787 J versus 777-200 F trip report

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by brodyf, Jul 2, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. brodyf

    brodyf Gold Member

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    Last week I had to go to China. We needed to fly from ORD into PEK and return out of PVG back to ORD. We had some travel flexibility so my coworker and I opted to fly ORD/DFW/PEK on the outbound on the new 787 (instead of the 777 direct flight) and return direct PVG to ORD on the 777-200. Fortunately our travel policy allows purchased J seats on flights this long.

    The flight from DFW to PEK on the 787 was quite nice overall. We booked about 6 weeks in advance so I had my choice of seats. I was able to fly the ORD/DFW route on the 787 a couple of times prior to this trip and get upgraded, so I done some recon prior to this long flight. Coupling that experience with some comments here and elsewhere I decided on seat 1J due to the additional space in the bulkhead seats. There is more width across the shoulder area when lying down in those seats (and 4A and 4J it turns out) due to a moveable arm rest that is not on the other J seats.

    When we boarded there was one J passenger that could not get her seat to function - it was not working at all. (She either has perma-bitchy face, or she was trying really hard to show how put out this inconvenience was to her - but that's another story.) AA Maintenance came on board but were not able to get it to work so they moved her to the only other open J seat available. I decided to try my seat controls, and sure enough mine wouldn't work either. The touchscreen control for the seat was completely black - no controls whatsoever. The maintenance guys were still on board and fortunately they were able to lift up the seat cushion and do a reboot of the seat computer and it then worked fine.

    Here's a pic of me chillin in 1L pre-departure. You can see that the IFE screen is huge. upload_2015-7-2_14-4-29.jpeg

    The amenity kit was a legacy America West version:
    upload_2015-7-2_14-5-20.jpeg

    The crew was very new to the plane. The purser and the FA on my side had each only flown the plane twice on one round trip. They weren't really all that helpful to pax who had questions about the operation of the IFE, the seats, etc. I'm sure they will get there over time, but it was obvious they were in unfamiliar surroundings. In fact, the only negative I had about the flight was that my seat choice of 1J turned out to be a bad one. The FAs were opening and closing every door in the galley throughout the whole flight looking for stuff. The slamming of doors seemed to be constant and I was seated too close to the din. I only got 2 hours of sleep because of all the racket they made banging around looking in cabinets.

    The movie selections were great - something like 300+ movies on demand. I watched 3 (since I couldn't sleep). The meal was also very good. I pre-ordered the salmon which was served on cloth table cloths instead of the cheesy paper doily thing.
    upload_2015-7-2_14-18-21.jpeg

    They served 3 meals in all. I was napping when the second meal snack came out so I missed it. However there is a stand up bar area between the main J cabin and the little 2 row J cabin in the back. They put the snack serving (it was an assortment of wraps) as well as some fruit, carrot sticks, etc, and a drink cart out for anyone to get whatever they wanted during flight. I got up a total of 5 times and there always seemed to be some new snack or dessert item out each time which was nice. We had another light meal about an hour prior to landing.

    All in all it was a very pleasant flying experience (except the banging). I did notice I felt better upon arrival than I had on previous Asia flights due to the higher cabin pressure and humidity on the 787 versus AL bodied planes.

    On the way back home out of Shanghai the only option was the 777-200. I used a SWU to upgrade to F and took seat 2L. This was my first TPAC F seat, and my first AA F seat internationally on the 777-200. I had flown AA F on the older 3 cabin 767s and domestically on the 3 class 777-200s before, but never for a flight this long.

    The FAs were just great. They all seemed exceptionally bubbly and happy upon boarding and it created a party like atmosphere in the F cabin. The PDBs were flowing freely. The FAs were obviously very experienced with the plane, and were very helpful to the pax entering. It was also the captain's final flight before retiring and he had his wife on board in 1A. The purser went out of her way to give an announcement about it being his final flight since joining AA as a pilot in 1978 and told us a lot of details about his career which was a nice touch.

    The food (once again I pre-ordered fish) was about equivalent to the food in J on the 787. Sorry no picture. The IFE is certainly no match on the 777 to the 787. They have the grainy little pop-up screen on a swivel and I think there might have been 30 or so movies, most of which I had seen or had no interest in.

    I found the F seat to be actually more comfortable that the 787 J seat. After dinner I rocked the seat out flat, made up the bed and was out like a light. I slept a solid 8 hours. I woke up with just a few hours left to kill - got some work done, ate again, then we landed nearly an hour early. It was a very nice flight.

    So which did I prefer? I guess that depends. If I had the option to fly business class on the 787 versus business class on the 777-200 it is no question the 787 would win hands down every time. The 777-200 J seats are dated, and that crappy $5000 middle seat configuration just sucks. The fact that every J seat on the 787 has aisle access alone would make it the winner. Couple that with the superior lay flat seat, excellent IFE and better flying experience and the 787 is the hands down winner J to J.

    787 J to 772 F? If they were the same price it would depend on what I wanted from the flight. If I wanted to sleep I'd pick the 772 F seat as it is larger and more comfortable in my opinion. If I plan to stay awake, the superior IFE and flight experience make the 787 the choice. I would not in any case pay more out of pocket for a 772F seat though.

    If anyone else out there has had the option the fly the AA 787 long haul yet I'd love to hear your experiences.
     
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  2. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Thanks for your impressions. It looks like they could have plated the food a little better, but if it tastes okay then that's more than half the battle. Interesting that the FAs had only flown the aircraft twice before. I guess everyone has to start somewhere, and most long haul FAs would only work a few trips a month. It took me about 4 trips to get used to the configuration of the cafe cars working out of LAX, and the FAs have the double-whammy of catering perhaps not putting everything in the same place every time.

    I'm expecting to go to NRT in October and hoping I can swing J on the 772, but not sure if it will be a new or old config aircraft. The 787 J seat is the same as the 772 NEW J seat, right? Any idea what % complete the refit is on these aircraft? I have never understood the choice to put a middle seat in J, but it beats being in the middle of 5 in the back of the bus!

    Not to at all discount your opinion or that of others, but I do wonder how much "feeling better" on arrival is psychosomatic. I did LAX-SYD and return on a 744 some years ago and LAX-MEL in 2012 on the A380 and definitely felt better on the A380. But did I feel better because Airbus said I would feel better, or did I *actually* feel better? :confused::p
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I think only ~4 are done so far, and it is going slowly.
    I have a few physical symptoms which manifest after lots of longhaul flying, particularly (very) dry skin and nose bleeds. I can tell a difference after flying on a 787 or A380 versus older types. I can also tell the difference in ambient noise levels.
     
  4. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    The noise level is a VERY welcome change on newer planes. I have terrible tinnitus as a result of numerous medical problems about 7 years ago and the lower the ambient noise, the better. I wear earplugs often but found them completely unnecessary on the A380, which is great because after 14 hours my ears are DONE with having something in them.
     
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