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American Airlines Business Class 787-9
London to Chicago
HOT DIGGITY WE’RE FLYING AGAIN! After nearly 18 months of not hitting the international skies, we’ve banged out two stellar business class products within a couple weeks. Not gonna lie…it’s not at all the same. The combination of jetlag and a mask give me a bad headache, but worth it if you ask me.
After flying British Airways new Club Suites over to England, I wasn’t really sure what we would ultimately fly home. United Polaris? Virgin Upper? We wanted direct and not a ton of fees. As luck would have it, a couple days prior to departure, I found AA business class seats available on the London to Chicago route that suited us perfectly.
I thought it’d make a good comparison since American’s 787-9 features the same seat, sans a door, that we flew over on BA. Simply put, if what you’re looking for in business class is an outstanding seat with ample storage, a comfy, long bed, and clean, easy to use IFE…it’s hard to beat the seats featured on either aircraft. They’re Super Diamonds manufactured by Collins Aerospace and may just be my favorite iteration of a reverse herringbone layout ( head out, feet in). For this reason alone, it’s why I rank these two business class products at the top of the TATL pile.
- When: July 2021
- Where: London to Chicago O’Hare
- Flight Time: 8h 35m
- Seat: 1D
- Price: 57.5k Alaska Miles and ~$350
American Airlines has had a lot of staffing issues of late resulting in numerous canceled flights ( we were the victims of this on the flight over ), but most of those have been within the USA. Luckily we didn’t have any issues and everything according to plan.
How I booked this ticket
Very simple and straight forward via Alaska Airlines. Leading up to the pandemic, since 2016, I’ve kept Alaska elite status and as a result have accrued quite a handsome amount of Alaska miles. We deployed 57.5k a piece + roughly $350 in taxes and fees.
Check In – Terminal 5
The first surprise was to find out we were scheduled to fly out of Terminal 5. We had spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow thinking we’d be out of terminal 3 and it’s be super easy. Silly me, I hadn’t even checked, but it didn’t really matter since the Sofitel is being used as a quarantine hotel which is the only other hotel connected to LHR. We simply hopped on the train and popped on over to terminal 5.
Before we were even let into the line to check our bags we had to show our negative PCR tests. As a head’s up…at the time of writing, you can now fly with Emed Binax Now at home testing, but only the ones sold online and has a virtual meeting with a doctor. We didn’t use this test; however, and booked with an outfit near Mayfair. There are literally loads that will do a 24 hour around.
Other than showing our test results is was business as usual and we were swiftly check in and on our way.
Lounge – British Airways Galleries Lounge
I’ve reviewed this lounge before and it was up and running pretty much as usual with one big exception – waiter service.
Use a barcode to have your coffee, food delivered. Here’s a look at the menu.
We needed to take the train out to the 50s and arrived roughly 10 minutes prior to boarding. We lined up first to get some sick snaps…and mission accomplished. Look at this beautiful cabin.
The Seat: 1D
A lot of people don’t prefer the first row due to its proximity to the galley, but I love it. They put the snacks out by you, you’re in front of everyone, the champagne doesn’t run out, the food gets to you faster ( unless they do back to front ), etc. So…we picked row 1.
The Storage Space
One of the best attributes of the Collins Super Diamond seat that American uses on the 787-9 is the storage. Not only do you get two bins that pop open from the center arm rest, you also get one down by your feet for valuables and one in the arm rest that also serves as a shield to the aisle.
IFE – In flight entertainment system
Bang and Olufsen noise cancelling headphones are a great touch and far superior to BA’s offering; however, they still come to collect them nearly an hour before landing. So aggravating when compared to other airlines that allow you to keep them until taxi. The screen is large but it’s the breadth of selection that makes flying AA enjoyable specifically in this regard. Not many other airlines compete with AA’s in flight selection of entertainment – massively dominates British Airways.
There are also power ports inside the main arm rest cubby and another control for the IFE – I mainly just use the IFE screen itself tho.
77 inches long and 21 inches wide. I’m roughly 6′ and 165lbs and there is plenty of room for me to lie completely flat and also have a decent amount of shoulder room. We received one pillow and a duvet provided by Casper. Quite comfy, but British Airways has better bedding from The White Company. However…United’s Polaris bedding from Saks beats both handily.
I think American gets a bad rap for having tasteless food. We had chicken and salmon and both were quite good, and this was one of the few times where I ordered ahead and didn’t have to worry if they’d run out of what I want. I have a terrible habit, other than flying on Singapore Airlines, of being terribly remiss when it comes to in flight meal pre-selection.
- Came out roughly 45 mins after take-off
- Much better than I anticpated
- No pre-flight drinks
- Plastic cups
- Cheap Prosecco, no champagne
A couple of hours after the meals were finished they laid out the snack basket right above my seat. Terrible, terrible idea. I had far more than I should have 🙂
The service was very good, the food quite tasty, and the seat is one of my favorites. All in all – it was a very pleasant flight and I’d rank this neck and neck with BA Club Suites, but alas, still give Club Suites the edge. BA has succinctly refined the customer experience. There is a decorum in the presentation of the bedding, the amenity kits, the food, etc that is just a notch better than AA. Oddly though, and this is much to my surprise, I may prefer the seat without the door. I’m flying BA Club Suites again quite soon and will report back on this, but the door on BA Club Suites is largely about bragging rights, and minimally impactful from a privacy use stand point.
Long story, short. Great flight, can’t wait to fly it again.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
80k offer in branch currently – I think this should be online soon
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
Super solid welcome offer.
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
There is currently an 80k offer after $4k spend in 3 months available in branch, and up to 90k after $6k spend in 6 months. I suspect some version of this will be online soon if you don’t want the hassle of going into a branch.
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 60k is a very, very good offer. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back. .
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.