Pleasure and Business – AA47 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare, Main Cabin Extra aboard a 787
In this adventure…
- Pleasure and Business Mixing things together (again)
- Off to Heathrow
- Cathay Pacific Lounge and the American Airlines Lounges
- AA47 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare, Main Cabin Extra aboard a 787
- US Immigration Adventures
- Intercontinental Chicago North Michigan Avenue
- Deep Dish Pizza fun
- Travel Technology: Canon 40mm F2.8 STM with a Canon 100D
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- Back to O’Hare, British Airways Terraces Club Lounge
- BA294 Chicago to Heathrow Airport in World Traveller Plus
- From pleasure to business, BA Galleries South
- BA962 London Heathrow to Hamburg in Club Europe
- IBIS Budget Hamburg
- Currywust Nacht
- Back to Hamburg Airport, Hamburg Airport Lounge
- BA967 Hamburg to London Heathrow in Club Europe
- Pulling it home
- My calf muscles hurt…
AA47 London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare International
American Airlines, Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Seat 9L Main Cabin Extra
3953 miles flown, 20 Tier points earned, 988 Base Avios Earned
Aboard ATW’s Airline of the Year 2017 no less.
It’s time for a new travel experience for me – an American Airlines Boeing 787-8.
First impressions were impressive, with the plane still looking in good condition.
Business Class reverse seat.
I headed to my row, which were a few rows from the business class cabin.
If you’re flying into the USA, I always recommend getting as far ahead of the front of the economy cabin – as close to the main exit door – because if you make good time at the other end and don’t dawdle , the queue for immigration a lot less.
So – let’s look at the seat. Sadly, like most other airlines, American Airlines have chosen to fit a 3-3-3 across in their 787 Dreamliners. This Dreamliner didn’t have the Premium Economy product that the 787-9s have; rather this is a 787-8 with Main Cabin Extra.
So let’s get to the elephant in the room – the seat width of a 787 Dreamliner. Amazingly, I lucked out again as there was no one sitting in the middle seat (even though the seat map was showing as full) – apparently, the middle seat had been blocked for an infant, whose parents chose to sit together, and played seat swap-a-roo.
Legroom more than acceptable in Main Cabin Extra
Yay! Overhead air vents!
Sometimes luck does run on my side.
Yep – looks like a Boeing 787 to me…
Even then, with the armrest down, the seat didn’t feel welcoming unlike some seats I’ve been in on the past.
At least the extra leg room made up for the lack of shoulder width (and I would have many demonstrations about shoulder width importance in Germany a few days later).
It seems the lounge had been called in late to board, so there was limited overhead bin space. Thankfully, I found places for the rucksack, whilst my shoulder bag went by my feet.
The plane continued its loading, with the empty middle seat holding in situ. At least the ride across the pond would be in some comfort.
With boarding completed, the plane pushed back on time as we commenced our flight to the USA.
The safety video played – with the wonderful moving set.
I’m sure you’ve seen it. But since I’m a bit evil, you can watch it again. And again. And forever Danny.
With the safety demonstration complete, our plane taxied from Terminal 3, past the remains of T1, past the T2 complex.
British Airways Boeing 747-400
United Airlines Boeing 767-300ER
Aer Lingus Airbus A320
Of course, this being Heathrow at near enough 9am in the morning, there was a queue to get out of the airport.
There was a 10 minute wait to get to the runway – and in due time, the 787 turned for runway 27R.
The engines spooled up, and AA47 took to the sky.
After the initial accent, my body decided this was the perfect time to start sleeping off the noodles I had earlier. Of course, the lack of sleep I had the night before didn’t help.
By the time I woke up, a drinks service had begun. Judging that caffeine would wake me up, I went for a Coke Zero, and decided to try out the WiFi.
American Airlines operate a solution from Panasonic Avionics, who have equipped this Boeing 787 Dreamliner with its Ka satellite broadband solution.
In theory – this should be pretty reasonable to use in flight.
Singing up for the solution was pretty easy – follow the prompts to create an account, then select how to pay. Payment options were all the usual suspects of credit cards… and PayPal.
I went for PayPal for sheer convenience. In a couple of minutes, I was online and doing what every nerd does when they have a new internet connection to play with… that’s right – running Oklaa Speedtest.
So, let me show you the megabits.
The ping times won’t win any awards, with the download and upload speeds syntheticly not that bad.
In terms of actual day-to-day use, it felt like a reasonable broadband connection. Connection times were a bit laggy, but not the end of the world. Enough to research, read, write, consume and be a pain on Twitter.
This is what matters – the ability to connect.
The beauty of having a login account was that I could log in on another device (in my case, the Lenovo x201) as well as using the iPhone (with the wireless ability switched over from one device to another – no concurrent use was allowed).
Soon enough, it was time for the breakfast service aboard AA47, with two options being catered from London – a pancake option or a full English option. I went for the full English.
Why yes, I had room in my stomach still thank you very much. Also, I review this for you, the readers.
Or something like that.
The main tray unsealed.
The strawberry is mahoosive…
So let’s see. And whilst its a reasonable tray, I swear each time I travel the main dish gets smaller. Thankfully it was packed with flavour and didn’t taste bland. It’s all you can ask from an economy class meal.
Well you can ask a lot more, but you’ll be disappointed in seconds.
As usual, I pocked the bottle of water for later on in the flight.
The fruit was great – nice and fresh (and good to see such a large strawberry – I lucked out there).
With breakfast over, I started playing with the IFE solution. This solution (as regular readers should have guessed by now is a Panasonic ex3 solution (I played with the big brother version of this on Finnair).
IFE controller, USB Power
From what I could tell, there was a reasonable amount of content loaded this 787’s IFE system.
However, there was an issue – and it seems American Airlines were short-loading headphones on this AA47 that day. This is a little more than annoying as I use Bluetooth headphones these days
So, as much as I wanted to explore the IFE system aboard this plane and listen to the content, I couldn’t.
Oh well, at least the moving map works
No, I wasn’t singing “Galway girl” by Ed Sheeran at this point.
With the clean-up of the meal service came to the bit I didn’t like of the flight – the windows were dimmed down all the way. And as a daytime flight… that’s annoying to be honest. It’s a signal from the crew they want to get some rest rather than let passengers to make their own decisions to annoy them.
Sadly, the controls of the electronic dimming solution were locked down too, making my view very blue. And the cabin went very dark.
I decided to use the time effectively, and popped open the laptop to annoy people on Twitter, write and check a few things for the upcoming trip.
The little Lenovo x201 at work. Industrial to the last.
Eventually, I dozed off again. This was welcome.
What was even more welcome when I woke up was an Ice cream service had just passed.
However in the intervening period, the battery on the Lenovo x201 had decided to power down. So I would need to charge it. And this is where we come to a design fail. Here’s the power socket in seat.
Take a hard look at that socket. It’s a multi-form socket (so should take any plug in the world), but notice, it’s slightly recessed. So when you plug in your good old fashioned BS1363 plug into the socket… there’s an issue…
It seems plugged in…
No it isn’t!!!
So, how to fix it? I got my multi-plug adaptor out and went through a few options. The UK option obviously would be bad, whilst the US option required it to flush against the socket. So figuring out I needed a bit of distance, I chose the European option… and lo! it worked.
I give up.
With the flight heading in to the final hour and a bit, the second service run was completed aboard AA47. This would be a Montys hot box. These don’t tend to be too bad, and this one fitted that description.
Tomato, Red Onion and Black Olive Pastry with a Raspberry and Coconut sponge
You’ll notice that there’s a lot of artificial light in these pictures. That’s because the crew had forgot to unlock the window blind controls – so the plane was pretty much in semi-darkness.
This on a pre-arrivals service when you need people waking up is not an ideal thing aboard a plane.
In fact, the clear down and arrivals check was done with the electronic windows locked in that position. It was only when I asked the dimness to be released did the flight attendants realised it was still locked as they were completing their arrivals check.
20 minutes from arrival – the view. To say I was not impressed would be an understatement. Some of us book window seats to look out of the plane, not to see the world in a shade of teal or blue.
With the window controls released, I could actually watch the world for the final 20 minutes of the flight.
And there was light!
Now we put the arrival lighting on… (the cabin in landing mode)
With an approach from the West of O’Hare, it would mean a shorter taxi to the International Terminal. With a gentle bump, the AA47 completed the 8 and a bit transatlantic hop
With the plane on the ground, a mass of beeping and odd tones started playing as everyone switched on their mobile phones
The taxi was longer than expected – as we would be heading to gate M2 – one of the farthest gates from the immigration area.
United Airlines Airbus A320
A pair of United Embraers
Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER at the International Terminal
With the AA47 pulling into the stand, the engines closed down, and everyone got up for the mass exodus from the plane.
Thank you seat. You’re still a little tight.
With the doors opening, business class made its way out – and I was right behind them as the economy cabin begun filing out.
Empty Business Class seat.
Overall: Not bad in many respects aboard AA47 in terms of the hardware. The Main Cabin Extra product is pretty reasonable in terms of leg room (although seat width is a 787 constant issue with airlines insisting installing 3-3-3 seating). The food and beverage service was above average (and for a transatlantic economy service – that’s all you can hope for). However, the soft elements of the service do need tweaking – things like loading enough headphones (basic, but essential thing to do), and the window blinds not being unlocked until just before landing is more than annoying.
I would say there’s plenty of room for improvement – but it’s not a bad start.
Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond – Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, with in-depth coverage, unique research as well as the humour and madness as I only know how to deliver.