Review: American 737 MAX Business Class Quito To Miami

Filed Under: American

Unless I’m on a longhaul international flight with a flat bed (or nearly flat bed), I try to avoid redeyes at just about all costs. Back in the day I’d do them all the time, but at this point they just take such a toll on me that they’re not worth it.

For whatever reason I decided a redeye made sense here, though. American has two daily flights from Quito to Miami. There’s a flight leaving at midnight and getting in at 5AM. I knew it would be unpleasant, but that way I wouldn’t miss any “business hours” (due to lack of Wi-Fi on these flights) and could still get a nap in a proper bed.

The alternative was taking a 6AM flight arriving at around 11AM. That would have required spending a night near the airport, which just didn’t seem worth it. So, how did I feel about that decision in the end?

American 946
Quito (UIO) – Miami (MIA)
Monday, October 15
Depart: 11:55PM
Arrive: 5:13AM (+1 day)
Duration: 4hr18min
Aircraft: Boeing 737 MAX 8
Seat: 3E (Business Class)

The flight attendants at the door didn’t say a word as we boarded, and just stood there. They were definitely based in one of American’s South America gateways (I believe they were a Lima crew, like on the outbound), though they were so unfriendly that I didn’t even want to ask.

Here we were back in the same 737 MAX first class seats we had on the way out.

American 737 business class seats

American 737 business class seats

Not only are the seats poorly padded, but they severely lack recline. Below is a picture of the seat fully reclined.

American 737 business class seat recline

On the plus side, at least they had the proper international business class bedding, which helps at least a little bit with getting comfortable.

American 737 business class pillow & blanket

30 minutes after boarding the crew served pre-departure beverages, with the choice between water, orange juice, and prosecco. I had a glass of prosecco, hoping it would help me sleep.

American business class pre-departure champagne

The door was closed at 11:50PM, and the business class cabin was completely full.

The purser announced our flight time of 3hr45min and cruising altitude of 36,000 feet, and a moment later the crew performed the safety demonstration.

We pushed back at 11:55PM, taxied by 12AM, and were airborne by 12:10AM.

There were no announcements from the pilots, though they did turn off the seatbelt sign about 30 minutes after takeoff. At this point the purser distributed hot towels.

American business class warm towel


“A water no ice, please.”

American business class warm nuts and water

I had pre-ordered an Asian vegetarian meal for this flight. I usually order these, but had forgotten to do so for the outbound.

“Chicken or beef?”
“I pre-ordered an Asian vegetarian meal.”
“No, we don’t carry special meals on flights under eight hours.”
“It’s fine if it wasn’t loaded, but I can guarantee you American has special meals on flights under eight hours. I get them all the time, even on domestic flights.”
“I’ll check.”

She returned a few minutes later and confirmed it hadn’t been loaded.

“Just so you know we don’t have them on flights under eight hours.”

Obviously arguing with her would have accomplished nothing, though I was very tempted to show her pictures of Asian vegetarian meals on domestic US flights on my phone.

So instead I ordered the chicken.

American business class meal service

This came with some sort of an appetizer. I’m not sure what it was, and when I asked the flight attendant she just shrugged her shoulders. I think it had shrimp or crab or lobster or something.

American business class meal service — appetizer

Then there was a small side salad.

American business class meal service — salad

I wasn’t that hungry, but I did try the main course, which was actually quite good. It had chicken and cheese and tomato sauce.

American business class meal service — main course

A few minutes later I was served the dessert separately, which was a chocolate cake.

American business class meal service — dessert

At this point it was about an hour into the flight. I tried to recline my seat and get some rest, though unfortunately I had no luck. I was hoping I’d at least get a little bit of bad sleep, but I wasn’t able to get any. The padding was just so bad and recline so limited.

I get that other people are able to sleep sitting upright just fine — and I’m jealous of those people — but I’m someone who struggles to sleep unless conditions are perfect.

So eventually I resorted to just sitting there for the next nearly three hours. I was too tired to work, but also couldn’t sleep, so…

I did go to the lavatory a couple of times, and both times the flight attendant was sitting in the galley with earbuds in watching something on a portable device, with her feet up, and a blanket wrapped around her. She looked more comfortable than just about anyone else.

We landed in Miami at 4:50AM, and were at our gate by 5AM. The immigration hall was quite full, given the number of flights arriving from Latin America at this hour, though we were through in no time thanks to Global Entry.

American 737 MAX business class bottom line

I’m just not cut out to do redeyes anymore. Back in the day I could do them without issue, while now they really screw up my day.

That being said, I’m still not sure I regret having taken this, rather than waiting for the 6AM flight. While I was miserable the entire flight, the feeling of finally getting in a real bed upon landing was so nice. I got a solid three hour nap and felt great again, and was back to normal for the rest of the day.

As far as the flight itself goes, well… it wasn’t great.

  1. There’s a caravan of people WALKING hundreds if not thousands of miles to the United States right now and you’re complaining that you’re not cut out for a few hours in crappy pseudo-business class. And they don’t even have Global Entry!

  2. Every airline has an occasional bad flight. However it just seems to be happening with American Airlines more and more and more and more.

    Wait. And more

  3. Wow, that’s absolutely pathetic. AA is just so bad. I got mad reading this review. Why do AA flight attendants have to be so surly? Tired of the bad attitudes that paying customers receive on AA.

  4. I have really bad luck. I cannot eat regular meat in the U.S. so I normally pre order a meal on AA. On my last 5 flights with them in First, they keep forgetting to load my meal. And the 2 regular options have meat in them so…….

  5. Gave up on the red eyes about 10 years ago, but even so we still have one of these late night or overnight flights to deal with once in a while. I also find they are not conducive to working and with no seat back video it’s just painful. Lately I’ve started listening to audio books on my iPhone (with these kind of flights) and find they make it much more enjoyable.

  6. “The flight attendant was sitting in the galley with earbuds” what in the World? Where is this even an acceptable practice? If I had to try this at my airline I would be fired as soon as the plane lands!

  7. @ari – So should nobody ever review Ferarris because there are starving people in the world? Would pointing out faults of a Gulfstream 650er be morally reprehensible since people died in a hurricane this year? Should all homes over $1m be reviewed as perfect since so many without shelter would love to own one?

    Your logic makes zero sense.

    And the fact that you spend your time reading airline review blogs only to comment that the reviews shouldn’t happen is quite telling.

  8. That is a terrible red-eye, you’d have been better off saving the money since you didn’t get the meal or a lay-flat seat and sitting in economy, except its the hideous 737-MAX. I’d also question the safety of a flight attendant totally tuned out with ear buds in. How could someone handle an emergency like that? Or even pretend to care about passengers needs? It strikes me as bizarre.

  9. I rarely fly AA, but flew them yesterday in main cabin extra SJU-ORD-SEA since AS doesn’t fly that route. We could not believe the attitude of 6 of the 8 FA’s on our flights. They were so uninterested and surly. Two were just plain weird in ways I can’t describe. That, and not being upfront at check-in regarding our original flight through PHL being late coming in, thus not able to make our connection was enough for us. I had to go back through security and get our bags off that flight and new boarding passes. Never again !!

  10. Just another case of ‘classy’ unionized attendant, that hates the job but loves the salary!

    And perfectly worded from you, en effort to properly train the crew: “It’s fine if it wasn’t loaded, but I can guarantee you American has special meals on flights under eight hours. I get them all the time, even on domestic flights.”

  11. The condition is pathetic. I got shocked by reading this review. I am Tired of the bad attitudes that paying customers receive on AA.

  12. I was on the inaugural MAX flight from quite. I was bummed when I found out I wasn’t going to be on the 757, but then I was told it was a MAX and I was so happy! We even got a water salute in Quito!

  13. What are the options for real (lie-flat) business class seats to Lima?

    AA seems to operate on the assumption that people don’t have choices. As far as US carriers are concerned it will be great to see JetBlue with Mint expand internationally and then we will see how well AA does with their premium cabins.

  14. I used to think United employees were bad but American’s are universally hostile, regardless of which cabin you are flying. They have democratized misery.

  15. It’s a shame my friend Carlos cannot be on every AA flight he is kind he is pleasant is accommodating and every customer that he speaks to his left happy and with a good impression AA it’s a shame my friend Carlos and not be on every AA flight he is kind he is pleasant is accommodating and every customer that he speaks to his left happy and with a good impression A
    If anyone at AA gives a shit
    Carlos should be in charge of training all of your attendants

  16. Incredible contrast to Delta. I was on BNA Nashville to MSP Minneapolis yesterday up front and the flight attendant was amazing. She actively mentioned how she wants to keep busy, addressed each passenger by name, provided each passenger a pre-departure beverage, and made multiple rounds during the flight with drinks and snacks. And this was for a 6 a.m. flight. I switched from AA to Delta and have been amazed at the difference in the energy and attitude of flight attendants, gate agents, and lounge staff.

  17. thanks lucky for this review. sounds horrible! My husband and I are going to Quito at Christmas and are flying Aeromexico from JFK connecting in MEX with a 6 hour lay over also a red eye (thought the first leg departs mid afternoon ) at they are on 787’s with flat beds. So glad we didn’t book AA thanks for the heads up!

  18. You should get a Rx for ambien. 2.5 mg at takeoff should get you 4 hours of sleep. Works for me in economy.

  19. I also totally agree with Daniel.

    It’s interesting to have read this review shortly after having read the recent articles about how AA is losing money on it’s flights. They are only making a profit on sales of points, mostly to banks for credit card sign ups and charges. And I suppose it’s fairly common for folks to directly purchase a few thousand miles to top off an account for an award.

    Consequently , AAL stock has fallen from a 52 week high of $59 to a recent low of $30. As AA gets more and more of these terrible new planes, continues to degenerate their service with stupid ideas like basic economy, and with FA performance apparently getting worse instead of better, I can only imagine their profit level falling further and further.

    However the FA on your flight might have been correct. It’s quite possible that the ground service in Quito just refuses bother with special meal orders on flights under 8 hours. Which of course just adds to my comments above.

  20. @JAY
    Things vary. A lot.
    my last flight on Delta was in economy and the female cabin attendant was looking for a fight. I do not know whether it was a type of reverse racism or just surliness. I refused to get tangled into her issue but later she passed by and tried again to accuse me of something. All I did was mention “watch your elbows” as she was coming from the rear with the cart.
    I was actually relieved to deplane without her pulling a false report.

  21. Always amazed at how US airlines can get away with treating their passengers. Their service is, on average, worse than even low cost carriers in Asia, which is mind boggling.

  22. Really, people reading this blog are complaining about IFE? You can’t afford an ipad, some nice headphones and download some movies from netflix or amazon?

  23. They are so bloody useless on AA it’s not funny. Two female flight attendants argued with me in their so-called business class from Barcelona to Chicago the I didn’t need an arrival /customs card. I told them I did and had filled one out three week’s before flying SYD-LAX. They said not possible as they’d done away with them two years before. True enough they were wrong, as usual, and I was right. I told one of the stewardesses when I saw her outside arrivals and said next time listen to the passenger. Well they don’t load them was the response. Wrong again. Useless.

  24. @jr I’ve flown them before yep the FA’s and food suck, but the seat more than makes up for it in my books, we will eat our main meal at the Centurion Lounge during our stop over 😉 And most importantly this trip will make my husband Diamond Medallion on Delta.

  25. It was not “fine” that they didn’t load the pre-ordered meal you were clearly entitled to. I hope you did not let this pass by without a written complaint to AA. Unless customers complain nothing will improve in their outposts. All comes down to shoddy or zero supervision which should be called out.

  26. @glenn t complain all you want, they don’t give two buttons. I’m shocked they way some of these stewardesses (yes I deliberately used that term) regard their uniforms. There is no pride in what they do. There was one steward in the business section is an AA domestic whose face would’ve cracked if he even tried a quarter smile. Other 1W partners and airlines with partnership with AA should be complaining. They are abysmal.

  27. And this, in a nutshell, is why I won’t fly the US3 unless I absolutely have to. Coming off an ANA F flight from Tokyo to Houston, and read this abysmal flight report, I actually laughed at how bad all of it was: the seat, the food, the service. AA is racing against UA on a quick trip to the bottom of the barrel. Their “business class” is not even as good as Avianca’s, “the national airline of Colombia.”

  28. I have to ask the question: Does anyone from AA’s Consumer Affairs or their publicist ever read how horrible their airline and its workers are? There isn’t likely any blog that claims that “AA is the best!” or “I had the best flight on AA!”

    I never see those comments anywhere. Only the opposite. This is why I have not flown AA once this year and will kiss my EXP goodbye.

    AA’s publicist must be deaf, dumb, blind or delusional. There is such a large customer service problem at this airline that no one can right the ship. Or airplane, in this case.

    Other than AT&T and Comcast, I can’t believe this airline has such an anti-consumer outlook where it fails basic customer service protocol. Terrible.

  29. I am an American Executive Platinum card holder from my milage earned on One World (Mostly BA). I am quite surprised by the experience that you had in Business from Quito to Miami. While most of my flights between Boston to London or New York to London (changing for the Middle East destination) are on BA I am on AA transatlantic flights about 10% of the time. Frankly, other than one horrific experience with a young Pain in the Neck flight attendant in March of 2017 the service on the trans Atlantic run in Business / First has been quite good. That being said, I agree the crew of Delta (which I am on frequently when I fly Sky team through Paris) is significantly better.

    The hard product of both Delta and AA are comparable (with a slot nod to Delta) on this run. But I agree the AA domestic US First Class Product is quite where to the level of Delta.

    I do think that this entire situation with AA is due to its US Air Heritage (never a really top tier carrier) and a terrible corporate culture that comes right from the top. In short, Delta is much more customer oriented that AA.
    I am now going to begin to dump all my One World flights into my BA account. I don’t fly that much in the USA any more so my long USA flights will be on Delta going forward or Jet Blue.

    Its interesting how a start up such as Jet Blue surpassed the legacy carriers in service. Maybe that is one reason it has avoided multiple bankruptcies.

  30. @Daniel

    Lucky knows who I am and knows I’m joking around. I don’t yearn for the “Elaine Benes” system of airplane cabins if you get my drift. Lighten up. This was a response to a post by someone in his late 20’s (early 30’s?) that said he’s essentially old for red-eye flights in a domestic first class seat; it deserved a little chiding.

  31. @Ari: This story isn’t about any cause you want to tie to it. It’s about a particular flight .Please focus
    I can’t stand the lack of padding in new AA first seats . I get that metal bar in my back.

    I’ve half a mind to take the dinner knife, rip open the upholstery, stuff in some decent padding and then duct tape the cut mark with neon duct tape.

    The other half of my mind is searching for a plane to buy. Anything that doesn’t involve extended over-water or nighttime flying I’m going to start doing myself.
    I highly suggest everyone learn to fly.

  32. Reading this after finished a 3-hour Apex Suite trip with gourmet food definitely brought evil smirk on my face 😀

  33. Last time I took the AA’s 737-800 from LA to BOSTON.There is a PTV onboard.Why they don’t have it on brans new 737MAX???

  34. Hi lucky,

    I agree with you 100% red eyes suck.

    I took an AA flight from DFW TO LONDON on an Aa codeshare with BA. The stewardesses all of them had Serius bad attitudes that were in need modification training or retirment. They reminded me of constipated crocodiles!

    I am determind to never fly on a AA flight ever again if its long distance, we flew aspen to Dfw but it was only an hour flight, the Steward sat the hole flight. One hour is the most i can stand…..?

    We had an amazing flight out with BA and the flight crew where awsome, the lie flat seets where not as nice as AA i admit, however there is so much more to a flight than the seat……

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