Review: American Airlines Boeing 777 business class (Los Angeles-Sydney)

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, February 15 2016
American Airlines Boeing 777 business class (Los Angeles-Sydney)
Route

Los Angeles - Sydney

Aircraft Type

Boeing 777-300ER

Airline

American Airlines

Flight

AA73

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

11J

Notes
The Good
  • Fully-flat beds with direct aisle access
  • Ample seat-side storage space
  • PJs, slippers and mattress pad for a good night's sleep
The Bad
  • Domestic-style lounges in Los Angeles
  • Entertainment screen must be stowed for take-off and landing
X-Factor
  • More privacy than in AA first class
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Now flying daily to Australia, American Airlines' flagship Boeing 777-300ER business class ticks most boxes for business travellers with fully-flat beds, direct aisle access for all and a meal service that lets you order dishes throughout the flight to appease any midnight cravings.

Australian Business Traveller hops aboard AA from Los Angeles to Sydney to test the newest entrant in the bustling trans-Pacific market.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: American Airlines AAdvantage, Oneworld alliance. Qantas Frequent Flyer members can too earn points and status credits when travelling with AA.
  • Priority check-in: Dedicated business class desks towards the left of the check-in zone in Terminal 4.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 3x32kg bags.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x115cm bag with no set weight limit plus personal items like duty-free purchases, books or umbrellas and a briefcase, laptop bag or purse.
  • Priority screening (LAX T4): Not offered during our visit unless also eligible for TSA Pre-Check, which you can't enrol in using an Australian passport.
  • Express Path access (Australia arrivals): Yes: present the supplied Express Path card at passport control (if not using or eligible for SmartGate), and again after baggage claim.

Lounge

With American's Sydney flights departing from Terminal 4 at LAX rather than the more familiar TBIT used by Qantas and Virgin Australia, business class travellers can make use of the American Airlines Admirals Club before their flight.

Offering basic buffet food, a selection of complimentary alcohol and more substantial dishes available for purchase, the lounge isn't on-par with the newer Oneworld Business Lounge over in TBIT...

... but in one redeeming factor, Qantas Platinum frequent flyers (and above) plus other Oneworld Emerald members can relax in the adjacent Flagship Lounge, boasting a more extensive spread of hot food...

... more chilled items...

... and real Champagne in the Taittinger NV.

Seat

AA's Boeing 777-300ER business class comes in a 1-2-1 layout – guaranteeing direct aisle access for every passenger – and as a customisation of the same 'Cirrus' seat that's popular with travellers on Cathay Pacific.

Each seat transforms into a fully-flat bed and stretches up to 198cm in length...

... and with a side arm rest that can either be raised (below) or lowered (above) for maximum comfort when sitting and sleeping.

Passengers are provided with mattress pads to make the seat more comfortable overnight – the same actually given to first class travellers – along with a blanket, pillow, pyjamas and slippers.

The shell of each seat wraps around to improve your privacy and oddly gives you more of it than when flying in AA first class...

... while storage is plentiful thanks to a large bench aside the seat, a cabinet large enough for tablets and headphones which also features a mirror in the back of the door...

... a space beside your legs with ample room for PJs, shoes and your water bottle...

... a literature pocket, which admittedly already comes jam-packed by AA...

... and a coat hook for nursing your jacket after it's returned for landing:

When sitting upright there's also plenty of room to stretch out with a raised section of the floor serving as a quasi-footrest for take-off and landing...

... and a more comfortable leather footrest further back which gets within reach when the seat is reclined and forms the tail end of your bed when the seat goes fully-flat.

Combined with easily accessible USB and AC power ports, the only downside to this seat is the entertainment screen: but more on that later.

Meal

Being an evening flight out of LAX and a morning arrival into Sydney, dinner is served after take-off followed by breakfast closer to arrival.

The journey begins with a choice of juice, water and Champagne (Castelnau Réserve Brut NV) while on the ground, all served in stemmed plastic cups.

Using plastic over glass does mean you can nurse your beverage during take-off, but we've never taken half an hour or more to enjoy a small welcome drink – and from the number of empty cups we saw collected before wheels-up, this seemed to be a common theme.

That's followed by a second round in the air and warm mixed nuts, this time with the Champagne served in a tapered glass tumbler: it's not quite a traditional flute, but granted, it's a step closer than the pre-departure plastic.

Next up: a bite-sized prosciutto crostini with hints of lime-infused cream cheese to start...

... then a green salad – skipped as we'd already eaten on the ground – before one of five main plates: a grilled beef fillet, pan-seared lamb chops, roasted halibut (selected), mushroom wellington or a mezze plate:

Served with chimichurri, goat cheese and squash couscous, the dish was flavourful although the halibut itself arrived rather firm and overcooked.

Dessert provides a further choice between hand selected local cheeses, a Ben & Jerry's brownie ice cream and a Ghirardelli chocolate raspberry mouse, which went down a treat:

Can't sleep during the flight? Wagyu beef sliders are also available overnight – as is the mezze plate and the cheese course – while a walk-up bar provides an excuse to stretch your legs with chocolates, cookies, popcorn, potato chips and fruit waiting for you when stocked up:

About 1.5 hours before landing, breakfast offers a standard continental option (seasonal fruit and organic yoghurt with granola), or a traditional American breakfast with fluffy scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, roasted potatoes and a herbed tomato...

... plus the usual juices, teas and filtered coffee, without the espresso options you'd get in AA first class or indeed Qantas business class on the A380 and refurbished Boeing 747s.

Entertainment & Service

Travellers are free to browse and select from 250 movies, 160 TV shows, 13 radio channels, 375 music albums and 20 games, to be enjoyed on a 15.4-inch touchscreen monitor:

The screen image is particularly clear – complete with a handy brightness setting oddly not available in first class – although by design, the screen needs to be folded away for take-off and landing:

The supplied Bose noise-cancelling headsets are also collected around this time, but if you're listening to music or can tolerate watching your show on an angle, the crew also offer earbuds with aircraft adapters which you can use until you reach the gate.

In theory, you can also glance at the side controller to quickly see how much time is remaining on your flight, but we found that the countdown timer only updates when accessing this information on the main entertainment screen, making it redundant.

(The word 'hours' is also missing the 'r', but that's being picky...)
(The word 'hours' is also missing the 'r', but that's being picky...)

Crew on this evening's flight were personable and polite, distributing retro-style amenity kits...

(You can keep the case and use it as an iPad Mini cover, which is nifty)
(You can keep the case and use it as an iPad Mini cover, which is nifty)

... offering to hang jackets before take-off (and remembering to return them before landing) and were warm without being too familiar, which is a great and friendly middle-ground and which made the flight quite enjoyable.

Also read: American Airlines Boeing 777 first class review: Sydney-LA

Chris Chamberlin travelled to LA as a guest of American Airlines.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

having recently completed this flight, the hard product won hands down over Qantas 747 (to LAX in Dec), but the soft service and soft product from the self depricating QF crew was far superior.

That said, AA's soft service exceeded my expectations.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

No mention of the Wifi?

WiFi access can be bought by all passengers on the aircraft (regardless of cabin), so will follow as a separate review.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

Great review and thanks for explaining why some airlines insist on using plastic cups pre departure. Always thought it was a weight issue but your explanation makes sense and I agree with your point about most people being done with their drink before takeoff anyway. Plastic looks cheap and nasty though whichever way you look at it.

AA have a great business hard product (almost better than their First) and I wonder how long QF can compete also given Virgin's new Business on their 777s. QF's food and generally better service doesn't make up for non direct aisle access in my book. Get those new A 330 J class seats installed on the A380 pronto!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 33

That self-serve bar in shot is certainly looking rather bare. Was this taken too early in the flight, too late in the flight, or stock photo?

It's a stock photo – difficult to take photos there at night due to lower light and with people sleeping nearby etc.

30 Dec 2014

Total posts 9

Nice review Chris. I am QF Gold and booked in J on the code share QF310 in June. The AA lounge in terminal 4 doesn't sound too flash. I presume the better plan would be the QF Business lounge in TBIT. Is there a shuttle that goes from TBIT to terminal 4? What are the other options for getting to terminal 4 from TBIT? Cheers.

TBIT is a great option if you have plenty of time but for now you need to walk there from T4 - it's about 5 minutes as the terminals are next to each other. When prompted at the first security entrance, just say "lounge" when the staff stare at your boarding pass or wonder what you're doing. Then just allow ample time to walk back to T4 and clear security again. Suggest doing this earlier rather than later just in case the queues are long.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2013

Total posts 45

@upperdeck
you can now hit up the QF TBIT lounge via an internal connection from T4 direct to TBIT (saving you the outdoor, ex-security walk between terminals).

Looking forward to doing this myself come three weeks!!

https://www.executivetraveller.com/new-lax-terminal-connector-quicker-transits-more-lounges-on-tap

 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

Pretty incredible to see the disparity in value between AA's First and AA's Business offerings - F seems mediocre enough to overlook, but, besides the T4 lounge, J seems like a strong product in the Aust/US market - excited to mix it up from QF this year and try it out.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Nov 2013

Total posts 29

I stopped reading when I got to "Admirals Club". 

Nope. 

24 Feb 2016

Total posts 3

While the business class seat may seem more private than the first class seat, i'd prefer the first class seat anyday. It's larger, more roomier, and you have the desk function. 

Since QF/AA have aligned their meal offerings, the only advantage flying qantas would be if you want a nicer crew. But honestly just put up with a mediocre FA if that means wifi, all-aisle access seating, and the convenience of avoiding TBIT at LAX. Also business class passengers get overweight bag allowances on AA, so 32kg x 3 bags, not 23kg. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts xyeahtony, and welcome to AusBT.

The baggage allowance we listed was based on the AA website which reads:

For all regions, your checked baggage allowance is: Weight: 50lbs/23kg

1st, 2nd and 3rd checked bags are complimentary for: Confirmed First and Business Class customers

However, following your heads-up we've looked into this further and have found the 32kg rule on a separate page on the AA site, so have updated this review accordingly and our other AA flight reviews also.

Thank you kindly for bringing this to our attention.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2013

Total posts 45

Chris

Great review (thank you)!  Looking forward to trying out this service both ways in a few weeks.  Particularly, I'm excited to feel the difference in the seats (for although I do love QF, I find the SkyBed Mark II seats, at times, have a rather significant tendency to have a 'droopy' legrest whilst in fully flat mode).


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