My review of American Airlines 77W Business Class – is it better than BA Club World? (Part 2)

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This is part two of my review of Business Class on American Airlines Boeing 77W (777-300ER) between London Heathrow and New York JFK.

Part 1, which focused on the cabin, the seat and the IFE, can be found by clicking here.

In this part I want to focus on the food on board.

The thimble of champagne I received on boarding was not a great start, but things picked up rapidly when the meal service started.  I was on the 2.30pm departure so this was basically late lunch / early dinner.

Everyone got the same appetiser plate.  What you have below is beetroot cured salmon and a ‘composed’ orzo salad.  The beetroot cured salmon clearly makes a visual statement and is noticeably funkier than anything I would expect from BA.

American Airlines business class Boeing 777-300 food review

There were four choices of main:

sliced beef in Korean-style soy sauce, jasmine rice, spicy kimchi, carrot, roasted leek

corn-fed chicken supreme, mustard sauce, honey-glazed turnips, potato and pea mash

seafood bouillabaisse with potato mash with saffron, roasted fennel, broccoli (see below)

green pesto gnocchi, sage brown butter, roasted pumpkin wedge, sauteed spinach, roasted pine nuts

The bouillabaisse was good, and something I wouldn’t normally eat.  Each dish seemed to have a bit of a twist (eg potato and pea mash) to make it a little different.

American Airlines business class Boeing 777-300 food review

It is worth noting that American also offers an express meal.  You would receive your choice of main course plus a salad, fruit and cheese on a single tray, all served together.  As this was a day flight and I had time to kill, I didn’t try it.

There were three dessert options:

ice cream sundae – vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, butterscotch, seasonal berry toppings, whipped cream, pecans (see below, albeit with no pecans)

gourmet cheese plate

roasted white chocolate and hazelnut tart

American is famous for its ice cream sundaes.  I was surprisingly impressed, I have to say – after a long Summer of trying to say ‘no’ to as much ice cream as I could, I enjoyed tucking into this.

American Airlines business class Boeing 777-300 food review

The second meal

A second, lighter, meal is served nearer to arrival in New York.

There were two options:

barbecue beef sandwich with brie and sweet chili jam, with crisps and seasonal fruit

Thai noodle salad, with cashew nuts, vermicelli noodles, coriander and lime (see below)

There was nothing hugely exciting about the salad but also nothing to complain about.

American Airlines business class Boeing 777-300 food review

Drinks

The drinks menu was not very ambitious, but acceptable.  There were five whiskeys / whiskys, including basic Canadian Club, Jack Daniel’s and Dewars, plus Woodford Reservve and 12-year old The Glenlivet.

The beer list was a bit too heavy with Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken and similar mass-market options, although there was a New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA.  Bombay Sapphire was the only gin, Bacardi was the only rum etc.

The wine list featured De Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut champagne.  Alongside were two white wines (A to Z Wineworks chardonnay from Oregon, Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc, NZ) and two reds (a merlot and a malbec).

There was also a Quinta do Portal port which I really should have tried with my ice cream, but didn’t.

Conclusion

Taken as a whole, I was impressed by the overall standard of food and drink in Business Class on the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER.

To be honest, because I fly as many First Class flights as I do Business Class, I occasionally begin to forget what you expect where.  A caviar trolley – hello Lufthansa – is never going to appear to start a Business Class meal.

Overall I found the complete American Airlines seat, service, food and drink to be impressive and I would happily fly it again.  It’s not Qsuite or Etihad’s Business Class Studio but it is definitely a strong contender in the 2nd tier – and the Middle East carriers are not flying to North America from the UK anyway.  If they spruced up the content on the IFE and improved the First Class lounge at Heathrow (which IS happening soon) I would be even more impressed.

As far as booking goes …. using Avios, a direct American Airlines flight will cost the same number of Avios, and roughly the same taxes, as a British Airways flight.  This assumes that you are flying on a ‘peak’ day – ‘off-peak’ dates are cheaper if you choose BA.  You obviously cannot use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher however.

It’s also worth noting that AA does not charge for seat selection in Business Class, although there are no duff seats here apart from the two window seats without a window towards the back.

If you book using American Airlines miles – which are tricky to earn if you are UK based – there are NO surcharges added to AA redemptions, but they ARE added to British Airways redemptions.  Using AA miles, redeeming on AA doesn’t just get you a better product – it also saves you a couple of hundred pounds in surcharges.

My review of American Airlines 77W Business Class - is it better than BA Club World? (Part 1)
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Comments

  1. Part 1 doesn’t appear when I click the link 🤔

  2. The AA equivalent to the BA club kitchen is also a lot better than BAs offering with sandwiches and wraps available plus small desert and crudités pots available and not just chocolate and crisps.

  3. Having done both BA/AA business class I would definitely put it superior to BA. A few things to add to your article as ChrisC mentions the Club Kitchen equivalent are superior with sandwiches, etc rather than just crisps and chocolate. Also flying the JFK to LHR direction, the lounge offering is much better re JFK flagship lounge and T3 arrivals.

    The only area I put BA superior was the main course food LHR-JFK re new catering service and the champagne. Unfortunately last time I flew AA J class they served that awful Castlenau.

    I have a flight booked to fly SXM via MIA, J class, in a few weeks. Booked on AA.com but miffed I’m flying BA both ways to/from MIA as the AA operated flights cost significantly more.

  4. Food is generally of a very good standard. It’s not fine dining but it’s tasty and very well presented. I am yet to have a bad meal on American and switched to them as soon as the 777-300 was delivered.
    I find their crews chatty and friendly and less inconsistent than BA, and a lot less grumpier than BA.
    You didn’t mention the pre takeoff briefing which I also thinks marks them out as accompany trying hard to get it right!
    My one gripe is that, much as I love my whiskey I don’t like drinking it on planes. Don’t know why! I prefer cognac and it is not something you get on AA.

  5. Shoestring says:

    Third time lucky: whiskies

  6. Simonbr says:

    If booking with cash on BA.com am I not correct that equivalent BA flights are cheaper that AA codeshares? I think that’s why I tend to choose BA..

    • I’ve only paid cash during the sales, when I’ve found AA flights at the same price as BA.

      Its important to book AA flights through BA if you need qualifying flights for status.

      I would say BA if you have a 241 or upgrade voucher, AA if you are paying cash.

      • Re: status, can’t you add your BAEC number if booking on AA,com or elsewhere?

        • You can, but if you book on AA and use your BAEC number, you will get Avios and Tier Points, but it’s not a qualifying flight – ie it is not one of the two a year you need to get to Bronze or the four a year to get to Silver.

          If you book an AA flight as a codeshare through BA, then it counts as a BA flight, so a qualifying flight for status.

          I slipped up on this a few years ago and booked directly with AA and couldn’t understand why I didn’t maintain my lowly Bronze status.

        • Interesting, didn’t realise AA flights counted, thanks.

  7. I can’t help thinking that whilst BA started out in front by having lay flat seats first, it is now lagging slightly behind the competition in terms of overall offering

  8. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Icecreams are justifiably well regarded.

  9. Harry Hv says:

    These days people are comparing J products with BA F – looks like the AA J seats have more privacy than BA F, for example ?

  10. Scallder says:

    The number of Avios is the same on peak days but on off-peak days it’s less Avios to fly BA as partners are all charged at peak pricing right?

    • Prins Polo says:

      Correct, was going to say the same thing.

      Also, if booking through AA close to departure (I think 3 weeks) there’s extra $75 surcharge, and there’s $100 cancellation (“miles redeposit”) fee.

    • Yes. Fixed.

  11. There is an arm rest on the right, you just need to push it up. The FA’s will often make you have it lowered during taxi/takeoff/landing but once they’re out of site it’s the first thing I always move up.

    • Not a good idea to disobey the safety instructions from the cabin crew on any airline, but particularly on AA who take safety very seriously.

      On one AA flight I was on two men sitting near me talked to each other all through the safety briefing. The FA then replayed the video and stood by them to make sure they watched it!

      I’ve seen passengers threatened with being off loaded for being rude to the crew before take off.

      Contrast this with BA. On my last long haul flight in Y a few years ago, the plane pulled back while passengers were still trying to stow hand luggage and the overhead bins were still open. The FAs did nothing to help, merely shouting “sit down” to people.

      The FAs are there primarily for our safety. No matter how often you fly, it’s only polite to pay attention for the two minute safety briefing. It also shows respect for their real role. They are not just glorified waiters.

      • They also have quite a few legal powers over pax (along with the Captain) under the Aviation Act so you could find yourself in court pretty sharpish if you annoyed them too much!

        • Shoestring says:

          Not sure that’s right. Only the Captain has the power to decide on restraint or off-loading drunk/ abusive/ disruptive passengers. He’ll normally trust his cabin crew & take his cue from them, or make a judgment call based on what the crew tell him. In the case of restraint, the crew are effectively carrying out a citizen’s arrest, so no special legal powers there.

        • On an AA flight, US law would apply. I believe it’s a Federal Offence to disobey the legitimate instruction of a Flight Attendant.

        • Shoestring says:

          @Nick – possibly true but Anna mentioned the Aviation Act, by which I assume she meant this http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/19/contents/enacted

          Can’t find mention of any extra legal powers for cabin crew (or Captain).

      • I’ve watched safety videos on many airlines hundreds of times, and I still think I’d get confused and do something wrong in an actual incident.

      • UK law is the Air Navigation Order 2005

        http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1970/made

        It creates several offences, including:-

        75.—(1) A person shall not enter any aircraft when drunk, or be drunk in any aircraft.
        ….
        77. Every person in an aircraft shall obey all lawful commands which the commander of that aircraft may give for the purpose of securing the safety of the aircraft and of persons or property carried therein, or the safety, efficiency or regularity of air navigation.

        78. No person shall while in an aircraft—
        (a)use any threatening, abusive or insulting words towards a member of the crew of the aircraft;
        (b)behave in a threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly manner towards a member of the crew of the aircraft; or
        (c)intentionally interfere with the performance by a member of the crew of the aircraft of his duties.

        The law applies to foreign aircraft on their way to the UK as well as UK planes.

        Depending on the offence, the CPS can prosecute under the ANA or the Civil Aviation Act.

        • Good research!

          Cabin crew would not be making a citizens’ arrest – these can only be made for certain offences – for example being drunk and disorderly is not one of these. They are legally empowered to restrain passengers who are in breach of the relevant regulations on being directed by the captain to do so (passengers are also permitted to assist them in these circumstances).

      • @ Nick_C, bravo to the AA FA.

        @ Harry, stop being pernickety and do as you’re told, by the FA or Captain!

  12. So what’s the answer to your question in the heading? Is it better or not?

    • I assumed that was obvious given the 10-across (vs 4-across) seating in CW, the lack of privacy and the generally poor food (although BA has better food on JFK than other routes).

      • There’s something about BA Club when travelling as a couple that I love being able to face each other throughout the flight. Also I’ve travelled club about 6 times and always enjoyed my meals. I realise I’ll be alone in my view.

        • You’re not alone, I’ve had great experiences in CW as well, though I’m sure that this is partly due to being able to compare it to economy!

      • I’m sure the overall conclusion is right, but 10-across seating in CW? Even BA doesn’t pack them in that much!

        It’s an argument that comes up regularly – you simply can’t compare them in any case since the layout is very different. Even if you said it was 8-across vs 4-across that implies the AA seat is twice as big, which it isn’t of course.

        On the other hand, lack of accessible storage and stepping over someone else to get out, or being stepped over are very obvious failings in the BA seats compared to an increasing number of competitors. Privacy, particularly for those in aisle seats, is relatively poor these days as well.

        I agree with Matt’s point, however. If you are travelling as a couple you won’t see them for most of the flight with the AA seats (same with BA First). I also like that my feet aren’t enclosed when lying flat in BA CW.

  13. Would Rob or Anika consider reviewing an AA service from MAN? I really hope we’ll get the chance of a direct trans-Atlantic redemption flight in J one day when we don’t need to use a 2 4 1 which is currently required for 3 of us to travel in style! I think AA fly MAN to NYC but not sure if they do Chicago or Philadelphia?

    • Just like @Anna, I was wondering if Rob fancies taking a J flight on AA from ‘the regions’. I was specifically thinking about from EDI on their B757 service! I feel there may be a bit of a difference with the B777 service out of LHR. No access to Cathay lounge at EDI yet! In fact, sadly no Cathay lounge…..

    • Did MAN to PHL twice last year, on A330. Does have the slightly different seat. Still really good, in my opinion not materially different to the 77X, or 772 on LHR routes. All other comments apply, not really pairs for couples, all direct aisle, good food and ice cream, great crew as I see it, IFE is all about iPad for me so don’t use aircraft one beyond the mapping and an odd comedy show filler.

  14. What is hard about earning American Airlines miles if you are based in the UK ? AA fly many routes to the USA and being part of One World you can earn them flying BA (based in the UK) and Iberia and Finnair and plenty of others.
    Sometimes this site seems obsessed with earning points from UK issued credit cards although the top of the page does say “helping business and leisure TRAVELLERS maximise their points” and you can earn points by travelling, not just with credit cards.

    • Yes but first lesson of the club is that flying is is one of the worst value methods of earning air miles. Obviously some people travel widely for work in which case don’t care as it’s their employer’s cash but I’d guess that the leisure traveller readership is far larger than business traveller readership?

      • How is it the worst value? If you don’t want to earn miles when you fly, then I’ll happily take them.

        My recent QR J return to NZ earned enough Avios for 7 RFS flights. If you value those at a low £40 each (+ £17.50 = £57.50) then the QR flights themselves cost less than £1000. If I valued these RFS flights at the prices BA is asking, which can sometimes be as high as £150-£200, my NZ flights could literally be considered completely free.

        • There’s a big difference between long-haul business and short-haul economy. I will probably do 45 round-trips this year for work, which if every flight gets minimum Avios will get me 35,250 in total, and that includes my bonus for being Silver. I can get more than that in a couple of credit card signup bonuses…

        • John surely you see the obvious point I’m making that the likes of credit card spend/bonuses, groupon purchases, Iberia promotions etc etc are far more lucrative than earning miles by flying?

          And I stand by my point that flying is one of the worst ways to earn miles (or at least avios). Your example is an outlier and not a representative data point to judge that flying yields good value Avios returns. Last time I did a QR J return (cost £2100) to Japan I think I earned less Avios than the sign up bonus of say Amex Gold! (Getting 90% to BA silver was the true unlocked value).

          Obviously I’ll be keeping my miles from flying thanks.

    • I’m a Leisure Traveller. In the last three years I’ve earned 432000 Avios. Less than 15000 came from flying.

      I used to fly AA regularly in econony, but I only managed to accumulate 50000 AA miles over several years. The additional earning opportunities just aren’t there for UK residents.

      But Avios, like Air Miles before it, isn’t really a frequent flyer scheme.

      Surely BAs FF scheme is the status – free seat reservations, lounge access, a blocked seat next to you.

  15. Thanks for reviewing, and don’t want to come across the wrong way but why are the T3 First class lounge discussed throughout. This is a review of AA business class and you should assume that readers don’t have oneworld emerald status?

    • Probably a typo. A quick search on Lounge Buddy for Business Class on AA shows you can use BA, AA, Cathay and Qantas lounges. Business or First, you still wouldn’t choose AA or BA over the other options.

  16. I am very intrigued by the “express” meal. Who would ever want this? (you’re sitting there for 6-7 hours whatever menu choice you make 😀 ). Has somebody found a way to get business passengers to choose economy food? In which case, that is genius!

    • Someone who wants to work? Or sleep?

      Someone flying back from a short business trip to London may well want to catch up on some sleep

      • roberto says:

        Yes its the sleeping thing for me,
        I used to get the last flight back from NYC/BOS (which sometimes was well under six hours flying time) and get my head down before arriving and going to work the next morning.

  17. Hi everyone related to AA sort of…Does anyone know if I book dub ord jfk with the first leg on EI, second leg American Eagle – this all booked on the AA website, would this earn BA tier points? Thanks.

    • Yes if you credit to BAEC

      • I don’t think EI flights earn TPs in BAEC unless booked under a BA code (which AA can only force in by phone, not web). I could be wrong but definitely worth a second opinion unless Doug has material proof.

  18. I was pleasantly surprised by AA food, both quality and quality.

    Service was noticeably friendlier than on DL, but distant compared to VS and BA.

    I also liked their automated announcements when there was turbulence so all the crew quickly checked seat belts etc rather than one making an announcement.

    On my flight though the J class seat moved if the person behind me moved, they seemed to be linked.

  19. I’m a big fan of the AA business class product – definitely a lot better than Club World IMO.

    It used to be my go to flight for North America flying ex-DUB (via ORD or PHL) for around £1,000 – £1,200 return. Sadly, I’ve struggled to find these flights/prices in recent years 🙁

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