[Click above for the video review.]
As this was our first time on American’s Boeing 787 plane, I was as excited as a school girl going to a Justin Bieber concert to try out this new product. After a 7 hour Japan Airlines flight in economy from Jakarta, we did a little shopping at the Akihabara duty free shop in the terminal. Then we were off again to the JAL First Class Lounge.
I mentioned in my previous post that the JAL First Class Lounge is my favorite lounge in Narita for two reasons. One, they have a sushi bar where you can order fresh sushi and two, they have the best beef curry out of any lounge out there. Not to mention that the lounge offers ample and comfortable seating, complimentary 15 minute massages, massage chairs, smoking room, shower suites, and good quality food and drinks.
After a nice shower and some more of my favorite curry dish, we headed to the gate.
A few minutes after arriving at the gate, boarding commenced and Business Class passengers were called to board. I gave the agent my boarding pass and passport, and upon scanning my boarding pass, the scanner beeped with a red light. Uh oh… The agent took my passport and boarding pass and went behind the counter. She came back, handed me my passport and boarding pass after a few seconds, and said: “Thank you very much! Did you pre-order the Japanese Meal?” I responded yes, and she mentioned “Oh, that’s why!” Crisis averted and I was permitted to board.
We boarded the plane using door 2L at which we were pointed left by the flight attendant at the door towards the main business class cabin. The AA 787 aircraft features the Zodiac Aerospace life-flat seats which have both front and rear facing (reverse) herringbone seats in business class. I was seated in 2L (rear facing), and my companion in 1L (front facing). Waiting at our seats were the amenity kit, menu, slippers, and a plastic wrapped pillow and duvet.
We had a bit of an issue stowing our carry on luggage in the “oversized” overhead bins, as two of the passengers stowed their luggage sideways occupying the length of the bin. I approached one of the passengers and asked if I could put his carry-on wheels in. He said he didn’t think it would fit, but I told him I would try. Needless to say his carry-on did fit wheels in. I then stowed my carry-on in the bin and closed it shut.
Upon settling in, Ginnie, the flight attendant working our aisle came and offered pre-departure beverages. My companion and I both opted for the champagne (naturally). Then Ginny soon came back with our Bose noise-canceling headphones.
More about the seat, as I mentioned the seat turns into a full flat bed when reclined all the way. The “suite” has 2 USB ports and 2 AC power outlets for charging your devices. There’s a small storage space for your devices directly facing you when seated, as well a literature holder right next the seat. Right next to my right shoulder was the IFE touchscreen remote and reading light. In front of me towards the left was the touchscreen seat and lighting controls. In front of me attached to the the back of the adjacent seat was a pop-out 15.4″ touchscreen IFE monitor and right below it was an ottoman and shoe storage. The folding tray table was stored under the right arm rest. The seat itself was very comfortable and the leg room was excellent. My only complaint is the lack of privacy since I was facing the person sitting in 2H. It got rather awkward at times. Also, you could feel the seat shake and shift whenever the person in 1L moved or reclined their seat. Just a word of warning.
After a few minutes, boarding was complete and we were off to Chicago. The flight time on this flight was a short 10 hours and 25 minutes. We soon started to pushback and the safety video started playing. It was a rather long 15 minute taxi before we got to the runway and took off into the sunset.
I played around withe the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for a while and was pleasantly surprised. The interface is just like what AA has on their 777-300ER planes. The air show was amazing! It shows you the flight path and you could zoom in and out of it. The system also featured an extensive movie selection. There was also live TV available, so I decided to check-out CNN for a little bit. There were also a handful of games available. As I mentioned in my previous post, I really haven’t been watching movies in-flight lately. I’ve just been enjoying the ambiance.
It was rather bumpy the first few minutes of the flight. After about 15 minutes, the seatbelt sign was off and the crew started their service. Ginny came down the aisle to distribute hot towels and then came by with the drink cart to take our drink orders. I ordered some water and champagne which she brought along with some warm nuts. Ginny then formally introduced herself and shook my hand with a smile. She mentioned that she is very fond of Filipinos and she has met many since she started working the Narita route. It’s interesting that she knew we were Filipinos even before we said anything. Usually I would get mistaken for Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, etc. She asked whether we were coming in from Manila. I said that we actually came in from Jakarta. It was a great start of the flight and it didn’t stop there.
A few minutes later, Ginny was back with our meal orders. I pre-ordered the Japanese meal. Just like on the outbound AA flight we took, the first course was a tray of cold Japanese appetizers. My companion pre-ordered a Western meal and his starter tray was a small salad, and some grilled prawns along with warm bread. The Japanese starter was unsurprisingly very good as is expected when the catering is from Japan. My companion was also not disappointed with his appetizer tray.
As soon as I was done, Ginny came by to clear my table and quickly brought the main entrée tray. The main tray consisted of grilled mackerel some veggies, fried rice, assorted pickled vegetables, and a bowl of miso soup. The mackerel was a little fishy, but the meal was good nonetheless. My companion ordered the beef filet which he said was also very good.
Ginny came by again to clear my table and asked what I wanted for dessert. I ordered the usual hot fudge sundae with nuts, which Ginny’s colleague working the galley brought out shortly along with a bottle of Evian bottled water. My companion had the mixed berries Sundae.
After the meal, I decided to visit the lavatory to change into my pajamas and brush my teeth. There are 3 lavatories in business class. One in the front galley before the cockpit, and 2 in the mid galley where the on-board business class snack bar is located. The lavatory was rather basic. No bottles of lotion, moisturizer, etc like the 777-300ER. It was a good size though, so it was easy to change into my pajamas. There was a baby changing table and a support handle for the toilet. The lavatory also featured a touchless faucet, and flush for all the germophobes.
After freshening-up, I went back to my seat and made my bed. I slept for a good 4 hours and then I decided to check-out the onboard snack bar in the mid galley. Ginny saw me and asked if I wanted to have a mid-flight snack. I ordered the cold soba noodles which was served with some mixed fruits and diet coke. My companion also grabbed a couple of mini chocolate cakes from the snack bar.
I went back to sleep for another couple of hours, then the lights slowly came on and the pre-arrival meal service started. I ordered the pork tonkatsu which was served in a tray along with a small salad, and a slice of chocolate cake. The meal was delicious!
Soon it was time land and the cabin crew came around to collect service items. They also came by and thanked all the passengers for flying American. The approach was rather bumpy as expected since there were scattered storms in the Chicago area. Landing was uneventful and we soon disembarked.
Passport control and customs were quick, thanks to Global Entry. We arrived at the International Terminal in Chicago and had to take the air train to Terminal 3.
We arrived in terminal 3 and were airside in no time thanks to TSA PreCheck. We made our way to the AA Flagship lounge for a few hours before our continuing flight to San Francisco.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent flight. The Zodiac (reverse) herringbone seats were great and very comfortable for the 10+ hour flight to Chicago. The service from the crew was very attentive and top-notch for a US based carrier. The food was also very good (I think it had something to do with the fact that the food and catering were prepared in Japan). Add that to the lower cabin altitude of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and you’ve got a winning combination. I give this flight an excellent 9 out of 10.