Review of American Airlines flight Sydney Los Angeles in First

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA72
Class First
Seat 1A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 12:45
Take-off 31 Aug 17, 10:15
Arrival at 01 Sep 17, 06:00
AA   #75 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 444 reviews
Rewardflying
By GOLD 4745
Published on 24th November 2017
photo aa72 cover

Hello Flight-Report #avgeeks. The marathon journey continues. And as you will see this is the shortened (much) version.

jetBlue A320 Ecomomy service ORD-JFK
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class JFK-FRA / JFK Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Singapore Airlines Suites Class FRA-SIN / FRA Air Canada Lounge
Thai Airways A350 Business Class SIN-BKK / SIN The Private Room
Thai Airways B747 First Class BKK-SYD / BKK Thai Royal First Lounge and Spa
Air New Zealand B787 Business Class SYD-AKL / SYD Air New Zealand Lounge
Air New Zealand A320 Economy Class AKL-WLG / AKL Air New Zealand Domestic Lounge
JetStar A320 Economy Class WLG-AKL
Emirates A380 Business Class BNE-SYD / AKL Emirates Lounge
Qantas B737 Business Class BNE-SYD Priority Pass Lounge

American Airlines B777 First Class SYD-LAX / SYD Qantas First Class Lounge


Virgin America A320 First Class LAX-ORD

At one point this trip was booked as:

photo aa72 orig map

An insane amount of flying over a 2 week period, not to mention spending a boatload of points. American Airlines is notorious for not releasing saver award space anywhere, let alone from Sydney in first class. One day I noticed not one, but two seats available a day before I was to return from the region. At the bottom of this report I'll explain the cost of this trip, but suffice it to say I would be saving plenty of points by taking this flight and I wanted to try American's first class service from Australia as it had received accolades from other blogs. It would also be interesting to compare it to Qantas A380 service which I took last year.

Now the trip looked like this:

photo aa72 final map

I show this simply to point out now I was flying 10,000 miles less than before and by the time this flight came around I was toast. Enjoying the trip but ready to get home. It all sounded good in the planning stage. Hence this report may not be up to my standards.

I flew in from Brisbane the day before as today's departure was at 10:15AM and I wanted to visit the Qantas Sydney lounge. Plus it's not fun getting up at 4AM, trekking to the airport to take a 6AM/7AM flight and risking a delay then missing your international flight. So I stayed at the Pullman Hotel in the Mascot area. While all the hotels around Sydney airport are expensive, I got a decent rate and it's probably one of the nicer hotels in the area, which is pretty run down.



Arriving at Sydney Kingsford International terminal I proceeded to the American Airlines check-in. If I were flying Qantas there is a special first class reception area. Not surprisingly American has no such fanfare.

photo aa72 checkin 1

Given an express pass for security I headed to the Qantas lounge. You can read about that visit with this link. It would be a highlight for the day.

A couple photos:


Arriving at the gate 40 minutes prior to departure boarding had already commenced. I made my way inside.

photo aa72 cabin fc 1

The first class cabin on the American Airlines flagship 777-300 was not awe inspiring.

photo aa72 cabin fc 2

There are 8 seats in 2 rows, 1x2x1. I was in 1A. All 8 seats were occupied by the time we departed, however, based on the conversations I overheard, 5 or 6 of these passengers were AA employees. No knock against the employee, but how many American customers would like to sit up here? I'm not fingering American, United does the same.

photo aa72 cabin fc 3

When I'd first booked this flight both 1A/K were taken. I'd read that 2A/K had you sitting partially in business class. And guess what, you are!

photo aa72 cabin divide

So I set a seat alert on ExpertFlyer for 1A/K and sure enough one day I got the alert and changed my seat from 2A to 1A.

Since we entered through door two I had a chance to view business class.

photo aa72 cabin bc 2

American Airlines has numerous business class seats throughout their fleet. Arguably the best are the Cirrus reverse herringbone installed in the 777-300ERs.

photo aa72 cabin bc 1

Seat 3A in the mini-cabin. Spoiler alert, fly business class and sit here if you can.

photo aa72 cabin bc 3

Back to seat 1A. This seat swivels to face out towards the window. Presumably allowing you to work on your laptop or tablet which is placed on the side table. I never got around to work on this flight.

photo aa72 seat 1

The IFE screen is stored for take-off and landing, similar to the Cirrus business class seats.

photo aa72 seat 2

I'm not sure what is going on here with the belt.

photo aa72 seat 3

Narrow storage under the ottoman for small carry on or purse.

photo aa72 seat 9

All the plugs are easily accessible and you can comb your hair or refresh your makeup at the same time.

photo aa72 seat 4

These buttons kind of reveal the age of this design.

photo aa72 seat 5

Down on the floor at the entrance of the pod is a little cubby hole, presumably to store your shoes, but not during take-off or landing.

photo aa72 seat 6

On the other side was a mesh pocket that held a pair of slippers. I am continually amazed by the silly warnings that are required on aircraft. What could you possibly store here that would be dangerous, slippers?

photo aa72 seat 7

The seat adjustment is touch screen.

photo aa72 seat 8

Bose noise cancelling headphones are a nice feature.

photo aa72 amenity hp

First class passengers were given these Cole Haan amenity kits.

photo aa72 amenity kit 1

A rather large pouch for a rather small number of items.

photo aa72 amenity kit 3

But the whole idea is well intended as it doubles as a tablet carry case. And it was of decent quality, just not my style.

photo aa72 amenity kit 2

Before departure I requested a pair of American pajamas.

photo aa72 amenity pj 1

At first I wasn't impressed as they aren't of the same quality as say Singapore, Lufthansa, Etihad, Qatar, Japan Airlines, Cathay, United to name a few. But I've grown to like them. The top is a comfortable long sleeve t-shirt.

photo aa72 amnity pj 2

Time to go.

photo aa72 scenic away they go 1

Surprise, we start with nuts. I passed on Champagne, not at 10AM with 20,000 miles in hand and 9K to go.

photo aa72 food1 - nuts

In the air the nuts were replaced with olives and some kind of chip that looks like it's barbequed flavored. All were passed on. (Notice the USB port which is the only photo I have of it.)

photo aa72 food1 - olives

While I wasn't able to locate the exact Champagne offered on this flight, my guess it is a reasonably priced champagne and probably not in the class of Dom or Salon. Just a guess. The Heitz Cellars Cab is is decent cabernet to my tastes. But as you will see, mine mostly spilled.

photo aa72 menu 1photo aa72 food1 - wine

Today's menu.

photo aa72 menu 2

I began with the chicken bilini and smoked salmon cube canapés.

photo aa72 food1 - canape 1

Not surprisingly the Sydney-Los Angeles is a prized route for American employees, attracting their most senior crew members. Serving today's flight was a 30+ year American flight attendant named Billie. She was fantastic, at least in terms of likeability. She was always laughing or telling jokes and genuinely liked her job. You couldn't help but like her. Recently the CEO of Qatar Airlines, who I'm sure regrets it, stating US airlines flight attendants were a bunch of Grandmas. Billie was, but polar opposite of the point this CEO was trying to make.

When she placed the canapé plate on my tray and the chicken tipped off the blini, she said "Oops!" They were as good as they look.

photo aa72 food1 - canape 2

The Jerusalem artichoke soup as ok, but had me wanting Thai's celery soup flying into Sydney.

photo aa72 food2 - soup

How uninspiring.

photo aa72 food2 - salad 1

At least it was fresh.

photo aa72 food2 - salad 2

Then things got interesting, not food wise but flight wise. We encountered a medium chop. Enough were liquids from glasses spilled and you couldn't really eat. It wasn't severe, just constant bouncing. This is one of the problems flying a 777 with a full load of fuel and passengers. Our altitude was 33,000 feet whereas newer aircraft like the 787 and A350 can get higher often avoiding this kind of weather.

The chop lasted for about 3 hours. Only then did I get, or want, dinner.

photo aa72 food2 - dinner 1

Fortunately it was a braised dish so it didn't get overcooked. In the end it was a decidedly good business class main meal. 

photo aa72 food2 - dinner 2

Dessert was a simple spoonful of chocolate mousse with some fruit on top. 

photo aa72 food2 - des 1

Now that the larger dinner plate was removed you can see where most of my wine went. For those of you who read the report I wrote on Singapore Airlines from Frankfurt to Singapore, you might remember what happened on that flight when some wine spilled. It was just a small spill on my neighbors table cloth, like a ring around the base of the glass. Angie, the SQ flight attendant insisted she change the table cloth. No insistence was offered here. 

photo aa72 food2 - des 2

I asked for the bed to be made. Another attendant made it up as Billie was on break. The mattress pad was pretty thin. Apparently American is moving to a new line of bedding soon. They need to.

photo aa72 seat sleep 1

I tried to sleep but….

photo aa72 seat sleep 2

The IFE was no help to me, as nothing interested me. That doesn't mean there wasn't anything to watch, just nothing I wanted to watch. 

photo aa72 ife 2

I wouldn't call the first class monitor anything outstanding. I remained content to listen to an audiobook to pass the time. 

photo aa72 ife 3

Somewhere over the Pacific I ordered the steak sandwich from the Small Plates menu.

photo aa72 food3 - snack 1

The flavor was excellent, the meat needed canine teeth.

photo aa72 food3 - snack 2

Cheese was available but I did not partake.

photo aa72 menu 3

Breakfast was served the standard 90 minutes out.

photo aa72 menu 4

Firmly against eggs on a plane, unless freshly made as on Lufthansa or Austrian and maybe others as well, I went continental. 

photo aa72 food4 - brk 1

The fruit was fresh and the granola was different and good, just not in abundance. 

photo aa72 food4 - brk 2

The ginger rhubarb smoothies was delicious.

photo aa72 food4 - brk 3

And the yogurt was to my liking as well, the real stuff.

photo aa72 food4 - brk 4

A beautiful sunrise meant LA was not too far away.

photo aa72 scenic la arrive 1

And we had the unusual LAX landing to the east on 6L

photo aa72 scenic la arrive 2

And I'd be remiss if I didn't offer some aircraft spotting. First Sydney.

photo aa72 scenic syd planes

Then LAX.

photo aa72 scenic lax planes

I saved at least 10,000 points over the conventional method for reward redemption on this route. Find out how at rewardflying.com along with more ratings and other insights.

Flight Path

photo aa72 flight path


Next up:

photo future flights 10-17

While JAL first class is a favorite, this trip also includes their new reverse herringbone business class seat, a long awaited trip on Garuda Indonesia, albeit in the middle of the night and a lucky snag on Delta's brand new A350 to check out their highly touted but nothing special Vantage XL Delta One seat, now with a door, that doesn't fully close. All posting next year, happy new year to all!
See more

Verdict

American Airlines

5.6/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi4.5
Meal/catering5.5

Qantas First Class Lounge International

9.5/10
Comfort9.5
Meal/catering10.0
Entertainment/wifi9.5
Services9.0

Sydney - SYD

7.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access6.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Los Angeles - LAX

7.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access6.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

This was a perfectly fine business class trip, not first class. The seat is a little oversized from a business class seat while looking like one, the food is definitely business class, the amenities are the same as you get in business class (maybe the amenity pouch is different), the IFE looks business class, the cabin feels like business class and you get the added bonus of light from the front galley keeping you from sleeping.

While I've rated the trans-pacific first class flights on a Qantas A380 and American 777 equally on my website rating system, I think I caught Qantas on a bad day food wise. However I can safely say, the most economical and comfortable way to cross the international dateline in a premium cabin is on American in business class. And even better, they've gone to the 787-9 with B/E Super Diamond seats which flies at 40,000 feet.

Information on the route Sydney (SYD) Los Angeles (LAX)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Sydney (SYD) → Los Angeles (LAX).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Qantas with 7.9/10.

The average flight time is 13 hours and 35 minutes.

  More information

17 Comments

  • Comment 420344 by
    TheHockeyAvaitior 1 Comments

    Great report!

  • Comment 420362 by
    Frednyon SILVER 2350 Comments

    Thank you for this very good report.
    Agree with your conclusion: good business class experience from hardware to catering.
    Nothing worth calling it first class.
    American are really kidding their customers, hoping none of them will ever try SQ, LH, LX or EK ?

  • Comment 420399 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    Have you seriously never seen a seat belt on an ottoman in all your travels in first class? It’s for buddy dining.

  • Comment 420421 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Of course I know what it’s for. Do you really think 2 people would be comfortable eating in this sized pod? Thanks for reading!

  • Comment 420493 by
    Andyw 34 Comments

    Great review again Rewardflying. Hold no punches, good review, the food looks dire.

    Nice for the comment on on the good older flight attendants. Experience is always good. Reminded me of this

    https://youtu.be/CoLkV-ZPYv0?t=1221

    Total flight years = amazing. I wish I could do a job I enjoyed for 40 years.

  • Comment 420495 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi AndyW, thanks for reading. Yes I'd seen the Sam Chui UA 747 farewell video (he does nice work) and agree experience counts. It's all about enthusiasm for your job. I could tell Billie on this flight LOVED her job.

  • Comment 420515 by
    Razza_Pr 214 Comments

    Greetings, Rewardflying, and thank you for this FR.

    "I'd read that 2A/K had you sitting partially in business class. And guess what, you are!"
    -Colour me surprised to learn there were no partitions at all. Especially aboard 2017's ATW version of World's Airline of the Year! ;) ;). I'm sure J passengers LOVE remembering that even though they've shelled out more money/miles than the people further back, they're still differentiated from the 'real' hotshots.

    "A rather large pouch for a rather small number of items. "
    -I'm sorry but that's just rather comical imo. Meanwhile, VA J has Mandarina Duck with more contents!

    "While I wasn't able to locate the exact Champagne offered on this flight, my guess it is a reasonably priced champagne and probably not in the class of Dom or Salon."
    -$99.99 American per bottle on the ground. Taittinger is pretty good in my books. http://bit.ly/2k0fJ5I

    The dinner menu looks somewhat inviting, but the main course looks like something you'd expect on board CX J. AA, it seems, is following in the footsteps of fellow OW partners CX and QF, for better or worse. Might we see them try to differentiate their products even more in the future, I wonder? Will they even bother, given that they hold key monopolies across some pretty important markets?

    FA Billie sounds like she was having a good time working this route. I'm certain her naturally humorous nature caught on to Aussie passengers.

    "While JAL first class is a favorite, this trip also includes their new reverse herringbone business class seat, a long awaited trip on Garuda Indonesia, albeit in the middle of the night and a lucky snag on Delta's brand new A350 to check out their highly touted but nothing special Vantage XL Delta One seat, now with a door, that doesn't fully close."
    -Eh? I thought DL 1 Suites have fully enclosed doors? I can predict the routing here, somewhat. Let me see.. JL ORD-Tokyo-SIN, KL SIN-DPS, GA DPS-ICN, DL ICN-DTW?

    I look forward to reading your reports next year. Thanks again for this FR. Cheers!

  • Comment 420543 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hello Razza!

    Colour me surprised to learn there were no partitions at all. Especially aboard 2017's ATW version of World's Airline of the Year! ;) ;).

    -Well that survey makes Skytrax ratings pretty darn reliable!

    I'm sure J passengers LOVE remembering that even though they've shelled out more money/miles than the people further back, they're still differentiated from the 'real' hotshots.

    -Yes, until they are a 'real' hotshot and find they were the smarter ones all along!

    I'm sorry but that's just rather comical imo. Meanwhile, VA J has Mandarina Duck with more contents!

    -Here's hoping VA opens award space sooner, would love to fly that trans-pac

    $99.99 American per bottle on the ground. Taittinger is pretty good in my books. http://bit.ly/2k0fJ5I

    -Good catch

    The dinner menu looks somewhat inviting, but the main course looks like something you'd expect on board CX J. AA, it seems, is following in the footsteps of fellow OW partners CX and QF, for better or worse. Might we see them try to differentiate their products even more in the future, I wonder? Will they even bother, given that they hold key monopolies across some pretty important markets?

    Exactly, it IS J. AA's management is the old American West Airlines which was a LCC back in the 90's. Doug Parker was and remains CEO. (This is the genius who recently said American will never ever lose money in the future.) I give him credit as he bought USAir then American to take a ma and pa airline to one of the worlds largest. But I doubt that management team understands premium international travel. My two cents.

    Eh? I thought DL 1 Suites have fully enclosed doors?

    -We'll find out about the door in a few weeks. According to the videos I've seen they don't

    I can predict the routing here, somewhat. Let me see.. JL ORD-Tokyo-SIN, KL SIN-DPS, GA DPS-ICN, DL ICN-DTW?

    - And you are correct Sir!

    Thanks for reading Razza, and happy reward flying holidays!

  • Comment 420594 by
    757Fan 584 Comments

    Nice report! Thank you for sharing. It looks like you had a good flight in AA F. The food looks quite good, but I agree that salad looks more like just lettuce .. :)

    I haven't flown AA in years, as I'm a loyal Delta flier, but I might have to give them a chance again.

  • Comment 420731 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5224 Comments

    Awesome report as always. I wasn't surprised when you wrote that the QF F lounge would be the highlight of the trip--I wasn't expecting much from AA F. I personally love the AA grandma's--they know how to do service right!

    With such a great product in J on the 77W, there just isn't much difference between J and F...except for soup and pajamas...lol. Like you said, it's a decent Business class product, but definitely sub par for First class.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 420741 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi 757Fan, Thanks for reading. Hope to hear about your AA experience if you do so. Remember, lean business class!

  • Comment 421419 by
    Eric V P SILVER 125 Comments

    Thank you for sharing! Yet another lovely report from you.

    On QF F lounge:
    - The menu seemed quite extensive, though I somehow hate that they have the menu on one paper, which made me initially confused. How long does it take from your order taken to the time you got your breakfast?

    The first class cabin on the American Airlines flagship 777-300 was not awe inspiring.
    - The product may not be inspiring but seemed to be quite a solid one when it was launched - when I was younger I would watch the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20zshmYxhLw) and thought of it as a great offering. Doesn't it sound like American isn't particularly excited about maintaining their first class?

    I'm not sure what is going on here with the belt.
    - Perhaps next time someone can bring their friend from economy to enjoy a first class meal? Except if they can hide the seatbelt well, it seemed a bit of nuisance for a solo traveler, though.

    A rather large pouch for a rather small number of items.
    - That seems more fit for business class - the pouch didn't look especially classy (though they claim it's multipurpose) and the contents were akin to business class amenity kit.

    Firmly against eggs on a plane, unless freshly made as on Lufthansa or Austrian and maybe others as well, I went continental.
    - Is it mostly a thing on flights to/from Asia/Middle East that they actually offer something more substantial than omelette for breakfast? I somehow even thought of getting something from the small plates menu in lieu of the breakfast selections, which seem to be more interesting.

    Looking forward for your next reports soon - your trip combination sounds like your KLM trip will be on their fifth freedom route as well, so can't wait to see some positive changes (if any) from my experiences with them before.

  • Comment 421531 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 494 Comments

    Hi Eric VP! Thanks for reading, and as to your comments:

    The menu seemed quite extensive, though I somehow hate that they have the menu on one paper, which made me initially confused. How long does it take from your order taken to the time you got your breakfast?

    -The dining area was packed. I had to wait a couple minutes for a table and there was a small line after me. To your question it was fast. I'd say no more than 10 minutes IF that. And the eggs benedict were seriously good!

    The product may not be inspiring but seemed to be quite a solid one when it was launched - when I was younger I would watch the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20zshmYxhLw) and thought of it as a great offering. Doesn't it sound like American isn't particularly excited about maintaining their first class?

    -I remember flying in their original first class seat back in 2002. The seat swiveled but didn't lie flat. At the time I thought it was better than United's first class seat. Thanks for the video. (Note: AA reduced first class legroom on their new 737-max jets and plan to have the same reduction across their domestic fleet.) Seems their international first presence is aligned with partner first class, such as HKG, LHR, SYD. Only their 777-300ER have the cabin, 10 jets out of about 150 international aircraft.

    Perhaps next time someone can bring their friend from economy to enjoy a first class meal? Except if they can hide the seatbelt well, it seemed a bit of nuisance for a solo traveler, though.

    -I was being snarky with this comment as I knew what it was for. The point was there isn't enough room for 2 people to comfortably have a meal in this pod. If you look closely at the photo, the ottoman recedes behind the monitor, make the small sitting area even smaller.

    Is it mostly a thing on flights to/from Asia/Middle East that they actually offer something more substantial than omelette for breakfast? I somehow even thought of getting something from the small plates menu in lieu of the breakfast selections, which seem to be more interesting.

    -Good idea!

    -Looking forward for your next reports soon - your trip combination sounds like your KLM trip will be on their fifth freedom route as well, so can't wait to see some positive changes (if any) from my experiences with them before.

    Uh Oh, am I in for a surprise on KLM SIN-DPS??? We'll soon find out!

    Thanks for reading and happy reward flying!

  • Comment 425040 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Hi Rewardflying and thanks for sharing this FR.

    AA should just get rid of F and just have J class offered at this point. At least your interaction with the crew was a good one and they were friendly.

    The amenity kit for F is kind of odd. Not my style neither.

    Happy 2018 and safe travels.

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