[Click above for the video review.]
• Flight: AA26
• Route: HND-LAX
• Equipment: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
• Cabin: Business Class
• Seat: 6L/7L
I’ve already reviewed Business Class on American’s Boeing 787-8, flight AA26 from Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles in the past and thought I would post an updated review since AA changed their departure schedule from past midnight, into a 7:00PM evening flight.
The business class hard product on this AA Boeing 787-8 plane is still the same front and rear facing seats that I have a love/hate relationship with. It’s a great seat for lounging and for sleeping since it turns into a flatbed. The only thing I hate about it is that it feels very claustrophobic (for me at least) when you’re not sleeping on your side. My other complaint about these seats from previous experience is that depending on which seat you choose, the seat shakes whenever the person in the adjacent seat adjusts their seat, gets in and out, or even just moves. No bueno! I did find out that the window seats in row 5, as well as the window seats in rows 6 and 7 do not have these shaking issues, so I would pick those seats going forward, if they are available.
Anyway, back to the review. We arrived at Toyo Haneda International about 4:00PM via Limousine Bus from Shinjuku Station. Check-in was a breeze and we did not have to wait long to get our boarding passes. Security and exit immigration were also empty at the time, so we were airside within a few minutes.
AA uses the Japan Airlines Lounge at Haneda, and being Oneworld Emerald (AA Executive Platinum) members we had access to the First Class Lounge. The lounge is spacious with plenty of seating. There’s a small business center, a smoking room, private stall washrooms, and showers. One feature I love about this lounge is the Dining Room. The area itself is bright, with plenty of tables and seating for guests who want to dine. It has a decent buffet spread with both hot and cold food items on offer, and even a chef that can cook you a made to order Teppanyaki style beef steak. My absolute favorite food in the lounge though, is the JAL Signature Beef Curry. There’s just really nothing else like it. Add a cold glass of JAL Skytime Citrus drink, and it makes for a great meal before the flight.
The lounge also has an area called the “Red” Suite. The space is beautifully decorated with vintage aviation art and mementos. As you enter the room, there’s a Laurent-Perrier champagne bar on the right side. There is plenty of seating in the library-esque main room. The back of the room has both a full size Foosball table, and several mini chess tables for those who want to play a game or two while waiting at the lounge. It’s a shame that most of the passengers don’t stay in this corner of the lounge, but that’s OK – more LP champagne for me, then!
The First Class lounge also features a relaxation area with several high-tech Japanese massage chairs, as well as a 10-minute back massage from a therapist. There weren’t many people in the lounge when we were there, so I was able to get an appointment with the therapist. I waited about 20 minutes, and then I came back to the treatment area for my appointment. The female therapist asked whether I wanted her to focus on my neck and shoulders, in which I agreed. She had me lie down on the treatment bench face down with clothes on. Then she put a towel on my upper back and started my treatment. It was short, but very relaxing and just what I needed before the long journey back to the States.
After the nice and relaxing massage, we went to the gate area only to find out that our flight was 3.5 hours delayed. The plane had a mechanical issue, and they were waiting on a certain part to arrive. We had a short connection at LAX, and were going to misconnect because of the delay, so I called the AA Executive Platinum desk to rebook our onward flight and they were able to re-accommodate us onto another flight home. We initially decided to do a little duty-free shopping while we were in the terminal waiting, but eventually decided to just go back to the lounge.
Before we knew it, it was time for boarding so we went back to the gate area. Boarding was quick, and Business Class passengers had priority boarding. We were greeted at the door by one of the LAX-based crew and were pointed to our seat.
We were in seats 6L and 7L on the starboard side of the aircraft. 6L is a rear facing business class seat, while 7L is front facing. These seats do not have the shaking issues – thank goodness!
After settling in, we found the Cole Haan amenity kit, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones, a pair of slippers, the dining menu, and a bottled water waiting for us at our seat. A few minutes later, a rather jaded looking male flight attendant, who was working our aisle offered us a selection of water, orange juice, or champagne from a tray for our pre-departure beverage. I chose the champagne, which tasted OK, and was served in a clear plastic cup.
After boarding completed, the Captain made his announcements and apologized for the delay. He mentioned our flight time to Los Angeles was around 9 hours and 20 minutes. We then pushed back from the gate and started 15-minute taxi to the runway, as the safety video played. During the taxi, the flight attendant came back and confirmed our pre-ordered Japanese meal. We soon got to the end of the runway, and had a rather lumbering takeoff roll and gradual descent.
The Captain turned off the seatbelt sign, about 10 minutes into the flight and the flight attendants sprung into action. They came by with the beverage cart, and took our drink orders. I ordered a coke zero, which was served with some warm nuts.
The flight attendant came back a few minutes later with the cold Japanese appetizer tray, which was delicious.
After I was done, the flight attendant cleared my table and soon returned with the main entrée, fried rice, and miso soup. The entrée was a fillet of sea bream fish, which was also very good. I was so full at this point, that I decided to skip out on dessert.
I visited the lavatory to freshen up and brush my teeth before bed. Then, I returned to my seat and converted it into a flat-bed. I slept for a good 5 hours.
Upon waking up, I browsed through the entertainment selections for a bit, but eventually decided on just watching the excellent moving map.
90 minutes before landing, the flight attendants started their pre-arrival meal service. I ordered the pork Tonkatsu, which was served with a salad, and a cake for dessert. I ordered an orange juice for my beverage. The meal, while not very nicely presented, was decent and filling.
As I finished my meal, the flight attendant came back to clear my tray. I went back to the lavatory to freshen up before the mad rush started. Soon, the Captain announced our initial descent into Los Angeles.
I went back to my seat, and the flight attendant came back and offered me a hot towel.
Our descent was rather bumpy, as the Los Angeles area had a few storms that day. Then we had a firm, but uneventful landing and taxied to the gate for a few minutes. We stopped short of the gate at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, and the Captain mentioned that we had to wait for a tug to tow us into the narrow parking area. We waited, and waited, and waited, and after about 45 minutes of waiting short of the gate, the tug finally arrived and parked us into our spot.
We soon disembarked, and literally ran into the immigration hall since we were already running late. We arrived at the Global Entry (GE) Kiosks only to find out that the Global Entry system was down! I approached one of the CBP officers, and mentioned that I couldn’t get the system to process me. The officer asked me to fill out a form and follow him to one of the counters. It’s a good thing that GE members have priority access to passport control processing. Otherwise, I would have waited in the passport control line for hours. Passport control was quick, but we waited for our luggage at baggage claim for another 40 minutes. Our bags finally arrived, and we rechecked them right before exiting.
We then made the trek to Terminal 4 and eventually to the Satellite Terminal to catch our American Eagle connection. We made it to our gate with about 20 minutes to spare before our flight left.
Unfortunately, this has been the dreaded “flight from hell”. Not only was the flight delayed almost 4 hours, there were also massive delays at LAX for just about everything else. It really was delays upon delays that day. I understand certain things are beyond the airlines’ control and ultimately what’s important is we get to our destination safely, in which we did. However for most people, traveling is already taxing enough as it is, and when you add delays and long wait times, it adds more stress which can be a recipe for disaster. The flight itself was fine, the service was done typical AA fashion with seemingly apathetic flight attendants just going through the motions. The food was very good as expected, as it was catered out of Tokyo. As I mentioned, the seats were comfortable for lounging and sleeping, but some of the seats move and shake as your neighbor moves, so be careful which seat you choose. Overall, I would give this flight a 6 out of 10.