The joys of turning left have been ramped up for clients flying with American Airlines on a revamped Boeing 777-200ER. Abra Dunsby experiences it first-hand on a flight from Heathrow to New York’s JFK.
American Airlines has been sprucing up its shiny fleet of aircraft since 2014: first came the fresh-look Boeing 736-300, then the 777-200ERs, followed by the 757-200s, all of which now have new features, especially for passengers turning left.
All three aircraft come with lie-flat, aisle-accessible business class suites, while other perks will include upgraded entertainment options and Wi-Fi.
“We want customers to choose American every time they fly,” says Fernand Fernandez, American Airlines’ global marketing vice president.
“We are giving our customers more choices to enhance their personal flying experience by offering new services, upgraded seats and new entertainment options in all cabins.”
The new planes are part of an ongoing $3 billion investment from American Airlines, which it claims makes it the US carrier with the youngest fleet of planes in the business – its fleet of 47 aircraft will be refitted by mid-2017.
Following a trip from Heathrow to JFK onboard the 777-200ER, we run through the new features that business class travellers can enjoy.
Let the movie marathon begin. As the plane takes to the sky I check out the impressive film selection on the large touchscreen. There’s lots of brand new Hollywood hits to choose from, including Oscar-recognised Jackie, La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.
The in-flight entertainment system is extensive since its upgrade, and includes up to 250 movies, more than 180 TV programmes, plus games, music and book excerpts.
The complimentary over-ear Bose headphones are excellent at cancelling out the whizzing and whirring of the aircraft and general goings on, so much so that I keep them on after my epic movie session has ended to help me get to sleep.
The 45 business class seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 formation, with seats alternating between forward facing and backward facing.
All seats have direct access to the aisle, preventing solo travellers from having to clamber over a stranger to get to the loo. Even the central seats feel very private as there is a barrier between them – the only downside being that clients travelling with a friend or partner will have to crane their necks to talk to them.
Seats are comfy, there’s plenty of legroom in the upright position, and seats now recline until they are fully flat for maximum shut-eye onboard.
There’s also plenty of space for all your bits and bobs, thanks to a large side table and a table tray. Individual AC power outlets and USB ports are also located by the seat, making it a doddle for clients to charge multiple devices.
The in-flight kits are filled with travel and beauty essentials from skincare and lifestyle brands C.O. Bigelow and Cole Haan. As well as the customary eye mask, socks, earplugs and dental kit, clients will find a handy pack of tissues and tubes of moisturising cream and lip balm.
The menu for business class customers has been expanded and improved – created alongside top chefs including TV personality Maneet Chauhan and Michelin-starred restaurateur Mark Sargeant.
Meals are well presented on china, and service is friendly and efficient. For clients worried about missing out on their first choice of meal, there’s the option to order in advance, from 30 days up to 24 hours before departure.
The wine selection has been devised with partners Intervine and Ken Chase to complement every meal and includes two whites and two reds.
The TV touchpad is large and easy to use. Confusingly for technophobic me, there’s also an accompanying touchpad handset that can be used as a remote, as well as a separate manual remote by your seat, though I discover that the touchpad handset also boasts extra features such as information about the flight.
Other tech, all located by your seat, includes the seat controls and a powerful, adjustable reading light. The aircraft now offers Wi-Fi onboard, with prices starting from $12 for two hours.
American Airlines operates the 777-200ER on flights from Heathrow to New York JFK, Miami, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Raleigh Durham.
Clients departing JFK for Heathrow after a New York stay will soon be able to make use of a new flagship American Airlines lounge, opening in the second half of this year. The lounge is open to business and first-class customers travelling on international and transcontinental routes.
It’s also open to AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum members in any cabin on qualifying international flights, and oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members in any cabin on all flights.
The lounge now includes a larger buffet, offering plenty of food options and free-flowing beer, wine and spirits. If they still have room for more, clients can take advantage of the new sit-down dining experience, which opens this month and will allow guests to enjoy a three-course meal before their flight.
The new space also includes eight showers for clients to freshen up before a flight, or they can do so in Heathrow, where they’ll have access to the recently upgraded Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 3.