QFlyer was lucky enough to be invited by Qantas to inspect their partner American Airlines' latest offering on its first arrival into Sydney today, and it certainly makes a good first impression.
The aircraft is very long and looks the part with its grey livery and the iconic red, white & blue tail.
We enter by the stairs at the rear of the plane to be welcomed by a friendly crew member, and first stop is the Economy Class cabin where the seat configuration is 3-4-3. The lights are turned down to show the nighttime mood lighting and at first glance the colour scheme chosen seems an odd choice as the pink is highly reminiscent of Virgin's interior. Pillows & blankets are provided in your comfy seat and also, every seat on-board is equipped with international Wi-Fi capability, AC power outlets and USB ports. Meal service in Economy is a choice of three main course options with mid-flight and pre-arrival snacks both being offered with alternate choices also. The food & beverage selection has been designed in partnership with Qantas so hopefully we can expect a better offering than what is offered by AA on its domestic US flights.
The Premium Cabin (known as Main Cabin Extra) has a seat pitch of 36 inches (six inches more than Economy) and is a generous 18 inches wide as well. Cabin configuration is 2-3-2 and it's a relatively small cabin giving that more exclusive feeling. Divided from Economy with an open partition rather than a curtain, there's a definite separation and your own bathroom also. It's very comfortable but definitely a step up from Economy, rather than a cost-saving Business Class.
The Business Class cabin is next and it's configured as 1-2-1 (total of 52 suites) giving direct aisle access to every passenger. Your seat has an adjustable seatback, head and leg rest and will convert to a fully-flat bed with pj's, amenity kit and turn-down service provided. Due to the layout of the aircraft, a second, more intimate Business Class cabin is in front of the main part with just two rows, making it feel very private and quiet. Rows 3 & 4 are the ones to book to score this section of the cabin. Seat features in Business Class include a Do Not Disturb privacy button, shoe closet beneath the seat, magazine rack, foldout monitor and several cubby holes. Lots of well-designed storage options that have been lacking in previous AA aircraft. Unfortunately the aisle space in Business is not really sufficient with the potential for movement around the cabin to be quite restrictive and squishy. The self-serve food & beverage bar is open to passengers in Business and will be consistently stocked with canapes, tea, coffee and cold drinks (not alcohol) during the flight, where passengers can gather for a chat, and get snacks whenever they feel the need. It is not the lounge set up of Qantas' A380, it's really no bigger than the galley, but it's a nice touch and the food is good.
Moving into the pointy end of the plane, First Class is configured 1-2-1 in just two rows for a total of eight seats. Obviously this cabin is also very intimate and will be staffed sufficiently to give passengers the best service possible. A 17-inch touchscreen monitor for in-flight entertainment and increased menu selections are some of the other benefits. Seats in First can swivel to be facing a fold-out desk for passengers who wish to set up their laptop and get to work. Window seats are the choice to make here as the desk faces the window and really does give the ultimate 'room with a view'. The two seats in the centre aisle swivel toward each other.
A large tray table folds out from the arm rest, with a comfy stool opposite in case you'd like to invite a guest to join you for a meal. A turn-down service at night with amenity kit, pj's & slippers completes the first class service. A nice feature is that when seats are fully-flat there is access to a second set of more-easily reached controls to bring the seat back to a 'sitting' position when you're ready.
All staff were very welcoming throughout the tour, willing to explain all the features, answer questions and generally have a chat. They're looking forward to regular shifts flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, starting in December.
Ask your consultant to make sure you're booked on to this aircraft, it really is a step up from American Airlines' domestic offering within the USA. With its friendly staff and all the extra touches on-board it's definitely worth experiencing.