Airline: American Airlines
Route: LHR - ORD
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
As I boarded for economy class in London last week, I received a surprise free upgrade to business class. There is one major issue with a last minute upgrade like this, the food. While I had ordered food in economy class that was a vegetarian/vegan meal, I knew it wouldn't carry to my upgraded seat. Changing my class of service so late means there just isn't enough time to remake the meal and have it loaded onto the plane. The plane had already landed about 1 hour late and was delaying us as it was, so cater had long finished for this flight.
After boarding and taking my seat, I spoke to the flight attendant and he gave me a few options. I could either have my economy meal moved up to business class, or choose the vegetarian option available on the standard business class menu. I opted for the standard meal, as this was an unexpected business class review for me, I wanted to try a business class meal. Unfortunately these meals were loaded with dairy… not ideal, but I’ll try it and see how it is.
On the menu, a pasta dish was the vegetarian option for this flight. This seems to be pretty standard for the regular meal portion, pasta always seems to be the go to. So I ordered that meal prior to takeoff. The rest of the menu was vegetarian as well, so there was no need to worry about that.
Let me take a quick moment to praise this crew. My previous experience with American Airlines international business class was out of Buenos Aires and completely terrible. Jeff was the flight attendant assigned to my aisle on this flight, and he was fantastic. Jeff was proactive, pleasant, and kept us informed when an oven wasn’t working during service. He immediately came back and explained that one oven wasn’t working and that meant that the main course would be slightly delayed. Still I think everything came out in a timely fashion, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the delay, but I really appreciated him informing us. This level of service carried through the entire flight.
Now for the first course, we were started off with a standard side salad. What was different from the salads I’ve received before, was there were a ton of toppings. Lots of peppers, some parmesan cheese, though once again we received some bad balsamic vinaigrette. It always seems to be the same brand that I have an issue with, the oil always tastes off in the dressing. Overall, the salad was quite good though, despite the sub par dressing.
Alongside the salad was the appetizer, a caprese salad with a pesto sauce. Now I don’t eat cheese almost ever, but this cheese and pesto combination was fantastic. I’m already a huge pesto fan as is, put that on top of what tasted like fresh mozzarella and it became a winning combination. As for the tomato portion of the dish, I can’t say, personally I dislike tomatoes so that portion of the dish is going to have to be left to your imagination. Quickly on the topic of presentation, the attendant preparing the meals was great, the presentation for this meal was spot on and nowhere was it more apparent than with the appetizer.
Other portions of the first course were a seltzer water, yes I’m that boring, though the champagne on the ground was actually quite good. We were also offered our bread choice… naturally my love for pretzel bread won out here and as per usual it was fantastic.
After a few minutes wait due to the oven issue that Jeff had made us aware of, it was time for the main course. I had chosen the pasta with a cheese filling and a cream sauce. It was paired with some vegetables. Now the vegetables really needed to be more of a star in this dish. There were only two small pieces of asparagus and two small pieces of green bean. Neither of them went particularly well with the cream sauce that was plated with the pasta. Preferably the dish would have been far less cream sauce, if any, and many more veggies.
One thing the sauce did go well with was the pasta. Even though dairy is cut out of my daily life, cheese is probably the one thing that I still want to eat. From the cheese filling, to the pasta, to the sauce, this part of the dish was very well executed. It is fairly difficult to screw up pasta, other airlines have proved in the pasta that pasta can be very poorly executed. Not on this flight, the main course was quite good. Also, the portions for the other dishes seemed to be much larger. I really appreciated that the portion size for this dish wasn't too big. There are many courses to a meal like this and it is good that I never felt like I was overeating.
Lastly was dessert… which i didn’t have. Most people seem to choose the ice cream. My guess is that under this assumption, the other options are not stocked very well. Since I am toward the back of the business class section, the chocolate mousse was gone by the time I had a chance to choose. So I was left with dairy or dairy… i.e. cheese plate or the ice cream. I chose to pass on this, as I really didn’t want any more dairy in this meal.
Once dinner was cleared, I lounged in my seat and slept for a few minutes… angle flat seats suck. We passed over Canada and just as we were crossing back over into the US, it was time for our pre-landing snack… or lunch…. Weird to call it lunch since it was 7pm in the US and 3am in London… not sure which timezone they were referring to, oh well, time to try some more food.
The pre landing snack is all brought out on a single tray, which is fine for this portion of the flight. Once again a salad was served, and again many veggies on top were much appreciated. This time though, it was served with a lemon vinaigrette. I have never seen a lemon vinaigrette on the ground, but this is the second time I’ve had it in the air, I find that a little odd. However, once again, the lemon dressing was very very good.
For the main portion, there was a red pepper flat bread. I’d call it more of a pizza, but flat bread sounds more fancy so let's go with what they called it. Cheese topped, sauce and indeed red peppers. This was very well executed and tasty fantastic. Really this meal was one of the best I’ve had on a flight, surpassed only by the amazing Indian vegan food on United. Credit to the catering team out of London, what great meals came out of their kitchens.
Overall I have to take one more chance to praise this crew, they were professional, pleasant, and proactive. Every course came with the offer of a beverage, and even in between service portions of the flight, they responded quickly to coffee requests from my seat mates. Really top notch crew, and showed the night and day service options when compared to the terrible crew out of Buenos Aires. While I would suggest avoiding the angle flat seats, the soft product (food and service) was incredible. 10 out of 10, would fly again as they say… fantastic flight.