Review: American Airlines 757 Business Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, American

The first segment of this trip had me flying from Miami to Dallas, prior to continuing the following morning from Dallas to Hong Kong.

Booking My American Airlines Flights

As I outlined in the introduction, the outbound portion of this trip was a paid ticket. I had booked a roundtrip ticket from Miami to Beijing, with the outbound in paid business class and the return in paid economy, for about $1,600.

The outbound portion looked as follows, after I applied a systemwide upgrade to get first class on the Dallas to Hong Kong flight:

12/08 AA2524 Miami to Dallas departing 7:36PM arriving 9:52PM [Business]
12/09 AA125 Dallas to Hong Kong departing 10:40AM arriving 5:35PM (+1 day) [First]
12/10 KA906 Hong Kong to Beijing departing 7:00PM arriving 10:10PM [Business]

The Beijing to Miami return flight (which I’m upgrading to business class) will be flown early next year.

American Airlines Flagship First Check-In

While I was able to check-in online for my Miami to Dallas flight, I wasn’t able to get a mobile boarding pass for my connecting flight, presumably because my Chinese visa had to be verified.

Due to my ticket I was able to use American’s Flagship First Check-In facility, which is open to the following passengers:

  • Those traveling in American Airlines three cabin first class
  • Concierge Key members and non-American oneworld Emerald members on any itinerary
  • Executive Platinum members on any eligible long haul itinerary


American Airlines Flagship First Check-In Miami

This is supposed to be an exclusive facility that lets you cut part of the security line, though the experience was rather underwhelming. It was roped off so that there’s basically a “bouncer” who admits you to the facility, but then there was initially only one agent working.

I had to wait for several minutes before being helped, and then it took forever to get me checked in, not to mention the agent wasn’t friendly. She just kept me waiting for several minutes without saying a word, and then said “my system isn’t working.”

I also don’t get what some airline agents are trying to accomplish with their questions. For example, I handed her my passport with the Chinese visa page open (explaining it was my expired passport, but that the visa was still valid), and as she entered the info she asked me “the visa expires April 2025?”

It explicitly has the expiration in the passport, so I’m not sure why she’s asking/how she thinks I know from memory?

On the plus side, using this facility does let you cut to the front of the Pre-Check line, which sure is nice, so there is that benefit.

American Airlines Flagship First Check-In Miami

I had a bit of time to visit the lounge. I went to the Admirals Club by gate D30, thinking that’s what I had access to. However, to my surprise I was given an invite to the Flagship Lounge, which I’ve reviewed before.

I don’t think I was technically entitled to visit that, since my eligible international flight was the following day, and access is only supposed to be granted same day. However, sometimes they look at the overall itinerary, and I’m guessing that’s why I was admitted.

Similarly, if I had flown from Miami to Dallas the same day as my international flight, I would have also had access to Flagship First Dining, which I’ve reviewed before.

American Airlines Business Class 757 Review

My flight to Dallas was departing from gate D48, just a few minutes walk from the lounge.

American Airlines boarding gate Miami

Boarding was scheduled to start at 7:01PM, 35 minutes before departure. Sure enough, that’s right when boarding started.

Concierge Key members were invited to board first, which was nearly a dozen people. I was expecting this would make it very difficult to get cabin pictures, since I assumed these Concierge Key members would be occupying most of the seats up front.

American Airlines 2524
Miami (MIA) – Dallas (DFW)
Sunday, December 8
Depart: 7:36PM
Arrive: 9:52PM
Duration: 3hr16min
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Seat: 4A ( Business Class)

I boarded through the forward door of the 757-200, and was shocked to find all the Concierge Key members headed back to economy. In fairness I booked the last “paid” first class seat on this plane, but still, you’d think some Concierge Key members would be paying for first class as well.

Even though it was the Sunday evening after Art Basel, the crowd in first class was almost exclusively retirees who looked like they came off a cruise, rather than business travelers or Art Basel-looking-people.

One of the nice things about flying American out of Miami is that they operate internationally configured aircraft on quite a few domestic routes. A majority of my flights to Dallas and New York are in flat beds, either on 777s, 767s, or 757s. They also fly those planes sometimes to Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. That’s mostly pretty awesome.

The reason for this is that a lot of wide bodies have some extra time between international “turns,” so they often fly them between hubs during that downtime.

This flight was operated by an internationally configured 757-200. American started installing new business class seats on these back in 2016, and it’s more or less the same seat they have on the American A321T, with one major difference.

American has a total of 16 Collins Aerospace Diamond seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration. For an old 757 it’s not a bad-looking cabin.

American Airlines 757 business class cabin

However, when you look at the cabin in the other direction you may notice something missing — personal televisions.


American Airlines business class cabin 757

Interestingly when American had angled seats in business class on these planes they had built-in personal televisions, but they decided not to offer them with their new product (however, on long haul flights they hand out portable entertainment devices).

I laughed out loud when the lady seated a row up called over a flight attendant and said “excuse me, I think there’s something wrong with my seat, the TV is missing” (she was serious). Mood!


American Airlines business class cabin 757

These seats are really nice when you’re flying domestically, and they’re even quite nice when flying internationally, especially when you’re traveling with someone. It’s not like the 757s operate any ultra long haul flights.


American Airlines 757 business class seats

I had assigned myself seat 4A, the window seat in the last row on the left.


American Airlines business class seats 757


American Airlines business class seats 757

To the back left of the seat was a small exposed storage compartment, as well as a 110v and USB outlet.


American Airlines business class seat storage


American Airlines business class seat outlet

The seat controls were on the center armrest, and easy to use.

American Airlines business class seat controls

The tray table also extended from the center armrest, and could be folded over in half.


American Airlines business class seat tray table

There was another 110v and USB outlet by the personal entertainment holder, so that you can charge your device while watching something. There’s also a small shelf beneath this area, but it’s not particularly deep, so I don’t find it to be too useful.


American Airlines business class seatback entertainment holders

The footwell with these seats are on the tight side, which is also part of what makes this such an efficient seat, since your feet go to the side of the seat in front.


American Airlines business class seat footwell

While the seats as such felt fresh, the overhead consoles felt retro, though on the plus side they had individual air nozzles.


American Airlines overhead console 757

Waiting at each seat upon boarding was a thin blanket. American doesn’t offer pillows in domestic first class, unfortunately.

American Airlines domestic first class blanket

Boarding was pretty efficient, and by 7:30PM just about everyone was boarded. At 7:35PM the captain made his welcome aboard announcement.

“I wish I could tell you we will be leaving within the next couple of minutes, but when we boarded the aircraft there was a screen not turning on, and we are getting that replaced.” He said that once we depart the flight time would be 2hr39min.

American’s on-time record is mostly much better than it used to be, though I do still think it’s worth pointing out that the plane had been on the ground in Miami for more than 24 hours. I always find that the longer the plane has been on the ground, the greater the odds of a mechanical issue.

At around 7:40PM the flight attendant came around to take meal orders. She didn’t offer any sort of pre-departure drinks, not during the standard boarding process, and not during the delay.

“Chicken or vegetarian chili?”

Since American lets you pre-select meals in advance, I took a screenshot of the meals as described, and the choices were:

  • Grilled chicken with shiitake mushroom sauce and twice baked potato
  • Vegetarian chili with roasted garlic polenta cake
  • Fruit and cheese plate (available by pre-order only)
  • Zoes Kitchen Charcuterie Plate (available by pre-order only)

Usually I would have ordered an Asian Vegetarian meal, but I wanted to review the standard food, so I chose the vegetarian chili.

Anyway, the maintenance delay was surprisingly short, and by 7:50PM the door closed, and moments later we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened.

Our taxi was also quick, and by 8:10PM we were airborne.

Just 10 minutes after takeoff very wet warm towels were distributed.

American Airlines business class dinner — warm towel

I also connected to wifi to get some work done. One downside to being on a 757, 767, or 777, is that these planes don’t have the Gogo 2Ku or Viasat high speed wifi. So not only is the wifi slower, but a Gogo subscription doesn’t get you free access.

Wifi pricing was:

  • $12 for two hours
  • $17 for four hours
  • $19 for the flight duration

Given the short flight time, I just purchased a two hour pass. Wifi wasn’t fast, but did the trick.

American Airlines wifi pricing

About 30 minutes after takeoff drinks and mixed nuts were served — I ordered a Diet Coke to drink.


American Airlines business class dinner — drink & nuts

Then about 45 minutes after takeoff the meal was served. The food tasted as good as it looks… need I say more?


American Airlines business class dinner 


American Airlines business class dinner — yum!

After the meal warm cookies were distributed, and I ordered a coffee to go along with it. American recently changed their cookie vendor, and the new cookies are really soft, to the point that they just kind of fall apart. I find the only real way to eat them is to literally eat them off the napkin.

American Airlines business class dinner — cookie & coffee

I worked for most of the rest of the flight, and then about two thirds of the way through the flight I checked out the lavatory, which was alright.


American Airlines business class lavatory 757

At 9:10PM Dallas time the captain announced we’d be descending soon, and that we would land in about 45 minutes.

The seatbelt sign was turned on about 20 minutes before landing, and around that time the flight attendant passed through the cabin to hand out mints.


American Airlines business class mint

We landed in Dallas at 9:45PM, seven minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time. It was great that we’d arrive on-time in spite of the mechanical delay on departure.

Unfortunately at 9:50PM the captain announced that our arrival gate was occupied by a plane having a maintenance delay. “They say that they should be out of the gate soon. What soon means they don’t tell us.”

We ended up having to wait for over 30 minutes, and only pulled into our arrival gate at 10:25PM. At least American is consistent with maintenance delays — you get them on departure and on arrival!

Arrival gate DFW

I took the train over to the D Concourse, and then checked into the Grand Hyatt DFW for the night, before a very early start the next morning.

American 757 Business Class Bottom Line

On the plus side, I like the number of internationally configured planes that American operates out of Miami on domestic flights (though it does mean slower wifi, not to mention having to pay even when you have a Gogo subscription).

Otherwise this was just your average domestic American flight — the food wasn’t good, the flight attendant actually wasn’t too bad, and we had maintenance delays both on departure and arrival.

At least I had a comfy seat for the journey!

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Comments
  1. Doesn’t American Airlines feel embarrassed to serve these meals to their first class customers? Honestly, the food doesn’t have to be Turkish Airlines level but what you were served looks plain gross and the amount is very little.

  2. Is it just me, or do the seats look weird with the TV’s missing? I realize the personal device holder is attached, but clearly you can tell a TV is supposed to go there. Looks silly IMO.

  3. That food looked exactly like what I got back in late 70s in some hole in Moscow. Waiter said, if you are hungry, you eat it, if u aren’t you won’t.
    Those empty TV holes are trashy. Seriously? New installations? Amazing that the world largest airline Showcasing this. Reminds me the last years of PanAm when no one have a flying F anymore, things were just started missing from seats

  4. It’s just embarrassing for airline like AA (one that’s a flagship airline for the US) to have a product like this without personal TVs on a “premium configured aircraft”

    For those of us who are familiar with AA’s stream your own device, might not be a big deal but for someone who isn’t familiar with it and they step foot onto the plane, the initial impression is what a cheapass airline in the US. Sadly that’s the state of the airline and they continue to brand themselves as premium. laughable

  5. It’s a shame they have such a monopoly at MIA, I know several people who are beholden to this terrible airline because they are the only airline that offers direct flights all over the country. Thankfully I live in a delta hub so I don’t have to subject myself to that garbage airline…

  6. I suspect that Ben flies AA because despite all of its flaws, it has a pretty good award redemption program -not like the obnoxious Delta, or even worse, a high-way robber BA…

  7. When I looked at the first picture I thought that you had been allowed on the plane to preview the product before it was finished. I recently had to fly first class on AA to PHL. I would prefer economy comfort on DL/B6 for the most part.

  8. Notice the empty gates at DFW. They have them, they just don’t use them that time of night. It would mean paying people to be there to serve customers.

  9. I had a flight yesterday at from Boston to SFO .Excellent service . Good food and on time arrival . Unlike deltas trashy planes and relentless gate changes and nasty ground staff .

  10. I flew this international 757 between JFK and Dublin 2 years ago on my own (may that route RIP!). I had just connected from LAX on the A321T business, and I really didn’t notice that much of a difference in the seat dimensions, they’re pretty much spot on the same! I prefer the 757 cabin windows though, so much bigger!
    The only issue came when it was time for me to get ready for sleep, I needed to get out to brush my teeth. The entertainment devices that they distribute and place into the holder of the seat in front of you obviously has an audio jack for the famous “Bose Headsets” to plug into. So I stood up from my seat, and as I went to climb across my seatmate I realized there was basically a limbo wire of sorts in my way, and the most awkward bodily contortion maneuver ensued. My seatmate made absolutely no effort to let me past, or momentarily unplug his headset or anything. Can you actually visualize my torture, legs akimbo stretched with one foot in the aisle and the other by my seat hovering over my reclined seatmate, while trying to untangle my neck from his headset wire!!! Why could American not have cheaped out and just installed the normal IFE screens, and spared me the embarrassment, as well as many other people I’m sure! Haha!!

  11. I flew this plane weekly DFW-BOS rt and it makes absolutely no sense to not offer tvs AND use a wifi that doesn’t have a subscription. Not to mention those old planes are plagued with MX.

    Yes, the lie flat is nice but I was glad to not have to make that decision anymore when they took it off my route.

  12. On my Delta flight, the caterers forgot to load linens and towels on the plane. The flight attendant in first came by and apologized to each seat for the oversight.

    Oh yeah and since I switched to Delta last year, I’ve always been offered a pre-departure drink and only had one maintenance delay.

  13. @Henry Z tell us all about what airlines offer on intra Europe flights. Oh that’s right an economy class seat with an empty middle seat.
    American offers one of the best domestic first products in the world.
    An angle lie flat seat on a domestic first flight isn’t half bad.

  14. Exhibit A for the defense (Delta) in the “Flagship” case should be your pics of the tv screen cases without TVs. No airline should be allowed to call themselves a flagship looking that trashy and incomplete. Simply unacceptable- It makes AA appear to be going out of business.

  15. “Hello, I’d like to report a robbery. Someone stole all the TVs off of the plane — just ripped them right out!”

  16. How is American not renting out that empty TV space? Paste some GEICO ads in there. American is leaving ad revenue on the table, shareholders should be made aware.

  17. That gigantic hole where the tv should be simply says that they are too cheap to provide a screen and you should bring your own and finagle it in there. Granted most of the time I actually will watch my own iPad, but this product just looks embarrassing. It wouldn’t have cost that much to initially install it and get years worth of use and more importantly something at least resembling a premium product. Whether the screens are watched or not, this just looks bad. It’s a gigantic hole right in front of you. This really is an embarrassing product.

  18. Echoing others, those seats without IFE look so cheap, almost looks like the plane isn’t finished. I didn’t even know they had those in their fleet. It blows my mind that they would decide to install lie flat seats with no IFE, it makes zero sense. I wonder if there’s a single other airline that does that.

  19. I’m not trying to be “that guy”, but it says this flight was on Friday December 6th and then you mention it being the Sunday after Art Basel. I don’t think that’s what you meant to write:)

    Thanks for the great review!

  20. Hi Ben (or everyone),
    Is there a particular seat in this cabin you would pick over others? I’m flying this Mia-Lim in a month and I just want to make sure I chose wisely (I’m in 2A I think). I love the blog!!! Thank you!

  21. I feel so
    Sorry for you 🙁 working on an evening flight that doesn’t last that long, what an entrepreneur you are!

  22. The chili is a terrible domestic dish that has seen more than one rotation now.

    It’s made worse, however, by AA’s aversion to BOWLS. Chili should be served in a BOWL, not the same rectangular dish used for all other domestic main courses. Ever since the merger, when old AA dishware was swapped out for all the square stuff, all bowls went away. So lots of stuff that should be served in bowls–like entree salads at lunch–are now served in the stupid rectangles, which make them look even worse than they are.

  23. I wonder what percentage of food that you eat throughout the year comes from airline/lounge meals? I also wonder what percentage of that is GMO foods? (scratch that, we know the answer to the latter).

    I hope you do colonics at least 4x a year and not just juice cleanses. All that metal, plastic and nontech in the food is going to catch up with you dude.

  24. @Jesse
    Did you say “excuse me I need to get out” before doing your gymnastic move? If so, the guy is an a-hole. But I am also one who won’t make much effort when my seatmate doesn’t have the courtesy to ask or excuse him/herself. I always do when I’m crossing over someone.

  25. I am personally a fan of the chili. Although earlier this year, it was called a 3 bean chili with polenta. I guess they are now saying vegetarian. But that seat. Yikes. This is why I left AA for delta. Cabins are better, the FAs while some lack service, for the most part are better than AAs FAs. I just wish delta gave me a cookie like AA does.

  26. A slight correction but when AA had the Recaro angled lie flat seats on the 757s they didn’t have permanent PTVs. There were also removable screens that were taken out for domestic sectors. I believe it stems to the fact the licensing rights for entertainment.

  27. ROFLMAO. If I paid cash for a flight and found the TV screens missing like that, I would totally ask the FA in disbelief.

  28. @Ben/Lucky – I took maybe a dozen domestic 757 flights from around 2014-2017 with the Recaro seats and don’t recall the units being in place on any of them. I guess if your aircraft had a quick turnaround off an international flight they might not have had a chance to remove them or something like that.

  29. The least they could do is re~purpose those seat back hoes with mesh , containing curret newspapers and magazines.

  30. So damn cheap not having TV’s. All while raking in billions on profits. I’m glad I don’t fly them often.

  31. This review only makes one thing sure… AA will never get a dime from me. The seats looks like they need a quarter coin to operate, with displays pulled out.

    That’s business or “first” class? Ugh.

  32. The 757 and 767 are going away that’s why AA is not upgrading any entertainment system nor high speed Wi-Fi for that aircraft.

  33. I wish airlines like American would put some more thought into the meals served in their domestic F class cabins. There doesn’t have to be complex choices, but there are plenty of one-plate options that could be good served at altitude. This chili looks pitiful and how sloppy of a presentation.

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