American Airlines 'cautiously optimistic' about extending its first class Tokyo-LA B777-300ER service

24 Jul 2019 by Michael Allen
Shane Hodges, Vice President, Asia Pacific, American Airlines; photo courtesy of American Airlines

Passengers travelling between Tokyo and Los Angeles on American Airlines got the option of flying in a first class cabin from June 6 this year after the US carrier switched the metal from a three-class B787-9 Dreamliner to a four-class B777-300ER.

For now, the first class cabin is only set to be available until October 27, but an American Airlines executive has told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific that “all signs look positive” for extending the service beyond that date.

“At this stage we do not plan to extend the 777-300ER service beyond October 27, but this is of course under review. All signs look positive at this stage,” said Shane Hodges, vice president, Asia Pacific at American Airlines.

He added: “Feedback from customers – many of whom who have experienced our Flagship First suite and service for the first time, has been fantastic. We’re seeing increased demand for both Flagship First and Flagship Business on this important business route. And this is what we were hoping for. We will see how the rest of the peak season pans about before making a decision.”

An American Airlines spokesperson, seeking to clarify Hodges’ comments, said that the airline is “cautiously optimistic” about extending the first class B777-300ER service beyond October 27.

The introduction of the Flagship First product means passengers can access American Airlines’ 1,347 sqm Flagship Lounge at Los Angeles International airport. The lounge includes a Flagship First dining area, for a full service table-side dining experience, with dishes including the Flagship burger, and cocktails designed by New York mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer.

Flagship First passengers also get access to their own TSA and customs screening before departure and after international arrival. As an add-on product, these passengers can also book a Blade helicopter transfer from the airport.

With this product, American Airlines seems to be targeting customers who are more accustomed to flying private.

“Customers enjoy the exclusive experience First gives them – the privacy of the ground and air experience is really the closest thing to flying in a corporate jet,” Hodges said.

American Airlines B777-300 first class; photo courtesy of American Airlines

Consumer Electronics Show flight to continue in 2020 

Hodges also said American Airlines sees strong demand on its special Tokyo-Las Vegas service that it is putting on for the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The airline first flew this special service for the 2019 CES. (A round-up of the key travel gadgets that were unveiled at the 2019 CES can be read here.)

American Airlines will therefore continue to provide this service, which it is running with its joint business partner Japan Airlines, “for the foreseeable future” each year during the CES.

For the upcoming January 2020 service, which will run from January 4-12, the airline will deploy a B777-200 instead of the B787-8 it deployed on the route last year. Asked about the reason for the aircraft change, Hodges said the decision comes down to premium cabin demand.

“The vast majority of customers traveling to CES demand the premium experience we offer, and this is why we’re flying a larger aircraft. The Flagship Business and Premium Economy seats we offer on the 777-200 and the 787 are comparable and award winning,” he said.

Hodges added: “The B777-200 is a much larger aircraft, featuring 36 lie-flat, all aisle access Flagship Business seats. Eight more than the 787. Flagship Business customers can enjoy the use of Bang + Olufsen noise cancelling headphones, Casper bedding and Japanese meals designed by Chef Kurogi, one of Japan’s most esteemed chefs. Flagship Business customers also have access to The Club at LAS to freshen up upon arrival, or relax before departing.”

He added that all Premium Economy passengers can enjoy “a larger leather seat with increased pitch, an enhanced meal and beverage service, an amenity kit and Casper bedding.”

The flight schedule for the 2020 CES flights are as follows:

Flight no. Depart Arrive First departure Last departure Time Arrival Days
AA186 Tokyo Narita (NRT) Las Vegas (LAS) Jan. 4 Jan. 12 18:20 11:35 Mon, Weds, Thurs, Sat
AA187 Las Vegas (LAS) Tokyo Narita (NRT) Jan. 4 Jan. 12 11:15 16:15 (+1) Mon, Weds, Sat


Flight no. Depart Arrive First departure Last departure Time Arrival Days
AA186 Tokyo Narita (NRT) Las Vegas (LAS) Jan. 4 Jan. 12 18:05 11:20 Tues, Fri, Sun
AA187 Las Vegas (LAS) Tokyo Narita (NRT) Jan. 4 Jan. 12 10:30 15:30 (+1) Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun

In other American Airlines news, the carrier recently received final approval for its joint venture partnership with Qantas. It also launched new codeshares with Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Dragon.

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