REVIEW: American Airlines Business Class
by Dominic Lalk.
American Airlines (AA) launched its daily Hong Kong-Dallas service, using its flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft featuring 8 First Class Suites, 52 lie-flat Business Class booths, 30 Main Cabin Extra seats (economy with 36-inch increased legroom) and 220 Economy seats. From Dallas, AA offers seamless connections to its domestic network, as well as to Latin and South America.
AA issues Premium Plaza Lounge access coupons to its business class passengers. The lounge is a pay-as-you-go facility, and multiple Hong Kong-based credit cards provide access, so it gets very busy throughout the day and finding a seat could be difficult. That said, the lounge is modern with an adequate food selection, as well as standard drinks.
Business class and frequent flyer status passengers were given priority boarding through a separate airbridge. There was no line and I was seated within minutes, with a thick pillow, sizable duvet, AA-branded amenity kit and menu waiting on my seat. A member of the flight crew quickly came around, introduced himself, and hung my coat. Another attendant followed with a selection of welcome drinks, served in plastic cups, including juice, water and champagne. Newspapers were offered, but no magazines were on display.
I was in 3G, a center seat in the 1–2–1-configured business cabin. The seat is the much-praised Zodiac Aerospace Cirrus module, offering direct aisle access, and a significant amount of personal space. The seats on the sides are angled toward the windows, while the ones in the middle are angled towards each other. As a single traveller you would obviously like to get one of the single seats by the window, while as a couple, the 'honeymoon' center pairs are ideal.
The seat design offers considerable personal space, allowing to sit back and relax in a 21-inch wide armchair. Armrests can be fully adjusted to different heights to complement different body positions while dining, reading, working or resting. The seat converts into a fully-flat 2m-long bed at the touch of the controls. I liked the in-built mirror and Bose noise-cancelling headphones – they provided outstanding sound quality.
The seat also features a generous, 15.4-inch personal touch screen TV monitor, with programs available in countless languages and featuring a large audio and video selection, including recent HBO hits.
We departed HKIA on time. The flight deck provided comprehensive information about the journey ahead, including arrival conditions in Dallas.
Twenty minutes into the flight, the crew made its first drinks round, inclusive of warm nuts and another round of towels. Shortly thereafter lunch was served. There was a roast chicken with mushroom vegetable starter which was forgettable. This was followed by a large helping of salad. Next was a selection of four entrees – beef fillet, sweet and sour chicken, sea bass, and polenta lasagna. I had the pan-seared fish with butter sauce, mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. The sea bass was absolutely delicious and definitely ranks among the more memorable in-flight meals I've had.
Dessert consisted of a choice of ice cream sundae topped with your choice of hot fudge, caramel or berries, and whipped cream and pecans. Alternatively, there was a cheese platter (three varieties), or banoffee pie.
The HK-Dallas route being a 15-hour flight, there was a "mid-flight snack" comprising Sichuan duck served chilled with stir fried egg noodles, or a roast beef sandwich with a curry potato salad, followed by fresh fruit. An hour into arrival in Dallas, another "light meal" was served – mixed pepper quiche or a selection of dim sum.
AA offered a fine selection of beverages throughout the flight, including Castelnau Reserve Brut champagne, two whites (one of them an excellent Chilean sauvignon blanc), two reds and two dessert wines.
There is Wi-Fi available throughout the flight, though this is chargeable at US$12 an hour, or US$19 for the entire flight, even for first and business class passengers.
There's a lot to like here. AA provides a good option for travel from Hong Kong to the U.S. and beyond. Its Dallas hub is modern, bright and easy to navigate. The seat itself is excellent and the direct aisle access is a sure winner. I particularly enjoyed the plush pillows and duvets provided, and the vast entertainment options streamed on the personal screens. The catering was hit and miss. Overall, a good addition to transpacific travel, but AA lacks the five-star attention-to-detail found at Asian or Middle Eastern carriers.