Who Has the Best Business Class Seat Across the Atlantic? The Answer May Surprise You

Best business class to Europe: Some will argue on a technicality that the best transatlantic business class belongs to Singapoe Airlines — they fly New York to Frankfurt with an Airbus A380 on a flight that continues to Singapore (not to mention their 777 flight from Houston to Moscow). But I’m not sure even that would be true.

Believe it or not, and with some caveats that I’ll note below, American Airlines probably has the best business class between North America and Europe right now. Wait before jumping out of your seat and just hear me out on this.

About six weeks ago American Airlines reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in flying on their new 777-300ER aircraft in business class when it began serving New York – London Heathrow. American believes it’s a great product and wants as many folks as possible that would be talking about it to see it, and I can understand why.

I’ve been very excited to try out the new product ever since it was announced, but to be clear (and since this has been a recent topic of discussion in the travel blogosphere) I didn’t accept a free ticket. They chose specific dates to propose for the trip since they were expected to be light loads and weren’t expected to trade off with paying passengers (and in fact my return flight – on a Wednesday at noon – was better than half empty in business class). So at the time I went ahead and purchased tickets and used my Executive Platinum “eVIP” confirmed international upgrades to get into business class.

While I paid for the ticket myself, I did have the extra opportunity to board the plane a few minutes early in New York in order to snap some photos, and also to sit down with some executives from American Airlines in London to see their strategy presentation (which didn’t contain much that was new).

Mostly I got to fly the new seats roundtrip, see the lounges in London (and I used the British Airways first class lounge on the way home, rather than American’s Flagship lounge).

The Seat

Back in December I wrote that business class is all about the seat. I explained the important elements of business class:

The key elements, to me, are that the seat is lie flat. And that the seat is lie flat. And that the seat is lie flat. And within that framework, it helps when the seat is lie flat. (I also want the seat to be a bit wider so I can turn over or stretch without hitting the side, and so I feel a bit less claustrophobic. I want an extra pillow and an extra blanket so that one can serve as a mattress pad. And a bit of actual storage space helps. But these are all distinguishing features that matter only once the seat is lie flat.)

And American hasn’t just put in a new lie flat seat, they’ve put in the best lie flat seat. It’s based on Cathay Pacific’s seat, and US Airways has an earlier generation of it. Not just true flat, but wide and private. Some airlines do eight seats across in business class, the previous American Airlines configuration was seven seats across. This is just four. Every seat has direct aisle access… two window seats and to seats together in the middle, each an aisle seat.

And the seats are gorgeous, comfortable, great for relaxing and for sleeping.

    best business class to europe

    best business class to europe

    best business class to europe

    best business class to europe

There’s also plenty of storage space — in the side of your seat down by your feet, underneath the ottoman, and in this cabinet at shoulder level. It’s a great place to store your headphones (you plug them in inside of here as well) ad your amenity kit. There’s a mirror in it too, which I found strange at first but you don’t have to wait for the lavatory for every little thing.. I actually like it.

Here’s the audio/video controls, seat controls, seat power, and a/v input jack in case you want to play your own entertainment over the inflight system at your seat.

And here it is in true lie flat mode. I grabbed an extra pillow from an empty seat, an extra blanket too. There’s no “bedding” in business class, but I made my own — I laid out a blanket over the seat for extra padding, and I used the second blanket on top of it as my covers. Two pillows, and I had a perfect bed that’s as good for sleeping as most I’ve had in first class.

The only knock I have on the seats, and it’s really more of a question mark, is how well they’ll wear over time. My seat on the outbound was pristine, but on the way back the light showing the seat was in full upright position would never display and a panel by my feet dangled off. Both easily fixed I’d imagine, and perhaps a fluke but these planes are new enough they should be perfect. Time will tell.

The Competitive Landscape

US Airways pioneered these seats and doesn’t really get enough credit for that. The American seat, based on the Cathay Pacific seat (arguably the best long haul business class in the world) is an evolution of that seat.

Delta uses the Sicma Aero Cirrus reverse herringbone seats in its 747s which mainly operate on Asia routes. Delta’s 777s use a standard herringbone configuration which aren’t as good, and the 767 seats (flying JFK-London) are a mish-mash at this point. I thought they had all been converted to lie flat seats of an earlier generation, but apparently 1/3rd are still recliner-style seats that I didn’t realize any major airlines were still flying on premium routes across the Atlantic (ugh, and I hadn’t really internalized that anyone was flying worse seats than the old angled American business seats.. I was wrong). Delta’s A330s will be receiving the Sicma Aero Cirrus seats, as I understand it, but I don’t follow Delta nearly as closely as American, United, British Airways, Lufthansa, etc.

While I do think American’s new business class is the very best across the Atlantic (with effectively the same seat as Cathay Pacific, I’d contend Cathay’s overall product is better and of course Cathay doesn’t fly Atlantic routes), the major drawback is that they simply don’t have it in very many planes yet and it’s going to take a while to roll it out.

Until American reaches critical mass with the product the top business offerings out there are the latest ex-Continental BusinessFirst seats, the Delta herringbone seats, and the Virgin Atlantic seats.

United’s legacy 777s are eight across in business (compared to four across with the new American 777s) which is just crazy. British Airways has you playing footsie with your neighbor downstairs on their 747s as well, though BA gets a shout out for really pioneering fully flat business. Swiss has a really good new seat, and Lufthansa’s new seat on just a few aircraft is decent enough. Air France is a real laggard with all angled seats (as American had until recently) though they’ve announced top shelf business seats coming, and KLM has announced new seats though not industry-leading ones.

American’s Rollout of Their New Seats

Each new 777-300ER entering the American fleet will have these seats. They’ll be operating six by summer, all on London routes, and expect 10 aircraft by the end of the year. Flights scheduled as 777-300ERs (often signified as “77W” on schedules as opposed to “777” for the 777-200s) will all have these seats and they’re operating on designated routes which should make booking flights on these aircraft generally reliable.

Their 767s will get fully lie flat seats, but it will be a different seat (presumably because the 767 is much narrower) and American hasn’t publicly announced what seat it will be.

Retrofitting of Ameican’s 777-200s and 767s won’t begin until 2014. The 772s are mainstay of the international fleet, and will be losing their first class cabin. The 767s operate the thinner routes.

Amenities

The amenity kit at my seat was spot on for a business class offering — some skin care products, I’m happy with just lip balm personally. A single use tooth brush with tooth paste. There were socks ancks and ear plugs, though for my outbound flight slippers weren’t provided (fortunately I happened to bring my own – a very strange happenstance but there you go). And a moderately-reusable case.

I thought the lavatories were attractively adorned. And the lav on the right hand side of the business cabin was huge, perfect for changing in and out of pajamas (bring your own, those don’t come standard for business class passengers!)

American’s 777-300ERs are equipped with inflight internet. At this point it’s free, which may have been the problem I ran into on my return flight (on my outbound I just slept) — service was as good leaving London as I’ve ever experienced on a flight but then it slowed to a crawl and wouldn’t function at all. I wondered if it was everyone on the flight trying to use it since it wasn’t costing them anything. For a couple of hours in the middle of the flight for all intents and purposes the internet just didn’t work. But it got a little better, and I realized just how revolutionary this would be. I normally get off a long haul completely overwhelmed by the work and correspondence I’ve missed. For a Westbound transatlantic that’s during the business day even. This changes all that. They need to get the bandwidth up to speed though.

The business class cabin has a bar area where flight attendants put out midflight snacks. I missed it completely on the outbound, choosing to nap instead, but I paid it a visit on the return and I was really impressed by everything they had on offer — much richer and more extensive snacks than I’ve seen in business class before.

Meal Service

The overnight service from New York to London starts with dinner after takeoff and ends with breakfast. I was asked whether I wanted to be woken for breakfast and after looking at the menu I decided not to be. It’s a short flight, they don’t need to serve two substantive meals, and breakfast is very much light fare.

That’s consistent with what you get on British Airways and on Air France. Although any time I hear ‘breakfast’ I really do want a hot option, and in my perfect world not just eggs. But then I remind myself that this is business class, and my meal expectations reset somewhat.

The menu for the outbound was as follows:

Starter
Smoked salmon with spring pea blinis and cream cheese

Salad
Seasonal greens with fresh vegetables feta and pepperoncini
Sour cream and herb dressing or Premium extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Assorted gourmet breads

Entrees
Beef fillet
Crusted in Boursin cheese served with wilted spinach, balsamic grilled tomatoes and whipped potatoes

Red Thai Curry Chicken
Accompanied by jasmine rice

Chip Crusted Halibut
Served with thyme red pepper sauce, parsley, caper cream sauce, pan-roasted paprika potatoes, haricots verts with shallots and vegetable medley

Brie and Leek Ravioli Pasta
With San Marzano tomato sauce and vegetable medly

Dine Upon Request
You may choose one of the featured entrees to be served with an appetizer and dessert, presented all at once, at any time you wish.

Dessert
Traditional Ice Cream Sundae
Vanilla ice cream with your choice of hot fudge, butterscotch or seasonable berry toppings whipped cream and pecans

Gourmet cheese plate
An assortment of fine cheeses with garnishes

Breakfast
Breakfast breads
Fresh seasonal fruit

Entrees
Yogurt
Fruit yogurt

Cereal
Kellogg’s cereal with milk

Express Breakfast
Served 45 minutes prior to landing to allow you to sleep as long as possible
Warm breakfast breads, seasonal fruit, and your choice of beverage

I had the salmon appetizer which was perfectly good. I thought about having the express dining option but wanted to see it in courses. I skipped the salad though I was just too tired and really not that hungry even though it had been quite awhile since I’d eaten.

My entrée choice was the chicken, and I admit I was expecting a bit more red curry and a bit more spice. It was fine, some might even consider it good, but relative to what I was expecting from he description of a Thai red curry chicken I was sort of disappointed.

I can’t turn down an ice cream sundae though. But it came out too frozen, I enjoyed the topping and the outer edges of the ice cream, but I simply gave up on the rest which is probably for the best since the scoop of ice cream was gigantic.

For the return trip lunch began with a tandoori shrimp appetizer.

And one of the best steaks I’ve eaten on a plane, at least that I can recall. (I wonder if I was grading on a curve for business class, and from an American carrier, but I don’t think so — It was cooked absolutely perfectly.)

My Flight Experience – Weather Delays, Inconsistent Crew, Great Sleep, and Total Comfort

I shared the outbound flight with Lucky from One Mile at a Time and Seth Kaplan from Airline Weekly. Which actually turned out to be a lot of fun, because we had a good deal to chat about over the course of what became a really long weather delay.

We were scheduled to be the 7pm departure out of New York, but there was a pretty bad storm passing through and the plane was icing up. We had to wait awhile to push back and get de-iced. At our gate we were boxed in by Air Berlin, and they had their de-icing ahead of us.

Once that was done we finally taxied out, but the congestion on the ground at JFK was pretty bad and it took too long for us to get to the runway. Once we passed 25 minutes of taxing we had to return to the gate to be de-iced again. But given the likelihood of long taxi times still, we had to wait things out a bit. The temperatures were rising so once we de-iced a second time there wouldn’t be a time limit within which we had to takeoff.

Each time we waited at the gate they opened the doors and allowed folks off. This also made the wait time longer, but it kept resetting the clock on the four hour tarmac delay rule. Some passengers got testy, some left the plane voluntarily and one left the plane… not voluntarily. Apparently she was berating flight attendants for their failure to anticipate the delay better. Four Port Authority officers came onboard to escort her off.

Meanwhile we were chatting away. I felt a little self-conscious, immediately after boarding I changed into a pair of American Airlines pajamas. They don’t offer PJs to business class passengers of course but I’ve held onto the same pair and flown with them to Brazil in American business, to Paris with Air France, they’re one of my favorite pairs of airline pajamas and they wash well and last. So there I was in my PJs…

Except Lucky was in his American PJs as well. And so was Seth. We had all brought our own, and it wasn’t planned or coordinated. Given that I didn’t feel that self-conscious about it, though it probably was a spectacle for the other passengers.

All in all I was actually happy for the delay. I had really wanted to try out the seat on a flight much longer than New York – London. I wanted to know how it would fare on a transpacific flight. And more or less I got that — the delay and flight time meant I was onboard nearly 12 hours.

Once in the air I ate dinner and promptly went to bed. I found the crew a bit testy, and I had to ring the call button a couple of times during the flight to get water, but this was business class and all about the seat. Which was great — I slept four hours.

I don’t like 7pm transatlantic departures from the East Coast since I’m not tired enough yet to fall asleep, and the flight is so short that if I can’t fall asleep right away I won’t sleep very long. Since we wound up pushing back for the last time just after midnight I was ready for bed. I got a true solid rest, and true to their word the flight attendants didn’t wake me for breakfast. I got up about 30 minutes out from London, changed out of my pajamas and back into street clothes, and soon enough we were on the ground.

The return flight was a different experience entirely. It was a day flight — a noon departure which meant I wouldn’t be sleeping. I’d have a chance to try out the onboard internet, eat, snack, and watch some movies. And see how comfortable the seat was for relaxing, not just sleeping. And I had one of the best flights of my life.

I returned on a different flight from Lucky and Seth. And I’m glad I had the flight that I did because the cabin was mostly empty and the crew was in fantastic spirits. The flight attendant serving my aisle, Vanessa, could easily have been working Singapore Airlines first class and would have been a standout there.

That’s the thing about crews with US-based airlines — there are some really wonderful flight attendants, there are some really surly ones, and it’s luck of the draw and there long seems little that the airlines can do about it. But on this one I scored. She was attentive, kept my drinks refilled, kept encouraging me to eat things and try things. She was there just the right amount and at the right times. And her colleagues were equally welcoming and engaging. Whereas the crew on the outbound was a little bit grumpy even before the delay, on the return it was a party.

And as if to underscore that very idea, the lighting theme they selected on the touch screen controller was the pre-programmed “AA Party”

The flight passed almost too quickly, we got into New York a bit early. And I left truly looking forward to giving the product another spin.

What This All Means Going Forward

I slept as well in American’s new business class seat as I do in British Airways first. The seat offers excellent privacy, good inflight entertainment, and though connectivity was a bit glitchy having internet across the Atlantic was amazing (American is hardly the first with this, I think Lufthansa has it on the most aircraft).

It’s going to take way too long to roll out the product. But they begin by focusing mostly on the London market with their new aircraft. Before, Delta’s 767s were the worst regular frequency New York-London but American was certainly a carrier to avoid as well compared to British Airways, Virgin, and United. Now American’s 777-300ER is the preferred service and business travelers will be angling with their travel departments to get onto those flight (the usual game of being very very specific about flight times and coming up with excuses about why other options just don’t work).

The good thing is that all 777-300ERs, designated as 77W in schedules, have the new seats since they’re brand new aircraft delivered fresh. And there shouldn’t under normal circumstances be aircraft swaps to other planes. If you’re booking far in advance there’s risk of course of a schedule change, including change of aircraft type. But for the most part booking the new business in the new plane is a safe bet.

On most flights most days American has been conservative about releasing upgrade seats far in advance, they’ve seen the new seats selling well. But in most cases and on all but the most popular flights they should clear some upgrades and that makes American’s Executive Platinums happy. Currently Executive Platinums receive 8 upgrades annually that are valid on any American flight from any fare. With these seats those certificates are the most valuable perk in the world of travel

American wasn’t the first with these seats and they don’t have enough of them yet. But it’s the best version of the seat, I think, and there are really three competitors –two of which are flying the seat almost exclusively over the Pacific (Cathay Pacific, Delta) and the other (US Airways) is a slightly earlier generation of the seat and incrementally behind in other areas as well.

Which gives American the best business class product between US and Europe. A title I find strange bestowing on them, but that they’ve earned with this seat. Now they just have to make it available on more planes and more routes.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Even if seat/IFE/service is good, I’m sure, in a few months, AA won’t hold a candle to SQ (Singapore). Please ask your readers to advise when the ‘honeymoon’ is over.

  2. @dhammer53 – the comparison to Singapore was sort of a joke, they offer ONE flight from the US to Europe are are not at all the point of the post. 😉

  3. Thank you for paying for your flights. I am disappointed in Lucky’s choice tp accept the freebie, and it speaks to your integrity that you chose to turn the freebie down. Way to go.

  4. Gary, what lounge did you hit when arriving in London? If you arrive at 2p, the AA lounge is closed. Any other options for ex plats traveling in J?

  5. I do not regard Lucky’s reviews as in any way influenced by taking a free trip. I think his reviews are probably the very best out there.

    My understanding is that his invitation came much later and he wouldn’t have been in a position to buy/confirm upgrades.

    Plus I have additional reasons not to accept the trip. I’m not just a blogger, I also manage voting for the Freddie Awards. I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking such a trip during the Freddies voting! Even though it wouldn’t be able to influence the outcome, we have a process that insures that, I was afraid there’d be perception problems there. So I came out of pocket to avoid that.

    Truly I didn’t mean to be drawing contrast with anyone who took the trip, and I don’t mean to suggest it’s improper to do so. I would have to consider carefully, under different circumstances, whether I would take a different approach myself.

    Believe me, forking over the cash and dipping into my limited stash of upgrades didn’t feel good ! 🙂

  6. @Michael are you connecting? On whom? British Airways has a first class lounge in terminal 3 that’s quite nice and relatively underutilized. You have access to that as an Executive Platinum.

  7. UA’s 8 across is cramped, I avoid if I can now, I’m hopefully trying the new LH seat in a few days. What is the reduction in total number of business seats for the older aircraft?

  8. Is the information on Delta meant to confuse? You write “Delta uses the Sicma Aero Cirrus reverse herringbone seats in its 747s which mainly operate on Asia routes.” Those of us who do fly Delta know that these are essentially the same seats that you’re reviewing here. However, you only ever use the brand name for these seats in the Delta section, and I can’t find any indication to help your reader understand that these are the same seats. I think it would only be fair to make an edit to make that clear.

    The other issue is a complete failure to understand Delta’s 767 situation. Delta is one of only two carriers to operate the 767-400ER. Those have been outfitted with 1-2-1 flat bed seats for several years at this stage and have been devoted to the LHR routes. (Ever since they had enough aircraft fitted with these seats, Delta has advertised flat beds in BusinessElite on all flights to/from LHR.) As they’ve installed the same seats on their 767-300ER fleet, they have adjusted capacity on some LHR routes to use these smaller aircraft. Thus some of the JFK-LHR flights at certain times of the year will be on a 767-300ER, but they will have flat bed seats. You are correct that there are still some recliner-style seats flying, but the number is rapidly dropping. Less than 1/3 of the aircraft still have the old seats (counting those out of service for modifications as having the new seats). By peak summer season there will just be a few left, mainly flying to low-yield leisure destinations. By year’s end, they’ll be done. The A330s will get the same seats as the 747-400s (and AA 77W/CX/US) during 2014.

  9. @Mitch — not meant to confuse at all! That’s why I explained that Delta has these seats (same basic model, different trimmings) on their 747s and are putting them on the long haul Airbus planes too. Currently the seats operate on the Pacific routes primarily.

    But the 767s do NOT have the ‘same’ seats. The refurbished 76’s have good lie flat seats but you cannot put THESE seats on a 767 in 1-2-1 configuration, there simply isn’t enough room (that plane isn’t wide enough).

    Delta has converted about 2/3rds of their 763 fleet. One-third remains in ancient cradle/lounge chair configuration.

  10. @Nick – the 777-300s of course aren’t getting a reduction since they’re a brand new plane for the fleet. They have 52 business class seats.

    The 777-200s I believe will have 45 business class seats. Currently they offer 37 in business + 16 in first. Fewer premium seats but more business seats.

  11. @Adam that certainly wouldn’t match my experience 🙂 though Alitalia does have better seats than they used to! And Iberia is getting new seats, too…

  12. @Gary I don’t see where you indicate that Delta’s 747 seats are the same with different trimmings in the body of the post. I think that’s a critical omission (even though you are correct that they basically do NRT, NGO/MNL, and TLV).

    I certainly didn’t mean to imply that these reverse herringbone seats were on Delta’s 767s, but I can see how you could infer that from what I wrote. You are correct that the seats are different. I still think that they’re great seats, affording direct aisle access to all. (I’ve flown them. Perhaps someday you could try flying Delta to actual make comparisons rather than just speculating.) My main criticism about your comments on Delta’s 767 fleet was that you implied that the 767s flying JFK-LHR could have the old recliner seats. That is simply not the case. The LHR aircraft are guaranteed to have flat beds, and they’ll pull an aircraft off another route to ensure it if need be. In fact, when operating 2x daily BOS-LHR briefly, DL put a 757 on one departure and sold it as all Y because they didn’t want anyone buying the recliner seats thinking they were flat bed seats.

  13. @Gary, I have been looking for flights from DFW to FRA on AA new business class for early October of this year, and I see nearly no availability. Do you know if AA is releasing limited Saver availability?

    Thanks for the post, very helpful!

  14. Gary, no I’m on the 7:45 from lax-LHR and am not connecting but will probably clear fast track customs after 2p

  15. Isn’t this is all semantics? It seems to me like they’re just creeping the hard and soft products closer and closer to first, while continuing to call it business so that businesses will continue to buy the product for their employees without blinking an eye. So it’s basically “remonetizing first class” by giving the passengers first class, but calling it something that those writing the checks are willing to pay for…

  16. Great report — can’t wait to try them out!

    You mention that the six 777-300s will be flying only on London routes this summer, but I believe they will also be doing the evening flight from JFK to Sao Paulo.

  17. @Gary – I recently rode in the new Business on AA50 and 51 (DFW-LHR-DFW). I was very impressed as well and can’t wait to fly it again. A couple of other items you did not note. First of all it is very private (compared to other AA business). You cannot see anyone else’s face while you are sitting in your seat. Great for individuals, but not great if you are traveling with someone else. The new three prong audio does not work well if you only have standard earbuds (needed when the Bose headphones are not available) – you only get the left or right channel. Because the business cabin is spread out over 11 and 2 rows with only four seats per row, there is an overabundance of overhead bin space. You will definitely be able to place your bag by your seat. The video monitor is very big and has a touch screen interface. However, the screen is not as responsive as we have become accustomed to on iPads, etc. and can be a little difficult to operate. I agree with you completely on the bed – very comfortable and I slept soundly.

  18. I noticed the arm rest is pointing away from the seat,any observation or comments when you are sitting/lounging ?

  19. @Jim L – I didn’t note, AA does indeed give out Bose headsets. I didn’t use them, I use my own headset and used a two prong connector which worked fine for me (maybe I just am not as attuned to noticing the difference)

  20. @CW I think you’re offering up semantics 🙂 But no, while business class is getting better and better and more and more like what first class used to be, first class on non-US carriers is getting more and more impressive. Certainly business fares aren’t higher than 15 years ago despite the advances, at least that I’ve noticed.

  21. @Michael there’s not an available ARRIVALS lounge after 2pm that I’m aware of for you to use, just head straight to your hotel by then I’d imagine..

  22. To clarify, I mean semantics on the airlines’ part, not yours 🙂 . If the price to the consumer is the same and the product is getting better, you won’t hear any complaints here!

  23. @Jacob award availability is really tough to come by on the new AA business class. But DFW-FRA is scheduled to be the old 777 in any case

  24. Gary,great review and my first thought was it is similar with Cathy business that I love.

  25. @Gary
    As John777 mentioned, the new 77Ws are operating JFK-GRU as of last Monday (they were on DFW-GRU before).

  26. uh oh…are you turning in Lucky? 😉 I still don’t get it. A hard product (ie: just the seat) is good enough to make it the best business class?? To me, being the best encompasses everything, the service, the food, the IFE, the seat, the FAs who serve you. You mentioned SQ at the beginning of your post and that’s it. If you’re gonna compare it to SQ, at least mention why you think it’s better than SQ.

  27. Gary, I thought that was the case. As a One World emerald, I thought I could enter BA Arrivals, but I guess not.

  28. What are your thoughts about Air Canada business class? I have an upcoming award ticket to Europe booked on Air Canada because it seemed the best product of the available Star Alliance options I saw at time of booking.

  29. I REALLY hope you’re joking about SQ.

    At 30″ wide seat, actual leather, 15.4″ AVOD TV, upper deck of A380, the same 1-2-1 all aisle access, amenities like “book the cook”, and a seat that faces straight forward (instead of angled like AA/CX), it’s definitely far superior.

    No need to drool over 2 planes on AA with a flat bed seat. Both DL and UA have around 100 planes each that have flat bed.

  30. @Mitch you said “I don’t see where you indicate that Delta’s 747 seats are the same with different trimmings in the body of the post. I think that’s a critical omission (even though you are correct that they basically do NRT, NGO/MNL, and TLV).”

    My discussion of Delta’s seats followed immediately after the US AIrways and Cathay Pacific seats, all of which are the same brand, I named the brand – said Delta had them — and that they mainly fly them across the Pacific. I’m glad we agree on that, and sorry if the way I wrote that seemed confusing, the entire POINT of the paragraph was to communicate this.

    Delta’s 767 seats do not at all compare to the reverse herringbone seats that US Airways, Cathay Pacific, and now American have. Though they are good seats. As I intended to communicate.

  31. @Denis – I knew they had been flying DFW-GRU and that was pulled, and I wrote much of this two weeks ago and didn’t realize they were still serving GRU! Thanks for the correction!

  32. @oneeyejack – i am very clear in my post that business class is all 100% about the seat, the rest was fine/good but to me – and i say this – the only thing that matters in business is the seat, and i’ve never flown in a business class that actually truly impressed me in some other way. Though I was happy with the amenities and food on these flights and didn’t think them any worse than anything i’ve gotten from other good business products for sure

  33. @Jackie I meant to suggest that SQ doesn’t count! I threw it in their as possibly winning “on a technicality” but they aren’t really a transatlantic carrier — we’re talking 1 flight a day on the A380

    And the UA business class seats have nothing on these. And it’s not just two planes anymore, there’ll be 6 operating ex-London by summer and 10 in the fleet by year end. As I say in the post, not nearly fast enough

  34. @Gary You name the brand only in the context of Delta. You never once say that the US/AA/CX seat is the Sicma Aero Cirrus seat. You say Delta has this very specific brand of reverse herringbone seat but never actually equate it with the US/AA/CX seat, despite DL having it on all of their 747s before AA had it on a single aircraft. A reader unfamiliar with these things is unlikely to understand that they’re the same seat with some minor variations. Instead, they would take away that they’re reverse herringbone seats, which suggests that they’re probably similar in a lot of ways but not necessarily to the degree they actually are. You and lucky spend a lot of time writing about the CX/US/AA seat when it really should be the US/CX/DL/AA seat.

  35. @Mitch – “You and lucky spend a lot of time writing about the CX/US/AA seat when it really should be the US/CX/DL/AA seat.” Frankly I disagree. That Cathay and Delta have these seat is a minor footnote in the post which is about business class between the US and Europe. Delta doesn’t compete with this seat across the Atlantic. I tried to give context about other carriers offering similar products, and that’s the context I discuss Delta. Again, it’s possible I was unclear (I realize you think so) but it wasn’t meant to be so, and I was writing the way I write, which I guess is sometimes muddled and certainly oft-riddled with spelling mistakes. 🙂

    And I was never claiming AA was the first with these seats, I state pretty clearly that US deserves a lot more credit for that than they get (although I think AA’s are better than the ones US began installing a few years ago)

  36. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Brussel’s and Austrian’s new seat in your assessment of the competitive landscape, or Turkish for that matter.

  37. I will be flying Delta DTW to FRA on a 767-400 with the new seats and am looking forward to it. Unfortunatly Delta does still use recliner seats on the SEA to AMS rout which is just stupid as it is an almost 11 hour flight and always full.

  38. Glad AA has finally upgraded to some sort of lie-flat!

    I agree with Mitch that the DL portion does come off as confusing. The casual reader doesn’t realize that the “Sicma Aero Cirrus” is the same as what AA just installed unless they google the product or read heavily into the context of the piece.

    I think the larger point that Mitch is trying to make is that Delta really doesn’t get enough credit on the blog (or others). While this may not be the best entry to make that point (DL only has a these seats on JFK-TLV and TPAC routes), I’d like to see some comprehensive reviews of DL when possible.. perhaps coverage on the DL 767s lie-flats across the Atlantic, or a comparison of business class seats across the Pacific (where seat design makes an even larger difference as those flights regularly approach 12-14 hours, and where DL would beat UA/AA by a long shot).

    Overall, one could argue that DL is allocating it’s resources in the best manner. Better seats on TPAC routes has the potential to draw more revenue. Furthermore, offerings on TPAC flights face harsher competition by Asian and Mid-Eastern carriers. In my mind, TATL flights are too short for seats to really make a huge difference and in most cases, scheduling/frequency/routes is the most important factor. I know you disagree as you’ve written “Business Class is All About the Seat,” but given DL’s current resources, it makes the most sense to put the best seats on their longest flights and compete with route/scheduling/service on the shorter ones.

    No question that these seats from JFK-LHR are a nice way to fly, and I for one am happy to see some lie-flats finally on AA, even if it’s many years late to the game.

  39. “US Airways pioneered these seats and doesn’t really get enough credit for that.”

    Including from you in this post.

    AA’s got a very good seat on one or two flights a day. US has more or less the identical seat on more than a dozen. AA’s can’t be better enough to make up for the fact that it isn’t nearly as widely available to fly on.

  40. Gary, have you been on a SQ long haul business class seat yet on the 77W or 388? You can’t even compare the “technicality” if you haven’t been on it yet! Looking through your TRs it doesn’t seem like you have but I could be wrong.

  41. Gary, do you see AA will put their 77W on the transpacific routes when Boeing deliver more in the near future? Probably NRT/HND route first?

  42. Very nice post, Gary. Though I view the US takeover of AA with great trepidation, one thing I am relatively unconcerned about is the implications for J class in that the two airlines employ the same basic, superior seats. Of course, we could still see shenanigans such as the new management slowing down what already promises to be a drawn-out conversion process in order to save money. I hope that fear is unfounded.

  43. @Steve they’re likely to go wherever the yields are… NRT before PEK/PVG for sure but they’re already focused on GRU

  44. @Seth Miller – I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for a long time that US Airways hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves for rolling out its seat! And no question US has more good seats than AA does at this point, but IMHO the AA seat that is just now rolling out is superior

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