American Airlines (AA) started flying the 787-900 or 787-9 in October 2016. The 787-9 is their first aircraft with premium economy seats. I purchased a business class ticket for the October 6, 2016 flight from Dallas (DFW) to Los Angeles (LAX) that was billed as the inaugural flight.
DFW – LAX
I had expected a celebration for the launch of this long-awaited aircraft. There was none. In fact, the agents at the departure gate, D29, were oblivious to the significance of the flight. They did not even know the aircraft was a 787-9.
Even though the agents were clueless, there were many bloggers who, like me, had signed up for the flight months ago when AA first announced that the 787-9 would be entering service. In reality, though, this was not truly the inaugural flight because AA sold seats on the positioning flight to get the aircraft to DFW.
In any event, the AA 787-9 is a significant addition to the AA fleet because (1) it has the new B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class seat and (2) it is the first aircraft of any US carrier with international premium economy seats. AA initially will use this aircraft on flights from DFW to Sao Paulo and Madrid.
The 787-9 has 30 business class seats with a 1-2-1, all-aisle-access configuration. While the size of the seat is virtually the same as on the 787-8, the AA 787-9 seat clearly is superior in terms of storage space and looks.
The AA “50 shades of gray” interior color scheme still leaves a lot to be desired when compared to some foreign airlines like the Qatar A350-900.
On the AA 787-9 all business class seats face forward. The AA 787-8 has some business class seats that face backward as is evident from the above photo.
Compared to the 787-8, the AA 787-9 business class seat offers more personal comfort and space.
Storage compartments on the 787-9 make it easy to keep personal items secure and close at hand.
There is another storage compartment just behind the compartment with the remote.
The arm rest on the aisle is wide and can be raised after takeoff. It also contains a storage compartment
The window seats have a small space next to the window that is useful for storing blankets and pillows. And of course the 787-9 has the same wonderful electronically dimmable windows as the 787-8
The seat controls function well and are easy to operate. On this flight I did not notice any seat shaking which happens at times with some seats on the 787-8.
There is plenty of room for feet on or under the ottoman.
The video screen is fixed in position over the tray table. The tray table merely slides downward and does not have to be pulled out of an arm rest. A video screen that swings outward for viewing must be stowed for takeoff and landing cutting down on potential viewing time. And I hate wrestling with tray tables that must be extracted and unfolded.
The flight to LAX was a morning flight. A standard domestic first class breakfast was served. AA always has fantastic breakfast biscuits.
AA 787-9 Premium Economy Section
The premium economy seats are 19 inches wide and have 38 inches of pitch. There are 21 premium economy seats arranged 2-3-2. Until AA begins selling premium economy seats next year, theses seats are treated as Main Cabin Extra seats. Those wanting to upgrade from coach with a Systemwide Upgrade certificate can bypass premium economy and go directly to business class assuming space is available.
LAX – DFW
On the return from LAX on October 7, I accepted the upgrade from a premium economy seat and sat in the middle seats in business class.
These seats have the same dimensions and storage capacity (except for missing the storage by the window) as the window seats. Single travelers will prefer the window seats for privacy and the view. The middle seats are better for couples although the way the seats are angled does not afford a good view of the seatmate.
The flight to DFW was a lunch flight. I had a Woodford Reserve on the rocks after takeoff and the chicken salad entree.
Business class seating on the AA 787-9 is a big improvement over the 787-8. The seat provides greater personal space, comfort, and storage. All seats face forward. The position of the video screen is an improvement as is the operation of the tray table. This aircraft will be a frequent flyer’s favorite, second only to the 777-300 in the AA fleet.
In September 2017, I enjoyed the 787-9 experience in business class from Paris, France to DFW. That trip confirmed my initial impressions that the AA 787-9 would be a pleasure to fly on long-haul international routes. I look forward to trying the new premium economy seats in the future.