Review: American’s New Boeing 777-200 Business Class Seat

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the inexpensive flight where everyone could confirm an upgrade to business class for free.

Historically when American flies 3-cabin equipment domestically but sells the flights as 2-cabin (anything except for New York – Los Angeles/San Francisco and Miami – Los Angeles) elites and passengers on full fare tickets have been able to assign themselves seats in the business class cabin. That’s business class seating but economy service. Then upgrades are to international first class (with domestic first service).

On the Dallas – Miami route it was possible for anyone to assign themselves a seat in business class. I do have elite status, but saw the business class seat map for assigning seats even when logged in as a guest.

I flew Miami – Dallas this morning and assigned myself to a nice aisle seat in the old angled business class seats.

Upgrades weren’t looking good. A couple of weeks out one “A” (confirmable upgrade) seat appeared and I considered grabbing it with an upgrade instrument, just because. But since I already had a business seat for a flight that was just to Dallas, I didn’t bother. The flight at the time showed 5 unsold business seats.

The morning of my flight, four hours out, it showed only one first class seat for sale. I was number one on the upgrade list so I figured there was still a shot.

Then 90 minutes out my upgrade cleared. I didn’t even have to wait until the gate. The funny thing? So did upgrades for 9 other people!

To my surprise the aircraft was swapped for a refurbished 777-200, so that meant I’d finally get to try the 777-200 business class seat!

I’ve flown their Boeing 787 business class, and this one is very similar. And I’ve flown the 777-300ER business class, which had been my favorite to date.

The seats in front and back of the cabin have extra storage up on the top by the wall.

Like on the 787, the rear-facing seats have more surface area for working but I prefer the more ‘open’ feel of the seats where you can push down the armrest. Otherwise the closed nature of the seat feels a bit claustrophobic to me.

That’s something of a nit to be sure, the cabin is even a bit more spacious than business class on the 787 (it’s a wider aircraft, after all). And I do find the rear facing seats to be a bit wider at the shoulders when sitting upright.

The seat rocked forward and back a bit, especially during takeoff. It just seemed a wee bit too loose of a connection to the floor of the aircraft. It didn’t make the flight uncomfortable in any way, but it was noticeable.

The tray tables were noticeably better than on the 787, there was more forward and back movement you could make adjustments with. But once the table is down you’re locked into your seat, there’s no ‘moving it out of the way’ to get up. I do love having enough workspace that I can eat and continue to use my laptop, though.

It’s a great new seat — other than mine in 5A which looks directly into the galley and would be undesirable on an overnight flight. It’s fully flat and every seat has aisle access. It’s got a good entertainment system and the plane is internet-equipped. So what’s not to like?

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. One peeve of mine with reverse herringbone design is the lack of TO/L storage space. I don’t really understand why the little pocket underneath the console can’t be used during TO/L, or why they can’t add a little netting underneath the footrest to enable a laptop bag. I’ve had enough bumpy climb-outs where the seat belt sign was on for 45+ minutes, and RWP problem or not, I want to have access to my laptop to get work done before the meal or sleep time.

  2. When will one of these bloggers do a review of those “new” enhanced and improved 10 across economy seating on one of these aircraft? I am really waiting for that review. Like how are their mood after 10 hours of flying and after paying $1,000 for an economy class seat in the back because that is the day they had to fly and they had no elite status.
    Would they be so happy with these airlines sticking in extra seats?
    What do the FA think of these new cramped planes flying full? Try and ask them but they are all hiding in the galley with the curtains closed sneaking biz class meals.

  3. @stillwaiting: I know you’re kidding, but I actually keep wondering who these people are that are willing to spend $600-2k to be packed like sardines into a plane for 8-10 hours and fed bad food and have to beg for a second cup of diet coke? There’s no place on the planet I want to see that badly. I’ll stick with less frequent and more comfortable travel. But, clearly, I am in the minority b/c these planes seem to be more or less full 24/365. Once again, I find myself outside of what must be the mainstream.

  4. @mbh You certainly make a valid point. I think some people have an inherent desire to explore. It’s one of the reasons that our population migrated form the old world to the new. It’s definitely a minority, but the thrill of the unknown is addicting.

  5. Yep, the public has spoken. They’re willing to be packed in 12 across with 25“ pitch if it will save them $5.

  6. No need to slag people flying business or first class. Or those owning elite status and enjoying benefits of it. I’m one of them and I don’t see anything wrong about it. I’m working hard 7 days a week 12 hours a day, running my business and caring about disabled people so when I do take some day off I’m paying premium to beable to fly comfortable because I worked for it.
    Reason why it’s no review for economy class is, that all economy is same across airlines, it’s similar 25′ pitch and similar bad food and cramped space. Business and First class services, design layout and a,entities varies by airline and changes more often so it’s nice to see news and compare product, because if you pay £2500 – £6000 for ticket you want to make sure you are getting most for your money.
    Last comment which may upset some is brutal true. People here slagging out those travelling business and first but in reality on those people who pay premium for luxury seats Airline makes money and profit and it allows economy passengers to fly cheap. If there would be no interest for business or first class, airline would not survive just on economy passengers with such a low pricing as you gettingnow so you would have to pay for economy double. So before you slag business orfirst or elite member think about low price you paied in economy just because somebody else fork out £5000 for premium class. Also Elite status is earned. You don’t get it for free. You have to fly a lot in high classes to beable to get privilidges andthat cost loads of money.

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