Tried & Tested

American Airlines B777-200 first class

25 Oct 2006 by Tom Otley

First impressions I arrived at Terminal B at Logan International Airport at 1645 for my 1905 departure on flight AA108. There is a dedicated line for business and first class passengers, and there was no queue. Check-in was completed quickly, and security took only a few minutes although laptops had to be removed from their bags (but not switched on), and shoes and belts taken off.

The lounge I followed the signs for the Admirals Lounge where international passengers on American as well as Admirals Club members (US$450 per year or 70,000 miles) can wait airside. At reception I was given two complimentary vouchers for the bar. Most people there were buying drinks when I arrived and, perhaps because it was a Friday evening flight, it was a lively lounge, without being too noisy – very different from other international airport lounges, and quite refreshing. The food is for purchase, as are drinks, once you have exhausted your vouchers (although as I was there for a while I asked for another voucher, which I was given). The wifi access is the same as that offered by the airport, and is relatively cheap at US$7.95 for a day's use.

Boarding The flight was called in the lounge at 1830 and it was a short walk to the gate, where we boarded quickly. Drinks were served before take-off, which was slightly delayed because of traffic. We were given SpAA soft cotton-twill shoebag amenity kits, which featured Temple Spa products (face and body balm and lip balm, flight socks, eyemasks, tissues, earplugs, a dental kit, toothpick and a mint).

The seat This is American Airline's flagship suite first class in a 1-2-1 configuration, with privacy dividers and the industry's first swivel seating, making face-to-face business meetings easier than ever before for those seated in the middle two seats. The seat drops into a 198cm bed with drop-down armrests for increased sleeping space. Unlike some sleeper seats in business and first, there's plenty of privacy.

I was seated in 2A, a single window seat. Usefully, the AA website has the seating plans for both the Atlantic routes of the Boeing 777 and the Pacific routes. (See them on aa.com, following the links "about us" through to "seating") Seat power is also available.

The flight The food selection was comprehensive, but since this was a short night-flight from the east coast back to Europe, I was determined to sleep. Many other passengers chose to have the meal – again perhaps because it was a Friday – and as I fell asleep there was still a little noise in the cabin. I awoke 30 minutes before arrival, and although I'd said I didn't want breakfast, it was quickly brought to me when I requested it. This was typical of the service throughout the flight: flexible and anxious to please.

Arrival We landed at Heathrow on Saturday morning on time at 0635. Using the IRIS non-queue for immigration, I was through five minutes before my bag appeared on the carousel and then quickly left Terminal 3.

Verdict The challenge for American Airline's first class is to justify the increase in price when their business class is such a good product. For those who want a flat bed for an overnight flight, and a superior level of service, it probably is worth the extra money – I found nothing to fault. But with the memory of business class still fresh, I would choose business class and keep my fingers crossed for an upgrade. The seat isn't a new one, but it works perfectly, and the entertainment choices ensure that insomniacs (or those on day flights) will be kept entertained.

Price A return fare for travel in mid-October is £4,330 in first class.

Contact americanairlines.co.uk.

Tom Otley

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