A Perfect American Airlines Transatlantic Business Class Flight

A Perfect American Airlines Transatlantic Business Class Flight

FROM: CLT
TO: LHR
CABIN: Business
DATE: May 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Lucked out with a fantastic crew and great food on this overnight flight across the Atlantic.
49

For our trip to Greece, my mom, her partner, and I, crossed the Atlantic on American Airlines, flying from Charlotte to London. Our overall itinerary was Tampa to Charlotte to London to Athens, and I booked that for 57,500 American AAdvantage miles and under $30 in taxes and fees per person.

I won’t write a detailed review of the transatlantic flight, since I recently reviewed American’s 777-200 business class to Hawaii, so a lot of the details are similar.

Our plane from Charlotte to London

Rather I just wanted to give American credit for what I’d consider to be a legitimately solid transatlantic business class experience, at least in these times. The way I view it, American nailed all the basics here — a great seat, solid amenities, good food, and friendly service. That last category can often be the toughest to get right, so kudos to the crew for that.

The last time I took a transatlantic flight out of Charlotte was on US Airways in 2013, and I remember the purser on that flight to this day — Miss Peggy. She was something…

Anyway, let me share the highlights of this flight below.

Reverse herringbone seats are great

We were flying an American Airlines 777-200 with Collins Aerospace reverse herringbone seats. These are comfortable seats, so it doesn’t get much better than that for a 7hr55min flight. For anyone curious what transatlantic loads are like nowadays, 22 of the 37 business class seats were occupied on this flight.

American Airlines 777-200 business class seat

The map for our flight from Charlotte to London

Solid amenities, especially bedding

While not as good as United Polaris long haul bedding, American’s Casper bedding is excellent, with a large pillow and cozy blanket.

American Airlines business class bedding from Casper

The Bang & Olufsen headphones are also decent, for anyone who likes to use airplane inflight entertainment (which I rarely do, other than to keep an eye on the map).


American Airlines business class headphones from Bang & Olufsen

My flight also had American’s brand new amenity kits from Shinola, which seemed mighty unremarkable to me.


American Airlines business class amenity kit from Shinola

Surprisingly good food

Here was the menu for our flight:

And then here was the drink list:

Service began shortly after takeoff with drinks and packaged mixed nuts. I don’t usually drink when flying with US airlines, but when I saw Lanson champagne on the menu, I figured I’d order a glass. I mainly just ordered it on principle — I feel like if there’s a drinkable wine option on American then you might as well seize the moment, since it’s anyone’s guess when that will happen again. 😉

American continues to use plastic cups, though at least the pours were generous.

American Airlines business class drinks & nuts

Dinner was served soon after takeoff, and the entire dinner service was on one tray. I appreciate that American lets you pre-order your meals, so you can be guaranteed that you’ll get your first choice.

Everything was served wrapped, as is standard nowadays. I think I’m a fan of the one tray service on a short transatlantic flight, and I almost hope it sticks around, as it really expedites service.


American Airlines business class dinner

I’ve gotta say, the food was very good.


American Airlines business class dinner

The starter consisted of shaved beef with lemon aioli, edamame guacamole, and pico de gallo. There was a packaged bread roll to go along with it, which was warm and surprisingly soft.


American Airlines business class dinner appetizer

I decided to be ballsy with my main course order, and selected the crab cakes with lemon chive cream sauce, broccoli chipotle slaw, and blistered tomatoes. While I feel like crab cakes could go very wrong on a plane, they were legitimately decent — I’d be happy if I were served these at a mediocre restaurant (that’s meant to be a compliment, just to be clear).


American Airlines business class dinner main course

For dessert there was a salted caramel tartlet, which was also good.


American Airlines business class dinner dessert

About 75 minutes before landing breakfast was served, with the choice of a continental breakfast or an omelet. I selected the continental breakfast, which had a nicely varied fruit plate, granola, and yogurt. I skipped the croissant, which was hard.

American Airlines business class breakfast

Friendly & professional service

Ultimately a crew can make or break a flight, and this crew couldn’t have been lovelier. The ladies working business class were professional, friendly, informal, playful, and really seemed to enjoy their jobs, and that’s always so nice to see.

Often it’s the smallest things that make a difference. For example, on my United flight from Maui to Chicago a couple of weeks ago, the flight attendant took meal orders as follows, without any sort of greeting:

“For dinner tonight do you want grilled chicken breast, rice, and vegetables, or cheese ravioli?”

On this flight the purser Lisa took meal orders as follows:

“Mr. Schlappig, it’s nice to have you flying with us this evening. Have you had a chance to look over the menu? I see that you’ve pre-ordered the crab cakes, is that still what you’d like to have?”

Airlines in the USA will never be able to compete with Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways when it comes to consistent and professional service. However, what they can do is strike a great balance between being genuine, fun, and professional, and this crew did exactly that. Kudos.

The crew took great care of my mom!

Bottom line

On a good day, American Airlines can be really competitive across the Atlantic. You always get excellent flat bed seats with direct aisle access, along with solid bedding. The rest of the experience is consistently inconsistent.

Fortunately on this flight we lucked out, with great food, excellent champagne, and an absolutely lovely crew. If only American were always this good.

Oh, shoot, I totally forgot to mention the one thing (completely outside of the crew’s control) that ended this flight on a sour note. I’ll save that for the next post.

Conversations (49)
Oldest comments are displayed first.

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. upstater

    Glad to see you remembered the dinner pix! Have a great trip, looking forward to the rest of the reviews.

  2. Kent

    The food looks edible, but certainly not appetising. Other than that, the experience described seems fairly standard and on par with transatlantic service with any of the three major carriers. I struggle to favour any one of the three beasts.

  3. DCADepartures

    A cliffhanger? Really? Ben, I’ve enjoyed your blog for years because of the high quality writing and genuine personality that comes through in your posts. Please don’t lapse into clickbaity tactics, if I want those I can go to any of the dozens of other blogs.

  4. Endre

    Lanson is similar to Piper Heidseick or Veuve Clicquot — a decent champagne, even when served in a plastic cup.

  5. Bob

    Crab cakes are actually probably pretty safe plane food, when you think about it. The crab meat is already likely to be frozen a lot of times at mid-range restaurants, and the other ingredients they contain are hardly things that need to be fresh--some herbs, bread crumbs, egg and mayo. They are probably a pretty easy dish to pre-make and freeze, tbh. Still, it's nice to hear that they tasted good.

  6. steen

    Hi Ben
    Why don't you usually drink when flying US carriers... Compared to foreign I presume?
    Cheers
    Steen

    1. John

      Because he’s a snob and doesn’t think the wines served are good enough for him

  7. Chris

    At least with my recent experiences. I have felt U.S. airlines have gotten more competitive internationally. Their hard products have definitively gotten on par, if not surpassed their European counterparts (Lufthansa's current business class vs. Delta One Suites or United Polaris is a perfect example of this).

    The soft-product is ultimately a glaring weak point and will require getting management in airlines who are willing to work with labor unions to get service standards...

    At least with my recent experiences. I have felt U.S. airlines have gotten more competitive internationally. Their hard products have definitively gotten on par, if not surpassed their European counterparts (Lufthansa's current business class vs. Delta One Suites or United Polaris is a perfect example of this).

    The soft-product is ultimately a glaring weak point and will require getting management in airlines who are willing to work with labor unions to get service standards up.

  8. jcil

    What is that black, oval shaped thing that comes in the amenity kit??? (not the socks) Wonder why they would include something like that in a kit intended to be used during a flight?

  9. derek

    Nice report and nice flight. I wouldn't call it perfect, though, as the title boasts.

    As for the flight attendants, I find being addressed by name is creepy. Even worse if they say " Hello, Super Plutonium Elite Mr. Slay-Pig (mispronounced) who is in the 35% income tax bracket, welcome....."

  10. Jeb

    I’m happy you had a positive experience with your flight crew to LHR. I suspect this maybe because of the crew being CLT based versus the angry, resentful bunch who are LAX or MIA based. IMO, Delta still has the most consistent, professional, friendly service of the US 3. Sadly UA & AA will continue to have inconsistent, aloof, indifferent service. This is a employee cultural issue at both UA & AA.
    Bye, your...

    I’m happy you had a positive experience with your flight crew to LHR. I suspect this maybe because of the crew being CLT based versus the angry, resentful bunch who are LAX or MIA based. IMO, Delta still has the most consistent, professional, friendly service of the US 3. Sadly UA & AA will continue to have inconsistent, aloof, indifferent service. This is a employee cultural issue at both UA & AA.
    Bye, your fruit plate is one of the nicest looking ones I’ve seen in a long time.

    In regards to the amenity kit, is the bag of high end quality considering it’s from pricey American based & made, Shinola? AA switches kits often. Is the kit nicer than the Cole Haan ones?

  11. YULtide

    Looks like it was a lovely flight. They really do need to proofread their printed menu, though, unless they intended to say that the chardonnay had a "coplex (sic) nose". Maybe the person doing the tasting notes had a cold.

    And speaking of tasting notes, both red wines and the port are described as having notes of berries and chocolate. Not much variety in those descriptions.

  12. Regis

    Serving Champagne in a plastic cup in international business class. Tells everything you need to know about American Airlines, US airlines in general, and the decline of our culture and our lack of class.

    1. John

      Champagne in a plastic cup is just the start of it. Let’s not forget those who beat up other passengers, and crew. America and Americans have had no class for a LONG time already, and it only gets worse

  13. Mark G

    Great review and exciting trip ahead. I’m traveling LAX to LHR in J this August and so glad they are serving decent food.

  14. Ryan

    I think one-tray service is not necessarily nice. Someone usually pays good money for business class, and when I only fly once a year with my family premium, I actually like to get a longer service. If someone flies a lot during the year, yea sure a short meal might be nice since you have done it a lot anyway. But I think for many leisure travelers in business class it can actually be nice...

    I think one-tray service is not necessarily nice. Someone usually pays good money for business class, and when I only fly once a year with my family premium, I actually like to get a longer service. If someone flies a lot during the year, yea sure a short meal might be nice since you have done it a lot anyway. But I think for many leisure travelers in business class it can actually be nice to enjoy the service.

    Would you like to go to a michelin restaurant, pay a few hundred bucks and be out in 20 minutes again? I rather make it as long as possible.

  15. Nicola

    In 2018 I took AA from Heathrow to Dallas and flew with my son in Business and it was an amazing experience. Comfort, service, the plane. I think AA for transoceanic flights is a good value and wouldn’t mind flying again.

  16. Tom

    Regis: Those aren't the only things that have declined. Even as late as the mid-1980s, as I happen to know, if a jetway broke, they'd just lower the built-in stairs at the back of the plane (assuming it was a 727) and let everyone just walk the few yards into the terminal.

  17. Drew

    It was the same menu from JFK to MXP. The appetizers was really good. I had the chicken which had a nice flavor and was a decent size. Dessert was too sweet for me. Flight crew was really nice thanking us for trusting them for our return to Europe. I also got my bag and no quarantine in Italy with the testing flight.

  18. Michael F

    "Latin Shaved Beef". I think I knew a guy who had that as his profile name on a dating app.

  19. Brian

    Bigger story should be how you got a business class for 57k to Greece! Wow!

  20. Josh

    Airline full meals and full service should be brought back ASAP! No reason for the lack of service anymore with the much reduced covid numbers.

    Also where are the ice cream sundaes at? Is AA no longer going to offer those?

  21. Max Gross

    Found AA business availability for two a couple weeks ago, ATL-ATH, for December travel at 57.5 each with a choice of connections through CLT, PHL, ORD, JFK or DFW. Actually took the back track route via DFW because of the departure and arrival times. As of yesterday, nothing was available. Glad I got that done.

  22. Lils

    Was this a "covid tested" Italy flight? Can't seem to tell which AA flights are Italy-friendly. Wish AA would clearly label the way Delta does.

    1. Ben

      @ Lils -- Nope, this was a Charlotte to London flight, so not one of the Italy "tested" flights.

  23. Don

    Plastic cups in Business class? Why am I not surprised. Any excuse to cut costs airlines will jump on. Reminds me a few years back when ATL had a drought problem and the DL SC went to plastic so they didn't have to use the dishwasher. Seriously?

  24. Robert heath

    How come you got a business class Frequent Flier for 57k miles
    I just used up 265k for a Round Trip JFK airport to Rome non stop
    I avoided LHR options because the landing fees were $450 Pperson!
    Do you know something I don’t kniw.
    I have flown American Airlines across the Atlantic numerous times and and have always had a great experience. I aldo find the phone agents fantastic.

    1. Ben

      @ Robert heath -- It all depends on what kind of award seats are available. I managed to find award space at the saver level, which is 57,500 miles one-way in business class between the US and Europe. Of course it's often not available, but we lucked out that there was plenty of space for our dates.

  25. Pete

    While I do think all passengers should be greeted by name in premium cabins, it’s hard to not understand how an AA EXP would be greeted one way versus a UA non-status (with a questionable UA history).
    We get it, you like AA/DL better.

  26. martin

    We are booked EUG-LHR on AA over Christmas - we were charged 57000 miles on the forward leg and a whopping 135,000 on the return in Business - a ripoff in my opinion!

  27. SUNNY

    So glad to see you were flying out of CLT. It is a lovely, friendly place, easy to get through. The atrium with the rocking chairs is especially nice when you have a little bit of time to relax. That's why I only fly AA. CLT is my hub and I have had very few complaints. Everyone has been very helpful, friendly professional and courteous. Very nice.

  28. Wayne

    is the plastic glasses and paper cups for coffee just a temporary covid thing?

    I don't get how not using china is safer.....

    1. Ben

      @ Waryne -- Correct, they cut glassware during coronavirus. I'm not sure I get the logic either, and at this point it's pretty clear that it's a cost saving thing.

    2. DCA Will Always Be "National"

      I believe I read somewhere that the US3 are not refilling cups at this time to avoid bottle-to-glass/cup contact with a cup that's been previously sipped from and may have saliva and thus a potential viral component. And it'd be way too heavy to carry enough glassware to provide a fresh glass each time someone requested a refill.

    3. Ted

      Thank you, AA, for protecting us from this .0000001% chance of getting infected.

  29. Yoshua Avery

    Flew business on a American 777-300ER and 787-8 and I didny get dinner on the 787 since we flew MIA-ORD but I did on the 777 and it was Salmon which was really good. Service on my trip was great and all the flight attendants were very friendly.

  30. Leigh

    @Brian

    I agree re the mileage redemption!

    Today I booked a multi-country/continent trip today on AA (and a few other airlines that look interesting, just cuz I’m an AvGeek and love visiting really random airports)...and got the 57.5k business redemption from Barcelona-Miami-Los Angeles in mid July (the same redemption level as economy class!). I was stunned, and of course booked it immediately. Within 1 hour I couldn’t see any similar redemption available from any AA...

    @Brian

    I agree re the mileage redemption!

    Today I booked a multi-country/continent trip today on AA (and a few other airlines that look interesting, just cuz I’m an AvGeek and love visiting really random airports)...and got the 57.5k business redemption from Barcelona-Miami-Los Angeles in mid July (the same redemption level as economy class!). I was stunned, and of course booked it immediately. Within 1 hour I couldn’t see any similar redemption available from any AA European gateway.

  31. John

    Now retired I do enjoy those business class seats. This review made me think of those days when I was skinny the company I worked for in Dallas, would fly us 1st class if over an hour flight. I have had many fine meals as a young business guy, but the best part was when the rolled down the short aisle with the ice cream cart. Making that ice cream Sunday for you will never...

    Now retired I do enjoy those business class seats. This review made me think of those days when I was skinny the company I worked for in Dallas, would fly us 1st class if over an hour flight. I have had many fine meals as a young business guy, but the best part was when the rolled down the short aisle with the ice cream cart. Making that ice cream Sunday for you will never get old, and I will always remember AA as being a great airline.

    Having flown them to Europe and back several times in Bus. Class, they still do it very nicely.

  32. JvdB

    OMG, Lucky is flying and reviewing flights again. This is legit making me feel like we are returning to at least a semblance of "normal".

  33. Trey

    @Ben I fly AA transatlantic a lot (American expat living in Berlin) and they are always hit or miss with me.
    Me & my husband (also named Lucky hehe) most recently did DFW-LHR and the service was absolutely awful. I couldn't believe it.
    Granted, we nonrev, but I was watching service for the revenue J class as well and it was just horrific.

    For some reason the only consistent service I've seen...

    @Ben I fly AA transatlantic a lot (American expat living in Berlin) and they are always hit or miss with me.
    Me & my husband (also named Lucky hehe) most recently did DFW-LHR and the service was absolutely awful. I couldn't believe it.
    Granted, we nonrev, but I was watching service for the revenue J class as well and it was just horrific.

    For some reason the only consistent service I've seen is the FRA-DFW-FRA route. I think they know they know they have to compete with LH otherwise the biz travellers will switch

  34. Vancouver - Char

    Happy to read this informative review of your AA flight to London; interesting to compare to your previous flights to and from Maui (especially the United flight..). Nice for you to complement Lisa by name too.
    Also, happy to see the new format on our webpage:) and happy to read about your travels again:)

  35. NYGuy24

    Will be interesting to see your Greece experience. Personally I won't even consider Europe until July. Need to see them get all the kinks out of the system and get things up and running again. Really hoping to be able to hit France this summer.

  36. HeyDude

    Whats it like wearing a mask on long flights? I am concerned as even 2 hour flights to me get difficult to breath after a while.

  37. Andrew

    I wish more AA flights were like this. LAX -> HNL in an a321 last row with econ passengers kicking the back of my seat while coughing every 45 seconds was not the same experience.

  38. Sharon Salzberg

    Have never flown American Airlines overseas but would consider it when we book a business class trip to Europe a year from now. Of course, bring fully vaccinated, we would not fly if masks are still required. Our state here is totally opened up now. We shall see....

Featured Comments Load all 49 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sharon Salzberg

Have never flown American Airlines overseas but would consider it when we book a business class trip to Europe a year from now. Of course, bring fully vaccinated, we would not fly if masks are still required. Our state here is totally opened up now. We shall see....

Ted

Thank you, AA, for protecting us from this .0000001% chance of getting infected.

Ted

It’s for your safety, Josh.

Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT