American Airlines 787 Business Class LAX Tokyo Bottom Line
I was pleasantly surprised by American Airlines 787 Business Class service to Tokyo from Los Angeles. The schedule was optimal for me, the chance to upgrade to Business using a Systemwide Upgrade was a plus, and the food was on the better side of what I have had on AA.
The Good: American’s schedule to NRT was very convenient. The crew was very kind and attentive. We arrived early (which actually surprised me) and the seat is wider than what you would get on other carriers (such as Delta or United’s old seats).
The Bad: Wifi was useless, like it was the slowest I have ever had on a flight. The amenity kit is a disgrace (I left it on the plane and I have never done that before).
The Noteworthy: American’s 787-9 feels elegant. Comparing it to their 787-8, there is more space, and the seat is much more comfortable that their concept Z seat.
Arrival at LAX:
I arrived from by Charlotte inbound about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, but we had to wait about 30 minutes to get a gate, which meant I would need to hurry if I wanted to be one of the first to board. To my dismay, and to increase my stress, we arrived at Terminal 5 at LAX, which meant that I would need to walk even faster to get to the gate soon.
Gate and Boarding
When I arrived at the gate, there was a bit of a mess, since there were two flights leaving from the adjacent gates (one to Hawaii and another to Chicago). By the time they called boarding for our flight, the other two flights were boarding groups 6 or 7, which have the bulk of passengers. When they called business class to board for my flight, everyone tried to board; there was a giant mess. The gate agent was turning people away, one at a time, when they tried to board; some people were understanding, others got quite mad. There was one AAdvantage elite (I can’t recall what status level he had) that left fuming complaining how he was an elite and should be allowed to board before all “these idiots”. I found it funny.
When I finally made it to the agent, I tried to be as kind as one can be, and soon after I was on my way to the business class cabin. I boarded through door 2L, and was ushered to my seat 4L.
Airline: American Airlines
Cabin: Business Class
Flight Number: AA 169
Route: Los Angeles LAX – Tokyo Narita NRT
On Time: Yes
American Airlines 787 Business Class Seat and Cabin
American has the B/E Super Diamond seat on their 787-9s. The seats are wider than their Concept Z seats on some 777s and their 787-8s. Waiting at my seat was a large pillow and warm blanket from Casper.
There are various storage compartments, in which I found a pair of Casper branded slippers, an amenity kit and a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones. On the tray table, which rests below the IFE screen, was the menu for the flight. Seat controls are to the side opposite the aisle, in a small touchscreen that is pretty intuitive. The IFE Screen itself is the largest on any American Airlines business class.
The amenity kit was in a flimsy packet, it included all the basics (lotion, lip balm, socks, eye shades etc). I feel bad for American, honestly, the Cole Haan branded kits used to be really nice, these are just absolute trash. They make the airline and Cole Haan look like cheap brands.
Departure, Taxi and Take Off
As departure time approached, I noticed that there was someone missing in the cockpit. The captain had not arrived. When I asked the crew about it, they mentioned he was late, and that they were waiting for him. As soon as he did all his pre-flight checks we could leave. I was ready to wait about 45 minutes or more. To my surprise, within 10 minutes he showed up (about 5 minutes before our scheduled departure). It took them about 20 minutes to finish preparing for departure, and soon enough we were pushing back.
While we taxied to the runway, I got some really cool aircraft pics. I love seeing the amount of A380s that come to LAX: from Europe, Asia and Australia.
American Airlines On Board Dining
The flight was scheduled to have a lunch service, followed by a snack service before arrival. The menu read as follows
I had pre-selected the Japanese meal. The appetizer was beautifully presented. It came in its own box, and each individual plate was separated in the typical bento box style. The food quality was good, I would rate it a solid 7.5/10.
The main course consisted of a meat dish, with vegetables and mushrooms, as well as a side of rice, miso soup and Japanese garnishes. The food, although not the best presentation, was quite flavorful. I rate it a solid 8.5/10.
For dessert, I ordered the fresh sundae, which was made next to my seat, with raspberry sauce, whipped cream and pecans. It’s pretty hard to muff up a sundae, so I give it a solid 10/10.
After during the flight, after realizing the wifi was worthless, I slept. I slept a solid 6 hours, and I woke up a few hours outside of Tokyo. (More on sleeping later). When I woke up, the flight attendant came by the aisle and asked me if I wanted anything, and I ordered coffee with green tea. The green tea came in a Japanese style cup, and I really wanted to take it home.
About 80 minutes outside of Tokyo, the flight attendants came by asking if I wanted to have the pre-arrival snack. I ordered the Japanese option once again. The presentation was, well, you decide.
However, the flavor was amazing. It was sweet, and savory, and the rice was cooked to perfection. The cake was cold, and not too good, and the salad was just a plain salad.
787 Business Class Sleeping Comfort
The seat is a fully flat seat. It offers more privacy that the usual reverse herringbone seat, but not as private as Qatar’s QSuites or Delta’s new business class. They are wide enough that you can sleep on your belly, however. American does not offer a mattress pad on flights to/from Tokyo. This made the seat a bit uncomfortable to sleep in. The duvet is warm and the pillow soft but sufficiently firm to support your head.
I was able to sleep for about 6 hours, which is a lot more than what I usually fall asleep on planes.
Notes on Wifi and Service
American offers wifi on nearly all their international fleet. Their 787-9s should be equipped with reasonably working wifi. The wifi provided by Panasonic on this flight, as has been my experience with other AA flights, was trash. I paid for the whole flight pass to hopefully work and stay connected with the ground. After fidgeting with it for about three hours to be able to download my email on my computer, I gave up. Speeds were either non-existent or, at their highest, close to .2mbps. Disgraceful.
On a lighter, more positive note, the crew on this flight were one of the better ones. They were attentive, address me by name, and thanked me for being an Executive Platinum. They passed by the aisled with relative frequency (every 20-30 minutes). They responded quickly and efficiently to the call button as well as to requests. If all crews on AA were this nice and effective, we would be talking about a real competitive domestic airline.
Landing and Arrival
After the meal, I watched some old episodes of Big Bang Theory, and before I knew it, we were preparing to land. The purser came around thanked everyone for flying American individually. We landed about 30 minutes ahead of schedule, and were at our gate about 20 minutes early. There were hardly any people at customs, and I was out of the terminal, waiting for a train to Tokyo within 45 minutes of landing.
I think American has a good product on their 787-9s. They aren’t as good as their Joint Venture Partner JAL, but I would rank them above United and at par with Delta. The food was good, the crew was friendly and efficient. My only qualm is the wifi. It was unusable, and when you pay close to $20 for it, you expect it to work. If American fixes this issue, they would have a good product to compete with its other US based carriers to Japan.