I Flew On The Plane That's The 'New Face' Of American Airlines — And It Was Unbelievable


Chris Sloan/Airchive

Editor’s note: Last month, American Airlines celebrated the inaugural flight of its new 777-300ER aircraft from Dallas to Sao Paulo, a landmark event for the troubled airline.With the January 31 flight, American became the first operator of the 310-seat airliner in America. It also marked the unveiling of AA’s new look, a silver-bodied plane with an updated logo that’s an abstract take on the airline’s eagle mascot.

Chris Sloan, an aviation expert and the executive producer of the Travel Channel series “Airport 24/7: Miami,” rode the inaugural flight, and was seriously impressed by the experience.

“From a passenger perspective, this is one of the very best flights I have ever been on regardless of airline, aircraft, and destination,” wrote Sloan, who paid for the trip at his own expense.

He was kind enough to share photos from the experience with us, as well as his take on the flight and what it means for American Airlines. You can read his story on the airline and flight here, or find out even more about the experience on his blog, Airchive.com.

All quotes and photos are straight from Chris.

American's second Boeing 777-300ER, N718AN, seen at DFW Gate D-23, the day of departure flew the inaugural flight. It signifies the birth of a new airline.

The flag on the tail was critiqued as being gaudy and incongruous with the elegance of the fuselage. In person, it is much more appealing and grows on you.

American's GE90-115B engines develop up to 115,000 pound of thrust to carry a maximum payload of nearly 800,000 pounds. They were de-rated on take-off for our flight. I am glad they weren't spooling up when I was standing in front of these behemoths.

With the importance of Latin America and booming Brazil to American Airlines, it's no accident Sao Paulo was chosen to be the inaugural flight of the new 777-300ER. Our flight departed right on time. American's new counter and terminal branding will debut shortly at DFW's remodeled Terminal A.

American Gate D-23 at DFW is the site of the understated and brief inaugural, with a small pre-boarding snack buffet. The highlight was the AA 777-300ER branded cookies.

American Airlines CEO Tom Horton greets the American Airlines team working the gate.

Being welcomed aboard the new American 777-300ER. The aircraft was stunning, but the very friendly crew are what made the flight.

I almost thought I was boarding Cathay Pacific with this nice face welcoming us aboard. Different faces of American crew are placed randomly on screens throughout the cabin, very clever and personal.

For a US domestic carrier, the eight Zodiac UK First Class Seats are in a league all of their own with swivel seating, two in-flight entertainment controls, an electronically controlled privacy divider, and an ottoman that becomes a seat for invited guests.

This cabin is remarkably intimate and is exclusive to American's 777-300ER. Flagship Suites will be removed from all other American aircraft.

The connectivity box for the American Airlines First Class Flagship Suites is well designed so that all the cables are stored in the box but thread out the bottom. The vanity mirror is a nice touch.

An electronically controlled visor between the middle First Class seats adds an additional level of privacy.

The seat controls, privacy lamp switch, and visor in American First Class are operated by this iPod-looking device.

The new upgraded First Class amenity kit is exclusive to the 777-300ER Flagship Suites. The amenity kit doubles as an iPad case. CEO Tom Horton came back to Business and personally gave me his without even me asking for it.

The First Class seat set up for dining.

And in upright position.

American's new comfortable Business Class seats convert into lie-flat beds bringing them on-par with their domestic and international competitors. American was late to do this, but the wait was worth it especially replacing its tired angled-bed current Business Class product.

The new American Sigma Business Class cabin is upgraded with an incredibly roomy configuration with 50-two seats 75

This cabin will be the similar to the new 777-200 Business Cabin as these aircraft will no longer have First Class Flagship Suites.

In-flight entertainment, seat controls, and a reading light are conveniently located at eye and shoulder level on the American Boeing 777-300ER Sigma seat.

American sacrificed capacity for a significantly upgraded passenger experience in Business as this class is the main driver for business travel and premium revenue. The Bose headphones and cubbyhole storage box, complete with vanity mirror in Business Class. The self-charging Bose plug into a 3-prong socket in the box, but room is left to allow the door to close with cables plugged in. The seat controls and in-flight entertainment are located here as well.

Following in the footsteps of Emirates and Lufthansa, American ups the ante in the lavatory. The Premium Class lavatories are among the most well appointed in the air with the granite floor texture, high-end boutique hotel sink, and electronically controlled faucet from the 787. They elicited many positive responses from customers.

The new Main Cabin Extra Weber seats have 17

The standard Main Economy Cabin's 214 Weber seats are also leather-clad but remain at 31

After a quick 30-second, 5,000 feet, and quiet take-off roll, we are airborne over Dallas/Ft. Worth heading east to thunderous applause.

American Airlines Captains John Hale, the VP of 777 Flight Operations and Bill Elder, Fleet Training and Familiarization on the capacious flight deck of the 777-300ER.

Due to the length of the 777-300ER, there are three cameras to allow for ground operations – one on each horizontal stabilizer and front landing gear. They are visible to pilots on the Navigation Display while on the ground.

The Flight Deck Crew's Rest quarters are quite roomy indeed.

Business Class Appetizer service on the Inaugural Flight is now branded International Premium Service. The menus, china, and flatware are new.

Business Class Dinner service on the Inaugural Flight is now Called International Premium Service. The menus, china, and flatware are new. The wrong menus were loaded aboard – but no matter there were 4 entrée choices including this delicious chicken curry.

The International Premium Service might be new, but ice cream sundaes are an American Airlines tradition. Founder C.R. Smith loved his sundaes so they weren't about to go anywhere. This was my favourite dessert anywhere until I could no longer eat dairy products…damn!

Main Cabin in cruise following the meal service, the Dreamliner 787-inspired lighting changes to a darker blue ceiling and red sidewalls look.

With their 777-300ER, American becomes the first U.S. carrier with a standup bar / buffet for Premium Class since the 1970s. This is also the uncluttered and welcoming entry for the aircraft a la the Dreamliner. Located between First and Business Class, the bar is fully stocked following the dinner service. The Plasma screen is a nice touch.

Our 2nd Business Class meal, breakfast was served just 60 minutes before arrival into Sao Paulo.

We arrived 1 minute ahead of schedule into Sao Paulo GRU despite having to deviate around the weather, which seems built into American's schedules to Brazil and Latin American countries affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, especially during their summer.

Though two fire trucks lined up for our Water Cannon Salute at Sao Paulo's GRU, the vehicle on our side of the plane never sprayed.

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