Worst First Class to Asia? Trip Report – American’s 777-200 to Tokyo

When my JAL flight had to be re-booked on AA metal due to weather in Chicago, I was more than a bit upset. Instead of experiencing the JAL SKY SUITE, I was rerouted on one of American’s older 777s from Dallas to Tokyo. Don’t worry though, I got to experience the JAL SKY SUITE (perhaps my favorite business class of any airline) on the way back home.

This is part two of a six part trip report from my travels to Japan:

Now, I knew what I was in for and was fully aware that this was not going to be 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.

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Amenity close-ups

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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 as there are a limited number per flight.

AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK19 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK24 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK25AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK76

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… PS look how small that TV screen is for First

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Luckily the New American is Arriving…

AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK01 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK02

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 or wide-screen here…the screen is made up of multiple boxes), and while there is on-demand, it was limited to only 5 new releases, 3 comedies, and 4 TV shows (I checked my seatmates when he was walking around), 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 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK42 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK57 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK58 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK59 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK60 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK61

Note the map visible on my neighbors TV…

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Food Service: Pretty good actually including dinner, snack, and lunch….

AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK32 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK13 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK28 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK29 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK30 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK31 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK33 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK45 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK46 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK47 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK48 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK49 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK50 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK51 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK52 AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK53

In between dinner service and lunch (8+ hours) there was really no one to be found in the first class cabin. I was starving and saw that business class had a basket of snacks but we did not. I finally found a flight attendant who told me that once she was finished putting on her makeup and fixing a few things, she’d put out a basket as well. 45 minutes later we finally had the same snacks as the business cabin (note her makeup bag and coke in the second picture):

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Since there was no one to be found for drink service and waters weren’t placed out, I took it upon myself to grab a full bottle of seltzer and brought it back to my seat:

AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK75

When one did return I ordered the chicken snack:

AA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo NRT DFW JFK74

Lunch – UNO’s pizza…

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Oh and that turn-down service (with a reminder even to ask for it listed on the dessert menu – see the picture above) 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 the seat was reclining. They then “explained to me” how to complete making the bed…certainly no Emirates/Cathay/Singapore service here. These guys were not about to turn-down the bed…which actually happened to be quite comfy – big pillow and thick duvet.

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I did reach out to American after the flight to share my feedback and lack of disappointment on spending the extra miles for First (apparently the flight attendants filed a report as well…see message below). I was initially credited 10,000 miles but then I responded back that the difference between business and first was actually 12,500 each way or 25K for the trip. I was granted an additional 5,000 miles or 15K in total. I think that’s more than fair considering I lucked out that there was a tablet on board that I was able to use.

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For a completely different experience, check out my JAL flight on the way home…

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Comments

  1. Not to be knitpicky but I think thats a 777-200ER, the 777-300ERs are all with the new hard product (AA was the first US Airline to take delivery of the aircraft type).

    Sorry your flight was lackluster.. I have had similar experiences going to ICN.

  2. Welcome to the: “new American”….kinda like the “old American”…wasn’t that a song?(or maybe it should be):-)

  3. Sorry for the crummy product. I will say this F on the old 777 is better then C on the old 777. What do you think of the conductor/excon pajamas. I think they are comfortable, but could they find a less disturbing pattern? Ha ha.

  4. US airlines should be forbidden to offer first class on international flights. They are misleading customers. A first class on a US airline can maybe be compared to a business class on an European, Asia or ME airline. At least Delta realized they cannot compete and just does not offer that. Shame on you AA and United.

  5. Wow. I hope they let you keep the tablet and headphones as well to make up for some of that. Just think what it would have cost in cash for that same experience.

    I suspect that once the “New American” is fully merged that they will convert over to US style two class cabins or Envoy service throughout. Just my personal theory.

  6. I don’t know why but your report is so funny and makes me laugh. It reminds me how lucky I was to have a great and handsome flight attendant Jason last week from JFK to NRT. I have to borrow CX’s slogan ” People. They make an airline”. Jason make my trip so comfortable, even it’s AA old style business class. He even offered me that AC adapter when he saw me tried to charge my cell phone. But because your report, I decide to rebook my flight LGA-ORD-NRT by CX First JFK-HKG-NRT. It looks like your flight crew was clumsy and not quite polished. Thanks Adam!

  7. I flew the exact same route on AA first in February. I couldn’t believe the disinterested service from the flight attendants. Helping customers is like pulling teeth. Good luck even getting them to unwrap your bedding for you, let alone real turn down. I can’t imagine how a paying customer would ever pay to fly in first. Also a seat was broken on both the flight to NRT and the flight back. good thing there were extra seats.

  8. It is a never ending of source of annoyance for me that you have to examine every damn plane you are flying just to make sure you get good service. Thanks for the painstaking trip reports, without it I would be stuck trusting an airline brand, which lately is unjustifiable.

  9. Hi Adam, how did you file a complaint with AA afterwards and maintaining correspondence back and forth with them? Can you please provide a link for that.
    I also had a bad experience with them and would like to file a complaint but afraid it will go unnoticed.

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