On the final leg of the return from Beijing the System Wide Upgrade (SWU) put me in first class on the American Airlines 777-200 from Dallas to Chicago. Over the next several years American will be phasing out first class on this type of aircraft and replacing it with new business class seats.
On domestic routes American Airlines treats three-class aircraft as two class aircraft. That means the business class seats are considered economy Main Cabin Extra seats on domestic routes and can be selected without an upgrade. Service in the business class section is the same as in the economy seats however. Because I was using a SWU I was able to sit in first class.
Layover in Dallas
After arrival and customs in Dallas, I spent the short layover in the Terminal D Admirals Club. This lounge overlooks the Terminal D gates. My 777-200 was parked below at Gate 25.
While in the Admirals Club I visited the private First Class Dining section which I had access to since I was on an international flight and have Executive Platinum status. This private room has a buffet with salads, soup, hot entrees and deserts.
777-200 First Class Seating
American Airlines puts 16 seats in the first class section of their three class 777-200s.
The seats are in the most forward portion of the passenger cabin between the two most forward exit doors. The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 fashion so every seat has direct aisle access. On the flight to Chicago I had seat 1A.
The seats recline to a full flat position. They are 30 inches wide. The bed length is between 64 and 78 inches. For takeoff and landing the seats face straight froward. Once airborne the seat can be rotated about 30 degrees to recline into a bed, use the ottoman or work on the table beside the seat. The first class seat is far superior to the business class seats on this aircraft. Business class is configured 2-3-2 and the seats are not fully lie flat.
Seat controls are at your finger tips on the arm rest.
Each seat has ample space for working and eating.
American Airlines 777-200s with first class seats are old aircraft. That is most evident in the power outlet and in-flight entertainment system.
The video screen is small and has poor resolution. The remote controller for the video screen is fro the 1990s.
The only power is from a cigarette lighter type outlet. At least the flight attendants have some adapters that will allow charging with a regular plug.
Flight 1295 was scheduled to depart Dallas at 6:30 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 8:54 p.m. The allotted flight time of two hours and 24 minutes was quite generous since the cities are separated by only 802 miles.
Service on American Airlines can be hit or miss. That is particularly true when it comes to pre-departure beverages (PDBs). Former USAirways crews are much better at PDBs compared to crews from the former American Airlines.
The crew from former American Airlines on this flight managed to provide PDBs in first class.
Soon after takeoff the flight attendants offered drinks.
Since the flight distance was only 802 miles, I was a little surprised that there would be a meal service. The actual flying time at cruise altitude was just over one hour. Only the 16 passengers in first class got dinner. All of the other passengers in the business class section and coach were offered sandwiches and snacks.
American Airlines gives those in first class on domestic routes the opportunity to select a meal choice online. The options are available from 30 days to 24 hours prior to departure. I decided to try the cheese lasagna for the first time.
Because the flight was so short, the dinner service was not as elaborate as many other first class meals on domestic American Airlines flights. The meal included a tossed salad with dressing, the lasagna and a desert which was brought after the entree.
I really liked the lasagna and was pleased that American airlines provided a meal on such a short flight. In comparison, Delta’s policy is that the flight must be 900 miles before it will provide a meal.
The actual flight time was just over 90 minutes. We arrived in Chicago significantly ahead of schedule.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in first class on American Airlines’ 777-200. The seating which is lie flat with all aisle access is roomy and comfortable. While the IFE and power options are not up to current standards, for a short domestic flight there is probably no better way to travel than in first class on the American Airlines 777-200.