Having flown numerous times in business class on American 777-300s trans Pacific, I’ve always wanted to try the Flagship First seats and service on this aircraft. For me, the only way to do that without purchasing a first-class ticket in dollars or miles ( I have better uses for both), is buying a cheap business-class ticket and using a American Airlines Systemwide Upgrade (SWU). I get four of them each year I reach 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles on American and up to 10 if I reach or exceed 250,000 EQMs.
I was tipped to a good business-class fare from Vancouver, Canada (YVR) to HKG. It was about $2,500 round trip in Business class earning double Elite Qualifying Miles. While $2,500 is a lot of money, that is relatively cheap for business class, especially considering that the trip to HKG would be in first-class thanks to the SWU that cleared at booking.
After the red eye from YVR I visited the American Express Centurion Lounge for a shower and breakfast. The food here equals or exceeds the fare in the Centurion Lounges.
Then it was a brief stop in the D Concourse Admirals Club. It has a very nice private buffet dining area for those flying international business or first class and American Executive Platinums in any class of service on long-haul international flights. The showers are also very nice here, and there are more of them than in the Centurion Lounge.
After a repast, it was time for the much-anticipated experience in American’s Flagship First Class.
American Airlines Flagship First Class 777-300ER DFW-HKG
American Airlines flight 125 was scheduled to depart DFW at 10:35 and arrive HKG at 16:10 local. That is 16 hours and 35 minutes to cover 8,123 great-circle miles between origin and destination.
Boarding was through the second door on the port side. The first class cabin is at the very front of the aircraft. It was a short walk through the small, forward business-class cabin.
First Class Cabin and Seat Features
American 777-300s have eight Flagship First Class seats in two rows configured 1-2-1. The seats are an amazing 30 inches wide. Seat pitch varies from 64 to 78 inches. Seat pitch is somewhat misleading here because all of the first-class seats have oodles of leg room. The leather and cloth seats are ultra comfortable in any position. There was little evidence of wear and tear.
Seat controls are infinitely variable and have multiple preset positions, a massage function, and lumbar support adjustment .
The tray table is huge – large enough to accommodate dining with another passenger.
The desk folds out to create another large work space. Having a desk is nice because you don’t have to put work away while eating.
Ventilation is controlled individually.
The seat was not an enclosed suite with a door. It had a very roomy feel overall. The large desk was an excellent spot for working on a laptop. There was no problem with privacy as there was almost no traffic in the aisle in first class.
The amenities include a large pillow, quilt, mattress pad, pajamas, noise-cancelling headsets, bottled water, slippers and an amenity kit.
After a few minutes in this seat, economy becomes a vague, mildly unpleasant memory! The first-class seat on the American 777-300 was clearly superior to the first-class seat on the 777-200 I’d flown from Santiago,Chile (SCL) to Miami, FL (MIA) about a year previously.
American Flight 125 Pre-departure Service
After settling in at the seat and greetings and introductions from the head flight attendant, service began with pre-departure beverages with a bowl of warm nuts. The attendants then handed out menus and took or confirmed meal choices. In addition to the head FA, it appeared that at least one other FA was assigned to look after the eight passengers up front.
These were the menus for the flight:
First Meal Service
As usual, the first meal receives the most elaborate service. I selected the fish filet for the entree.
I selected the caviar tartlet canapes.
My choice for the appetizer was soy lime shrimp.
Hot and sour soup was next followed by a plain garden salad.
The appetizer, soup and salad were outstanding. The sea bass was melt-in-your-mouth good. The meal was clearly superior to what would be expected on a business class flight on most airlines (Qatar is an exception that comes to mind).
After dinner, the flight attendant brought a cheese board that I passed on and then concluded the first meal service with dessert, always one of my favorite courses.
From caviar to ice cream that’s seven courses by my count!
Six hours after departure I requested a mid-flight snack.
After the snack I had the flight attendant prepare the bed.
Sleeping was easy as the cabin was quiet, there was very little traffic, and the mattress and comforter made a snug bed.
I slept for a few hours then watched movies.
The lavatories in first class were nice but not as well appointed as the first-class lavs on many foreign carriers.
About two hours out of HKG, the flight attendants began the arrival service.
Normally, I find breakfast on planes disappointing. This American American breakfast, on the other hand, was one of the best that I’ve had on a plane. I liked the consistency and temperature of the eggs. The bacon was outstanding and the fruit was very fresh and flavorful.
Arrival at Hong Kong
The descent to HKG began as we approached the Formosa Strait.
Before arrival, I had one last glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne.
It was a cloudy, rainy day in Hong Kong. There were a few glimpses of the ubiquitous Hong Kong high-rise apartments on the approach.
The 777-300ER touched down on HKG Runway 7L (Seven Left) at 16:17. We had flown 8,512 miles in 16 hours and 38 minutes.
It is great that American Airlines has international first class and one can use American miles to book flights in first class on American and other partners like Ethiad (here), Cathay Pacific here, and Japan Airlines (here). While American’s Flagship First Class falls a little short of matching those experiences, it is still clearly better than any airline’s business-class product/service when it comes to the seat, food and beverages.