After connecting from Punta Arenas, Chile in economy on Latam Airlines, the flight back to the U.S. from my Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Estrecho de Magallanes discovery journey was in first class on an older American Airlines 777-200.
American is refurbishing the 777-200s replacing the old business-class seats and removing first class.
I’d previously flown in first class on the American Airlines 777-200 only domestically. So I was looking forward to experiencing the difference in service on an international route.
Before the flight I spent a few hours decompressing in the spacious and well furnished American Airlines Admirals Club.
When the Admirals Club reps announced that flight 912 was boarding, I proceeded upstairs to the gate.
I boarded through the Priority Lane and headed to the front of the plane to my seat in the first-class section. Hell yes!
American Airlines puts 16 seats in the first-class section. That is the most international first-class seats on any plane of this size that I know of. SeatGuru states that these seats are 30 inches wide and the seat pitch/bed length varies from 64 to 78 inches. I had reserved seat 1J, a window seat on the right side of the aircraft.
Seat controls are at your finger tips.
The seat faces directly forward for takeoff and landing and swivels slightly towards the windows and ottoman for relaxing inflight.
The ottoman has a seat belt, which in theory at least, means a traveling companion could sit there for a meal or conversation.
The side table is wide enough to place a lap top and other personal items during flight.
The first-class seats have power outlets that require a car-charger type connection. Flight Attendants (FAs) provide an adapter on request.
A feature I like on the 777-200 is that each seat has ventilation controls allowing the passenger to control the amount and direction of ventilation.
The seat was very comfortable for sitting and reclining. While not being the most modern or private configuration for a first-class seat, the 777-200 seats have more personal space than many of the latest first-class seats.
Inflight Entertainment System (IFE)
IFE on unrefurbished American 777-200s is ancient. The screen is small, and the selection of movies and shows is limited.
Settling into the seat I began sorting through all of the stuff American provided to first-class passengers on this flight.
For a night flight, the most essential amenities are the bedding. On that score, for an eight-hour flight I give American a well done: Two large pillows, a comfy quilt, and a thin but helpful mattress pad.
American also provided pajamas.
The only problem with all of the bedding is finding a place to stow it until it is time for bed. Seat 1J has a nice space net to the bulkhead that I used for that purpose.
The amenity kit was by Cole Haan.
American supplies noise-cancelling headphones for those who don’t have or prefer not to use their own.
One item that failed to meet first-class standards was the lavatory.
The Flight – AA 912 Santiago to Miami
American flight 912 left the gate at SCL at 10:00pm and was expected to take just over eight hours to cover the 4,141 miles to MIA.
At departure, the estimated arrival time at MIA was 3:59 a.m.
The FAs provided the customary pre-departure beverage service while we were at the gate. After takeoff the FAs offered a beverage service and warm nuts.
The menus for the flight:
I had the ceviche appetizer. Even though this flight was catered in Santiago, the ceviche, while good, was not up to local standards.
A tossed salad that was prepared in the galley and warm bread followed. Leek soup was also served.
American Airlines gives passengers in first and business class the ability to select meals between 30 days and 24 hours before a flight. Chateaubriand was served in accordance with my online order. The steak was slightly overdone as almost always happens on airplanes.
Vanilla ice cream sundae for dessert.
The American FAs did a nice job of serving dinner. I liked the presentation of the meal as all courses were served on linen rather than on a tray.
Watching a movie occupied a couple of hours after dinner. Then I requested the “premium” turn-down service noted on the menu.
The mattress pad was a little thin but still much better than sleeping on a seat without one. The quilt and pillows were very comfortable. The galley was far enough away that I had no problem sleeping.
Just about everyone in the first-class cabin had turned in.
I woke up as we flew over Panama City, Panama.
The FAs began the breakfast service as we approached Cuba.
Breakfast was accompanied by coffee, juice and warm bread, butter and preserves.
As we flew over Cuba, I thought about my first trip there coming in February. I can’t wait.
Descent to MIA began shortly after passing Cuba. The route took us over the Everglades in Florida.
On the descent the FAs gave out a small parting gift.
Arrival at MIA was at 4:06 am at gate D21.
The first-class seat on the American 777-200 had an impressive amount of personal space and the service of the flight attendants was courteous and professional. However the amount of privacy the seat provides is deficient as is the IFE system. Nevertheless, The flight was very enjoyable and I arrived in good spirits and remarkably well rested.