I was pretty excited to climb aboard the Boeing 777. I’ve been on Cathay and Air Canada versions of the plane and thought they were both very cool. I was also looking forward to see how the American Airlines Business Class matched up against Air Canada’s Executive First between Vancouver and Hong Kong, as I was lucky enough to be given an upgrade from my Super Elite father in law on my last Hong Kong trip (thanks Dad!).
It never ceases to amaze me how enormous the wings and engines are on a 777. American flies both the 777-200ER and the 777-300ER, but I believe that they use the 200 on the Heathrow route which are just shy of 200 feet from wingtip to wingtip [www.aa.com]. The Trent 892 engines have a fan diameter of a little over 9 feet! [www.deagel.com]
The business class cabin is set-up in a 2-3-2 configuration with the non-herringbone fold flat seats. Thankfully they had all of the appropriate power plugs so I could charge up my phone battery that I had nearly run down on the first leg of my flight. [averagetraveller.com]
Interestingly the a middle seat in the middle section of our row was empty and a gentleman suddenly appeared in it just before they closed the doors. He was questioned by no less than 3 flight attendants but he was adamant that a someone from ‘back there’ told him he could have the seat. The purser finally told him that no one would have told him that and he was sent away, only to return again for good a few minutes later. I never did figure out what his deal was, but he eventually got his way.
The food was a giant improvement over the domestic flight, as you would expect. The service was courteous but a little stand-offish. It did not compare at all to the service in Executive First on Air Canada, although that was a bit of an unfair comparison. Air Canada only has Executive First and Economy class on their 777-300 while American has First, Business, and Economy. My return flight in First Class would be a more fair comparison, and that review will come in a future post.
An important point to note about the business class seats is that the legs swing up up and under the back of the seat in front. If you are like me and prefer to keep your camera gear and laptop where you can see it at all times, switching to full recline mode requires that you put the bag on your lap when you convert to a bed. I was forced to curl up around my bag as if I were sleeping on a train (again, I hear people crying me some crocodile tears), but fortunately there was still loads of space for me and my fully packed Dakine Sequence Photo [averagetraveller.com].
Towards the end of our flight we received what turned out to be the ultimate perk of flying business class to London: A special envelope for our customs form that allowed us to use the priority entrance and bypass the infamous customs lineup at Heathrow. I had never noticed this priority lane before, and I’m sure that when I’m flying regular economy the next time I get to London that I’ll be eyeing that line with much jealousy. Even I had to hate me just a little as we breezed through customs.