What’s to like – Any airline that can supply a 1-2-1 arrangement in business class is always on to a winner and American Airlines (AA) does this with their Zodiac Cirrus seat which is also lie flat.
Could improve – It’s not that impressive to have flight attendants come through and collect the noise cancelling headphones off of passengers 20-30 minutes before landing and instead give them a cheap pair of ear bud headphones to continue to using the IFE, in fact I can’t think of another airline that I have been on that does that?
Flight number – AA 73
Seat Number – 12A
Aircraft type – 777-300ER
Check in – At LAX AA use Terminal 4 so instead of the more usual scenario I had previously experienced when flying internationally out of LAX and departing from the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), this time check in was going to be Terminal 4.
However I really wanted to try Qantas’ First Lounge at LAX which was in TBIT, so this required checking in bags at T4, which was done with relative ease, and then with boarding pass in hand, walking over to TBIT and going through the security process.
At LAX as long as you have a boarding pass for one of the terminals you are able to enter other terminals.
This has thankfully been made a whole lot more hassle free as a walkway connecting T4 and TBIT has just been opened so now AA passengers once they have gone through the bag searches and other security procedures can then by-pass the rather long security lines in TBIT and walk back and forth. This is a big improvement!
But we had to walk over, join a priority line in the security area (which still wasn’t moving very fast) before making our through and then going up to the lounge areas.
With about an hour and a half till departure time, we made our way back out of TBIT and over to T4 to once again go through another set of security screening and bag searches.
What you will sometimes put up with for some nice lounge time?!?!
Lounge – Qantas opened their current First Lounge in LAX in late 2014 and this heralded a bit improvement over what had previously been available.
The current lounge has an ala-carte dining area where you can sit down and order from a pretty good menu with dishes inspired by Australian Chef Neil Perry.
It also has a well-stocked bar area, showers, several seating areas as well as a small area for children.
The full review is HERE, but I’ve attached some photos.
Ambience and general layout of the LAX Qantas First Lounge
Seat – As stated in the what to like section the Zodiac Cirrus seat in a reverse herringbone layout is used on this American Airlines Los Angeles to Sydney route which is also a popular choice on other airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Sri Lankan and Delta in various forms.
The seat also has plenty of areas where you can store all the odds and ends that travellers bring along, sunglasses, passports, phones, cameras etc plus amenity kits which is handy.
AA have chosen in their 777-300ERs to have 52 seats in the Business Class cabin divided up into a smaller cabin of 2 rows of 8 seats (row 3-4) just behind First Class and then a larger cabin of 11 rows (5-15) with 44 seats with each row having a 1-2-1 configuration offering every passenger direct aisle access saving the late night gymnastics of getting over a sleeping seat companion.
The seat has a fully adjustable seat back, head rest, and leg rest that then extends into a fully lie flat bed approximately 198 cm or about 6’ 4” inches in length. Passengers are provided with a fairly thin mattress pad, a blanket and a pillow.
The seat has several different options for charging the devices us travellers all can’t leave home without these days including an AC power outlet and USB ports at every seat.
Amenity kit – AA offers a nice amenity kit, not stocked with lots of high end brand names, but a good selection including socks, toothbrush and tooth paste, pen, comb, lip balm and hand and body lotion, eye mask, tissues, mouth wash and ear plugs all in a retro pouch branded with PSA – representing Pacific Southwest Airlines that formed a part of US Airways before that airline merged with AA.
While a nice tip of the hat to the past, those colours are pretty bright!
AA also offer pyjamas in business and first class on these trans-Pacific flights as part of an effort to match in-flight products with other airlines in this crowded and competitive market. They were handed out prior to take off and were of a decent quality and fit being 100% cotton.
Entertainment – There is also a pair of Bose® QuietComfort® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphones available although these weren’t in their little closed cupboard like you would normally find them but were handed out by the flight attendants.
The inflight entertainments system in Business Class has a 15.4-inch touchscreen monitor that folds out to view it and has a good viewing area as well as controls to adjust various aspects of the picture. While it’s a nice screen it has two drawbacks, the first being that it is meant to be stowed for taxing, take-off and landing.
While you can probably pop it open if you so desire prior to the take-off roll once the FAs are seated, it has to be folded away 10-15 minutes out from landing whereas the people in Economy Class can watch it all the way up to the gate.
The second drawback is that the screen swings around into place, but has no tilt capability so that if you recline the seat close to the flat bed or into the actual flat bed the picture degrades because you are looking at it from an angle.
The system offered a good selection of films, tv shows etc, AA’s website states up to 250 movies, 160 TV shows, 13 radio channels, 375 albums and 20 games, I didn’t count them all, but it’s a decent range anyway.
Food and beverages – Before the flight I did a bit of research on the meal options and AA seem to have gone to quite a bit of trouble to improve their offering on this new Trans-Pac route which is quite competitive with several other airlines competing in the space.
I had pre-ordered our main meals which was a nice touch that AA offer, but the options were exactly the same as what were offered on the menu of the flight.
Here are the food menus:
The service started shortly after the seat belt sign had gone off with some warm nuts and a drink.
The starter was a Prosciutto Crostini, which was ok, but might have been nicer if there was another one or two as not much to this offering.
The started was accompanied by a salad which was just ok.
I had pre-ordered the Roasted Halibut with chimichurri, goat cheese and squash couscous. I’m not usually one for squash, I find it a vegetable that is pretty tasteless and watery, but this was a nice meal.
Not being a huge chocaholic, but still liking something sweet to finish the meal off, I selected the Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream, which was nice, but was pretty unrelentingly chocolaty.
Maybe some cream or something might have broken it up a bit. I only managed to eat a small amount of it.
Mid way through the flight I ordered the Wagyu Beef Sliders and these came both nicely presented and tasting pretty good. They were quite an improvement over the very basic slider that had been offered as a mid-flight snack on the flight over to the US!
Inflight there is also a walk up snack bar areas where several different chips, chocolates and other products are available.
Closer to arrival the breakfast service started, commencing with a tasty mixed berry smoothie.
I opted for the Traditional American Breakfast which, while containing fairly standard breakfast ingredients, was quite decent. The bacon could’ve done with being a bit more meat and less rind, but I guess everyone has their own individual tastes.
I mainly just had soft drinks and a few bourbon and cokes, but here are the beverage menus:
Service quality – The crew, as is often the case with American legacy carriers, was a fairly mature one but the service provided was reasonable, delivered nicely but you wouldn’t call it fawning or continuous. I can handle that, calling an FA when I need something just as well as on other airlines where FA’s are continuously checking on how you are and if you would like anything.
It was a nice touch when one of the FA’s commented on how cute my son was and they were nice to and patient with him, which is always pleasing to parents.
On time – We left LAX on time and manage to arrive a few minutes ahead of schedule into Sydney and with a fairly quick taxi to Terminal 1 it wasn’t long before we were in the baggage hall, where the same probably couldn’t be said for how long it took for our bags to come out.
Conclusion – This American Airlines Los Angeles to Sydney flight was an enjoyable one. The hard product is certainly very competitive if not near class leading with what is on offer on Trans-Pac business class routes between Australia and the USA.
Virgin Australia’s new ‘the Business’ hard product will probably come pretty close to matching it once it is installed on their fleet of 777-300ERs.
The soft product was also pretty decent. The meals were nice, perhaps not at Qantas’ standard but still good although there is room for some tweaking and, with a bit more effort, to raise that to another level.
The crew were reasonable, again people can have different expectations of how much attention and personal service they want or expect.
You certainly wouldn’t confuse AA’s service offerings with some of the high end Asian carriers (nor most other US legacy carriers), but still I found it met my requirements and those of my sons.
So, yes a service I would be happy to recommend people try, especially with AA’s Executive Platinum status level which rewards members with System Wide Upgrades which allow for free upgrades from economy to business class if space allows.
For more photos see here - http://www.lifestobelived.com/2016/03/05/flight-review-american-airlines-los-angeles-to-sydney-business-class/
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Flight review – American Airlines Los Angeles to Sydney – Business Class