I had about 90 minutes to kill in the American FlAAgship First Class Lounge at JFK, and I spent that time catching up on e-mails, and downing some Glinlivet prior to by overnight flight on the American new 777 -200 Business Class from New York to Rio.
I do always enjoy spending time in this lounge, as there are plenty of nice food and beverage options, so my time spent here went by pretty quickly. I headed to the gate at the published boarding time – 50 minutes prior to departure, and the plane had already been pretty much fully boarded. As such, I was one of the last people to board the plane.
American Airlines (AA) 973
New York (JFK) – Rio de Janeiro (GIG)
Seat: 9L (Business)
Friday, December 4, 2015
9:35PM – 10:22AM (+1 day)
I boarded through door 2L, and turned right into a super empty, second business class cabin on this newly reconfigured B777-200. Upon first look, the product was nearly identical to the seat found on American’s sparkling new B787-8 Dreamliner, which I had flown less than two weeks prior to this flight. Since on that flight, I flew in a forwards-facing seat, I decided to select a backwards-facing seat on this flight to see the difference.
The backwards-facing seat has more “desk” space and storage, but the seat itself is considerably more constricted than that of the forward-facing seats. With that said, these seats also feel a little more private, and they have a much better angle from which to view out the window, if that’s important to you. The seat controls were virtually identical to those on the B787.
Overall, this cabin is configured in a 1-2-1 format, providing direct aisle access to all passengers. There are two business class cabins, and on this flight, I was situated in the second of the two cabins, three rows back on the starboard — or right side (facing forward).
As I took my seat, I found a menu and an amenity kit. The Bose headphones were conspicuously missing, and ultimately wouldn’t be delivered until after we took off — and this was annoying, since it prevented me from starting a movie immediately at the gate. I didn’t bring my own headphones since I knew that there would be Bose headphones provided onboard. Considering that this was an evening flight, it proved to be a significant inconvenience and annoyance – especially considering the extremely light load in business class that evening.
Though headphones were not delivered as we sat at the gate at JFK, a pre-departure glass of champagne was. I enjoyed a couple of them as the flight attendants prepped the cabin for departure.
Once boarding was complete, we finally departed for Rio after a little bit of a delay. These backwards facing seats made it much easier to see out the window, and this was particularly useful to see the evening traffic at JFK, and because movie time wasn’t happening due to the lack of headphones.
After we reached cruising altitude, the headphones were finally distributed, and dinner service began with a scotch and warm nuts. I started my second of several attempts to watch the latest Mission Impossible movie as the meal service continued.
As per usual on American, the appetizer and salad were presented on the same tray. The appetizer of beets, quinoa and goat cheese was decent enough, though I’m not a huge fan of the goat cheese, so I picked around it. The flight attendant gave me extra pretzel rolls, which were greatly appreciated.
The salad was quite small, but was pretty fresh and tasty with the poppyseed dressing.
For the entree, I was in the mood for something somewhat light. So I went with the teriyaki chicken. When the plate arrived, it looked as though something had died and was plopped on my plate. I mean seriously — my plate looked like a crime scene.
Despite the dismal presentation of the dish, the chicken was actually pretty good, though the Teriyaki sauce was overwhelmingly sweet. I really liked the wasabi mashed potatoes, and the vegetables were fine. Overall, it filled me up — even though it was really pretty disturbing to look at.
The real shock of the flight came with my dessert choice: I didn’t order the ice cream sundae. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t. I’ll blame it on the scotch. Instead, I took the flight attendant up on her offer of a “tiramisu” though it was listed on the menu as a “cappuccino mousse cake”. Same thing, I guess.
Anyway, the dessert was a nice change, and was pretty light — which was good considering I was stuffed and tired at that point.
Once dinner service was complete, I reclined my seat and tried to keep my eyes open to finish Mission Impossible 5.
I woke up in the half reclined position sometime int he middle of the night, and then put my seat into flat-bed mode for a comfortable night sleep.
I slept a pretty deep sleep, as I do normally on airplanes. I will say though that the legroom when flat isn’t quite as good as on the B777-300ER, as me feet did touch the edge of the “foot cubby” just as they did in the B787 seat.
Despite this, I still slept really well.
The flight attendants woke everybody up about 60 minutes prior to landing, which was appreciated. I ordered the omelette, and it was nothing special. It was labeled as a “Three Cheese and Poblano Pepper Omelette” but tasted just like a normal, cheese omelette that you may be served for breakfast in domestic first class — not that great.
I downed a Diet Coke with breakfast and then freshened up before landing. Headphones were collected immediately following breakfast, which is standard on American, but annoying.
Note to self: I really need to start bringing my own headphones, because this procedure practiced by AA annoys me every time I fly in business.
It was a somewhat clear, early Summer morning in Rio, so the views upon arrival were great. The standard blanket of smog blanketed the area around downtown Rio de Janeiro.
We landed smoothly into Rio and pulled into our gate after a short taxi, more or less on-time, and I made a bee-line to meet friends at Ipanema.
This was a perfectly comfortable and enjoyable way to fly to Rio. Since I am lucky enough to fly AA in business quite frequently, I’m able to compare and critique a little more stringently than I otherwise would, so do keep that in mind when taking in my opinions.
Flights down to South America are always a bit easier than Europe since you aren’t transiting many timezones, which reduces jet lag to basically nil.
The seat on this newly configured B777-200 is nearly identical to that of the B787-8 Dreamliner, but the plane is clearly not as new — though even the bathrooms and galleys were refurbished.
Catering wasn’t the greatest on this flight, and service was noticeably unmemorable.
How I Booked It…
This flight was booked as part of a roundtrip between Washington and Rio de Janeiro for a great deal of around $435, round-trip. My eVIP Systemwide upgrade was applied, and cleared about 26 hours prior to departure.