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So what did you do this weekend?
Going halfway around the world for a weekend seems like a crazy idea, but if you can do it in comfort ( like American Airlines Business Class), the world becomes within reach. That’s exactly what the #weekendwarrior attitude is all about, and what spawned this trip. Life is too short to punt the trips you’ve always wanted to take. Take them now. Plus, what’s cooler than answering the question, “What did you do this weekend,” than “Oh, I went to Shanghai.” Or some other far off destination that is an incredible ice-breaking, jaw-dropping, insta worthy convo starter.
Having Executive Platinum status puts me in a very fortunate position. I can use System Wide Upgrades to upgrade my class of service from economy to business, business to first, etc. In this particular case, I upgraded two tickets purchased through American Express for $330 to business class. With confirmed upgrades prior to departure locked in, we were excited to check out American Airlines Business Class 787-8.
- When: November 2017
- Route: Chicago ORD to Shanghai PVG
- Seat: 6D and 6L
- Status: AA Executive Platinum
- Cabin: Business
SWUs weren’t available at the time of booking, but only 6 out of 28 seats in business were occupied. The odds were good. Since I was taking this trip with my buddy Dave and we booked our tickets separately through Amex ( this way we’d get a consolidator fare bucket vs the revenue based AA), I phoned into AA to tether our tickets together
Tethering allows Dave to upgrade as if he were Executive Platinum as well. Had I just applied an SWU to his itinerary without connecting it to mine, he’d have to fend off lower levels elites who may clear before him. It should be noted that I believe the policy untethers that status, but still connects the reservation, within 24 hours of departure. So the goal was to clear in advance of that time frame.
To clarify, I stipulated to the AA rep that I didn’t want to clear exclusive of Dave. We were either be upgraded in unison, or not at all. The 24 hour rule would have kept this stipulation in place, but made it more difficult for Dave to clear without status being recognized on his PNR.
Clearing the SWU
Luckily we cleared roughly a week prior to departure. BYAH! At this point I was SUPER stoked.
Terminal 3 is mayhem at O’hare. There is a designated area for Priority, Business, First, Elites, and it still took 15+ minutes to get through check-in. We slipped through with TSA Pre and were off to check out the new Flagship Lounge between H and K
The new Flagship lounge is drop dead gorgeous. This is a must visit, and I’d arrive early to enjoy it. You’ll find it straddling H and K gates.
We enjoyed the lounge a little too much 😉 We ended up boarding the plane with group 8. I wouldn’t advise this.
Seats and cabin:
I started off in 6D, the first row of the Mini cabin and in the middle. It’s attached to 6H and faces forward. The design of the cabin is such that the middle seats are bolted and attached (aside from 1D, 1H) 1D is often reserved for pilot rest tho. A lot of people complained that they could feel movement from their companion’s seat and is was disruptive. Ultimately, AA chose to stop installation and replace future 772 retrofits, and 787-9 with Super Diamond seats from B/E.
My seat, 6D had an issue with the armrest on the aisle. This must be lowered for egress during take off and landing and as a result I moved to 6L, a rear facing seat on the window. I prefer the window seat as it’s more private and provides more arm rest room than the middle seats.
Comparing this to AA’s other offerings: I’d rank it third behind the Cirrus seats found on the 77W and the Super Diamond’s found on some retrofit 772s and 787-9s. Storage is minimal, and while they lie flat, they are quite narrow. I’m 6’ and 170lbs and I couldn’t really find a position where my feet didn’t hit the end and my shoulders weren’t touching the sides. All that being said…it’s still quite comfortable and very solid product that I’d fly again without question.
I’ll also mention that the cabin was kept at a very pleasant and cool temp. Another tip: the middle seats are far more exposed than the rear-facing window seats. As you can see in the pics below, the window seat has counter-top space on either side.
Here’s a look at the menu. Nothing particularly special, but I was happy to see Lanson champagne, and the vinaigrette was spicy and tasty.
The food is fine. Nothing outstanding, but light years better than what used to be served. I failed to request a meal in advance, and would recommend doing so.
There was also a snack bar set up in the galley between business class cabins.
I’ve found that routes between the States, Beijing, Shanghai, and Tokyo have the most award availability. The first two of those routes are serviced with 787-8 dreamliners. I had a very pleasant flight, and the product is holding up very well. I was a very comfortable, solid way to travel 14 hours.