Friday, January 4, 2013

NRT-LAX AA business class

One World lounge tour of Tokyo Narita
NRT-LAX AA business class
LAX AA Flagship Lounge
LAX-NRT AA business class
NRT JAL domestic Sakura lounge

American Airlines easily has the most rewarding frequent flyer program as top-tier Executive Platinum members are afforded first class lounge access and 8 systemwide upgrades (SWUs) that can be used on any and all AA revenue flights.  The versatility of these SWUs pretty much leaves United and Delta Airlines in the dust since both carriers enforce strict fare restrictions over the usage of SWUs on international flights.  Needless to say, I applied 2 SWUs towards my NRT-LAX segments, both of which cleared at the time of booking.  For United, you're likely to have to wait until you get to the boarding gate on the day of your flight to see if you got upgraded, and that's after booking a higher fare class just to eligible for the SWU.

Hard product
AA's transpacific biz class hard product is on the outdated side, with refreshers to flatbed suites coming within the next few years.  The seats are angled lie-flat, which are comfortable but awkward when it comes to sleeping.  Many carriers, including United and Delta, have already updated their long-haul biz class product to flatbed seats.

Seat controls
AVOD screen
The seat pitch was sufficient and significantly longer than ANA and JAL's biz class, which is tailored towards Japanese flyers.  However, United's flatbed seats and larger AVOD screen definitely come out on top.  AA offers biz passengers Bose QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones, which make a tremendous difference when listening to the AVOD system.  United, ANA, and JAL all used generic "noise-reducing" headsets, which barely even live up to their name.

A few hours after takeoff, food and drinks were served.  AA has a decent selection of alcoholic beverages, and I just opted for my standard white wine and champagne preference.
Wine list
I received a Japanese meal set, which needs to be preordered at least 24 hours before the time of departure.  It looks like I was the only passenger in the cabin who got the memo.
First off was the Starter, which consisted of a sushi roll and salmon and shrimp nigiri.
This is how all meals should start
Next was the Main Tray.  The thread fish entree had a good touch, whereas the other offerings were average.
Main Tray
Ice cream sundae topper
2 hours before landing, breakfast was served.  This was an obvious decision for me as the only choices were a spinach omelet or cereal.
All in all, the food was significantly better than United's, but definitely lagging behind the Japanese carriers'.  It would have helped if I was actually hungry, since I feasted for 6 hours in NRT's lounges.

Bottom line
The soft product was definitely better than United's, but United's flatbed seat hard product is the clear winner.  AA still has nothing when it comes to comparing with the Asian carrier heavyweights in terms of food and service, but neither do any of the other Western carriers.  Given the choice to fly in int'l biz again, my preference would rank with the following: JAL > ANA > AA > UA.  Considering that SWUs can be applied on even the most deeply discounted economy class fares, you really can't complain about AA's biz product since you essentially paid for an economy class seat.

Next up: LAX AA Flagship Lounge

1 comment:

  1. You didn't get the sake to go with your Japanese meal? For shame.