Review – American Airlines 767-300 Business Class – MIA-JFK

After a quick flight from Orlando down to Miami, I hurried over to catch my connecting flight to JFK on the 767-300. This is an aircraft I have flown many times before, but never reviewed, so I figured since this was a bit longer of a route that I would start my trip report off here.

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Review – American Airlines 767-300 Business Class – MIA-JFK
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Review – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class – JFK-HKG
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Review – JAL 767-300 Economy Class – TPE-NRT/NRT-TPE
Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 61) – NRT

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I went out of my way to fly this particular route so I could review this product. I quite like the business class cabin on the refurbished 767-300 even though it lacks in several departments. American opted to refurbish only part of these aircraft as a stopgap since it will be retiring them in the coming years. Since the aircraft will be retired, American did not spring for the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) package. If you are on a longer haul route like Miami to San Francisco or Miami to Madrid, business class passengers are handed tablets with movies, music and games preloaded. Since only the business class cabin on this aircraft has been refurbished, that also means that the economy cabin is not a great place to spend any extended period of time. With all that said, on to the review!

American Airlines 2493
Miami (MIA) – New York – John F. Kennedy (JFK)
Depart:  7:05 AM
Arrive:  10:00 AM
Duration:  3 hours, 5 minutes
Aircraft:  Boeing 767-300
Seat: 8J (Business Class)

As I mentioned in my Introduction, I foolishly decided to do a mileage/status run to requalify for Platinum in the stretch of about 8 days – in (gasp!) economy. That left me needing to find a way to Taipei and being as paid tickets were ridiculously expensive since I was booking 2 days out, I opted for an award ticket so I could review Cathay Pacific’s business class product. That meant that my connecting flights from Orlando to New York were included in my award ticket, which cost me 70,000 American Airlines miles + ~$38 in taxes and fees. I consider this quite the value as paid tickets last minute were going for $1,200+ for economy.

We boarded on-time through doorway 1L where I crossed through the galley to the far side of the aircraft and then turned right into the business class cabin. The business class cabin on the 767-300 features fully lie flat seats in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. What is nice about this configuration is that every business class seat offers direct aisle access. 767 J

I made my way to the very last row of the business class cabin and took my seat at 8J – a window seat which has a desk buffer between the aisle and the seat. There was a blanket waiting at my seat when I boarded.

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The upside to this seat is that it is more private and you will not get bumped into by bags, passengers and carts. The downside is that due to the more private feel, the seat is also a bit more claustrophobic – especially for tall people like myself.

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I will do a more in-depth post on the best seats to pick on this particular aircraft later, but for now I will just say try to grab the even numbered seats in rows A and J as they offer the most privacy. Otherwise the odd numbered seats in rows A and J leave you quite exposed to the aisle:

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I quickly stowed my carry-on and took my seat. It is worth noting that the overhead bins on the A and J sides of the aircraft are a bit larger than those over rows D and G.

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There is a mini Main Cabin Extra (MCE) cabin directly behind the business class cabin, which also looked like it had been refreshed fairly recently.

Almost as soon as I took my seat, I watched someone from the economy cabin scurry up to the business cabin, grab a blanket off of a seat and then nearly run back to his seat. That was followed up by a guy with downright horrid BO (I’m talking it lingered for a solid minute or two even after he had gone back to his seat) who was looking for a place to stow – I kid you not – his bucket of KFC fried chicken and some sides. Of course the overhead bin with my bag in it was the obvious choice. That said, I really cannot fault the guy as I have been known to stink up a plane from time to time with a White Castle crave case or two (judge all you want – those little burgers are delicious).

After boarding the flight attendants came around with orange juice and waters on a tray as pre-departure beverages. I opted for a glass of orange juice.

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I much prefer actually being asked what I would like as a pre-departure beverage, but that’s just me being picky (read: a lush).

Once everyone was boarded the pilot came on over the PA to welcome us aboard and advise us of our flying time of just shy of 3 hours. I found it odd that at the end of his announcement he said he “hopes everyone has a blessed flight.” Now, I am not really a religious person, and the announcement did not bother me in the least, but that was the first time I can recall hearing anything like that from the captain.

The business class seats are fully lie flat seats that are very comfortable. Each seat features a desk area of sorts which is quite nice when you are trying to get work done on a flight. There are also multiple areas to store various sized items, which helps to add to the spacious feel of the seat.

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The seat controls are on the armrest area of the seat to either the left or right of the passenger (depending on which seat you are in).

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The controls are very poorly placed in my opinion/experience as they are right where you would naturally rest your elbow. I accidentally hit the controls with my arm no less than a dozen occasions during this flight (and previous flights for that matter). Just a very poor design.

Directly behind the seat controls under a door is the controller for things like audio, light and flight attendant call button.

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The tray table pops out from under the desk area, but is very difficult to get to stay back in place. I had to slam it several times just to get it to go back in place. There is also a small table that pops down in front of the seat which has a power plug behind it (which makes 2 total per seat).

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The footwell is good sized so long as you are sitting up. With the seat fully reclined however I could not fit my size 12 ½’s directly up and down.

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With the seat in the fully reclined position, I also could not lay flat on my back as the edges of the seats compressed my broader shoulders enough to make it uncomfortable. I also ran into an issue of not being able to lay flat on my back as my 6’5” body was too long for the bed.

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Coupled with the poor vertical foot room, I would all but rule out sleeping on your back on this aircraft if you are over 6’2” and have an men’s 11 foot or bigger. If you’re a side sleeper though you should be just fine.

While checking out the seat, I also noticed that there were no individual air vents on this aircraft. I quite like the individual air vents and was actually somewhat surprised this aircraft did not have them.

Prior to taking off, the flight attendant came by to take meal orders. During the discussion he joked that the crew were all aware of how long of a travel day I had ahead of me and that they were certain I would need a few cocktails to get through the day. At that point he proactively offered me a choice of cocktails which I quite appreciated!

The meal options were quiche with potatoes or steel cut oats with milk. I opted for the steel cut oats as the quiche and potatoes on AA are usually a bit bland to me. I ordered a Bailey’s and coffee to go along with my breakfast.

With that the boarding doors were closed and we pushed back for an on-time departure. After a quick taxi we were airborne flying out over downtown Miami and South Beach. I quite enjoy the morning sunrise views from an airplane window.

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After a smooth climb out over Miami the flight attendants came through the cabin with hot towels prior to the meal service.

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Unfortunately from about this point on the baby that was seated 4 rows in front of me started his crying tirade that lasted for about an hour.

Breakfast service was somewhat slow and the flight attendant working my aisle was pretty confused by the orders that the other flight attendant working the cabin had taken prior to departure. I am not sure why she was struggling with it so much, but she stood in the aisle with my steel cut oats for a solid minute before walking one more row back and asking if I had ordered the steel cut oats with a Bailey’s and coffee.

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The steel cut oats were good and are always a safe choice when you are flying with American. Unfortunately, due to the delay in getting the tray to me, they were pretty cold by the time I started eating. The fruit was good, albeit a bit on the dry side. I selected a biscuit from the bread basket which had croissants and baguettes in it. AA’s biscuits are excellent – soft and flaky – though I do wish they served them piping hot with some honey.

Overall, breakfast was about on par with what I have come to expect from AA domestic business class meals.

After breakfast I had a few more cups of coffee and then read through some magazines as no IFE tablets were passed out for this flight. Instead, the old school drop down TV’s from the ceiling were on showing various show and news clips.

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Oddly, even though the 767-300 is mostly a medium-to-long haul aircraft, there was no WiFi. I find this strange because most of AA’s fleet – including their short haul aircraft – has been outfitted with Go-Go WiFi already.

After a quick 2 ½ hours the captain came on the PA to advise us of our descent into JFK. We had a smooth descent into JFK where I deplaned and headed off to the international terminal to check out the British Airways Galleries Lounge before catching my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.

Final Thoughts

Overall there is a lot I like about this product, and a fair amount I do not. If you are tall like me, the seats can be a bit too small for comfort. No IFE (other than tablets on longer haul routes) on the aircraft also leaves a lot to be desired. I understand that this is a stopgap refurbishment, but the seat setup is actually pretty advanced/competitive and this just destroys that in my opinion. I think this is a great aircraft for a short-to-medium haul flight where you would otherwise be on a 737/757/A319/A320/A321, but for a long haul product, it really misses the mark.

What have your impressions of AA’s 767-300 been?

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