No TV and Poor Service on AA 777 Dallas (DFW) – Tokyo (NRT) in First

Unfortunately, my JAL flight last week had to be rebooked on AA metal due to weather in Chicago. Instead of experiencing the JAL SKY SUITE, I flew on one of American’s older 777s from Dallas to Tokyo. Now, I knew what I was in for and was fully aware that this was not one of AA’s new 777-300ERs that look pretty awesome. Business isn’t even lie-flat on the older 777s for the 13 hour and 25 minute flight, which is why I used an additional 12,500 miles to upgrade to First where I could have a fully flat bed.

AA 777 DFW-NRT 62.5K First Award

The flight started out nice enough with the decent Flagship Suite, new amenity kit, generous bedding package (mattress pad, duvet, additional blanket and 2 pillows), Bose headset, and AA PJs.

AA DFW-NRT First Class01 AA DFW-NRT First Class02 AA DFW-NRT First Class03 AA DFW-NRT First Class04  AA DFW-NRT First Class06 AA DFW-NRT First Class07 AA DFW-NRT First Class10 AA DFW-NRT First Class11 AA DFW-NRT First Class14

I knew there was only DC power (even in First), so I immediately asked for one of the converters before they were all given away.

AA DFW-NRT First Class05 AA DFW-NRT First Class08 AA DFW-NRT First Class09 AA DFW-NRT First Class20

Now, the most disappointing part of the flight came just a few minutes in when my TV failed to turn on. I knew it was bad when the remote had no power at all even when they reset my seat. With 13+ hours to go, I was told that TV was broken. Additionally, there were 2 open seats in First on the left side in the 1-2-1 configuration, but those were for the pilots. The purser and flight attendant told me they could not put the pilots in a “middle seat with aisle access” like the one I had. My flight attendant didn’t seem that concerned by this and told me not to worry, my food was coming out soon and to sit back and enjoy! Wow…

AA DFW-NRT First Class12

About the purser and flight attendants, both men in their upper 50s / early 60s, definitely not in-tune with the “New American”. The purser took his time coming over to me, but eventually found his way and told me that they might have a back-up tablet that I could use.  In the end, I think I was actually lucky. The TVs (even in first) are tiny, extremely fuzzy (no LCD here or wide-screen here…the screen is made up of multiple boxes), and while there is on-demand, it was limited to 5 new releases, 3 comedies, and 4 TV shows, shockingly poor for a “Flagship” product.

Meanwhile, they did find me a Samsung Tablet which plugged into my DC power outlet and was loaded with a ton more content. I first made sure that all the new releases on my neighbor’s screen were available on the tablet. Not only were they there, but so were about 20 other new releases and 30 other movies. There was also a large TV show selection and eBook library. The tablet was larger, wide-screen, and much clearer than the standard TVs. I even liked that I could position it in different places depending on whether I was eating, reclining, or fully flat. The only thing missing was the moving map which was projected on the TVs in the front of the cabin, just one row in front of me for about half the flight. When they were switched off, I was lucky in that my neighbor turned his TV toward me and had it tuned to the map.

AA DFW-NRT First Class15 AA DFW-NRT First Class16 AA DFW-NRT First Class17 AA DFW-NRT First Class18

I’ll have a full trip report in the weeks to come, but let’s just say the service was pretty horrendous. Oh and that turn-down service (with a reminder to ask for it even listed on the dessert menu), is like pulling teeth. When I asked for assistance with the bed, I was shown how to recline the seat and the mattress pad was sort of tossed up on it as it was reclining. They then “explained to me” how to complete making the bed…certainly no Emirates/Cathay/Singapore service here. There was no one around to order any of the menu snacks from and the grab-and-go snacks which were supposed to be set up in the galley were forgotten about until I asked for them. Again, full trip report coming up. Oh, and good news! I’ll still get to experience the JAL SKY SUITE product when I fly home on NRT-JFK next week!

AA DFW-NRT First Class19 AA DFW-NRT First Class21

Comments

  1. We had similarly underwhleming experiences with AA 777 F from ORD-LHR last year – nothing worked (the seat failed to turn into a bed, as it got stuck midway through the process), the service was ‘we are here for your safety, now go away’ standard, and the food was terrible. Not sure exactly how that was supposed to be a first-class product.

    I sure hope AA rolls out that new 777 fleet quickly, because the old standard is not doing them any favors.

  2. I know you redeemed for first and hence had the expectation that everything would be perfect. But I feel you got a better experience
    I ended up on an AA flight from ORD-LHR and noticed no TVs in business lie-flats. Was worried about the lack of entertainment (considering I couldve been on a BA plane and Highlife entertainment). After taking off they brought these tablets and offered me one with the Bose headsets (which I declined because I was using my Beats). Once theyre charged its a better experience because you can actually curl up and be comfy with them once they’re charged as you would at home. I’m not a fan of sticking my nose on it but its nice to have the monitor move with you should you turn and move a little. And when youre done just switch it off and put it away, no knocking it over midflight when you need to get up for something

  3. Wow, I can’t believe that AA is still trying to pass off what amounts to little more than a domestic F seat as an international F product, even if it’s an older plane (there are a lot of older, dingy A/C in AA’s fleet though). Even DL’s *domestic* transcon. product is way better.

    I flew JL two years ago in J, and it was just OK, so I’m curious to see what the new suite looks like if you get to fly it again.

    • Me thinks George is way off base. While dated, AA’s F seat is certainly not like a domestic F seat (if only domestic F were like this seat/cabin) and is comparable in most ways (other than advanced TVs) with the new one on the 77Ws and those offered by several other carriers that have a similarly updated version of the lay flat swivel chair. Sorry to read of the poor service, I’ve had great crews across the Pacific on AA though do find the business class ones more enthusiastic about their jobs than those in F.

      As for the pilot thing, don’t get that rationale. I’ve shared a pair with TK pilots who seem quite happy with their set aside centre bank seat. Do AA’s pilots really need a window seat for sleeping? (I suppose it’s the privacy factor of not sharing a pair with a stranger, but these aren’t UA’s new C seat on the ex-UA 777s where there centre bank has 4 seats across!!!!!

  4. Welcome to AA – I thought the service was always bad because they were so disgruntled with all the merger talks, but even after it’s all happened this is still the case. I would definitely reach out to customer service to express your complaints and concerns. I’ve gotten travel vouchers for much more minor complaints.

  5. What’s huge disappointment for you and your readers. And what’s a disaster of AA First class service and product. You must write to AA so there will be less victims if some one have to fly AA’s First class. How about food?

    • @Shannon – I’ll be flying JAL home so that trip report is still coming! The food wasn’t bad, though Delta’s BusinessElite is better in my opinion

  6. EEEK… I was supposed to fly JFK-HND, but because of the route cancellation they put me on this piece of junk LGA-DFW-NRT. I am flying them in a few weeks. I will make sure to load up my iPad with content and will also make sure to ask for the power converter. This is so disappointing.

  7. Don’t forget about perspective. For the rest of us in coach on that same flight, we have no sympathy for your lack of excess. 🙂

  8. @Adam, try and see if you can switch to JAL if an aaward opens up. Its definitely night and day difference.

    I flew JAL last month in First from NRT-LAX on their new seats and service was no where near what you talked about. The bedding was done for me and not shown how it needs to be done. They even apologized profusely when almost upon arrival to LAX they ran out of Salon (Polished off a bottle myself lol).

  9. @Andrew – going to be hard. My wife and I will be going so that will get even more complicated. My ticket is using AA miles hers is on BA. Too many moving pieces.

  10. I’m afraid AA won’t be terminating FAs for lack of service. The individuals you describe probably can’t be trained – they would need to be replaced. Not something that Doug Parker is likely to take on.

  11. What!!! Adam, you are married? What’s a heart broken day!! Why don’t you say earlier so we ( your fans) can save those winks and flirts to other men?

    • @Shannon – I think you are reading the comments by Adam (the reader) and not adam the blogger! Keep those winks coming 😉

      • Whew…what’s relief. And as much as winks & kisses you want for sure!! Speaking of that, what’s that meeting you mentioned at the end of last year? Still look forward to 🙂

  12. To respond to the pilot issue, most pilot contracts dictate they have an enclosed area for rest which usually means a window and a curtain around it. At united, on their PMUA 767, one of the global first suites is blocked off for crew rest with a curtain. It is a violation of both FARs (crew rest requirements and facilities) and their contract if they are moved to another seat. In this case that is probably what happened.

    • @jeff – Interesting, though unlike DL and UA the seats were not blocked with a curtain or any type of divider. They were simply the four FC seats on the left side of the plane. No one had used them at the time the TV broke, but it definitely makes sense that pilots would want the single seats.

      • Contractual obligations to put the pilot(s) in the reserved seat, regardless of other circumstances, was my first thought as well. It seems I am not alone.

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