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I was really looking forward to flying flight AA137 DFW-HKG, which is also American’s longest flight clocking in at almost 16 hours nonstop. We’ve flown this route various times in the past, but this was before I started writing this blog. My companion and I were hoping to use our AA Executive Platinum Systemwide Upgrades to move us from Economy to Business Class. Sadly, only one of us ended up getting upgraded. My companion sat in business class at the beginning of the flight, while I sat in coach. Then we switched seats mid-flight. My companion and I took the opportunity to review both cabins so that we can give you a little comparison.
We arrived in Dallas the night before the flight and opted to stay at the very convenient Grand Hyatt DFW, which is located just right outside security in the D Terminal of DFW Airport. We arrived a little before 11PM and were promptly checked in. The front desk agent thanked me for being a Hyatt GoldPassport Diamond Member, confirmed my request for a runway view King Room and gave us our room keys. We got a decent size renovated room on the 7th floor. Aside from the King size bed, there was a lounge chair, and a work desk. Not to mention the view from the room certainly did not disappoint, especially if you are into airplanes like me. The sound insulation in the room was also very good as we did not hear any airplane noise, or any noise from the adjacent rooms for that matter. Waiting in our room was a Diamond welcome amenity which consisted of a welcome letter from the General Manager, full bottle of red wine, large bottle of Evian water, fruit bowl, and a cheese board with crackers and nuts.
After a good night’s rest and some really good eggs Benedict for breakfast, we were ready for the long haul flight.
We checked out of the Grand Hyatt about 2 hours before departure time, and thanks to TSA Pre-check, we were through security in no time.
We visited the AA Admirals Club in the D Terminal which is where our flight was departing from. One new features of this lounge is the International First Class Dining Section. Those flying International First Class, as well as Executive Platinums and Oneworld Emeralds have access to the First Class Dining section. The dining room used to be the smoking section in the lounge, which was removed and renovated late last year.
The food selection was OK, mostly cold breakfast items. I’m more of a hot breakfast food type and I was still full from the breakfast I had earlier at the hotel, so I just made some Taittinger mimosas and grabbed a small fruit bowl. Also, it got rather cramped in the room after all the other passengers started pouring in.
An hour before departure, we started our trek to the gate. At this point, only one of us had been upgraded to business class and we wanted to arrive at the gate early to see if the other person also got upgraded.
We arrived at the gate and patiently waited for the gate agent to call us for the upgrade. Sadly, this never happened as Business Class was sold out. Boo!
Boarding shortly commenced and we soon boarded the Boeing 777-300ER bound for Hong Kong.
I’ve asked my companion to take the business class seat first, and then we’d trade seats mid-flight so that we can both get to stretch out and get some rest during the flight. My companion was seated in 7A, while I was all the way in the back of the plane at 43C (aisle). I’ve asked him to write down his of both his experiences in Business and Economy, so that we would compile everything into one giant trip report after the trip.
First let’s start off with economy. The main cabin on American’s Boeing 777-300ER consists of 250 economy seats. There are 30 Main Cabin Extra seats which features 18″ wide seats and 36″of pitch for extra leg room in a 3-3-3 configuration, compared to the 220 standard economy seats which are only 17″ wide and 31″ of pitch in a 3-4-3 configuration. I chose 43C because since it was in the last row, I could recline my seat and not bother anyone. I also liked the fact that there were only 2 seats near the window, instead of the normal 3 because of the curvature of the plane.
I arrived at my seat and stowed all my belongings in the overhead bin. Waiting for me at my seat, was a pillow and blanked wrapped in plastic. The flight attendants were passing out earphones, but I declined since I brought my own. I sat down and checked out the various features of the seat. The seat back featured a bright 10″ touchscreen monitor with USB port. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) system featured Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) with hundreds of Movies, Live TV, TV Programs, Games, and my favorite Moving Map system. There was also an AC Power Outlet, and a wired IFE remote. In the seat pocket were the usual reading materials, barf bag, and a food menu of what’s being served in economy during the flight. The tray table is the newer dual fold design which is supposed to give you more leg space. Sadly, my tray table was broken. It hit my lap when fully opened. This made it extra difficult to eat meals or work on a laptop. The leg room was decent, but seat itself was rather narrow. I have wide shoulders so it was very difficult sitting comfortably without awkwardly bumping your seatmate.
The redeeming factor of this aircraft, especially if you’re seated in Economy has got to be the in-flight WiFi. For $20 for the whole flight, it was a no brainer. And I needed a big distraction to get my mind off the uncomfortable seat.
It was a full flight. I think all the economy seats were taken when boarding was complete. The Captain made a brief announcement and advised us of our flying time of 15 hours and 50 minutes. Then pushback commenced, and the safety video started to play . The flight attendants did their pre-flight checks, and after a short taxi, we hit the runway and took off for Hong Kong.
Roughly about 15 minutes after takeoff, the Captain turned off the seatbelt signs and the flight attendants sprung into action. The drink cart rolled into the aisle first. I ordered a diet sierra mist, which was accompanied by a bag of pretzels. A few minutes later, the food cart rolled by at which I was offered either Sweet and Sour Pork, or Black Bean Cod. I opted for the former. It was served on a tray with a cold dinner roll, a double chocolate mousse cake for dessert, and a small bottle of water. I was expecting a panda express-y taste to the sweet and sour, but the meal was even more disappointing and almost inedible, except for the mousse cake which was delicious. As is the norm with AA, the service was very efficient.
After the meal service, I visited the lavatory which was just behind row 43. It was very basic, but a decent size.
One thing to note about being in the back of plane is the more pronounced feeling of turbulence. As soon as I got back to my seat, we hit a few good chops, and I felt every drop, shake, and updraft. It was only for a brief period, but I thought it was worth noting.
The lights were soon turned off to allow people to get some sleep. Sadly no matter how much I tried to get comfortable, I just couldn’t sleep so I decided to watch the 5th Wave.
After about 8 hours my companion and I switched seats. Below is a recap of his experience in economy class for the rest of the flight:
About 10 hours into the flight, the flight attendants served a mid-flight snack. It was a 4 cheese flatbread pizza in a box, and a cup of gelato. It’s also worth mentioning that snacks were available at the galley during the flight which included chips, fig bars, and cookies.
About 1.5 hours before landing, the flight attendants started the pre-arrival meal service. They offered a Western breakfast which included eggs, potatoes, and bacon or Chinese Dim Sum with egg noodles. I ordered the dim sum hoping that it would taste decent, but I was again disappointed with the sad-looking and tasting meal. It was served with a cup of yogurt, muffin, and water. Since Economy was jam-packed, it took the flight attendants almost the entire 1.5 hours to serve, collect and put away things before landing into Hong Kong.
We hit a few small chops during landing, but nothing too bad. Touchdown was uneventful, and soon enough we were at the gate. It took a good 10 minutes before I was able to deplane, since I was at the very back of the bus.
Business Class on American’s Boeing 777-3ooER consists of 52 flatbed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, all with direct aisle access. Rows 3 and 4 are in the mini cabin consisting of only 8 seats. Row 5-15 are in the main business class cabin.
The IFE system is the same in Economy Class, except for the larger 15.4″ swing out touchscreen in business class. Each seat has an AC power outlet, as well as a USB port for charging. The seat also features plenty of side storage and a shoe storage compartment on the lower right hand side of the seat.
Below is a recap of my companion’s experience in Business Class during the first half of the flight:
As I boarded the plane, I was pointed right by the flight attendant at the door and found my of 7A. It was a window seat on the port side, in the main business class section of the plane. As with most reverse herringbone configurations, the seat is wide, spacious, and with ample storage space.
Waiting at my seat was a pillow, duvet and mattress pad wrapped in plastic, as well as a Cole Haan amenity kit, and a menu.
Soon after taking my seat, a flight attendant came by to offer me a welcome drink. I chose the champagne. She also offered me some Pajamas and confirmed my meal order which I pre-ordered the day before.
Before I knew it, we were already pushing back and the safety video played. The captain advised us of our 15 hours and 50 minute flight to Hong Kong. During taxi, the purser came by to introduce herself and thanked all business class passengers for flying American…nice touch! Soon enough we were at the end of the runway and we blasted off to Hong Kong.
About 20 minutes into the flight, the captain turned off the seatbelt sign and shortly after, the flight attendants came by with the drink cart. I ordered a glass of champagne which was served with a ramekin of warm mixed nuts.
A few minutes later, the starter tray was served and my drink was refilled. I also ordered a diet Sierra Mist. The appetizer dish was cold marinated prawns, which was also served with a generous bowl of salad greens and some warm bread.
After I was done, my plates were cleared and the flight attendant returned with my main entrée. I pre-ordered the beef filet with potatoes.
The beef was cooked to a medium well, which was slightly overcooked for my taste. Nonetheless, it was still a decent meal. I finished my meal and my tray was cleared. For dessert, I opted for the hot fudge ice cream sundae, which was delicious!
After the meal service, I visited the huge lavatory by the galley on the starboard side of the plane. Sadly, I did not use the pajamas that were offered because I was still going back to economy mid-flight.
I also checked out the snack bar setup near the galley. I was still full from the meal, so I did not partake.
After getting back to my seat, I decided to get some shuteye so I reclined my seat into bed mode and wandered off to LaLa land.
I woke up around 8 hours into the flight. At this point I walked back to economy to switch seats with my Simon.
I was dead tired after sitting uncomfortably for the last 8 hours so I just marched over to 7A, made my bed, and slept for the next 6 hours.
1.5 hours before landing, the flight attendants sprung into action once again to start the pre-arrival meal. I ordered the western breakfast with eggs, ham, and potatoes. The meal was served in one tray with some mixed fruits, yogurt, and a choice of pastry. I also ordered some coffee with the meal. The meal was decent, though nothing to write home about. My tray was promptly cleared as soon as I was done.
About 45 minutes before landing the flight attendants collected the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones. Soon enough, we began our descent into Hong Kong. It was a clear day which gave us some amazing views of the city below.
Landing was uneventful and touchdown was relatively smooth. Taxi to the gate was quick and I was one of the first people off the plane.
I waited for my companion right outside the jet bridge. It was a rather long walk to immigration, but thanks to e-channel there was virtually no wait at immigration and we were landside in no time.
I hope this review will give you a comparison between Economy and Business Class service on American Airlines. I will let you be the judge on whether you think the upgrade is worth the premium. Personally, I think the reverse herringbone seat in business class is one of the most comfortable seats in the sky. Pair that with decent service and edible food and you got a winning combo. Economy on the other hand, was a very uncomfortable experience for me because of the shoulder room. Leg room was OK since I’m not a tall person, but this might be an issue for some. The IFE, WiFi, and Power outlets were also great, minus the broken tray table. For this flight, I give Business Class a very good 8 out of 10, and Economy a meh 5 out of 10.