Remember when we all used to make fun of the business class products on US airlines? It wasn’t all that long ago, and to be quite honest, all of those snarky comments were totally justified. However, having recently experienced American Airlines 787-9 business class for the first time, I can’t think of anything really insulting to say about it. Imagine that.
I do have to say that this particular experience was brief, and not fully representative of the kind of service you’d expect on a long haul international flight. The seat was very much the same though, and that is what the bulk of this review will be centered around.
Anyway, I somehow managed to snag an incredibly low fare for a business class seat on a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas last February. No, Boeing 787‘s are not common on this route. And yes, they were actually selling it as “first class” as opposed to “business class”.
But as far as I’m concerned, this is very much an international business class product. And I quite liked it, thank you very much.
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Dallas/Ft Worth, TX (DFW)
Friday, February 26, 2021
Duration: 2 hours 14 minutes
Seat: 7A (Business Class)
Table of Contents
My American Airlines 787-9 business class experience started deep in the innards of the Los Angeles International Airport. I’ve started many airline review videos from there, and I think I’m running out of creative ways to start videos at LAX. Therefore, I apologize in advance for any motion sickness you might experience in the first few moments of this review:
Being creative in my video making also requires coming up with fun and engaging soundtracks. As always, Epidemic Sound helped me to come up with some groovy tracks for this one – groovy enough to make this a little bit more…uh…groovy than my usual video reviews.
Full transcript of my video review – complete with loads of pics and other fun nonsense
As noted earlier, this flight began in the underground tunnel between terminals 5 and 6 at LAX. I had just stepped off 25 minute United Express flight from San Diego, and took advantage of the inter-terminal walkways (so I didn’t have to re-clear security).
LAX Terminal 4 pre-flight experience
Because I make airline reviews for a living, and I needed to get as much content as I could before this flight, I didn’t even have the opportunity to check out the lounge. Then again, lounge access doesn’t normally come with a domestic first class ticket, so it’s highly likely that I didn’t even have access anyway.
If you’re curious, you can check out my reviews of 4 other American Airlines lounges to get a better sense of what you can expect:
The boarding process for American Airlines flight number 1974 to Dallas
Considering that most flights between Los Angeles and Dallas on any given day are either an A321 or a 737, this felt more than a little special. Oddly enough, I didn’t hear anybody talking about how excited they were to fly on a 787 as we were queuing up for boarding. It seemed as if this was just a regular flight to DFW for most people. Non-aviation enthusiasts are weird.
My first impressions of American Airlines 787-9 business class
Again, even though my ticket said “first class”, I refused to call it that. This was very much an international business class product, and I’m choosing to review it as such. Long story short, I wasn’t disappointed.
The departure sequence out of LAX
There were two really notable things about our departure out of LAX this morning:
First, the guy in front of me was yapping on the phone all the way up until the moment of departure (even though the flight attendant told him to cut his conversation at least three times). It wasn’t like he was talking crucial business or anything – he was simply calling all his friends and family to brag about the seat he was sitting in. Which (thinking back on it) I guess I totally understand. Ha!
Second, we departed off of runway 25L. That’s fairly rare here in Los Angeles, as most departures launch off of 24L or 25R.
As we departed off 25L, it occurred to me that I had totally forgotten what it it feels like to sit in a lie-flat international business class seat on a widebody aircraft. I actually felt like a total newbie again, which (in retrospect) was a good thing.
Given that this flight happened right at the height of the pandemic, I had no expectations of being served any food. However, this being a fully lie-flat business class seat and all, it wasn’t all that difficult to enjoy the experience nonetheless.
Can you believe I made it through that entire meal sequence without mentioning chicken and rice (or lobster) even once? It was a surreal experience sitting in a seat like this again, and I was starting to think that (just maybe) I should be thankful for that small cup of yogurt and granola.
Don’t get me wrong – I would have totally destroyed any chicken and rice dish put in front of me, but it’s important to appreciate the little things.
I’m not usually interested in watching TV or movies on short haul domestic flights, so this is more of a “preview” rather than a deep dive. I will say that American Airlines video entertainment is quite good though (you can read more about it in my American Airlines 777-300/ER business class review), and you won’t be bored on long haul flights.
Seat and cabin comfort
Based on how cozy I felt on this 2.5 hour flight over to Dallas, I can assure you that you’d be feeling like a king (or queen) on a long-haul flight to Asia and Europe in one of these these seats. The ambience of being in a widebody internationally-configured premium aircraft cabin is something special indeed – no matter what route it’s being flown on.
The arrival into Dallas
The worst thing about this flight, by far, was how incredibly short it was. Which is a really odd thing to say, because nearly every other flight that I’ve taken to Dallas from San Diego (the equivalent distance from LAX) seemed painfully long.
I guess the only thing to conclude from this is that a nice business class seat makes a world of difference – no matter how long or short a flight is.
Pros and cons of American Airlines 787-9 business class
Because this was a relatively short domestic flight, I’m going to keep this pros and cons list centered around the seat itself and not so much the service. The service on this flight was typical short-haul domestic quality, and that’s OK. Considering how little I paid to sit in the seat, I wasn’t expecting anything more.
The window seats in business class on the American Airlines 787-9 are incredibly isolated and private (nearly as private as JetBlue Mint Suites). In flight, it’s almost impossible to see anybody else.
However, if you’re traveling with somebody, the center seats are a good choice. They are angled towards one another, making it easier to enjoy a meal or a conversation with your partner.
Although the video screen is in a fixed position and won’t move, it’s very large, bright – and very asy to see from all angles.
In a fully lie-flat position, the seat is magnificently comfortable with very few protruding bumps and lumps.
The shoulder belt you’re required to wear during takeoffs and landings is a bit tight and constrictive.
Dare I say that there are too many containers in cubbyholes? If you’re even as half as absent-minded as I am, you are sure to leave something behind. Most likely something very expensive.