American Airlines Readies for Sydney Service with Promo Tour
It’s been a busy couple of years for American Airlines. In just the last twelve months, the Dallas/Ft. Worth based airline successfully worked its way through a number of prickly challenges. As part of the completed merger with US Airways, American successfully integrated the reservations systems and frequent flyer programs of the two airlines while amalgamating airport facilities and labour seniority lists.
All-in-all, some not so easy tasks for the smallest of airlines, much less the world’s largest.
Things have continued to hum along on two other fronts, the operational side and fleet planning side. The route map continues to grow with American announcing new and expanded service to Mexico, Ecuador, the Caribbean and Japan. And just this past week, the airline announced new service from Los Angeles to Auckland in conjunction with Qantas. The Flying Kangaroo will be providing feeder service to and from Australia.
Not forgotten in its plans, American continued this past year with interior modifications on its older aircraft while taking delivery of dozens of new planes from Airbus and Boeing. As more new planes arrive in 2016, the number of classic MD-80s and Boeing 757s and 767s in the fleet will finally begin to shrink.
There are some exciting times ahead for American, and thankfully for us Down Under, the airline included Australia in its growth plans. Announced in June 2015, American committed to flying the lucrative Los Angeles to Sydney route with their new Boeing 777-300ER.
The inaugural departure from Sydney isn’t due to take-off until 19 December, but yesterday, (13 Nov. 2015), the two Oneworld airlines treated me and other invited guests to a tour of American’s big Boeing at the Qantas hanger in Sydney.
Arriving from Hong Kong on a promotional stop, American was eager to show off its brand new aircraft to the Australian media and industry professionals. With a cabin configured for First, Business and Economy, and all with international Wi-Fi capability (albeit for a fee), I was eager to get a good look.
Flagship First Class
American went all out with its design for the stylish First Class cabin. The exclusive cabin contains just eight suites with plenty of space to stretch out and relax. There’s also a self-service bar which provides a welcome place to grab a snack or a beverage – perfect for those times when you choose to leave the comfort of your suite to get up and stretch your legs.
During our aircraft tour, American had trays of sumptuous hors d’oeuvres available for us, but during a typical flight, the bar would be decked out with a whole menu of snack and drink options.
Comfort features for the eight private suites are numerous. Seats not only recline to a 6 foot, 2 inch lie-flat bed, but when in the upright position, swivel away from the aisle, to face a functional work and dining space.
The practical work and leisure station comes with a hand-held touch screen device for seat and entertainment controls, handy storage compartments, USB port and power point, and a personal night light.
American’s Vice President for Global Marketing, Fernand Fernandez, was eager to show me how functional the work and leisure space is in the stylish suite, giving me a first-hand demonstration of the swivel chair, extendable tray table and surrounding lighting and electronic functions.
To complete the First Class experience, the product includes inflight pyjamas, a turn-down service, a 17 inch touchscreen monitor and extensive food and drinks menu.
The large Business Class cabin features 52 personal suites, and while not as roomy as the First Class suite, the seat amenities are equally impressive. Encased in their own privacy shell, the seat offers maximum comfort for work, rest or catching up on the latest movie or TV series – for which the 15.4 inch touch-screen TV comes in handy.
A side panel includes the multi-position seat control, all power options for recharging of personal devices and a hand-held controller for lighting, entertainment options and seat-to-seat messaging.
The little extras like Bose noise cancelling headsets, an amenity kit with skin care products and pyjamas provide an added touch.
The Economy section on American’s state-of-the-art Triple 7s offer two slightly different cabin choices. The standard Economy section is configured in a 3-4-3 layout with 31 inch seat pitch while the Main Cabin Extra section offers a slightly wider seat in a 3-3-3 layout.
American says that the leg room for Main Cabin Extra provides up to 6 inches more space than regular Economy but by sight only, it looked to be more like 3 to 4 inches. Nevertheless, leg room here is much more generous and worth the extra fee when considering the long flight time between Los Angeles and Sydney.
Like First and Business, if the huge selection of on-demand movies, TV shows and music features isn’t enough, passengers can peruse through the library on their own device throughout the flight. Power points and USB ports are located at each seat for continued use of tablets and personal electronic devices.
From a service standpoint, the offerings are the same in Economy and Main Cabin Extra. Passengers will enjoy complimentary meals and beverages. American says there will be a three option choice for the main meal service after departure. A mid-flight snack and pre-arrival breakfast are also provided.
After completing its Dallas/Ft. Worth to Hong Kong flight, American ferried the aircraft to Australia for the magnificent fly-over of Sydney Harbour before making its way to its parking spot at Qantas Hangar 96 for the promotional tour and news conference. Both Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and American CEO Doug Parker were in attendance.
All-in-all, this was a very impressive aircraft and American was clearly excited to show it off to the Australian media and industry trade people. The aircraft flown in for the event was registration (tail number) N734AR. The Boeing 777-300ER was delivered new to American just two weeks ago and to this point has completed only 25 revenue flights. According to the American executives available, the airline will be taking delivery of a total of 21 300ERs.
With a stylish cabin decked out with all the latest mod-cons, this will definitely be a welcome product on the trans-Pacific route between LAX and Sydney.