Review: American Airlines Business Class Madrid to New York (MAD-JFK)

First Class Giraffe checking out the American Airlines 777-200 business class cabin
First Class Giraffe checking out the American Airlines 777-200 business class cabin

Read more from this trip – 17-days in Europe and the Middle East:

Introduction

Flight Details:

  • Date of flight: August 11, 2019
  • Where: Madrid (“MAD”) to New York (“JFK”)
  • Flight time: 8 hours 5 minutes
  • Flight #: AA95
  • Seat: 2H
  • Paid flight / points: Paid

It was the end of a fantastic 17-day trip and I was looking forward to getting home to New York. Giraffes only sleep for 30-minutes per day so it only makes sense for them to live in the city that never sleeps and what better way to get there than in American Airlines 777-200 business class.

Cabin

American Airlines flies their Boeing 777-200 on their Madrid to New York route. The business class cabin is setup in a 1-2-1 configuration, which features their excellent B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats. I really like the dark color scheme of the seat. The black shell gives an elegant yet contemporary feel to the cabin.

American Airlines Boeing 777-200 business class cabin
American Airlines Boeing 777-200 business class cabin

The seats are a spacious 21 inches wide. One thing I have to mention that slightly detracts from the comfort of the seat is the seatbelt. The seatbelts contain an airbag and are quite bulky as a result. When I buckled my belt upon boarding the weight of the belt was noticeable, but I grew accustomed to it after takeoff.

B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat
B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat

The seats and overhead lights are controlled via a dedicated touchscreen, which was pretty responsive. There are 3 preset positions, but I preferred customizing my lounging position.

Touchscreen seat controls
Touchscreen seat controls

Recommended Seats

If you’re traveling solo choose 2-4A/L, 8-10A/L or 6L. If you’re traveling with a companion choose 2-4D/H or 8-10D/H. The center seats aren’t ideal if you’re traveling solo because there isn’t a privacy divider installed. Rows 1, 5 and 7 are in close proximity to the galley or lavatory and are best avoided.

American Airlines Boeing 777-200 cabin layout  Source: Expert Flyer
American Airlines Boeing 777-200 cabin layout  Source: Expert Flyer

In-Flight Entertainment

The in-flight entertainment system (“IFE”) has a large crisp touchscreen with a selection of latest release movies, TV programs, audio selections, games and 5 live steaming  TV channels. You can check to see what’s playing on your upcoming flight here.

In-flight entertainment system ("IFE")
In-flight entertainment system (“IFE”)

The IFE can also be controlled using a corded remote contained in the the main storage compartment. This is where you’ll also find a traditional power port, 2 USB charging ports and the 3-prong headphone port.

Main storage compartment
Main storage compartment

There’s a second smaller storage container where you’ll find a pair of noise canceling headphones. American recently replaced their Bose headsets with Bang & Olufsen H9i headsets. I found the sound quality to be slightly better than the Bose predecessor with tighter bass and a clearer top end. The noise cancelation was also very good.

Secondary storage compartment

The tray table is large and very sturdy. It was perfectly suitable for dining and working on my laptop, just not at the same time.

Tray table
Tray table

There was a bottle of water at each seat in the lower open storage area. Doctors recommend you drink eight ounces of ̶w̶i̶n̶e̶ water for every hour you’re on a flight so stay hydrated. I often use this compartment to stow my shoes. Giraffes wear shoes? Perhaps!

Lower storage compartment
Lower storage compartment

Amenity Kit

American recently teamed up with This is Ground, a downtown Los Angeles based leather goods manufacturer. A month after they launched their first product line in 2013 they scored a distribution deal with Apple. Now that’s impressive. The international business class amenity kit version comes in a few different variations. The one I received on this flight was a zippered version in a lovely blue. The kit contains body lotion, a dental kit, earplugs, eye mask, lip balm, mints, mouthwash, a pen, socks and a pack of tissues.

This is Ground amenity kit
This is Ground amenity kit

Service

Service on this flight was very good for American. Upon boarding the purser checked my boarding pass and directed me to my seat with a smile. She didn’t address me by name, but I’m okay with that in business class.

About 10-minutes after boarding pre-departure beverages (“PDBs”) were offered. American serves Collet Brut Art Déco 1er Cru Champagne on this route, which retails for around $45 a bottle. It’s a  40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier blend, which is aged for a minimum of four years and is quite tasty. I chose a glass of Champagne and water as my PDBs. My one criticism of American is that they serve PDBs in plastic glasses, which feels cheap and is also bad for the environment.

Pre-departure beverages ("PDBs")
Pre-departure beverages (“PDBs”)

Food and Beverage Menu

Food and beverage menus were distributed following PDBs. There were 4 options for main plates and 3 dessert options.

Food menu
Food menu

American has a fairly standard spirit menu, but if you’re a beer connoisseur they offer 6 different beers.

Beverage menu
Beverage menu

The wine list on this flight was acceptable. They had two whites including Italian Nals Margreid Chardonnay ($20 per bottle) and French Château Mezain 2017 Bordeaux Blanc ($15 per bottle). They also had two reds including American Substance Cabernet Sauvignon ($15 per bottle) and Italian Cantine Santa Vittoria Barbaresco ($25 per bottle).

Wine menu
Wine menu

Food and Beverage

Shortly after takeoff drink orders were taken. I ordered a diet coke with lemon, which was accompanied by warm mixed nuts in a ceramic ramekin. I also ordered a glass of sparkling water.

First drink service and warm mixed nuts
First drink service and warm mixed nuts

The starter was poached lemon grass prawns with paprika coriander sauce, which was quite tasty. It was served on the same platter as the side salad. The flight attendant came around with a bread basket and I decided to give in and have a pretzel roll.

Prawn starter and side salad
Prawn starter and side salad

For my main course I selected the honey and soy marinated salmon served with grits and broccoli. The salmon was delicious, but the grits didn’t look too appetizing.

Salmon main
Salmon main

For dessert I selected the chocolate mousse duo. This was delightful and I highly recommend it if you have an upcoming American flight.

Chocolate mousse duo dessert
Chocolate mousse duo dessert

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Approved

The hard product on the 777-200 with B/E Diamond Seats is excellent and blows the Zodiac seats out of the water. The service and food greatly exceeded my expectations. When comparing both the hard and soft product to Iberia, which flies the same route American wins in both categories. You have a choice when flying a OneWorld carrier from Madrid to New York and you should go with American.

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