Review: American’s New 767 Lie Flat Business Class, Paris – New York JFK

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Entering the Charles de Gaulle airport was bedlam, there was just a sea of people landside and they all seemed as though they were completely aware of each other, all walking in different directions while a good portion of them stopped and looked around.

Travel can be very confusing but it seemed that a larger percentage of passengers than usual were disoriented on this morning.

After dodging and weaving around folks while I headed for passport control and security, I emerged airside and headed to the American Airlines lounge which was just renovated a couple of years ago.

Paris Charles de Gaulle American Airlines Admirals Club

Right between the Hermes and the Prada is an entryway where you can head upstairs to several airline lounges.

The lounge is stylistically similar to the newer lounge in Buenos Aires.

The best thing about Admirals Clubs abroad is actual food. It’s not the most ornate spread you’ll see, but certainly reasonable for a business class lounge for an American carrier.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?

Just off the buffet is a dining area, though since it’s a buffet you can eat where you wish and I’d rather sit in a less brightly lit area, and nearer the windows myself.

The lounge has plenty of seating.

And comfortable chairs by the window.

Well thought out outlets, too.

A place to freshen up.

In other words, a perfectly well provisioned and adequate lounge to wait for your flight.

The New 767 Business Class Seat

When I booked my flights, both Paris transatlantics were scheduled to be operated by old 767s. I flew an old 767 on my outbound from Chicago to Paris. The route was changed to a new 767 while I was abroad, but I actually changed by schedule to fly back through New York when there was a schedule change that created a long-ish connection at O’Hare. New York has the new seats as well.

And indeed the new business class cabin is gorgeous. It’s bright. And the seats are attractive.

The cabin features staggered seating – the seats are different from each other, with each row of middles alternating sides as to which seat has an outside armrest but less work space. And each row of window seats alternates the side on which it has its armrest and table.

Window seats are preferred, having the surface space and the armrest, but whether you want your armrest on the inside or the outside will vary with preferences- having the table on the outside gives the seat a more enclosed feeling, while on the inside gives you the more open space feel of what’s a more narrow seat than on the 777s.

The thing about the 767, of course, is that it’s much narrower than the 777.

  • Four across seating is much more generous than the old six across.
  • But each seat is narrower at four across on the 767 than four across on the 777.

And this means that while the seat is much improved over the old version, it’s far less preferred than the more generous 777 new seats across the Atlantic.

The new seat’s bed goes flat – almost, it does have some ‘kinks’ in it. There’s also a gap at the feet where there’s no cushioning, so the surface is uneven.

The button to raise my seat from recline didn’t work, so I had to use the button that moved the full seat back to original position and then adjust back down the legrest. Inefficient, but it was workable.

The biggest frustration stems from the nature of the 767 itself as much narrower than the 777, the seat in bed mode is so narrow I can only sleep on my side, and even then it feels tight.

In the strange, ‘someone must have thought through this in advance’ file, nearly everyone had to have the flight attendants put their trays in and put them back each time during the flight as virtually no one in the cabin could figure them out. They aren’t at all intuitive, I managed on my own but it was the sort of struggle I used to have with puzzles when I have 5 and hadn’t yet ever done any successfully.

Food and Amenities

While we were on the ground I changed into pajamas — American Airlines pajamas, from a flight I had received them in first class. It was a daytime flight, but a long enough one where I thought that would help me to get comfortable and settle in.

They give you Samsung Galaxy tablets for inflight entertainment.

The amenity kit has the same contents as in first class on those aircrafts equipped with the higher cabin.

One thing visibly missing, from this flight and from my Chicago – Paris flight, was slippers. American certainly used to give those to me transatlantic in business.

Menus were distributed for the flight: (Click to enlarge.)

We didn’t have any delay getting off the ground. Flight attendants were friendly and up and in the cabin pretty quickly once airborne.

They passed out hot towels. On these older aircraft it’s fairly hit or miss how those come out, though, and I usually decline — but given the cabin refresh I thought I’d try it. Unfortunately the towels came out with the same musty smell I often get onboard MD80s.

For the meal I had the prosciutto starter, followed by the fish.

The vegetables were mush, the rice like you microwave out of a frozen package. But the fish (albeit salty) may have been the best entrée I’ve eat in business class on a US airline, period. I was absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked!

Naturally I finished with the ice cream sundae.

For the pre-arrival snack I had the croque monsieur which was quite tasty.

Ultimately this was a good flight. The seat is better padded than old 763s (as you’d expect a newer seat to be!) and does go essentially flat. It has more workspace as well. But I will avoid it in favor of 777s whenever possible. I was thrilled with my entree, the crew was friendly, and the flight operated on time. So certainly good overall.


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. The funny thing is that the issue with putting away tray tables seems to be a universal complaint with this type of seat. I certainly experienced the same thing on Delta when they first introduced these seats on their 767s several years ago… and it is indeed surprising that the manufacturer hasn’t made any design changes since.

  2. Those seats are the same as Austrian Air’s new biz class in their 767 airplanes. The tray table took a few times for me to figure out.

  3. I have an upcoming flight on this for July (assuming American switches its Dallas-Paris flights to the new configuration by then), so thanks for this, Gary. A good, balanced review.

  4. Got through about half of the review before pulling the rip cord. Oh well. Intro about how you were the only one at CDG that knew your way around was completely unnecessary. We all know you are always the smartest guy in the room.

  5. Mark obviously got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning! Why bother even writing this? If Lucky had written it, you’d be gushing over his eloquence…Yawn.

  6. Why on earth would a lounge serve baked beans to people embarking on long flights? Is this a European thing?

  7. @ DWT —

    While I thought the button-activated, pop-out tray tables were easy enough to stow (with engraved instructions on the underside), Delta actually replaced them all with more conventional folding trays across the intercontinental 767 fleet. The new Delta design requires passengers to lift the tabletop to access the tray, which can be awkward if one already has a cocktail or other belongings resting on it. Regardless of the stowing difficulties, I’m surprised Delta replaced the original trays so quickly on newly refurbished planes.

  8. That lounge was packed when I came through in September for an 11:30 AM flight. Check-in was a zoo so we spent just 10 minutes in the lounge. Lots of AA/US flights leaving around the same time.

  9. @Charlie, I assume the beans are a component of an English breakfast. CDG catering is hit or miss.

    But Gary, I would have expected you to use the CX lounge next door. It’s got a noodle bar!

  10. Good review, though I have a couple of thoughts… Suggesting that the AA lounge at CDG “has plenty of seating” doesn’t match with my experience; the one time I used it the lounge was heaving, my wife and I literally couldn’t get two adjacent seats. One 767 to JFK was about to board with a 777 to DFW shortly thereafter (this was last summer when the 777 was brought back for a while). The lounge was woefully inadequate. We went next door to the CX lounge instead. 🙂 Also, that amenity kit is indeed the business kit, not the first one… The first one is the iPad-sized one, and it still has Dermalogica products. Or at least that’s what we got last summer. 🙂

  11. Thanks for sharing. Looks good, at CDG the Cathay lounge lounge is the way to go.

    I’ve taken this seat (sure looks a lot like it) on Austrian many times and I’m very happy with it, I’ve never felt cramped. If you pick the ones that has the armrest that can be folded up, there’s plenty of space to sleep on your back or side. With Austrian, the one seaters close to the window are the best, for the two in the middle, I’d take the one that doesn’t have a box on each side because those get cramped.

    http://www.red-blog.at/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/AUA_Sitz.jpg

    http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Austrian_Airlines/Austrian_Airlines_Boeing_767-300ER.php

  12. Hello,

    could you please indicate the flight number for NYC – Paris on the new 767 ? I see only flights 44 and 120 which have the older 757 and 737…

    thanks

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