Review: American 787 Business Class Tokyo to Chicago

After  leisurely three hours in the fantastic JAL First Class lounge at Narita Airport, my delayed departure time for my return trip back home had arrived.  I made the pretty long haul from the JAL First lounge all the way to the AA departure gate for ORD.  It was the very last gate in the main terminal.  As I got to the gate, it was apparent that there would be an additional delay, so I took a seat.

Thirty minutes or so later, the crew boarded.  Another thirty minutes later, it was time to board.  The queue lined up pretty long for Business Class and Priority Access — and the gate agent didn’t really do a great job in organizing the boarding process, but what else is new?  Anyway, after this somewhat lengthy delay, it was time to enjoy the brand new American 787 Business Class.

American Airlines (AA) 154
Tokyo Narita (NRT) – Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Aircraft:  B787-8 Dreamliner
Seat:  5A (Business)
Monday, November 23, 2015
6:25PM – 3:15PM
Duration:  11:50

I boarded through door 2L, and hung a left to find my seat — seat 5A.  This is a window seat in the last row of the first business class cabin.  On the sparkling new American B787-8 Dreamliner, there are two business class cabins — the forward cabin has five rows and the smaller, second cabin has three rows.  Business class seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration.  Odd rows face forward, and even rows face backwards.

For this flight, I was able to select a forward-facing window seat.  It is quite similar to the wonderful business class seat on the American B777-300ER, but not identical.


Seat 5A in Business Class on the American Airlines B787-8 Dreamliner


Seat 5A on the AA Dreamliner


Taking a seat in the new AA Business Class seat on the AA B787-8


A seated view of seat 5A in the new AA Business Class on the B787-8 Dreamliner

As I took my seat, I found a menu, an amenity kit, slippers and some brand new Bose QC25 noise canceling headphones!  I was especially surprised to find the brand new Bose headphones, as all of the other AA flights that I had flown prior to then had the older model headphones.

In fact, I haven’t seen these on any airline so far, so I was quite impressed.  They were fantastic headphones, by the way.

Bose headphones, amenity kit and menu

Bose headphones, amenity kit and menu

New Bose Headphones!

New Bose QC25 Headphones!

New Headphones! Impressive!

New Headphones! Impressive!

As I finished up getting situated and storing my things, the flight attendant came by and offered me a glass of champagne to which I happily accepted.  I perused the outstanding inflight entertainment system (IFE) and selected a movie to watch.  American runs its IFE system while on the ground, so this allowed me to start a movie as we continued to board the aircraft at Narita.

Cheers! Pre-departure champagne

Cheers! Pre-departure champagne

The new seat itself was smartly designed.  Again, it was quite similar to the B777-300ER.  It did feel a little more confined — not quite as wide and not quite as much legroom.  The forward facing seats had less storage and “desk” space as did the backwards facing seats.  However, the forward seats were less contracted around the shoulders than the backwards-facing seats.

The seat featured an IFE control with another screen built-in on it.  It had very easy-to-use and intuitive seat controls that enabled the seat to be reclined to a comfortable position, and ultimately into a flat-bed.

Of course the electro-chromatic windows are one of the iconic features of the Dreamliner, so those were fun to play with.  One really cool feature was the ability to control the shading level of the massive B787 windows with your remote control — just in case you’re too lazy to lean forward and push the window button yourself!


IFE on the American B787-8 Dreamliner

Intuitive, LED seat and IFE controls

Intuitive, LED seat and IFE controls

Window controls on TV!

Window controls on TV!  Because pushing the buttons below the window is so 2012!

With a movie rolling, we completed boarding and began a slow taxi to the far side of NRT for our departure.  After what seemed like an hour, we finally were rolling down the runway bound for Chicago — about 2.5 hours behind schedule.

Drink services started promptly upon reaching cruise altitude.  This was appreciated, as I was pretty exhausted from my day in Tokyo, which followed a redeye flight the previous night in economy from Jakarta.  So I was ready to eat and sleep!

As per usual, I ordered a scotch.  I was served my scotch along with a ramekin of warm nuts.  Something stuck out to me about this drink service though — check the ice!

I was pumped to see massive ice cubes that were put in my Scotch.  I really, really enjoy a large ice cube with my scotch, so this was very much so appreciated.  Pity that the only Scotch being offered  is the ridiculously sub-par Dewars White.  It’s just not an international business class – style Scotch.  It’s just not.

Scotch and Warm Nuts

Scotch and Warm Nuts

Check out the huge ice cubes! Too bad the Scotch on AA sucks

Check out the huge ice cubes! Too bad the Scotch on AA sucks

The menu out of Narita is a bit different than from other cities, as a traditional Japanese meal choice is offered in addition to the standard business class meal.  Not feeling too adventurous, I went with the standard, Western-style catering.

The meal started with an appetizer and salad all on one tray.  The appetizer was a delicious and fresh shrimp cocktail along with a salad with a tasty Japanese sesame soy vinaigrette.   I really did enjoy the shrimp cocktail.


Appetizer and Salad Tray


Appetizer – Classic shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce


Salad – Seasonal greens with lotus root and a Japanese sesame soy vinaigrette.

Not many of the entrees really appealed to me, so I went with a steak (again).  As always, I hoped for a somewhat medium steak, but this one was overcooked.  It was; however, still tender and pretty tasty, all things considered.  I did enjoy the potatoes and green beans!


Entree Tray


Entrée – Grilled beef fillet with creamed mushroom sauce, chateau potatoes, green beans and red peppers

After the filet, I was pretty stuffed, but no flight is really complete without an ice cream sundae, is it? Of course not.  I indulged in a fully-loaded ice cream sundae before I put my seat into flat-bed mode and drifted off into a deep sleep.


Traditional Ice Cream Sundae


The AA B787-8 Dreamliner in nighttime mode!

As always, I slept amazingly on this flight, as I usually do.  I woke up pretty late — with only about 60 minutes left int he flight.  While I did sleep well, I found that the this version of AA Business Class featured a bit less legroom than the seat on the B777-300ER.  At 6’4″, my feet did hit the back of the footwell, which they did not on the B77W.

As requested, the flight attendant allowed me to sleep.  When I finally did wake up, she brought me my “light snack”  – which oddly resembled a breakfast.  The “light snack” was a quiche with breakfast meats and asparagus.  Oh — and a salad.

It was an odd combination, but was tasty and filling — certainly enough to fill me up for the afternoon.  Just an interesting combination for 3pm in the afternoon.


Potato and Ricotta Cheese Quiche with Canadian Bacon and sautéed peppers


Quiche.  And Canadian Bacon.  And Asparagus.  And a salad.  Because that makes sense.

I finished up breakfast or lunch — or whatever it was, and then changed my clothes and prepared for our arrival into Chicago.

Good morning

The AA B787-8 Dreamliner waking up from a long night NRT-ORD


American Airlines B787-8 Business Class Cabin


Seat 5A on the American Airlines B787-8 Dreamliner

As we approached Chicago, it was a beautifully clear afternoon with a fresh blanket of snow on the fields of Northern Illinois.

Approaching Chicago

Approaching Chicago on the AA B787-8 Dreamliner


The beautiful Chicago skyline

We passed just south of O’Hare and downtown before turning north and then back westward over Lake Michigan.  We finally touched down a chilly Chicago O’Hare about two hours late — but with time to space for me to make my connection to Washington National.

back home

Back in the US — well rested!

The Verdict…

Overall, this was a pretty great flight.  I certainly enjoyed it more than my outbound flight in economy on the same plane!  The seat is very good.  Certainly one of the better business class hard products that you’ll find and certainly a globally competitive product.  At the same time, this seat is NOT the B777-300ER seat.  It’s close, but it doesn’t have as much space.

Catering out of Narita was quite good, and the service was very good.  I thoroughly enjoyed this flight.

How I Booked It…

This flight was booked as part of a roundtrip between Washington and Jakarta.  This was part of a mileage run that I booked to top off my re-qualification for Executive Platinum Status for 2015.  My eVIP Systemwide upgrade was applied, and cleared about 30 hours prior to the NRT-ORD segment — only about five hours before my Jakarta to Tokyo flight.

5 Thoughts on “Review: American 787 Business Class Tokyo to Chicago

  1. Can you keep the Bose headphones after the flight?

  2. Jonathan on February 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm said:

    Appears that this is the seat used on the 772.

  3. My, oh, my, I can hope … I’m brand new to Platinum, and this morning I put in my upgrade request for Monday’s flight to Narita. It’ll cost me some miles and a few bucks, but it would be WONDERFUL to fly sleeper-class on the ORD-NRT leg!

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