For my trip home from Doha, I decided to try the new Doha – New York service on American Airlines aboard the 777-200 in business class. While not in the same league as Qatar Airways, I walked away from the flight very satisfied.
American Airlines 777-200 Business Class Review (DOH-JFK)
Why fly American Airlines instead of Qatar Airways? First, so that I could review the two side-by-side (stay tuned). Second, because I have not reviewed a true longhaul flight on American Airlines in many years (London to New York is a bit short).
American launched service to Doha in June 2022 with a 777-300ER cabin, featuring four cabins of service, including first, business, premium economy, and economy. Weeks later, however, the route was downgraded to a 777-200 without a first class cabin.
Booking + Upgrade
I booked a one-way ticket from Doha to Los Angeles via New York for $ 1,065.52 in economy class. I no longer have Premier Executive status with American Airlines or friends with systemwide upgrades to spare, so I used 25,000 miles plus a $350 co-pay to upgrade to business class. Business class upgrades were available at the time of booking for the DOH-JFK flight or else I would not have gambled on a flight that long.
I arrived at Doha Hamad International Airport about three hours before my flight and pulled up to Door 4, the door marked for other airlines. I found the AA check-in the center, however, and it was deserted. I quickly checked in and soon was on my way to the Al Mourjan Lounge.
Boarding passes were scanned while entering the gate area. Security checks were performed randomly: I did not have to go through a second check. Boarding began almost a full hour before departure.
American Airlines (AA) 121
Doha (DOH) – New York (JFK)
Wednesday, October 12
Depart: 1:50 AM
Arrive: 09:00 AM
Duration: 15 hr, 10 min
Distance: 6,704 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 1L (Business Class)
Onboard, I was greeted by a male flight attendant I would not see again for the rest of the flight.
The surprise of the flight was stepping onboard and seeing Safran Concept D seats instead of Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats. According to the seat map, this flight was supposed to feature the Super Diamond seats (which I have reviewed before here). Instead, I found Safran (formerly Zodiac) Concept D seats configured 1-2-1 with alternating forward/backward facing seats.
These are still lie-flat seats and generally comfortable, but offer far less privacy and virtually zero personal storage. If you have the choice between these seats and the Super Diamonds, always take the Super Diamonds. However, I ended up sleeping quite well onboard for the majority of the flight.
One reason for that was the Casper bedding, which included a massive mattress pad, thick duvet, and large pillow.
I slept very well for nearly 10 hours.
Returning to the seat, there was an armrest that raised and lowered, but no storage inside:
Recline was controlled by a built-in electronic touchscreen
When in lie-flat mode, two additional buttons (up or down) were within reach:
The extent of the personal storage was a small shelf large enough for a wallet or mobile phone. I did appreciate there were two universal plugs (as well as two USB-A chargers):
Plus a coat hook, reading light, and passenger service unit to control the IFE and lights.
Overall, the lack of personal storage was annoying, but the seat is comfortable.
IFE + Wi-Fi
15.4 inch IFE screens include movies, TV shows, games, and music.
I actually watched two movies on this flight, including The Last Bus (it brought me to tears and I loved it) and The Black Phone (I’m not usually into horror movies, but this one was enjoyable).
The good news is AA offers very nice Bang & Olufsen noise-canceling headphones. The bad news is AA offers very nice Bang & Olufsen noise-canceling headphones; that is because flight attendants collect them an hour before landing. I understand you don’t want these stolen, but it is very annoying.
Sadly, the internet did not work for my flight. I prepared for this and had all my work done (the overnight nature of the flight was also timed well), but it was a shame that the internet simply did not work.
Overall, I give the crew a very positive review, though it started out rocky.
Upon boarding (after the initial greeting), the crew said nothing to me. They stared at me, but said nothing. A non-rev passenger sitting across the aisle from me was warmly greeted, but not me. I later found out they were quite suspicious at first when I took so many pictures upon boarding. But they never said anything.
But during the flight, the service got better…much better, actually. Kimberly, the purser, was charming and took great care of me. Kathy and Juliet were also attentive and kind. I really thought it was going to be one of those horrible AA flights with grouchy FAs, but I am very thankful just the opposite occurred. It was Kimberly who told me they were a bit “concerned” about my photos, but when I self-deprecatingly said I was just a crazy av-geek, all was well.
I think 21 years after 9/11, particularly in this digital and social media age, mobile phone cameras should not be alarming…but the important thing was that the crew was excellent overall and each one, in their own way, offered personalized service and made me feel welcome and valued onboard.
Food + Drink
One thing is certain, especially when compared to United Airlines (my usual carrier): you will not go hungry flying business class on American Airlines.
Pre-departure beverages (water, orange juice, or sparkling wine) were offered in plastic cups prior to departure.
Menus were sitting on the seat and I noted there were four entrees available, including the rack of lamb I had pre-ordered on AA.com.
Service began 20 minutes after takeoff, which I greatly appreciated because it later allowed me to maximize sleep. No warm mixed nuts were offered: an appetizer tray was served immediately with choice of beverage. It included a herb Arancini (Italian rice ball) with sweet tomato chutney and cream cheese as well as a salad with pomegranate and pine seeds, served with a choice of balsamic vinaigrette or parsley vinaigrette. Bread was also offered. I stuck to club soda for my beverage.
While taking meal orders, I was addressed by surname and asked if I still wanted my pre-selected choice, a spicy rack of lamb with creamy mushroom sauce, roasted potato wedges, asparagus wedges, and grilled tomatoes and peppers.
This was a really delicious dish, though tiny (as you can see by comparing the entire rack of lamb to my thumb in the picture below). I was glad I feasted in the Al Mourjan lounge prior to the flight, though there were also plenty of mid-flight snacks available.
I concluded the meal with a cheese plate followed by an ice cream sundae with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and whipped cream.
I fell asleep after dinner and awoke with about 3.5 hours of flight time left. I easily could have made it till breakfast but decided to order one of the mid-flight snack options, a Halloumi shawarma wrap. It was served on linen with a side of fruit and a spicy tomato sauce and really hit the spot.
Flight attendants also set up an elaborate snack selection in the buffet at the rear of the business class cabin. That included packaged snacks, water bottles, vegetable slices, sliced chicken, sandwiches, tomato and mozzarella, sliced fruit, and fresh fruit.
I had one more helping of fruit.
90 minutes before landing, breakfast began. I started with a cup of hot coffee.
Service was conducted via cart and I ordered the hot Arabic breakfast, which included a za’atar omelet with halloumi, lamb fatayer (a meat pie), roasted potatoes, asparagus, and tomato sauce. However, this is what I was served:
If you are thinking that looks more like fish, you would be correct. It was fish…apparently someone’s special meal. I wasn’t sure what it was (maybe a bad attempt at an omelet) and I did try it (it was not great for airline fish). I let a flight attendant know and she profusely apologized for serving someone’s special meal and offered me the omelet I had originally ordered:
Overall, I give AA high marks for the meal service on this flight.
Pajamas + Slippers + Amenity Kit
American Airlines offers complimentary pajamas on its longest flights in business class (currently Auckland, Sydney, and Doha), but I was not aware of this, it was not mentioned on the menu, and flight attendants did not proactively offer any. I am disappointed because I have never tried AA’s pajamas.
Slippers, however, were placed proactively at every seat.
So was an amenity kit, which was Shinola branded and included:
- DS & Durga lip balm and body lotion
- dental kit
Lavatories included an oversized square basin which is so much easier to use than the standard (small) sink. No other amenities were present beyond soap and paper towels.
We landed in New York about 30 minutes late due to headwinds, which made for a very tight connection to Los Angeles.
I chose to fly American Airlines from Doha to New York abroad the 777-200 in business class so that I could contrast it with Qatar Airways on the same 777 aircraft on the same route – stay tuned for that side-by-side comparison.
While it was not a perfect flight, it got better and I arrived in New York well-rested and well-fed. Is it the best business class product in the world? Certainly not. But it was quite serviceable and more than that, it was good enough that I would not hesitate to fly AA again, especially when I can upgrade.