Review of American Airlines flight Tokyo Chicago in Business

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA154
Class Business
Seat --
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 12:00
Take-off 16 Jan 16, 18:30
Arrival at 17 Jan 16, 15:30
AA   #75 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 359 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 5406
Published on 15th May 2016
Hello and welcome to this next report in the series. We're almost finished with this series with this Transpacific flight bringing us back to the U.S. This will be the second report on the site on the AA 787.

Here is the full routing with all reports in this series:

Washington Reagan National DCA ✈ Dallas - Fort Worth DFW : American Airlines, B737-800, Domestic First class [HERE]
Dallas - Fort Worth DFW ✈ Hong Kong Check Lap Kok HKG : American Airlines, B777-300ER, Business Class [HERE]
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok HKG ✈ Singapore Changi SIN : Cathay Pacific, B777-300, Business Class [HERE]
Singapore Changi SIN ✈ Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD : British Airways, B777-300ER, Premium Economy [HERE]
Melbourne Tullamarine MEL ✈ Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD : Qantas Airways, B737-800, Business Class [HERE]
Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD ✈ Christchurch Airport CHC : Qantas Jetconnect, B737-800, Business Class [HERE]
Queenstown Airport ZQN ✈ Auckland Airport AKL : Air New Zealand, A320-200, Economy Class [HERE]
Auckland Airport AKL ✈ Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD : LAN Airlines, B787-9, Business Class [HERE]
Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD ✈ Singapore Changi SIN : British Airways, B777-300ER, Business Class [HERE]
Singapore Changi SIN ✈ Tokyo Narita NRT : Japan Airlines, B767-300ER, Economy Class [HERE]
Tokyo Narita NRT ✈ Chicago O'hare ORD : American Airlines, B787-8, Business Class [THIS REPORT]
Chicago O'hare ORD ✈ Washington Reagan National DCA : American Airlines, B737-800, Domestic First Class [HERE]

So here we are at Tokyo Narita. When connecting at NRT, you must go through a security checkpoint–it is always efficient and the security staff are always friendly and helpful, which moves things along quickly.

After going through security, we have a little over an hour before boarding time so we headed to the JAL First Class lounge.

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The friendly agents at reception welcomed us to the JAL First Class lounge, which was accessible thanks to my AA Executive Platinum/oneworld Emerald status. There is an adjacent Sakura Business class lounge accessible to Business class passengers and oneworld Sapphire status holders.

The decor is pleasant and there are nice views of the tarmac. It was calm and not crowded, which is always nice.

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I was not initially aware, but I realized I was in the smaller of the two JAL First lounges, when I couldn't find the famous sushi bar that the main First lounge is known for. I was disappointed, but because we didn't have a lot of time before boarding, I decided it wasn't worth going to the other concourse. So we made ourselves comfortable in the restaurant section for a quick bite to eat.

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I wasn't terribly impressed with the food selection, but there was plenty of champagne so I was happy.
Although, after two great experiences at the Qantas First lounge in Sydney, with its table service, great food menu, and spa, this lounge was underwhelming.

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We got to the gate just as boarding was about to begin.

Quick shot of our bird.

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My seat for the next 12 hours. In the first row of the second Business cabin, it is one of the backwards facing window seats.

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Bose headsets and the amenity kit are pre-placed on the armrest

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Legroom is great, as is to be expected with full-flat seats

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On this flight, the FA handed out menus. On the majority of my recent AA long-haul Business class flights, the menus were already at the seat.

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Pre-departure drinks follow just behind.

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Let's take a look at the menu.

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4 Entrée options plus a Japanese meal option is very impressive.

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The Japanese meal looks very appealing. I had remembered from one of NGO85's reports that Japanese meals have to be pre-ordered and it totally slipped my mind.

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Decent champagne. Castelnau was also served in BA Club World from Sydney to Singapore. Nice to see AA hasn't tried to pass off Prosecco as "champagne" since my JFK-CDG flight last summer

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AA 787 safety card. I'd always thought the AA 787 would be my first dreamliner experience. I am fortunate that within a few days, i got to try the LAN 787-9 and not the AA 787-8. I went to having never flown the 787 to flying both variants within 2 days :-)

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AA was still doing the Heritage amenity kits. Funny to think that US Airways is already "retro"

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The high-tech seat controls.

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Our friendly FA made a second pass with pre-departure drinks. More champagne? Alright, twist my arm ^^

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After boarding was completed. One of the flight attendants came around and popped out the IFE screens for the safety video.

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In the meantime I put on the airshow. Like on the 77W, it is the latest generation.
One cool feature of this latest generation airshow is that you can preview the route that you will be flying.



Once the doors are closed, the Safety video begins.



We pushed back from the gate on time.

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And after a reasonably short taxi time, we were off.

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11 hours of flight time today.

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WiFi is available on the 787 fleet, but I did not buy it as I intended to sleep. Also, I'd previously had a bad experience with the WiFi not working for the majority of a Transpacific crossing.

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The in-flight entertainment is top notch. You can browse through movie titles on the touchscreen smartphone-like remote control as you watch the airshow up on the main screen.

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Or, of course, you can do the opposite and have the airshow on the remote control, while watching a movie on the main screen.
So many AvGeek-friendly options :-)

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View of the front Business class cabin as the cabin service begins under the soft glow of the mood lighting.

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The service starts with an apéritif and warm nuts. I usually like to begin with champagne. If you're counting, it's my 3rd glass–not counting the several glasses I had in the lounge ^^

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During the drink service, the FA inquired about my meal choice. I asked if it was possible to order the Japanese meal even though I hadn't pre-ordered it. She said I could, and I was not disappointed with my choice.

Here is the appetizer course. Yes, that is just the appetizer!

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Beautifully presented–I was very impressed, and it was delicious. I had another glass of champagne, along with some green tea–I felt it would be appropriate ^^

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Then came the main of grilled red snapper and miso soup, also very good.

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There was so much food, I was stuffed after that meal. But I did have some tart, just for some sweetness.

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And a cognac digestif afterwards.

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After the meal I watched the Amy Schumer movie Trainwreck
It was funny, in a silly way

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I got up to get a drink during the movie and the bar was all set up. I was still too full from the dinner so i didn't take anything, but there is always a nice spread.

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After the movie, I fell asleep and slept a good eight hours. I didn't wake up until we were about 2 hours from landing in Chicago.

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For the pre-arrival meal, there was a Japanese chicken dish option or a Western breakfast. I went for the Western breakfast.
A Frittata with potatoes, a side salad, and cake–nothing terribly fancy, but it did the trick.

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A pre-arrival video was played as we started out descent into O'hare.

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Having been in the warmth of Australia and New Zealand for the past 3 weeks, I had almost forgotten it was winter back home.

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There it is, the reminder…snow.

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Here we are over the beautiful lakefront of Chicago



Nice view of International Terminal 5 on landing, with a nice line-up of widebodies

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We got to the gate about 5 minutes ahead of scheduled arrival time.

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Disembarking was quick being near the door, but immigration was a mess with a lot of international arrivals in the early afternoon hours.

Thanks a lot for reading and see you soon for the last segment in the routing!
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

8.9/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi9.5
Meal/catering9.0

JAL First Lounge

7.6/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services7.5

Tokyo - NRT

8.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness7.5

Chicago - ORD

6.0/10
Efficiency3.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

A great flight aboard AA's 787-8. I hadn't previously been able to judge all of the benefits of flying the 787 on the short hop on the LAN 787-9 from Auckland to Sydney, but I definitely felt the difference on this long flight. The higher cabin pressure and higher humidity are some of the features of the 787 that help battle fatigue and jetlag. I felt very well rested after sleeping for almost the entire flight and didn't feel remotely dehydrated as I normally do on long-hauls. I normally drink a ton on water to avoid feeling dried out on long flights, but noticed that I hadn't even finish my one water bottle on this flight. I arrived in Chicago feeling well-rested.

The seat itself is very comfortable and offered a good amount of space and privacy despite facing the aisle. I don't mind facing backwards and I did not find it difficult to look out the window. On the contrary, the backwards facing seats are closer to the window than the forward facing seats. While the 787 seat is not as spacious as the 77W cirrus seats, I can't say that it felt cramped. AA worked with Zodiac Aerospace to create this mixed Forwards/Backwards-facing Herringbone/Reverse-Herringbone configuration in order to fit more seats into the Business class cabin. That being said, it is not going to be as spacious, but I found it perfectly comfortable.

The catering was very good overall, and I really enjoyed the Japanese meal. I love the bar area that can be found on the 787, 777-300ER, and refurbished 777-200ER fleets. The food and beverage offering at the bar is very good and one of the highlights of flying AA long-haul premium cabins. The service was attentive and friendly.

Information on the route Tokyo (NRT) Chicago (ORD)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 8 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Tokyo (NRT) → Chicago (ORD).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Japan Airlines with 8.1/10.

The average flight time is 11 hours and 46 minutes.

  More information

14 Comments

  • Comment 348529 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    The Japanese meal does look impressive for AA!

  • Comment 348560 by
    KL651 TEAM 4472 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    The lounge offering is pretty disappointing especially for a first class lounge.

    The cabin looks really busy with all those seats, buf if they remain confortable in spite of the density that's good.

    The PDB should definitely be in a real glass, it looks so tacky in a plastic one.

    I'm really impressed by the japanese meal. On western carriers it's usually just a japanese dish in a regular plate.
    Here you get it as you would on a japanese airline with the special set and all.

    I didn't feel a real difference in post flight fatigue after my YYZ-CDG on a 787 but goot that you enjoyed the wet cabine ;-) And the champagne probably helped you stay hydrated as well ;-)

    • Comment 348856 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      The lounge was definitely disappointing--in was on par with the AA Flagship First lounge offering, which is a shame. You expect more from an Asian carrier with generally high standards of service. With such a high end experience in JAL Y, I was definitely expecting more from an F lounge.

      Yeah, I don't know why AA still uses plastic for PDB--everyone else uses glass. They probably do it for "safety reasons"--but does that mean DL doesn't care about safety since they use real glasses? Seems silly.

      The Japanese meal was a nice pleasant surprise. It seemed really authentic and a nice effort was made on presentation.

      YYZ-CDG might still be too short to really feel the difference,

  • Comment 348612 by
    indianocean GOLD 6815 Comments

    Obviously, flying backwards wasn't akward for you. I just hope other airlines will not choose that kinda configuration in the future.

    "Our friendly FA made a second pass with pre-departure drinks. More champagne? Alright, twist my arm ^^"--> in plastic ups? Common' ;-((

    Japanese meals look nice and the light meal before arrival really.......americanish. Rum and coke?

    I never thought that the duration of flight between Japan and Chicago would be that short. i expected more that 14 hours....if I flew on First or Business, of course ;-)

    Thank you for sharing Kevin.

    • Comment 348860 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      Thanks for the comments!

      "Obviously, flying backwards wasn't akward for you. I just hope other airlines will not choose that kinda configuration in the future."
      - Not even AA will keep this configuration. AA fired Zodiac due to constant delays with delivering seats so only the 787s and the 12 777-200ERs that have already been retrofitted with this cabin will have this cabin. The remaining 772ERs and A350 fleet will have the B/E super diamond, all forward facing in 1-2-1 configuration.

      "Rum and coke?"
      - Nope. Apple juice :-)
      I can be reasonable...sometimes haha

      "I never thought that the duration of flight between Japan and Chicago would be that short"
      - Yeah, I would have thought it would be longer too. East bound flights are always shorter. Chicago to Japan is probably close to 13 hours. NYC to Japan is about 14-15 hours IME.

      "Plastic cups?"
      -Yes, sadly. Only for the PDB

  • Comment 348613 by
    indianocean GOLD 6815 Comments

    Plastic cups?

  • Comment 348791 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    The JL F lounge looks nice, but the absence of a sit down dining room with staff taking your order is a disappointment.

    "Bose headsets and the amenity kit are pre-placed on the armrest"
    - Normally the Bose headsets are given out by the FA's so that they can exercise better control of the inventory. It's a bit odd to find them along with the "cheap" ones already placed on your seat. I think that there is surplus of the heritage "US Airways" kit. I got those on my MIA-LAX flight in F .

    "4 Entrée options plus a Japanese meal option is very impressive."
    - Indeed it is. So you practically are offered 5 choices instead of 4 on most long haul J flights. Next month I am flying in J from GIG-JFK and my choices are a vegetarian pasta, seafood stew with polenta, beef stewed in beer and grilled chicken with mushrooms.

    "I asked if it was possible to order the Japanese meal even though I hadn't pre-ordered it. She said I could, and I was not disappointed with my choice."
    - I would have done the same, especially leaving out of NRT. For my CDG-HND on JL, I think I will stick to French food. ;)

    "After the meal I watched the Amy Schumer movie Trainwreck ..It was funny, in a silly way"
    - Sound like an "uplifting" movie. :P

    "A Frittata with potatoes, a side salad, and cake–nothing terribly fancy, but it did the trick."
    - What a big piece of cake! Wouldn't some fresh fruit be more appropriate?

    Thanks you Kevin for sharing this FR with great shots as usual. Glad you enjoyed your 787 ride.

    • Comment 348861 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      "The JL F lounge looks nice, but the absence of a sit down dining room with staff taking your order is a disappointment."
      - There is a separate closed off dining area, but you are right that the lack of table service is not very First class.

      "Normally the Bose headsets are given out by the FA's so that they can exercise better control of the inventory."
      - I've only found this to be inconsistent and may be tied to the aircraft type. On the 77W, the headphones have always been pre-placed inside the cabinet in the middle. On most other flights FAs have handed them out during boarding.

      "I think that there is surplus of the heritage "US Airways" kit."
      - Haha, yeah. I have like 4

      "I would have done the same, especially leaving out of NRT."
      - Yeah, it just felt appropriate--even though I hadn't spent any time in Japan, I wanted to feel like I had, LOL

      "Sound like an "uplifting" movie"
      - It was really dirty haha

      "What a big piece of cake! Wouldn't some fresh fruit be more appropriate?"
      - Fruit would have been good, but I won't complain about cake ^^

      Thanks for all your comments as usual!

  • Comment 348876 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    The seat is obviously great. I like the fact that they haven't used too many colours in the cabin, simple but not boring IMO. The IFE looks great as well.

    Five meal options! That's fantastic! The quality of your meal didn't look bad at all.

    Wow, breathtaking pictures upon arrival! The 787 wing together with a nice background makes for very pleasing pictures.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 349304 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      Thanks for your comments as always.

      Yeah, the cabin looks futuristic with the tones of gray and the mood lighting. I love the 787 wing--I was hoping for a little more wingflex, though, haha

  • Comment 348916 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for the FR Kevin^^

    Did you go to the lounge near the entrance to security? Or the one on the satellite near where the AA flights leave? Usually the lounges right after security are a mess with people in the late afternoon so you might have lucked out with being in the smaller lounge with less people.

    “Bose headsets and the amenity kit are pre-placed on the armrest”
    - They gave earbuds too? I guess so you had something to use after the collect the Bose headphones?

    “The Japanese meal looks very appealing. I had remembered from one of NGO85's reports that Japanese meals have to be pre-ordered and it totally slipped my mind.”
    - Amateur mistake :P Polenta lasagna is definitely an interesting menu selection…

    “you can preview the route that you will be flying.”
    - The airshow on some carriers always shows that when it boots up. NH comes to mind, even on domestic flights, they always showed a flight simulation complete with speed and altitude. You sure love you some safety video photos^^

    “If you're counting, it's my 3rd glass–not counting the several glasses I had in the lounge ^^”
    - They served champagne in a tumbler?

    "She said I could, and I was not disappointed with my choice.”
    - I’m really surprised, when I flew them, they only loaded enough for based on what was pre-ordered. I even saw the catering loading information and it was just “1 Japanese meal”. The Japanese meals are some of the best I’ve seen on AA and yours is no exception, they are JL quality.

    “I went for the Western breakfast.”
    - Dessert with breakfast? Sounds like a cop out for serving a real second meal where they give you a breakfast main on a domestic F tray. I guess it makes a little sense so this is your first meal of the day, but it doesn't fit with an early afternoon arrival.

    All in all, with the improved Japanese catering and the new cabins, AA serves a pretty good product on TPACs. The AA seats, even if cramped, are still better than the 2-2-2 UA uses on their B787s.

    • Comment 349308 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      Thanks for all your comments!

      "Did you go to the lounge near the entrance to security?"
      - No I went to the smaller one in the satellite. It was nice that it wasn't crowded, but I was disappointed that I hadn't seen the main F lounge with the sushi bar.

      "They gave earbuds too?"
      - Yep, which is nice for when they take the Bose headsets away.

      "You sure love you some safety video photos^^"
      - Indeed I do, that and airshow pics--it's one of my geeky trips. Though, there are only 4 safety vid pics. Not too excessive ^^

      "They served champagne in a tumbler?"
      - Yep, you've flown AA Longhaul J before. This is the only kind of glass they have now. It's not classy, but I like that it holds a lot :-)

      "I’m really surprised, when I flew them, they only loaded enough for based on what was pre-ordered."
      - Yeah, I got lucky. Either their policy has changed and they are now loading some Japanese meals as one of the normal choices, or I got lucky and someone who had ordered a Japanese meal didn't show up or changed their mind.

      "Dessert with breakfast?"
      - eh, why not? LOL. Cake is good at any time :-P

      "but it doesn't fit with an early afternoon arrival."
      - It doesn't. I think it's supposed to fit with Japanese local time. It would be morning in Japan

      "AA serves a pretty good product on TPACs."
      - Yep! As long as you don't get a non-retrofitted 772!

  • Comment 495292 by
    lbfortress 64 Comments

    Really good review. I have noticed the same on the 787. Even in economy, I've slept a lot better than other planes. I too think the combination of the higher humidity, pressure and lighting all really help.

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