Airline review: American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Los Angeles to Sydney, business class

THE ROUTE

Los Angeles to Sydney AA73

THE PLANE

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

American Airlines is part of the Oneworld loyalty scheme.

CLASS

Flagship Business, seat 1L

DURATION

15 hours, 5 minutes, with on-time departure.

FREQUENCY

Daily

CHECKING IN

The irritation of flying from Sydney to the US – regardless of class – is having to collect your baggage after customs clearance and rechecking it for a domestic leg. Not so for the opposite route – if you are flying domestically (on the same airline) prior to your international flight, your luggage is checked through to Sydney. I departed from Las Vegas, with speedy priority business class check-in. Immigration was also surprisingly fuss-free, with no extra security after we arrived in Los Angeles. With my domestic flight slightly delayed, I literally stepped from one gate to the next at LAX Terminal 4 and was soon winging my way back home. It all felt too easy.

THE LOUNGE

Business Class customers have access to the American Airlines premium Flagship Lounge at LAX, featuring dishes created in partnership with James Beard Foundation chefs. Due to my late arrival at LAX, I unfortunately had no time to experience this.

BAGGAGE

The Business Class allowance is a monstrous two pieces of checked luggage, up to 32 kilograms each, priority tagged for first-off-the-carousel convenience.

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THE SEAT

If there's one international flight where you'll appreciate business class, it's this overnighter. The 11pm departure time is perfectly conducive for decent shut-eye, and with a flat bed to snooze in, even this light sleeper arrives feeling well-rested. The 1-2-1 herringbone configuration of the 30 Business Class seats means everyone has aisle access, so there are no awkward "excuse me" moments as you make a mid-flight pitstop.

COMFORT

The stylish pods have been thoughtfully designed; there is ample storage, USB charging and headphone plugs are well away from errant elbows, and the touch-screen seat recliner is within easy reach. The leather seats fully recline to a flat bed, with comfort enhanced by a padded seat cover, a doona and a large pillow. Add slippers and a pair of grey "Casper" pyjamas (so comfy, I'm still wearing them!) and I'm ready to dream. Mind you, while the 21-inch (53 cm) seat width was adequate for my slight frame, a king-sized bed it ain't; I wouldn't want to be any larger.

ENTERTAINMENT

Long-haul flights are an opportunity to catch up on the latest movies and TV series, so I'm excited to don those superb Bang & Olufsen noise-cancelling headphones and work my way through the extensive new release offerings (69 in total), including Oscar contenders (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Sundance indie darlings such as After the Wedding. After I wake, I also binge on all six episodes of Fleabag in the TV section.

SERVICE

After attentive service on my outbound flight, I'm a little miffed by the indifference of my steward on this flight, who doesn't bother introducing herself, never raises a smile and seems irked when I interrupt her book reading to request a refill of my water bottle (after she'd ignored my request button). Perhaps she was just having a bad night. Or it was a good book.

GOING GREEN

American Airlines does not have a consumer carbon offset program, but claim their young fleet is more energy efficient, using less fuel and reducing emissions. From a consumer perspective, I find the indiscriminate handing out of single-use plastic bottles of water on board an unacceptable nod to convenience.

FOOD

As a pescatarian who has neglected to pre-select meals, I'm pleased to see a plant-based canapé (a yummy pop-in-your-mouth truffled mushroom tart) on the menu, as well as both a vegetarian (asiago gnocchi) and a fish option (sea bass) amongst the four mains. The fish goes down easily with an accompanying glass of delicious Dipinti Chardonnay from Italy – part of an impressive selection from Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey. A mid-flight snack of either Wagyu Beef sliders or a vegetarian Mezze Plate is available for those who aren't sleeping; while the breakfast service begins with a delicious mixed berry smoothie and a chocolate croissant, but then descends with a stock-standard American breakfast (passable scrambled eggs and a weird turkey ham which I pick around).

ONE MORE THING

The window-facing A and L seats are the pick of the configuration for privacy; the two middle seats are angled inwards, meaning you can glimpse your neighbour's screen. Fine and sociable for travelling companions, however.

VERDICT

A good night's sleep is the best way to make me happy, and stretching out in the comfy and thoughtfully-designed business class pods really hit the spot. The service on this particular flight may not have been the most engaging, but at least I was left to slumber in peace.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★

Julie Miller was a guest of American Airlines, see americanairlines.com.au

See also: Airline review: The US airline that excels in service

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