Note: This is a review from 2018. I never got around to posting it and decided that it was as good a time as any to publish. Most things have stayed the same, however, this route is not flown by a 777. Here is my American Airlines Business Class Madrid review.
American Airlines Business Class Madrid Bottom Line
Apart from the old aircraft and the borderline rude crew, this was a fairly enjoyable flight. The 767 is better than the 757 for long haul flights, namely because each seat has aisle access. The amenity kit was good, the same one they usually hand out. Surprisingly, the wifi was decently fast. I would recommend Iberia over American, but the price can be a factor, as it was for me. Overall, American Airlines business class Madrid flights are just okay.
The Good: The flight was on time and there were no operational issues. Wifi was functional, and that isn’t very common on American.
The Bad: 767s are getting old, and they show it. The crew would only respond if you pressed the call button, and even then come at their own leisure. They weren’t rude, but not to American’s standards (let alone the industry).
The Noteworthy: This flight was about $2000 cheaper than an Iberia flight. I had to book the ticket last minute, and the option to return on American vs Iberia was astronomical.
Arrival at MAD:
I was flying in from Vigo (VGO) airport on an Iberia flight. I had originally expected to have an issue with making it on time to MAD since there was terrible weather in Vigo. Our flight left on time, however, and arrived early at the gate in MAD.
Madrid airport is huge. In order to go from the European/Domestic Iberia terminal, you need to take an underground train. American flies out from the farthest gates on the satellite terminal. This means a healthy walk at a brisk pace in order to make it before boarding started. There is also an enhanced security screening checkpoint before the American Airlines gates. After answering a few generic questions, I was allowed to enter the waiting lounge.
About 15 minutes before boarding started, the gate agent announced that the flight was oversold by two people and they were offering $800 vouchers. I was really tempted to take the offer, but I had an appointment the next morning in Philadelphia that I would not have been able to make since they were putting passengers on the AA flight the next day. Within 5 minutes a couple volunteered and they began boarding a bit early. Boarding began with Concierge Key members, and there were at least 3 (or maybe 2 and one was a companion). Soon after they called for business class.
Airline: American Airlines
Cabin: Business Class
Flight Number: AA 95
Route: Madrid MAD – New York JFK
American Airlines Busines Class Cabin and Seat
The 767 business class cabin on the American Airlines 767 is arranged in a 1x2x1 configuration with alternating seats. I personally recommend seats 2A and 2J as they have the biggest footwell and an extra window. The cabin itself is quite simple, there aren’t any bells and whistles to it, not even mood lighting. Most 767s are over 20 years old, so you can expect the 1990s tech.
I selected my preferred seat (2J). This seat is closer to the window, offering more privacy than the seats closer to the aisles. Waiting at my seat was a packaged blanket and pillow, both by bedding company Casper. In the mini storage compartment next to the seat was an amenity kit provided by Cole Haan. It had all the essentials and the kit itself is of pretty good quality.
In front of the seat, there is a space where you could have an IFE screen, but American chose not to install them (a grim forewarning of what they are doing with project Oasis). There is, however, a small table where you can place the IFE tablet they hand out to business class passengers. The only source of IFE for the whole plane is overhead screens as well as in-flight radio.
Seat controls are located on the console, and they are easily activated by accident. I recommend trying to keep away from it, as it can activate while you are having food, and make a mess.
Departure and Take Off
After boarding was done, the captain came on the PA system to welcome us aboard and advised us of our flying time to JFK. The man was clearly American, but he made a good effort to explain it in Spanish as well. As a native Spanish speaker, I admire anyone who isn’t a native speaker (in any language) do their best to speak it. He would make every announcement in both languages throughout the flight.
I was offered an option of sparkling wine, water or OJ before departure. I selected the water, as I do not like American’s sparkling wines. We departed the gate a few minutes ahead of schedule. Next to us was a beautiful Iberia A340-600. Iberia, alongside Lufthansa, is the largest operator of that A340 type.
We took off without any wait or incident and were on our way to JFK.
Food and Beverage
On this flight, American served lunch as well as a pre-arrival snack. The menu read as follows:
The starter consisted of a salmon appetizer and a small salad. The salmon was good, but it was SO COLD. It felt like it was just taken out of the closest-to-freezing fridge. Flavorwise it was pretty good, you could taste the hints of both lemon and pepper.
For the main course, I ordered the guinea hen, wanting to try something new on American. To my surprise, the meal was EXCELLENT. Arguably, one of the best dishes I have had on American. The meat was soft, flavorful, and thoroughly cooked. The sides were exactly what the dish needed to be paired with, and the sauce was a good compliment to the hen.
After the meal, I was pretty full, so I decided to skip on the dessert. They had the usual options of sundae and cheese plate, as well as a cheesecake.
For the second meal, there was an option of a toastie (sandwich) and a superfood bowl. FAs served it about 90 minutes out of JFK. I ordered the toastie because I wanted some hot food. It was greasy, and I made a mess, but it was good enough to last me until we landed in JFK. It ranks among the usual American Airlines snacks that they give out in business class.
Seat Comfort (and Sleep Comfort)
The seat itself is pretty stiff when you are in the upright position. When you try to sleep, it is very narrow and can feel coffin-like if you are on the window side, since you don’t have much wiggle room. For this reason, and because I wasn’t tired at all, I worked most of the flight and watched TV on my iPad via the wifi.
Notes on Wifi and IFE
I was very surprised by how fast the wifi was. I’m used to AA’s international wifi to top out at about 3mbs. This flight, however, the speed was closer to 5mbs, which was enough for me to work on a presentation and many emails I had not answered for the past week.
The biggest weakness of the 767, in both Business and Coach, is the lack of IFE. Personally, I love seatback screens. The main allure of the screen, for me, is the inflight map. I know most AvGeeks love the moving map as well. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for parents with multiple small children to keep them entertained on such a long flight without a seatback screen. I would call it a major miscalculation by American, but I know this was purposeful. The AA C-Suite could not care less for the passenger experience, even less so for economy passengers who don’t travel often.
Notes on Service
The crew was also worth talking about on this flight. They weren’t outright rude, but they were very lazy and came off as if I was a burden to them. They did not go the extra mile, honestly, they were barely there. I had to wait about 30 minutes after I was done with my meal in order for them to clean it. It wasn’t like they were busy, they just didn’t walk through the aisle, ditto for getting a drink refill. When I pressed the call button asking for water, they took their time to answer, they were having their own conversation and did not move until one of them saw me start to get up to get the water myself. Terrible service, terrible.
Landing and Arrival
About 30 minutes before landing, the pilot came back on and announced that we would be landing early. He expected us to be about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, and it seemed that we would have our gate ready. The flight attendants prepared the cabin for arrival. No one came by to thank us for flying American. Truly a missed opportunity. We landed well early, about 35 minutes early. Right after, we were at the gate.
This was a subpar flight. The food was good, I have no complaints. Wifi worked really well and that made the overall experience better. However, the 767 is not an ideal aircraft anymore. The lack of IFE is insulting to economy class passengers. If I was in economy, I would avoid this aircraft at all costs, especially for such a long route. It’s sad to see the state of American’s East Coast crews. They were one of the least kind and most inefficient crews I have ever had to deal with. American needs to rethink the way they approach their employee relationship, I have gotten better service on both Delta and United on similar sectors. I expect more of American, and maybe that’s my mistake. The airline has declined a lot since the merger, and they are solidly winning the race to the bottom.
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews
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