Back in January, as the last major flight in my 8 Flights, 7 Lounges & 3 Hotels In 5 Days trip, I flew from New York JFK to Milan in Business Class (thanks to a Systemwide Upgrade) on a refurbished American Airlines 767 aircraft. Despite having flown over a million miles in various American Airlines aircraft this was my first international flight on one of their Boeing 767s.
Earlier in the day I’d flown into New York from Los Angeles in Business Class on one of American Airlines relatively new A321 aircraft so I was interested to see how the refurbished 767 would compare.
Following my flight from Los Angeles I spent a few hours in the American Airlines Flagship Lounge (reviewed here on a previous trip) but, as I was pretty keen to get going on the next leg of my journey, I was down at the gate pretty early. Despite my early arrival I didn’t have long to wait before boarding was called (50 minutes before our scheduled departure time).
American Airlines 767 Business Class Cabin/Seat
The Business Class cabin of the refurbished American Airlines 767 has fully lie-flat seats set out in a 1-2-1 layout which gives all the Business Class seats direct aisle access.
American Airlines 767 Seat Map – Screenshot from SeatGuru
While the 1-2-1 layout may, on paper, appear similar to what you’ll find in the Business Class cabins of the American Airlines 787 Dreamliner, the refurbished 777-200 and the impressive 777-300s, in practice it’s quite different.
The first thing to point out is that, just like so many of the Business Class cabins on other airlines (e.g. Etihad 777-300), what seat you select can make a big different to the experience you have. And the seat maps that I’ve seen don’t appear to make this obvious at all.
The single seats on either side of the aircraft are set out in a staggered formation which means that the seats in even-numbered rows (there is no row 1) are separated from the aisle by a fixed table….
…while the seats in odd-numbered rows have the fixed table on the opposite side so, not only is the passenger further away from the window, but he/she is more exposed to the aisle as well:
The differences don’t end with the single seats on either side of the aircraft – the middle seats differ from row to row as well.
In the even-numbered rows, the middle seat on the left (when facing forward) has just a narrow armrest separating it from the aisle while its companion seat on the right has a fixed table giving it a bit more protection:
In the odd-numbered rows the opposite is true:
For a couple traveling together this makes no difference as one of them will have a seat that’s a bit more exposed to the aisle but, if you’re a solo traveler and happen to find yourself having to select a seat from the centre section, I’d choose a seat with the table between you and the aisle.
Best seats for solo travelers (best first):
- Even rows on either side of the aircraft
- Odd rows either side of the aircraft
- Left-middle seat odd-numbered rows/Right-middle seat even-numbered rows
Best seats for couples:
- Any two centre seats
There are a few other things to take into consideration:
- Row 7 seats on the sides are missing a window
- No stowage in overhead bins above 7A & 8A (crew curtain is stowed here)
- Overhead bins above the centre seats cannot fit standard-sized carry ons – they’re very small
Although the refitted Business Class cabin of the 767 is a big improvement over the old-style cabin there still are a few issues:
Issue 1: There isn’t much room to stow anything. There’s a very small storage pouch by the seat at floor level and that’s about it. The area behind the tray table in the seat in front is taken up with the Samsung Tablet provided for in-flight entertainment:
The small stowage areas around shoulder height (see pictures above) are taken up with the amenity kits and, when you take the amenity kits out, the design of the cubby means that most things fall out:
Issue 2: The footrest area is very restrictive for the seats that have the fixed table between them and the aisle:
And, although it’s slightly better for the seats that are closer to the aisle…..
…both footrest areas share one big problem: When the seat is in bed-mode the footrest areas not high enough to allow you to rest your feet with your heels on the ground and your toes pointing up in the air. I have medium-sized feet and I found it impossible…..so passengers with larger feet are definitely going to find this an issue – it actually made it quite difficult to get comfortable.
Issue 3: You need a degree in mechanical engineering to close up the tray table that comes out from the table section beside you. The table that opens up from the seat in front is simple enough but the main tray table is just a huge pain in the ***.
There is no wi-fi on the American Airlines 767 aircraft so you can forget about staying in touch with the rest of the world while you’re onboard. Some will love this, others (bloggers who want to get a bit of work done) will hate it 🙂
There are no personal TV screens built into the seat ahead of you. In the space where you may normally expect a screen there is a second tray table behind which is the Samsung Tablet which I showed earlier.
Behind the Samsung Tablet is a power point designed, presumably, to power the tablet itself:
I didn’t check to see what was loaded on the tablet but a fellow passenger later told me that the content was “fine. Not fantastic, but better than nothing“.
Power-wise, aside from the multi-country socket in the cubby where the tablet is housed, the American Airlines 767 has a second similar socket and a USB port next to the seat.
The controls for the audio channels, the lights and the flight attendant call button are all housed underneath a cover in the seat’s armrest:
The controls for the seat (which are very easy to use) are also in the chair’s armrest area:
Upon boarding we were offered the standard choice of beverages: Champagne, orange juice or water (I opted for water) and dinner menus were handed out before take off.
American Airlines 767 Business Class – Menu
Beverage Options (click to enlarge):
The Portobello mushroom carpaccio and spinach and frisée with strawberries and blue cheese were both fine. Nothing amazing but perfectly ok.
For my entrée I ordered the “Herbed Turkey Cutlet” which came with a sour cherry sauce, orzo pasta and broccoli with garlic.
The sour cherry sauce was very sharp and overpowered any taste the turkey may have had, the orzo was bland (although that may have been because the sour cherries killed my state buds) and the broccoli was closer to a puree than anything else – it really wasn’t very good at all. I wonder what the Italians onboard this Milan-bound flight made of the food?
Breakfast was an improvement…primarily because I didn’t order anything that involved any kind of cooking/reheating – I had the “fresh fruit bowl with granola and Greek yoghurt”:
To be fair the fruit was pretty nice and, although there wasn’t much of it, combined with the granola it worked for me.
The amenity kits on this flight were exactly the same as you get in Business Class on any other American Airlines long-haul flight. I forgot to take pictures of what I was given this time but, for those of you who haven’t seen the old American Airlines amenity kits before (new American Airlines amenity kits are now being offered on most international routes) this is what they look like:
Service-wise it’s hard to comment because I didn’t really have that much interaction with the crew. It was an overnight flight so, understandably, the flight attendants didn’t come through the cabin too often (and I wouldn’t want them too).
A big positive was the speed at which they had the main meal served and cleared away. We took off at 7:20pm and the cabin lights were dimmed to allow passengers to sleep at 9pm – that’s not bad at all.
The one other thing worth mentioning is the size of the main tray table – it’s pretty big.
That’s an 11″ MacBook Air on the table…..
…and that table is definitely larger than what you get on the bigger 777-300ER aircraft.
Also, because you have the second tray table that drops down from the seat in front, you can continue to watch your shows on your own entertainment device while having your meal.
It wasn’t a coincidence that I found myself on the 767 – I selected this flight especially to try out the Business Class cabin and to see if it was in any way a reasonable substitute for the other Business Class cabins American Airlines offers across the Atlantic.
The seat itself is perfectly ok but the lack of foot space annoyed me throughout the flight – to my mind that’s a serious design flaw.
I can handle poor food on an airline (I can choose not to eat it and go to sleep instead) but the primary reason I do my best to travel in Business Class whenever I can is for the comfort that the Business Class seat offers. And, while the Business Class seat on the American Airlines 767 is clearly better than anything offered further back in the aircraft, it’s simply not that comfortable when in bed-mode.
That makes it a poor Business Class seat.
For a daytime flight this probably wouldn’t be such an issue and the overall experience therefore may have been better but, for an overnight flight, I wouldn’t pay for this product unless I really, really had to.
Featured image: Eric Salard via Flickr