- Introduction: An Overdue Trip To Kyoto
- Review: JetBlue Mint Business Class A321 (MIA-LAX)
- Review: Four Seasons Los Angeles At Beverly Hills
- Review: Starlux Airlines Business Class Airbus A350 (LAX-TPE)
- Review: Starlux Airlines Lounge Taipei Airport (TPE)
- Review: Starlux Airlines Business Class Airbus A330neo (TPE-KIX)
- Review: Park Hyatt Kyoto, Japan
- Review: Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Japan
- Review: Four Seasons Kyoto, Japan
- Review: Shisui Nara, Marriott Luxury Collection
- Impressions From Our Trip To Kyoto, Japan
- Review: Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge Kansai Osaka Airport (KIX)
- Review: Japan Airlines Business Class Boeing 787 (KIX-LAX)
- Review: American Airlines Business Class Boeing 787 (LAX-MIA)
For the final segment of our trip to Kyoto, we flew American Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 business class from Los Angeles to Miami, after getting off Japan Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 business class from Osaka to Los Angeles.
Getting a wide body aircraft on a domestic flight within the United States is always a treat. Best of all, American offers elevated service on select premium transcontinental routes, and the Los Angeles to Miami route is among those. While the service was a bit strange, I still don’t think domestic flights get a whole lot better than this (though we also had a great JetBlue Mint flight in the other direction). Let’s get into the review…
In this post:
How I booked our American business class tickets
I booked our American Airlines business class tickets using American AAdvantage miles. Specifically, I booked the following for 36,500 American AAdvantage miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees per person:
10/07 AA2883 Los Angeles to Miami departing 1:20PM arriving 9:11PM
Now, you might be wondering why I booked this separate from the transpacific award:
- This flight didn’t have saver level award availability, which would be required in order for it to be included on a partner award; however, I found the pricing of 36,500 miles to be reasonable for business class, especially given how tough upgrades are on this route on wide body aircraft
- I actually booked less than the “legal” minimum connection time, so it wouldn’t be possible to book that on the same ticket; I figured that between no checked bags, Global Entry, and Japan Airlines’ punctuality, we’d have no issues, and my suspicions were right
- Speaking of the connection time, the next flight to get home would’ve been a redeye, and that would have been much more exhausting, and we wanted to get home as quickly as possible
Given that the cash fare was around $1,200 per person, I’d say this was a good use of AAdvantage miles.
American business class lounge & boarding
During our layover at LAX, we spent about an hour in the American Flagship Lounge, which I’ve reviewed before. If you’re in business class on a wide body American jet between Los Angeles and Miami, you automatically get Flagship Lounge access, which is a treat.
Even if that weren’t the case, we would have still had access, in line with oneworld lounge access rules, based on our inbound flight (as we had a same day long haul international oneworld business class flight, plus I have oneworld Emerald status).
The Flagship Lounge LAX is great, as it has lots of natural light. Thanks to American greatly decreasing its long haul network at LAX, it’s also nice and calm nowadays.
Our flight was departing from gate 41, immediately underneath the lounge, so we had a great view of “our” 787-8 as we waited.
Boarding was scheduled for 12:45PM, 35 minutes ahead of our 1:20PM departure. My gosh, this boarding experience made me instantly miss Japan. Everyone crowded the gate area, and the gate agent seemingly loved hearing his voice more than anything else, so had endless, condescending announcements. Contrast that to Japan, where there’s none of that.
Boarding did in fact start right on schedule, with Concierge Key members being invited to board first, followed by business class passengers.
American 787 business class cabin & seats
We boarded through the second set of doors, and then turned left into the business class. I should mention upfront that American’s 787-8s have two different kinds of business class seats. Some have the Safran Concept D seats (which were the original seats), while others have the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats (which are the newer seats, and which you’ll find on many airlines).
This flight featured the Safran Concept D seats, which are generally viewed as the less preferred ones. Anyway, American’s business class cabin consists of a total of just 20 seats, so it’s quite intimate. The seats are spread across five rows, in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The seats are somewhat staggered, and alternate between being forward and rear facing. The window seats in odd numbered rows face forward, while the window seats in even numbered rows face backward. Meanwhile the center seats in even numbered rows face forward, while the center seats in odd numbered rows face backward.
So, which seats are best? Here are a few considerations:
- If you’re traveling with someone and want to sit near them, I’d recommend the center seats in odd numbered rows, since they’re closer together and are further from the aisle; meanwhile the center seats in even numbered rows would be my last picks
- As far as window seats go, generally I like the seats in even numbered rows more (assuming you don’t mind sitting backward), since your head is closer to the windows (and it’s easier to look out), while your feet are closer to the aisle
- All that being said, I think the two best seats are 5A and 5L, which are the window seats in the last row that face forward; that’s because the other seats have a “shaking” issue (I’ll talk more about that in a bit), but these are the only two window seats that don’t have that problem
Anyway, I assigned myself seat 5A, in the last row, and I put Ford right in front of me, in 4A. As you can tell, 5A kind of looks like a reverse herringbone seat, in the sense that it faces in the direction of the window. However, you are quite far from the window, so need to lean (way) forward to look outside.
While many people aren’t a fan of these seats, the single greatest thing about them is that there’s no small footwell you have to place your feet into when sleeping, but rather that space opens up completely, which is awesome.
Most of the seat’s features were to the left, and that included an entertainment controller, a small screen with seating controls, and an exposed storage compartment with two USB-A outlets and two AC power outlets.
The tray table extended from the window-side armrest, and could be folded over in half. This tray table is quite heavy, so it’s a bit of an arm exercise.
There was also an armrest on the aisle-side, which could be raised or lowered (for takeoff and landing it needs to be lowered).
As is standard on American, there were individual air nozzles in the console above the seat, which is much appreciated.
As you can probably tell, there are pros and cons to this seat. The biggest benefit is that this is one of the few decent products out there where you don’t have to place your feet in any sort of a footwell when in bed mode.
Unfortunately the two main downsides of this product are the complete lack of storage at the seat, plus the “rocking.” What am I talking about with the rocking? Well, you see, each pair of forward and rear facing seats are connected, so when a person in one seat moves around in their seat, you’ll almost certainly feel it in the “paired” seat.
This is extremely frustrating to many, since you might find that you’re woken up on a long haul flight by the person in the adjacent seat shifting around. That’s also the huge benefit of having a window seat in the fifth row, since those are the only window seats not connected to other seats.
American business class amenities
American provides most of the standard international business class amenities when traveling on a wide body between Los Angeles and Miami, which is a treat.
Waiting at each seat upon boarding was Casper bedding, including a pillow and blanket. While not quite as good as United’s Polaris bedding, I still find this to be very good, especially for a flight like this.
There were also a pair of Bang & Olufsen noise canceling headphones. This is an area where American leads the industry, as there aren’t many airlines offering good headphones in business class.
There was also an amenity kit, featuring a dental kit, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, lip balm, and lotion. The kit itself is created by Detroit-based Shinola, while the toiletries are from New York-based D.S. & Durga.
There was also a menu waiting at each seat. While the branding was for Flagship First, in reality this is a Flagship Business flight, so I guess that’s a misprint, or something.
Lastly, there was a bottle of water waiting at each seat.
What more could one ask for on a domestic flight?!
American 787 business class entertainment & Wi-Fi
Each business class seat features a 15.4″ personal television. This clips into the seat in front, and then during the flight you can extend it, so that you don’t have to view the screen at an angle.
American’s inflight entertainment selection is excellent, in my opinion. There’s a huge selection of quality movies and TV shows, with options from Max, SHOWTIME, Apple TV+, and more. It shouldn’t be hard to stay entertained onboard American.
There’s also a selection of music, games, and kids programming.
I ended up binge watching “American Auto,” a sitcom I hadn’t seen before, which I found to be quite entertaining.
Of course the inflight entertainment also had a map feature, which I enjoyed keeping an eye on throughout the flight. This feature is customizable, so that you can get all kinds of perspectives on your route.
American also offers Wi-Fi on its Boeing 787s, provided by Panasonic. For this flight, the pricing was $25 for a two hour pass, and $29 for a full flight pass. That sure is steep pricing, if you ask me. Panasonic speeds are fairly good, though American’s narrow body aircraft with Viasat Wi-Fi have significantly more bandwidth.
American 787 departure from Los Angeles
25 minutes after boarding started, at 1:10PM, all passengers were onboard. While we were hoping for an early departure, that didn’t end up happening. At 1:15PM the captain announced that we were waiting on a logbook as they were finishing some maintenance. He still anticipated that we’d arrive on-time, since our flight time was a short four hours.
That delay ended up dragging on for longer than expected. There were no additional updates until 1:40PM, at which point the captain stated we were still waiting on the logbook, and “they’re telling me it’s going to be five minutes.” I at least liked his humor — “I appreciate your patience, not that you have a choice, but I still appreciate it.”
A few interesting things about the delay:
- Despite the extended delay, the crew never offered pre-departure drinks in business class, even though the 787 is one of the easier planes on which to do so; instead, several crew members were standing in the galley by the entry door, chatting loudly for 30+ minutes
- I also instantly missed Japan because people are more respectful with making phone calls there; the lady seated across from me was loudly yapping on her phone for the entire delay, and I’m pretty sure the entire cabin heard her conversation (including where in her bedside drawer her blunt is)
- The young couple seated one row up really confused me; they demanded the flight attendants help them place their bags in the overhead because they were too heavy to lift on their own, and then they demanded pre-departure drinks and snacks, which (surprisingly) the crew agreed to
At 1:50PM, the main cabin door finally closed. Even then things didn’t go quickly. At 1:55PM the captain announced that we were just waiting on a tug to push us back. Sure enough, at 2:15PM we finally began our pushback.
At that point the safety video was screened, and at 2:25PM we began our taxi.
We had a very short taxi, and by 2:30PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 25R.
Despite a low cloud layer, the views on the climb out were beautiful. After takeoff we flew south toward Long Beach, and then turned east to start our journey across the continent.
Despite the smooth ride, the seatbelt sign stayed on for 30 minutes, as seems to be the norm on US airlines.
American business class meal service
After takeoff, it was time for the meal service. You can find the menu and drink list below.
Service began around 30 minutes after takeoff, with warm towels being distributed.
Moments later, meal and drink orders were taken, followed by tablecloths being distributed. I had already pre-ordered my meal, thanks to American’s excellent meal pre-order system. Drinks ended up being served around 50 minutes after takeoff. I ordered a Diet Coke, which was served with a ramekin of warm mixed nuts. Yum.
An hour after takeoff I was served my first course. This consisted of an appetizer of tomato goat cheese strata, with pickled ginger vinaigrette and basil, and greens with strawberry, goat cheese, and roasted sunflower seeds. A bread basket was also brought around, and I of course selected the excellent pretzel bread.
The salad was much better than your typical airplane salad, so that was appreciated. The goat cheese strata was horribly presented, and looked more like components of a burger than an appetizer. What you can’t see is that there was a layer of cheese under the tomato.
Presentation aside, it also seems a bit poorly coordinated to have both a salad and appetizer with goat cheese, but that’s just me. Regardless, both dishes tasted pretty good.
Once my starter was cleared, I was brought my main course, for which I selected the miso saba roasted sea bass with toasted sesame, mashed potatoes, shimeji mushrooms, savoy cabbage, and baby carrots. It was surprisingly excellent, as the fish was soft and flavorful, and all the sides paired nicely.
Once my main course was cleared, I was offered my choice of an ice cream sundae, a chocolate cheesecake tart, or a cheese plate. I couldn’t resist the ice cream sundae, and asked for it with chopped pecans and the berry sauce.
The meal service was completed just over 90 minutes after takeoff.
Later on in the flight, there was a snack basket at the front of the cabin that passengers could help themselves to. Then an hour before landing, the crew served warm chocolate chip cookies. You won’t go hungry on this short flight, that’s for sure!
American 787 business class lavatories
American business class passengers on the 787-8 have access to three lavatories — there’s one at the front of the cabin, and two between business class and premium economy. However, on domestic flights, all passengers can use all lavatories, so there’s often a wait to use these.
These are pretty standard Dreamliner lavatories. There’s nothing in the way of amenities, and for that matter, the lavatories weren’t ever cleaned, so were kind of messy later in the flight.
American 787 business class bed
I was tired toward the end of the flight, so decided to doze off for a bit. I put my seat into bed mode, and found it to be extremely comfortable. As mentioned above, I like how there’s no small footwell you have to place your feet into. I ended up sleeping for around 30 minutes.
American business class service
Service on this flight was… kind of confusing. The flight attendants were oddly friendly, while providing the absolute minimum service required. I mean, I guess I can’t blame them, since flight attendants are currently in contract negotiations, so they’re not exactly going above and beyond.
When I interacted with the crew, they were always courteous. However, they didn’t make any pass through the cabin after the meal service to see if anyone wanted anything, didn’t do pre-departure drinks, etc.
The only other aspect of the service to mention is that the Boeing 787 has those window dimmers, rather than traditional window shades. The crew kept remotely dimming the windows throughout the cabin, even though this was a daytime flight. I’d then always get rid of the dimming feature, and then a few minutes later they’d dim the window shades again. Why can’t crews just let passengers choose how they want their windows on a daytime flight?!
American 787 arrival in Miami
At 8:50PM Miami time, the first officer announced that we’d be landing in around 25 minutes, and that the seatbelt sign would soon be turned on. At this point we were just over the west coast of Florida.
Our approach ended up taking a bit longer, and we had a very steep descent. We touched down in Miami at 9:30PM. Since we were a bit late arriving and some passengers had connections, many people stood up and already stood at the exit door while we were taxiing in. One of the flight attendants quietly muttered “you all need to sit down,” but there was no enforcement beyond that.
We ended up getting to the gate a couple of minutes later, and were excited to once again be home.
Our American Boeing 787 business class flight was pretty good for the most part. First and foremost, for a domestic flight, it doesn’t get much better than this, with international quality meal service, amenities, and great entertainment. The crew was fairly friendly, though not particularly attentive.
If this were a long haul international flight, I probably wouldn’t choose to fly American, unless the route didn’t have much good competition. American’s hard product is competitive by global standards, while the soft product is a bit less exciting.
What do you make of American’s 787 business class?