juicy, but the mac and cheese was tasteless. I had to use the leftover sauce from the beef to add some flavor.

Beef Entree

Beef Entree

For dessert, there was a chocolate mousse cake, which was the highlight of the meal.

Dessert

Dessert

After Dinner and Sleeping

After dinner, I watched some TV and then I decided to go to sleep. Before I clocked out, I went to check out the onboard bar, which was stocked with snacks, water, and sandwiches and wraps. THERE WAS SO MUCH FOOD ON THIS FLIGHT. Comparing the amount of snacks available, and the visual quality, American literally destroys British Airways and Iberia. As a matter of fact, they even outdo Cathay Pacific on longer flights. WOWZA.

777 Bar

777 Bar

777 Bar

777 Bar

Onboard Bar 777

Onboard Bar 777

When I got back to my seat, I put it in lie flat mode. It isn’t particularly wide, and feels a bit claustrophobic, but I did not mind. The pillow and blanket were nice enough to sleep in. Within 10 minutes of lying down, I fell asleep, only to wake up before breakfast.

Lie Flat Seat

Lie Flat Seat

Lie Flat Seat

Lie Flat Seat

Breakfast Service

About 1h45m before arrival, the flight attendants came by to offer breakfast. As opposed to most American flights, the crew was doing it sort of on-demand. As people began to wake up, they were asked what they wanted for breakfast. By 1h20m before arrival, everyone had basically woken up.

777 Business Class Cabin

777 Business Class Cabin

I ordered the egg dish, which is the exact same one they offer on domestic first class. It was alright.

Breakfast on American Airlines

Breakfast on American Airlines

Landing and Arrival

Approach into Barcelona was smooth and beautiful. The sun was only beginning to rise, and you could sense peace in the sky. We flew over the city, out into the Mediterranean, and then landed in Barcelona El Prat Airport.

Landing at BCN

Landing at BCN

After 10 minutes of taxiing, we were at a gate and were able to deplane.

 

Landing Thoughts

American has one of the better Trans Atlantic business class options. Although not as fancy as Air France, nor as refined as Lufthansa, they offer a competitive option. I would fly them over Lufthansa, any IAG airline, and some Air France aircraft in a heartbeat. The service is the only place where American can improve, but this applies to almost every United States airline. If I ever find a cheap and easily upgradeable fare, I would hop on it immediately. My only concern is how difficult American is making it to get upgrades a few moments after ticketing. If they released more upgrade inventory, that would be awesome.

 

What do you think? Do you think American has improved their Business class experience? Where else can they improve? Let us know!

Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews

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