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What It’s Like to Fly American Airlines Business Class on the 787

a room with a few cabinets

I flew on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in 2012 when they first came out. But that was on United in Economy. I had yet to experience the 787 business class. My spa weekend getaway in Bangkok was the perfect excuse to use systemwides to upgrade my American Airlines and the phone agent was determined those upgrades would be on the 787 from Chicago to Narita.

a group of bottles in a metal container

After a mini rose tasting in the American Airlines Flagship Lounge Chicago with friends, we were ready to board! First impressions: very light and spacious. Lots of overhead space. Not ideal if you’re traveling with anyone.

a room with a few cabinets

a man looking at a shelf with luggage

I was in 3A, one of my friends was sitting across from me in a backward facing seat, which actually allowed for more visual contact than sitting next to each other. See my tips for picking seats on the 787.

a sign on a wall

American Airline’s business class seat is a little narrow, but has plenty of leg room.

a seat in a plane
Forward facing seat with chest restraint and “pop up” armrest
a person's feet in a seat on an airplane
Lots of leg room in Dreamliner business class

Backward facing seats have more storage than forward facing seats. And I didn’t dig having a chest restraint in addition to the belt across the waist.

Decent amount of seat controls and I loved that you could view the map on the handset and keep the big screen for entertainment or just turned off.

a screen shot of a plane and airplane

a screen shot of a video game console

They brought drinks around pre-departure so we toasted our Bangkok trip with champagne.

a hand holding a couple of glasses of liquidTurns out we needed it.

a plane parked on a runway

Our flight was over an hour late departing Chicago due to storms and we had a 2 hour connection in Narita. If we missed that flight, we wouldn’t get to Bangkok until late the next day, which would punch a big hole in a 48 hour vacation…

a woman holding a drink
Before I knew there were flight delays out of Chicago

Fortunately 60 minute connections are legal even for coach passengers, but it was a little stressful sitting there trying to formulate a plan B.

Eventually we took off and I dug into my Cole Haan amenity kit (red accents on the way out, blue on the return) with CO Bigelow toiletries. Nice 🙂

a group of items in a bag

Then came the food service. Warm nuts and another glass of champagne.

a bowl of nuts and a glass of beer

The menus arrived, and even though I’d pre-ordered, I was rather tempted by Japanese Meal entree. But, turns out its either everything or nothing. You can’t mix and match like you can (or used to be able to) on ANA.

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So, western meal it was! First up, a surprisingly good watermelon and Thai chicken dish.

a plate of food on a table

Then the Peppered Beef Filet with truffled mac and cheese and haricots verts that I had pre-ordered. It looked AMAZING. It tasted ok, still fairly full from the Flagship Lounge, I wound up leaving most of it.

a plate of food with sauce and pasta

Got a picture of my friend’s Mochi chicken with roasted mashed sweet potatoes, baby bok choy, and white sesame seeds. Looked pretty good!a plate of food on a table

The dessert options didn’t really appeal so I went with the cheese plate.

a plate of food on a table

So one major complaint with the 787 is the window shades, or lack thereof. I liked that even when they were dimmed I could still see out. What I didn’t like is the cabin crew could automatically dim them which meant I had to keep fussing with it to get it lighter in order to take pictures.

a glass on a table in front of an airplane window

We flew up the coast of Alaska and it was breathtaking though very blue!

an aerial view of a landscape

And then it was never quite dark in the cabin even at full dim, more of a ghostly underwater feel. Still, I slept well for a couple of hours and then decided to explore the galley snacks. A nice presentation.

a kitchen with food on the counter

a shelf with food and drinks on it

a meat sandwich on a plate

As with most long premium cabin flights, the focus tends to be on the food. Before landing we were served a light meal that came with a radish salad, surprisingly good carrot cake, and an entree. I’d pre-ordered the broccoli and red pepper strata which felt like the breakfast foods my internal clock was expecting.

a plate of food on a table

We landed in Narita about an hour late and in a separate terminal from out JAL connection to Bangkok.

airplanes parked at an airportAn hour and 10 minutes wound up being more than enough time to get through security and get to our gate, even had time to hang out in a nearby loung for a half hour.

More from this trip

AA Flagship Lounge Chicago Review
5 Things to Know When Picking Seats on the 787
Mango Sticky Rice Blizzards Are a Thing

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  1. United from SFO to Taipei was a similar experience, and the 787’s auto-window tinting really helped manage light levels to pre-acclimate to the new timezone.

  2. Just curious as I haven’t flown an American flag carrier in years; – I live overseas and travel nearly 100% on Emirates – is that plastic glassware they served pre takeoff drinks in?? Seems a bit … Cheap for business class?

    1. In my experience it’s been a mix, some of my pre-departure drinks have been in proper classware, others the cheap plastic.

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