Quentin Long settles into a Business Class seat on an American Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner from Sydney to LA.
American Airlines flies comparatively under the radar in Australia (bad pun intended) – despite being the largest carrier in the US, it was the last to commence direct flights to the Land Down Under.
But while American Airlines has an established route from Sydney to LAX, Australian travellers are set to become a lot more familiar with the carrier if its aspirations of a joint venture with Qantas are realised. The US Department of Transportation has tentatively approved an arrangement that will see the airlines team up to offer direct flights from Brisbane to Chicago and Brisbane to San Francisco – final approval for the deal should be announced in the coming weeks.
As a founding member of the oneworld alliance and subsequent cosiness with Qantas, it’s no surprise that our national carrier supplies the lounge service.
The configuration for business class on the 787 Dreamliner is 1-2-1, with the A and L seats (the single window seats) being the pick owing to their outward-facing privacy. The two middle seats, D and H, face each other, and while you can see your neighbour’s screen, it’s not a problem.
Regular readers of my reviews will know that my pet peeve when flying business class is not having enough space for all my office detritus that enables me to use this section of the cabin for its intended purpose: working up in the clouds. However, all my gear fitted with ease into the ample storage and space.
The seat lies flat and the biggest ‘mattress-pad’ found in any business class, from e-commerce bedding sensation Casper, turns it into a soft- and cloud-like bed for a comfortable sleep. The jim-jams (another business class addition I look forward to) are also from Casper and the best I have had the pleasure of wearing in the skies.
A final word on the seat: it’s been a long time since I found a seat-belt confusing, but I’m ashamed to admit that I required the attendant’s assistance with the over-shoulder, car-seat style – it was very much a grandpa tying to configure the VCR moment.
Food and entertainment
And on to the best meal I have ever had in the air; not American Airlines’ famous sundae, not the lamb shank or the duck ragout from the main meal, but the ‘mid-flight snack’: the Riverine steak sandwich with sautéed onions. It’s a chunky feast beautifully cooked (or reheated at 30,000ft) for a melt in your mouth treat.
The entire inflight menu is courtesy of Aussie chef Sean Connolly. The starter is extravagant; the attendant drizzles olive oil from a pipette over the watermelon, feta and pomegranate salad.
The main options range from the aforementioned shank and duck, as well as a mezza plate and Tandoori chickpea creation. But I opt for the Petuna ocean trout with ‘tourneéd potatoes ’, which is tender and flaked like it’s been prepared at a top restaurant.
It’s all served in front of my seat’s huge screen that comes with a set of Bose headphones. However, the interface is irritatingly counterintuitive and clumsy, while the selection isn’t enticing enough to prevent me from pulling out my laptop.
As a sign of the times, I’d banked on the wi-fi working seamlessly to complete some work for appointments in LA. And it didn’t.
Mark it down, 2019 is the year that business class isn’t what it should be unless it has serviceable wi-fi.
The IT Verdict
American Airlines’ Business Class has the foundations of a great experience. The basics (the seat, bedding and food) are very, very good.
The entertainment and wi-fi are a bit of a letdown, but are compensated for by the other elements.
Sydney to Los Angeles
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
With plenty of space and no toe curling it’s a great experience to lie flat. The Casper mattress, pyjamas and doona make for a good night’s sleep.
The amenities kit is basic and a little stingy on the goodies, but it does come in a great Cole Haan bag. (Ed update: “Based on customer feedback” the amenity kits have been updated since our flight).
Food and Wine: 8/10
The menu is thoughtful and the execution lives up to the promise, while the steak sarnie is a thing of beauty.
The crew were very attentive, efficient and helpful without being overbearing.
It’s a great screen, but a shame about the interface and selection. The wi-fi failure was very disappointing.
Qantas supplies the lounge.