A quick flight from New York to London on American…

A couple of days ago I flew from New York to London on American in business class using a systemwide upgrade. You sure can’t beat the value of American for international travel, given that you can book the lowest coach fare and upgrade to business class, and I’ve yet to miss an upgrade.

American’s business class seats are angled flat and the more I fly them the more I struggle with sleeping in them.

American did recently upgrade their catering. They changed up their plating a bit, made the salads more colorful, and switched from ice cream to ice cream sundaes in three cabin business class.

The flight attendant working my aisle was very New Yorker(ish). She was extremely efficient, though not nearly as cheery as the 70-something year old Dallas Debbie working the other aisle (and I say that in an endearing way because those are my favorite kinds of flight attendants).

I guess for a six hour transatlantic flight it’s nice to have an extremely efficient flight attendant working my aisle.

That being said I felt a bit bad for the older Indian couple seated across from me that didn’t speak English. They understood almost nothing the flight attendant said, and when they looked at her, she simply proceeded to repeat it louder. I’m not sure why some people don’t get that when someone doesn’t speak your language the solution isn’t to say the same thing louder, but to either slow down and speak more clearly or use some hand motions as well. But that seemed lost on her.

I also ran into the same communication issue I’ve had on several flights now. After dinner the flight attendant asked if I wanted to be woken up for breakfast. I responded with “no thank you,” because I didn’t want to be woken forĀ  breakfast. Sure enough I was awake when breakfast was served and lowered my tray table, and when the flight attendant walked by me several times I asked if I could be served breakfast. She said “but you said you didn’t want breakfast.” No, I said I didn’t want to be woken for breakfast. To me it seems like a pretty obvious distinction, but I guess I’m alone there.

I guess in the future I’ll clarify by saying “no, I don’t want to be woken for breakfast but if I happen to be awake I’d like to reserve the option to eat, please.”

Anyway, below are a few pictures of the meal service, and I’ll have more with the trip report. Though there was a more exciting airline I sampled on this trip, so stay tuned for that.

American business class remains a great value when upgrading, and I can’t wait to try their new business class, which will put them ahead of most of the competition in my opinion.

Filed Under: American, Travel
  1. I was going to throw in a US Air monkey wrench,
    but I won’t šŸ˜‰ Do you know if the food was catered by Gategourmet?

  2. I’m on the flight attendant’s side about the “woken for breakfast”. I’ll grant you the literal meaning though!

  3. FWIW, I agree with Lucky on the breakfast thing. To me that question is really asking if you want to be woken up if you are sleeping at breakfast time. It doesn’t seem like it should imply anything about what your wishes will be if you are not asleep.

  4. “I canā€™t wait to try their new business class, which will put them ahead of most of the competition in my opinion.”

    iirc, that would only be on their new 777-300er, on the DFW-GRU route? Do you know when AA will get any more new planes with new J and on what routes? Do they plan on replacing old J on older planes?

  5. I saw your Diet Coke and thought, “For the love of God, where is his LIME??????”…..yet Lucky didn’t mention it, so it’s all cool by me! šŸ˜‰

  6. About being woken up for breakfast: Isn’t the obvious answer that the attendant should just ask you politely “I see you’re up early. Can I get you anything for breakfast?”

    I know, airline unions and all that jazz. But my mind is continually boggled by people employed in (relatively high-paying!) service jobs who lack the service industry skills you would find in a just-hired waiter at the Olive Garden.

  7. I’m with Lucky regarding the breakfast. Besides, customer service is about anticipating customer’s needs. Since the customer is up and the tray table is down, the customer is obviously anticipating something. Is it so hard for the FA to confirm the customer wishes?

    On another note, that steak looks like it was boiled in water and then put on the grill for the grill marks only. I hope it tasted better than it looked.

  8. I am not a big fan of AA’s business class either. But I have to fly AA from time time to time due to my company’s policy. I found most of their flight attendant are lukewarm and sometimes impatient. I don’t understand why Gary say there are generally nice and friendly. I am not sure either he is too lucky or I am too picky?

  9. @ kevin – I completely agree. I’m sure it’s very easy to get jaded, and dealing with some not-so-polite/intelligent/etc people can wear on you after awhile, but I always think that I could do a better job at just using common courtesy skills when dealing with passengers.

  10. I fly AA often, usually lax-Mia or lax-JFK. Great crews, consistently. Based on 20x year/ mostly J.

    Particular impressive given how much they disliked management, they were never surly, almist always cheerrful, and it only came out during chats where I asked directly and the attendant new me well.

    Could be route specific thigh.

  11. your experience with breakfast sounds like LAN airlines.. where you don’t get any breakfast unless you fill up the form the previous night.. It has never happened to me in AA where is normally very flexible even u said no the night before.

    the new AA J seats are great tried to/from GRU a couple of weeks ago.

  12. I find New York to London to be too short. As a Delta flyer I am looking forward to access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse to have a meal preflight there and then try to sleep the entire flight. I need some sleep šŸ™‚

  13. I like AA’a crew. Friendly, gets the job done. I have a hard time sleeping in their business class. Always try to upgrade going to Eu, stay in coach when returning.

  14. @ mangoceviche — Nah, the steak was the low point of the meal. Everything else was very good.

    @ Rob — Yep, it was, or at least that’s what the catering truck said.

    @ JR — I have a post coming on that shortly.

    @ joe — American lets you use systemwide upgrades to upgrade from the lowest coach fares. No tricks to it.

    @ Mike S. — Next month the 777-300ER starts on Dallas to London and then New York to London. They’ll be retrofitting the 777-200s, though not 767-300s.

  15. @ Ninmurai — To clarify, what was I supposed to say? I didn’t want to be woken for breakfast if I was asleep.

    @ Scott — Hah, the lime was buried deep in there!

    @ Sean — On the whole I actually find American flight attendants to be very good. Not Singapore-esque by any means, but generally friendly and attentive. Of course they’re also consistently inconsistent.

    @ goodguy — My ticket was about $900. As an Executive Platinum member I receive eight systemwide upgrades per year, and I used one of those to confirm the upgrade to business class.

  16. @Lucky: Been there about the breakfast thing, so now I always say, “If I’m asleep don’t wake me, but if I’m up I might have something to eat.” I shouldn’t have to give that whole speech, but one has to pick his fights… šŸ™‚

  17. My 2 cents worth on AA LHR travel…… Systemwide upgrades LHR-DFW on Thursdays or Fridays are very tough to clear. Last trip mine didn’t. Avoid these days if possible. Seems to be a lot of paid premium cabin travel in/out of DFW, so not much upgrade space available.

  18. @ DFW Steve — Definitely true of DFW in general. If you want to get upgraded on American internationally it’s best to avoid DFW.

  19. I agree with some comments up here that if the tray is down and she walked pass by you a few times, it is common if you are in a service business to just ask if you would need a breakfast.

    As a note, I flew NYC-Europe on AA (in Business) a numerous times lately and noticed that they tended to serve breakfast way too early, like 2-2.5 hours before landing. I appreciated when FA try to get the job done fast for dinner for short NYC-Europe flights but I do not appreciate them try to get the breakfast done so early. The more-caring Asian(or European) services would serve you breakfast as late as 1 hr before landing (or 45 mins in F) from my experiences.

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