American Airlines 787-9 business class is freaking legit

American Airlines 787-9 business class seat

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.

AA1974
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Dallas/Ft Worth, TX (DFW)
Friday, February 26, 2021
Aircraft: 787-9
Registration: N824AN
Duration: 2 hours 14 minutes
Seat: 7A (Business Class)

American Airlines 787-9 side view
American Airlines 787-9 side view illustration by Norebbo.com
AA1974 flight track
Our route from Los Angeles to Dallas today as AA1974.

The video

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 underground tunnel
What’s up y’all. Welcome to the underground tunnel between terminals 5 and 6 at LAX.
SANspotter selfie LAX underground tunnel
It’s a bit lonely down here.
LAX inter terminal walkway
I have no other way of starting this American Airlines 787-9 business class review other than by asking a simple question: Is a lie-flat business class seat on an internationally-configured Boeing 787 *really* necessary on a relatively short flight from Los Angeles to Dallas?
SANspotter selfie at LAX
I’m going to assume that the correct answer is “no”, but I’m going to have to test it out first just to be sure. You know. “Research.”

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:

LAX American Airlines terminal
So yeah. For the sake of “scientific research”, I’m here at LAX this morning to catch American Airlines flight number 1974 to Dallas.
LAX American Airlines terminal interior
I’m going in business class. On an internationally-configured Boeing 787. Because…why not, right?
American Airlines A321 LAX
For those that aren’t familiar with this route, it’s essentially the Airbus A321 express with departures happening about once per hour. A 787 between Los Angeles and Dallas is a special treat indeed.
LAX terminal 4
It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to hang out here in Terminal 4, and it looks exactly the same as the last time I was here (which, according to my flight log) was exactly 5 years, 2 months, and 6 days ago.
LAX terminal 4 inside
It’s nice to see it again. And no, it’s not like I was expecting it to be massively different or anything, but…
SANspotter relaxing at LAX
…this review sucks so far and some more action would have been nice.
American Airlines 787-9 LAX
Alright. How’s THIS for some action?
AA 787-9 at gate LAX
This right here is the airplane that will be taking me to Dallas this morning.
AA 787 at gate Los Angeles international airport
It’s a 3 year old 787-9 which, pre COVID, spent all of its time bouncing between Asia, Europe, and South America. Today, it’s flying back and forth between Dallas and Los Angeles. Poor little guy.
Boeing 787-9 cockpit windows
I guess I never realized how big these things are until I was sitting here face to face with it. I could see every little detail, including what appeared to be one pilot turning to the other and telling him how stupid SANspotter’s last video was.

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.

Gate 43 terminal 4 LAX
One nice thing about flying American Airlines is that they tell you right on the monitors how many minutes until boarding begins. With 36 minutes to go, I must have looked awfully impatient standing here taking this pic.
American Airlines mobile boarding pass flight 1974
Standing across from the boarding gate holding up my boarding pass didn’t make me look any less impatient either. Just sayin’.
Boarding American Airlines flight gate 43 LAX
Fun fact: Flying business class doesn’t make you smart. Why? Well, as you saw in the video, I had a heck of a time self-scanning my mobile boarding pass. Wouldn’t it seem logical that I’d know how to scan my own boarding pass by now?
Flight boarding queue LAX
I’m not as think as you smart I am.

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.

Boarding American Airlines 787-9
An unexpected result of today’s scientific experiment was the feeling of nostalgia as I approached the boarding door.
American Airlines 787-9 boarding door
A year ago, boarding a 787 would have seemed completely routine to me. However, after being grounded so long due to the pandemic, this was my first widebody flight in over a year (my last one was EVA Air 777-300/ER Premium Economy from TPE to LAX). It felt good to be back on a proper airplane again.
American Airlines 787-9 business class cabin
Yes, it felt excessively extravagant for a short 2 and a half hour flight over to Dallas, but dang it felt good.
American Airlines 787-9 business class seat
That feeling of nostalgia was quickly washed away by the feeling of guilt as I started looking around at all the details of the American Airlines 787-9 business class seat. It’s fantastic – and precisely the reason why AA will always win the seat category in any British Airways vs American Airlines comparison.
American Airlines 787-9 business class seat storage
What am I going to put in all these containers??
American Airlines 787-9 business class leg room
I will say that I wasn’t feeling guilty at all about the leg room though. As far as I’m concerned, this is what domestic first class leg room *should* be like.
American Airlines 787-9 business class seat looking forward
Is this ridiculous, or what? And I still don’t know what to put in all those containers.
SANspotter selfie American Airlines 787-9 business class
Knowing me, it’s probably best that I don’t put anything I can’t afford to lose in there. I’m not sure, but the airlines have probably made a killing on eBay selling all the crap I leave behind on airplanes.
AA 787-9 business class seat storage
More containers! For the sake of my personal belongings, I must resist.
American Airlines 787-9 business class seat arm rest
One thing that was hard to resist, however, was this retractable arm rest. Especially since it helped to make this seat feel more like an enclosed suite.
American Airlines 787-9 safety card
So what’s the verdict so far? Is this excessively obnoxious and completely overkill for a short 2 and a half hour flight over to Dallas?
SANspotter thumbs up American Airlines 787-9 business class
You bet it is. And I think I like it. Of course, I won’t know for sure until we reach Dallas.

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.
American Airlines 787-9 business class seat privacy
I dedicate this view to all the poor souls who voluntarily chose to fly on one of the 15 Airbus A321’s flying between Los Angeles and Dallas today.
Boeing 787 wing and engine view
All I’m saying is…it pays to be a dorky airplane nerd who knows what’s up.

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.

American Airlines 787-9 takeoff from LAX
Being grounded by the pandemic hasn’t been fun, but it has helped me to be more thankful about having the ability to freely travel.

Food

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.

American Airlines COVID snack
The nice thing about wearing a mask is that the flight attendant couldn’t see me frowning as she handed me the standard snack bag and bottle of water.
American Airlines pandemic snack bag
This is all that I had received on several other recent domestic first class flights, so I had no reason to expect anything more.
American Airlines first class snack bag
Which is probably why I shot the crap out me stuffing my face with this stuff…
American Airlines first class granola
In an unexpected turn of events, I present to you: more food!
SANspotter selfie American Airlines 787-9 business class meal
Yup, they were offering a ham and cheese croissant or this yogurt and granola thing, and I guess there were lot of lactose intolerant people on this flight because I had no choice.
American Airlines breakfast service
I would have picked this anyway, by the way. Airplane breakfast sandwiches are usually total grease bombs.

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.

In-flight entertainment

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.

American Airlines 787-9 business class video screen
It’s odd that she seems amused that I’m about to touch her (I don’t normally have this effect on women).
American Airlines 787-9 WiFi
Yes! These planes are equipped with Wi-Fi. By the way, there’s no point in giving you a full breakdown of the video entertainment system since 1/3 of this flight has already passed and I haven’t even shown you pics of me using the lavatory yet.
American Airlines 787-9 business class video entertainment
All you need to know is that there is far too much content to consume on a 2.5 hour flight to Dallas. Oh – and that pics of me using the lavatory are coming, so consider this a warning.
American Airlines 787-9 business class video entertainment remote control
Note that there is a remote control for the video entertainment system in the forward storage unit. You don’t have to touch the screen (and smudge it up with cooties) like I did in these pics.

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.

Boeing 787 lavatory
Wanna know the best part about the Boeing 787 lavatory?
787 hands free toilet
It’s the hands-free toilet flushing system that won’t flush unless you touch it (of course).
AA 787-9 business class seat comfort
Say what you will about how obnoxiously excessive this is, but I ain’t never enjoyed a flight to Dallas as much as I’m enjoying this.
American Airlines 787-9 business class experience
I mean, seriously. Condolences to anyone who voluntarily chose to fly on an A321 to DFW today.
787-9 cabin ceiling
Oh. And this is what you’ll see as you drift off to sleep in one of these seats. This “science” stuff is grueling.
American 787-9 business class seat reading light
Something else I discovered while lying here is this handy reading light. I’m sure it would have come in really handy if I was doing legitimate business stuff on a 14 hour flight to Melbourne, but it wasn’t so handy on a 2.5 hour flight to DFW.

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.

Bringing seat to upright position
Ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for landing, please bring your seat backs to their upright positions.” Really? Already? Seems like we just took off!
Descending into the clouds
Anyway, now to the most depressing part of this flight. Goodbye sunshine. You’ll be missed.
787 arrival into DFW
The funniest part of this approach is that everyone on the ground watching us fly over probably thinks that we are arriving a faraway exotic place like Tokyo or something. If they only knew…
787 approach into DFW
By the way, if you ever fly from Tokyo to Dallas on a 787-9, this is what it’s going to look like when you land. You’re welcome.
Arrival at DFW airport
Welcome to Dallas! It’s good to see this place again – even if it is a little gloomy out there.
DFW jet bridge
Do I even have to tell you the results of today’s little science experiment?
American Airlines 787-9 business class verdict
It was the most ridiculously indulgent thing I’ve done in a good long while, and even though it was lots of fun, I can honestly say that nobody needs a lie flat business class seat on a 2.5 hour flight to Dallas.
Walking off Boeing 787-9
You want it though. I can promise you that. And on that note, I need to run because DFW minimum connection times can be unpredictable in unstable weather (it’s looking awfully gloomy out there)…

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.

Pros

  • The window seats in business class on the American Airlines 787-9 are incredibly isolated and private. 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Comments (4)

  1. Andrew

    June 29, 2021
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      July 1, 2021
  2. BILLY

    July 17, 2021
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      July 19, 2021

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