Welcome to the first article in a rebooted Flight Reviews series, in which I’ll take a look at the onboard product offered by airlines across a variety of aircraft types and routes. These first-person reports will review a particular flight — a unique combination of factors including operating airline, aircraft type, route and class of service.
This series kicks off with an exciting flight offering: a wide body, internationally configured aircraft operating on a domestic route. Let’s start with some basic flight details:
Airline/Flight: American Airlines, AA1247
Route: Miami to New York-JFK
Flight Date: October 8, 2022
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER (Type 2)
I took this flight as part of a longer itinerary from Gainesville, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts, making it the second segment of a three-flight journey. I was excited for the Boeing 777 operating on the Miami to New York segment as the aircraft is larger, more comfortable and has a wheelchair accessible lavatory.
How I booked the flight
Flights from Gainesville, Florida were expensive on the day that I traveled, due to it being homecoming weekend at the University of Florida. Rather than using cash to book the ticket, I took advantage of one of American’s “Web Special” deals and redeemed frequent flyer miles for the ticket. The total cost was 7,500 AAdvantage miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees — a great deal!
Although I booked an economy class ticket, I received complimentary upgrades to first class on all three flights, including this one, due to my Executive Platinum status in the airline’s frequent flyer program. Elite status members in the AAdvantage program are entitled to free upgrades on a space available basis.
American Airlines Boeing 777-200 Seating Layout
American Airlines has two different seating configurations on its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. On this flight, the aircraft feature the Type 2 configuration, with 37 forward-facing business class seats, 24 premium economy seats and 212 economy class seats.
The Type 1 interior has the same number of seats, but half of the business class seats are rear-facing and inaccessible to wheelchair users. Detailed seat maps and drawings are available from aeroLOPA at the following links: Type 1 and Type 2.
Business Class Seat
The forward-facing business class seats on American’s Boeing 777 with the “Type 2” configuration are Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats. The Super Diamond is one of the industry’s most common business class seat types and is used by carriers worldwide — it’s my personal favorite.
The seat is spacious and comfortable, with the capability to lay fully flat. Although my flight was a fairly short one of just under 3 hours, I used the feature a couple of times for pressure relief. That’s a major advantage for full-time wheelchair users like me and, on long international flights it’s more a necessity than a luxury.
Seat features are controlled via a control panel adjacent to the seat — with just a touch of the screen, it’s possible to recline into a lounge position or further into flat bed mode.
Each business class seat features a 15.4-inch entertainment screen, which can be controlled by touching the screen or using a handheld remote found in a storage compartment adjacent to the seat. A large library of movies, TV shows and live television channels will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Business class is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, with direct aisle access at every seat. The seat shell impedes passenger transfers from the aisle chair to a degree, but it’s much better than the walls and doors which enclose the least accessible airplane business class seats.
Food & Beverage Service
The international flights on which this aircraft type typically operates offer a multi-course meal service with ordering from a printed menu, but the meal service on this flight was a typical domestic first class offering.
I started with a glass of water and a cocktail — Woodford Reserve bourbon on the rocks, my favorite. The meal consisted of a salad with grilled chicken, a hard boiled egg, shredded cheese and other accompaniments. A small chocolate cake was provided as dessert. The meal hit the spot and I enjoyed it.
There is no secondary snack service provided on a flight of this length, but I requested some Biscoff cookies from the economy class offering later in the flight. They pair nicely with a cup of coffee (or a final glass of bourbon)!
The accessible lavatory on the American Airlines Boeing 777-200ER is located behind seat 5A, just forward of boarding door 2L. About 90 minutes into the flight, I rang the call bell and told the flight attendant that I needed to use the lavatory. Within a few minutes, he returned with the onboard aisle wheelchair and used it to push me into the accessible lavatory.
Accessible lavatories come in a number of shapes and sizes, and some are much more accessible than others. I’m happy to report that the American Airlines Boeing 777 features what I consider to be among the best accessible lavatory styles, with space to park the onboard aisle wheelchair directly alongside the toilet. The design allows for safe, lateral transfers between the aisle chair and toilet, with space for a travel companion or caregiver to provide assistance.
For more information on getting to and using the bathroom on the airplane as a wheelchair user, read the article on wheelchair accessible airplane lavatories, which contains photos and descriptions of the various lavatory styles.
This trip offered a rare opportunity to experience a premium aircraft cabin on a domestic flight and it did not disappoint. The business class cabin featured a comfortable lay flat seat, a tasty meal service and my favorite cocktail. That was great. Most important, however, was the freedom to use the toilet during the flight — a freedom that existed due to the presence of an accessible lavatory on the airplane.
If you find the opportunity to fly on an internationally configured wide body aircraft on a domestic route, your experience is certain to be a better one — especially if you use a wheelchair.