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My review of American Airlines 77W Business Class – better than British Airways Club World? (Part 1)

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

This is the first of two sister articles.  Today I want to consider the following question:

When redeeming Avios to the US, you often have the option to fly with BA’s partner American Airlines.  But is American Airlines business class as good as Club World?

Later this week Anika will look at this question:

When redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles to the US, you often have the option to fly with Virgin’s partner (and 49% shareholder) Delta Air Lines.  But is Delta One – the Delta business class seat – as good as Virgin Upper Class?

My flight was booked with Avios via

This HfP article tell you everything you need to know about how to redeem Avios points on American Airlines including the best ‘sweet spot’ redemptions.

At the airport

I reviewed the American Airlines First Class lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 here.  It isn’t great and if you’ve got any sense (and a Gold card) you’ll head for the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge instead.  Business Class passengers without a Gold card are best to hit the Qantas or Cathay lounges rather than the AA or BA ones.

The key thing you need to know is that American Airlines operates a range of long-haul Business Class seats.  Between London and New York, the best regarded option was meant to be what AA’s booking system calls the 77W – the Boeing 777-300ER (‘Extended Range’).  Parked at the gate, it looks like this – click on any photo to enlarge slightly:

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

20 years ago, Business Class on US airlines was a laughing stock.  British Airways had its swanky flat beds (BA was the first airline to fly one) whilst the US airlines carried on for years with seats on a par with what Norwegian now flies as Premium.  Those days are long gone on Delta and American.  We are still waiting for United’s Polaris seat to arrive at Heathrow.

It takes you, oh, a whole 10 seconds after boarding to realise that the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER business class cabin is a huge step up from British Airways Club World.  It is a 1-2-1 herringbone layout with EXCELLENT privacy:

All the window seats are solo seats.  In the middle block the seats point inwards so, whilst your feet are fairly close, your head is actually nearer to the person on the other side of the aisle:

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W


Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

Unlike Lufthansa, there is no chance of your feet touching the feet of your neighbour due to the divider:

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

I was sat in 7A, in my usual ‘half way down the cabin, by the window’ position.  I REALLY liked this seat.  There was no slam-dunk reason why – it just got a LOT of small things right:

the seat has lugs at the top, letting you lean your head sideways and giving privacy from the person to the side of you

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

the controls are idiot proof and easy to access

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

whilst your feet disappear into a footwell, it is a big one – you can move your feet around.  I should note that the footwell appeared narrower on the seats in the middle section.

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

the TV, as you can see above, stows away and is not forcibly in your face for the whole flight as you get with Iberia etc

there is an easy to access and good-sized storage area

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

whilst you can’t see it in my pictures, you can move the dining table when it is out so you can still leave your seat

None of these things seem like a big deal. Individually, they’re not.  However, when it all comes together, it makes you feel very calm.  All of the little niggles you expect to find turn out not to exist.

I was a happy bunny at take-off with my (admittedly too small) glass of champagne served by the (ahem) long-serving cabin crew:

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

Nothing is perfect though ….

No seat is ever perfect, of course.  I had a couple of niggles:

You cannot see out of the window easily.  Your head is basically in the aisle whilst your feet are by the window.  If you enjoy staring out of the window whilst flying then this may not be the seat for you.

There is no armrest to one side – in my case, on the aisle.  This occasionally felt weird as I would lean sideways, expecting my arm to hit an arm rest, and there wasn’t one.  (EDIT: comments below suggest that this is a hidden armrest and there was a way of making it come up)

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

No-one explained the seat.  I thought there was no washbag (not all airlines offer them on day flights) but I eventually found it, with a bottle of water, just before landing in a hidden compartment.

The washbag was interesting.  The contents, branded Bigelow, were nothing special.  What I did like was the way that, when unwrapped, it formed a small Cole Haan branded bag:

Review American Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300 77W

American Airlines Boeing 777-300 IFE

Let’s start with wi-fi.  This was the best in-flight wi-fi I have ever used.  It was relatively cheap ($12 for two hours) and the connection was excellent.  I wasn’t doing any streaming so I can’t comment on that, but it was perfectly acceptable for email and general browsing.

Sadly, the IFE system itself was a bit of a let down.  American Airlines has live streaming of BBC World News and two US news channels, which was very impressive.

The film selection was weak – Sherlock Gnomes and Solo were what passed as ‘new releases’.  The back catalogue selection was well curated, I admit, but the TV selection was poor.  The TV comedy selection, which I often go for because they are short programmes, was particularly woeful.  Overall it doesn’t come close to the literally thousands of pieces of content offered by the Middle East airlines.

It’s worth noting that you can connect your own device to the IFE system but it requires one of those white / red / yellow 3-part cables.

There were three novel features:

seat to seat chat, letting you email a passenger elsewhere on the plane

a chat room, which no-one was in but which in theory lets you have a group chat with anyone who wants to join

an e-reader with some magazines on it – except that the choice was US-centric and very limited

I was a little frustrated.  The live TV and chat functions show an airline which is trying to do things differently, but it then lets itself down with weak content.

To be continued ….

This is the end of Part 1 of my American Airlines 77W Business Class review from London Heathrow to New York JFK.

In Part 2 of my review of American Airlines 77W Business Class (click here), I take a look at the food on offer.

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How to earn American Airlines miles from UK credit cards (September 2021)

American Airlines no longer has its own UK credit card.

There is, however, still a way to earn American Airlines miles from a UK credit card

The route is via Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty points convert to American Airlines miles at the rate of 3:1. You receive an additional 5,000 miles bonus if you convert 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at once.

The best way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is via the official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card. It comes with 20,000 points for signing up and 2 points for every £1 you spend.

At 2 Bonvoy points per £1, you are earning (at 3:1) 0.66 American Airlines miles per £1 spent on the card. This will increase to 0.83 AA miles per £1 if you convert Bonvoy points in chunks of 60,000 points.

You can apply here.

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Comments (82)

  • Alex says:

    Rob – the aisle side armrest pops up. Just push the latch down and the whole thing will slide up. They just have to be down for take off and landing as that is how they are certified by the FAA and CAA.

  • ChrisC says:

    One of the worst things about AA is the sometimes aggressive possessiveness they have about the headphones often collecting them an hour before landing so making it less of a premium experience. On most flights they are at your seat but earlier this year flying back from CLT it was over an hour into the flight before they handed them out and even then it was only after persistent requests from several passengers.

    I get that these are expensive pieces of kit but even so the CC can be over zealous about collecting them and the cases to the point of rudeness.

    Apart from that I do like the AA TATL product over BA (other than CWLCY).

    • Paul says:

      But the are Bose and they issues ear buds. You are right though they need to sort that out.

      • ChrisC says:

        Oh those cheap and nasty ear buds yes they are such a premium offering!

        And I checked the amenity kit from my last 2 flights and they no longer include the cloth covers for the headphones either.

    • sunguy says:

      +1 – waaay too aggressive on the Bose headphones – similar experience of waiting > 1hr to be issued and then about 90mins before landing being forcibly removed from passengers….and its been like this since they started issuing them!

  • PGW says:

    All the seats are good but the ‘mini cabin’ front rows in J are outstanding and don’t require status or additional charges to occupy them – first come, first served. By far my favourite TATL Business class experience.

  • Paul says:

    There is an arm rest but it must be stowed for take off and landing. They don’t explain the seat as it’s been around for at least 5 years.
    The plastic champagne glass is a let down but everything else is great!

    • Crafty says:

      Well in that case they surely could have used their CRM to recognise Rob has never flown AA in that time and deigned to show him the features. I find it very disappointing when they expect you to figure it all out yourself.

      • Nick_C says:

        I’ve never been shown how the controls work in CW. My first CW flight was a red eye. I didn’t find the reading light until the lights went on for breakfast.

        On the A318, no one showed me how everything worked. I only knew about the iPad holder because I had read reviews of the flight in advance.

        I’m sure on AA or BA the crew will explain these things if asked, and there is probably some info in the in flight magazine (if you can find the bleedin light to read it by).

        The crew may think its patronising to suggest the seat controls to you without being asked. It suggests you’ve never flown business class before. Especially in a seat that is at least 5 years old.

        • Paul p says:

          BA CW has a whole separate instruction guide in each seat…

          I find AA crew do not want to be at work, so will interact with you the bare minimum, I sill prefer the service of CW and will choose it over AA, even if others think AA have the better seat.

      • Rob says:

        Exactly. They should know who does and does not know the aircraft, they have the data.

        • Andrew says:

          +1. I recall on BA SFO-LHR it was my first time in J having only flown in Y or F before (bizarrely). The crew knew and the CSM came up to say they could see it was my first time in CW and whether I’d like them to show me the features of the seat (or if I was okay on my own). Nice touch and not at all patronising if done in the right way.

    • Nick_C says:

      I’ve always assumed the plastic champagne glass is so you can keep your drink during take off. I don’t think that would be allowed with glass for safety reasons.

    • Simon says:

      There is also a little latch on the armrest – Surely Rob could have had a guess that that did something like lift the armrest…. Who doesnt try and press every button possible?!

    • John says:

      Qatar J seems to get it right (some of the time), well at least if you get a native or near-native English speaker, and they aren’t rushed off their feet during boarding, they ask something along the lines of “do you need me to explain how anything works” or “have you flown this aircraft before”. The airline does have the data but it might be wrong, and it’s not F where you would expect a very personal service.

      The armrest thing amused me a bit, most airlines except BA have something similar…

  • Andrew says:

    With a business class ticket you wouldn’t have access to Cathay First Lounge, just the Business Lounge. Obviously you had access to the First Lounge with your gold card. Both lounges are very good though shd still better than AA.

    • Rob says:

      Correct, will fix.

    • John says:

      I would think it’s quite easy to sneak into the F lounge even if not entitled… not that anyone here would do that, when I lose BA Gold at the end of the year I’ll be perfectly happy with the J side.

      But I always thought it was a bit odd that the F entrance is where it is. Often when I go to the toilet then head back, there aren’t any staff at the front desk and/or they won’t be looking towards the F entrance to challenge any interlopers (who they would need to remember by face, and be absolutely certain!)

  • David S says:

    In answer to your main question, seats on the AA 77W are outstanding compared to Club World but food and srrvice definitely better on BA on TATL anyway in my experience.
    On our last trip with AA, flew mini cabin on 77W but food was very average and white wine was served warm and my wife asked for it to be chilled and 30 seconds later, the wine came back with ice cubes in it- tasted disgusting. Service was so and so.

  • MAY L LIM says:

    If you don’t have status for first class, which lounges would you recommend if you have oneworld sapphire or BA silver

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Cathay or Qantas

      • Lumma says:

        Depends what you want from a lounge. I feel Cathay is the best but I prefer American Airlines over Qantas if I just want to relax somewhere quiet with self service booze. If only they had the nice American craft beers that they serve on board rather than Bud and Carlsberg.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          The AA lounge? That has to be the worst one there now the Servisair lounge has closed, surely?

        • Lumma says:

          Nah the American airlines lounge is basically the same as the the T3 BA lounge but it’s usually quiet by comparison. Qantas is a beautiful modern space but I’ve always found that they either don’t have the bar staffed and you have to wait for someone to come over, or the bartender is stuck making loads of coffees as they don’t have automated machines. Service has always been without a smile for me and they takes ages to check me in so now I rarely bother with it.

        • Andrew says:

          @Lumma – ah that’s a shame, I had the opposite experience in the Qantas lounge: the bartender (admittedly making coffees at 9am!) was so friendly, smiley and engaging with all the passengers in a professional but interested manner. It was so genuine that I was moved to write to Qantas to tell them.

    • Nick_C says:

      You don’t need status if you are flying J. You can use any OW lounge.

  • Max says:

    There is an armrest. It pops up.

    The first seat isn’t that much different except it swivels.

    I would never fly business on BA to the USA. Done it once and never again.

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