Although you may wonder the relevance of a review of American domestic first class if you are not planning to fly in the US, this flight was 8 hours long and pretty reflective of what you would expect on a transatlantic long haul flight. You can read my recent review from Heathrow to New York on AA in business class here.
If you want to go to Hawaii on flatbed seats the whole way, flying via Dallas is one of the best options with American. The only drawback is that it does take a bit longer due to the detour to Dallas. Flying via Los Angeles is probably the quickest route, but you get a short-haul aircraft for the 5 hour flight. I will review this route as well.
I had flown from Heathrow the night before as there was no connection that worked with the flights to Dallas on the same day. However, I flew early the next morning at 10.30 and due to the time difference still arrived in Hawaii at 1.40pm. I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Dallas Irving North which was pretty good. I’d recommend the hotel if you have an overnight stay and want something cheap and close to the airport with a free shuttle.
In this post:
Some airports have a fancy Flagship check-in area, but at Dallas it was just a big standard American Check in area. There was no queue, and I was soon through to security. As I have TSA pre+check due to my Global Entry, it means I can use a separate queue and not take anything out of my bag, which is a massive bonus. Getting Global Entry is a bit tricky due to long wait times for an interview but worth it if you can. You can now do an interview on arrival without an appointment at many US airports which is worth considering.
There was no queue, and the person serving me was polite and friendly. I like that you get a notification of your bag tags from AA, and then it shows that it has been loaded. BA has finally started trialling something similar so let’s hope they get it up and running soon.
At Dallas, there are several options of lounge. There are two Admirals Clubs, but my first choice would be the Flagship Lounge. You can travel between the terminals using the airside transit train, which takes around 10 minutes between the furthest terminals. I didn’t have that much time, so I stuck with the Admirals Club near my gate. The lounge was a big standard AA Admirals club but clean, large and reasonably modern. Breakfast choices included bagels, fruit, scrambled eggs and potatoes. It was on the basic side but adequate.
Boarding American Airlines business class
As usual, this seemed to consist of a multitude of groups of people before they even got to Group 1. The gate area was pretty crowded, but I do find the boarding process effective if a little long-winded. Unlike BA, they do actually allow people to get up and start boarding before they start calling the next group. Once I boarded, I was directed to my seat and welcomed by the crew member in the first cabin. He was suitably attired for Hawai with a lei around his neck.
At the seat was a small washbag, a bottle of water and the menu. The washbag wasn’t quite what you call luxurious, but adequate for a day flight. There were socks, eyeshades, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand and body lotion and some ear plugs.
I was offered a welcome drink which was in a plastic cup which I always struggle with drinking “champagne” from as it just seems wrong. At least this one was wine glass-shaped, I guess.
American Airlines Business Class seat
The seat is the other of American Airlines long haul seats which is an alternating forward-and rear-facing Safran Concept D seat. I don’t like these quite as much as the Cirrus reverse herringbone configuration on the B777-300ER I reviewed here from London, but it is still a pretty decent seat. The layout is 1-2-1, but alternate seats face backwards. On a night flight, I’d choose a backwards seat as you are a little further from the aisle.
I was in row 1 in a forward-facing window seat as it was a day flight, so I did not intend to sleep. If it were a night flight, I would avoid this seat as it was right by the galley.
The seat had a touchscreen panel to adjust it, which was simple to use. You could move your seat backwards and forwards, which I always like and also request privacy. Overall I found the seat comfortable but a bit smaller and harder than the other business class seat. It was certainly more comfortable than the standard domestic recliner.
The storage could have been a bit better. There was a small shelf area by your shoulder and then a small side binn and a literature pocket.
The footrest was pretty small, so you couldn’t really store anything under that.
Sadly the seat area was not very clean, and I even found some rubbish at the bottom of a pocket. Yuck!
A Casper sleep set was left at the seat with a large pillow and silky quilt.
I did lie down briefly and found the seat OK for a rest, although it definitely felt a little narrow compared with other business class seats.
American Airlines Business Class Food and drink
I have to say I have always found AA a little hit-and-miss with service on domestic flights but this crew were spot on. Maybe the night stop in Honolulu was making them more cheery! I was also very impressed with the food and was surprised it was actually better than my London flight.
Here is the menu:
I started with a drink, and seeing I was headed to Hawaii, I thought a Mai Tai might be in order. These are ready-made from the On the Rocks brand.
Here is the drinks menu:
Before the drink arrived, my table was laid up, and a hot towel was offered.
Sadly it didn’t look or taste much like a Mai Tai, but it was pleasant enough. This, of course, came with AA’s standard warm nuts, which I always enjoy (BA take note).
I loved the menu, and the starter sounded right up my street. There is no choice of starter, but at least if you don’t like it you have the salad and bread. The salad was served with a choice of dressings with green goddess or balsamic from the cart, which I loved. I wonder why they don’t offer this from London? The prawns were very tasty, and it was a lovely fresh and zingy way to start the meal. I was also offered a choice of bread.
I enjoyed a glass of chardonnay with the starter. This was a fairly standard inoffensive US chardonnay which is what I would expect on AA. For the main, I went with the fried chicken with chilli sauce which was very tasty, and it was good to see beans that were still green and not overcooked.
It will be no surprise to regular readers that I, of course, went from the ice cream sundae for dessert. It was good to see that they had some Hawaiian influence with a tropical fruit option for one of the toppings, but I stuck with the standard hot fudge. It’s a very simple dessert but something that always feels like a treat and is not too heavy.
Later we were offered a second meal before landing. There was a choice of a BBQ beef wrap or a cheese and fruit plate. I was still full from the lunch, so I declined.
American Airlines Business Class Entertainment
Unlike the short-haul AA domestic flights, there was a full entertainment system on board. Again they seemed to have geared it towards the destination with some films that were relevant, like 50 First Dates, which is all set in Hawaii. The screen was a reasonable size and had average to good definition. There was a choice of plenty of recent films as well as a lot of Apple TV programs due to their tie-up with the brand. I quite like this as it allows you to try a couple of series and see if you like them (and then probably makes you buy Apple TV to finish watching them!).
Bang and Olufsen headphones were at the seat when I arrived, but as usual, they collected them very early, around one hour prior to landing and gave out cheap earphones instead. No other airline seems to do this, and it is one of the niggles that I have with AA as it is unnecessary.
The system had a modern controller with a separate screen, but I did find it a bit slow to use.
There were more than enough charging points for even the most tech-addicted person with two multi-country sockets and two USB points.
The wi-fi was quite pricey at $35 for the whole flight, but it worked well even over water which you don’t get on the short-haul aircraft since they are only designed for flying mainly over land and have a different wi-fi system so if you like to have wi-fi look for AA’s long haul aircraft.
Conclusion for American Airlines Business Class
While there were some things that could have better, such as the cleanliness and storage space, it was far superior than flying on a short haul aircraft from Los Angeles. The crew were great on the flight, attentive and friendly, plus the food was pretty decent too. I would definitely choose to fly via Dallas to Hawaii in the future, given the choice.