About two years ago American introduced their first new Boeing 777-300ER. As far as I’m concerned it was the real start to the “new American,” whereby we saw them transforming from an airline that I associated with an almost unlimited fleet of ancient MD-80s, to one that was actually trying to keep up with the times. And all things considered they’ve done a great job with the transformation.
American 777-300ER at London Heathrow
American’s 777-300ER business class is fantastic
Up until now, all of my travel on American’s 777-300ERs has been in business class. Here are a few reviews I’ve written about the product:
- American Business Class 777-300ER Hong Kong to Dallas
- American Business Class 777-300ER Dallas To Hong Kong
- American Business Class 777-300ER Sao Paulo to New York
- American Business Class 777-300ER New York to Sao Paulo
- American Business Class 777-300ER London to New York
- American Business Class 777-300ER New York to London
American has reverse herringbone seats in business class on this plane, which is my favorite kind of business class hard product. Beyond that, American has Wi-Fi on their 777-300ERs, which to me is one of the most important airplane amenities.
American business class cabin 777-300ER
While American’s food is decidedly mediocre (though edible) and service is hit or miss, a top notch hard product plus Wi-Fi puts them pretty high on my list in terms of quality.
American business class seat 777-300ER
Is American’s first class better than business class?
Over the weekend I flew American’s first class on the 777-300ER for the first time. I flew roundtrip between London and Miami on a discounted business class ticket, which I upgraded to first class using systemwide upgrades.
American’s investment in first class on the 777-300ER is fascinating. They’re actually eliminating first class entirely throughout their 777-200 fleet, so long term the only international aircraft that will feature first class is the 777-300ER.
American will have a total of 20 of these planes, so they’ll literally have 160 international first class seats in their longhaul fleet. That’s it.
American 777-300ER first class seat
American’s 777-300ERs feature a total of eight first class seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Business class is also in a 1-2-1 configuration, for what it’s worth.
American first class cabin 777-300ER
American first class cabin 777-300ER
The thing is, the seats have absolutely no privacy — they’re completely exposed. Like, there’s really not even a partition between the seats and aisle.
American first class seat 777-300ER
American first class seat 777-300ER
It’s ironic, because the business class seats actually have more privacy.
The first class seat is also quite narrow. And that’s not to say I can’t comfortably sit in it, but in premium cabins I sometimes like to kind of put one leg under the other and cross it, and the seat isn’t wide enough to do that. In the business class cabin the armrest goes down so there’s plenty of room to do that, while the armrest doesn’t go down in first class. That makes the sleeping area pretty narrow as well.
The technology setup is pretty similar in first and business class as well.
American first class seat controls 777-300ER
American 777-300ER first class amenities
First class seats come with the same pillow and blanket you get in business class. You do get an extra pillow, and on top of that you also get a thin mattress sheet (I wouldn’t call it a pad).
American first class amenities
You do also get pajamas, which you don’t get in business class. I actually really like American’s pajamas.
American first class pajamas
The amenity kit also comes in the form of an iPad case. The contents are the same as in business class, but I suppose the iPad case is unique.
American first class amenity kit
American 777-300ER first class food
The quality of the food was virtually identical to business class. You get nuts and a drink to start.
American first class drink and nuts
Then there’s an appetizer, which is somewhat larger than in business class. I wouldn’t exactly call mediocre chicken breast gourmet, though.
American first class appetizer
Then there’s a soup course.
American first class soup
And a salad course, much like in business class.
American first class salad
Then the main course is about the same quality as in business class, except it’s plated a bit better.
American first class main course
And then dessert is the same as in business class.
American first class dessert
Then pre-arrival it was the same crap salad they serve in business class. Seriously, does this look like an international first class meal?
American first class pre-arrival meal
For that matter, does any of this look like an international first class meal?
So the food is truly ever so marginally better than in business class. The quantity is a bit bigger across the board, but I wish they’d instead focus on quality. How about some protein on the salad, or how about a soup that doesn’t look like it came out of a Campbell’s can.
Actual differences between first and business class
Wifi is the same in first and business class.
Entertainment is the same in first and business class.
I actually don’t prefer the first class seat to the business class seat.
So what’s the difference?
Well, first class does have drinkable champagne. American serves Gosset Grande Reserve in first class, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Contrast that to the recycled, concentrated cat piss they serve in business class.
American first class champagne
In first class you also get a box of Lily O’Brien’s chocolates before landing… yay?
American first class chocolate
Then in terms of the meal you get a soup course, which you wouldn’t get in business class.
And the pajamas and mattress pad are nice.
Why bother with first class?
So here’s the thing. Maybe this is just a backhanded compliment. American’s new business class is really good, in terms of the hard product and the Wi-Fi. The amenities are great as well — I like the pillow, blanket, Bose headphones, etc.
It’s interesting to me that American would keep first class on such a small portion of the fleet when the product isn’t really differentiated.
Then again, I guess it all makes sense. On the flight out there were two “revenue” passengers in first class and then four non-revs, while on the return I was the only “revenue” passenger, and then there were six non-revs. I guess really it’s just non-rev and upgrade class.
I think American is on the right track in eliminating first class on the 777-200. If you have a great business class hard product and aren’t going to invest in the first class soft product, what’s the point?
I’m happy to have finally tried American’s new first class. If I were flying an old 777-200 with the angled business class seats I’d find a ton of value in American’s new first class, but with American’s business class being so good on the 777-300ER, I don’t really see the difference.
Does anyone that has flown American’s new first class on the 777-300ER feel differently? Does anyone actually think the hard product or food is substantially better than in business class?