American’s New 777-200 Retrofit Revealed.. And Business Class Could Be Very Good Indeed

American got a page up about their Boeing 777-200 retrofit.

Here’s the business class seat:

I mentioned yesterday that they would unveil their new product this week. And no doubt there will be more beyond these two photos of the seat to come.

I’ve written that I think American’s 777-300ER business class seat is the best across the Atlantic though of course it’s not on nearly enough planes yet. It’s an improvement on the seat that US Airways pioneered, and is essentially the same seat flown by Cathay Pacific and EVA Airways as well as Delta on their Pacific (and Tel Aviv) routes.

This one could be better as a result of more personal space, because of one major change noted below.

Here’s how they describe the retrofit:

The retrofit offers significant updates throughout the entire plane. These include a two-class cabin configuration with American’s new Business Class seats, complete with fully lie-flat and all-aisle access giving you a spacious, personal and private inflight experience. These ultramodern seats are fully adjustable and convert to 6-foot-4.5-inch fully lie-flat beds to ensure a rested journey from beginning to end. And Business Class customers will have access to a walk-up bar stocked with a selection of snacks and refreshments. In addition, we’ll add 45 Main Cabin Extra seats to offer you up to six more inches of legroom to stretch out.

In each cabin, we’re offering increased connectivity and updated inflight entertainment including international Wi-Fi and extended personal in-seat entertainment with more than 200 movies, 180 TV shows and a large collection of games and audio programs. Throughout the plane, customers will also enjoy a modern interior, with unique lighting, a dramatic archway, and ceiling design that creates a feeling of spaciousness.

And here’s the details on the business class product:

  • Adjustable forward-and rear-facing Business Class seats that transform into fully lie-flat 6-foot-4.5-inch beds with more sleeping space
  • Aisle access at every seat, meaning easier access to move about the cabin
  • International Wi-Fi capability keeping you connected anywhere on the globe
  • Universal 110v AC power outlets and USB ports at every seat
  • A 17-inch touchscreen monitor offers up to 250 movies, more than 180 TV programs and more than 350 audio selections
  • Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets for use in flight
  • Walk-up bar stocked with a selection of snacks and refreshments
  • Amenity kits that double as tablet cases, stocked with Dermalogica® skincare products
  • Here’s the big news!

    • Rear-facing seats: You still get all-aisle access, so this isn’t about cramming in more seats the way British Airways and United (on their legacy 777s) do it. This is about getting more personal space than they offer on even the 777-300ER that I like so much.

    • Bigger personal video screen: It’s 17″ compared to 15.4″ on the 777-300ER (which I find to be plenty). It’s also a touch screen like the new A321 has.

    Here’s a photo of the walk-up bar:

    It looks very similar to the bar on the 777-300ER, of course, so strictly speaking this isn’t “new”

    Here are American’s other new inflight products:

    I can’t wait to see the extent to which the 777-200 business class seat is an incremental improvement over what they’re offering onboard the 777-300ER. If it’s better indeed it could be the best business class hardware out there, though of course that remains to be seen since it hasn’t flown yet.

    The aircraft itself won’t have a first class cabin, and at least historically American has amped up its service a bit on their 2-cabin aircraft compared to their 3-cabin service in business, or that’s my impression anyway. It will still be American service which means it will be highly crew-dependent, with decent food and amenities and good inflight entertainment. International wifi is of course a plus, provided that they’re able to maintain consistent service.

    Of course, business class award inventory on American has been a scarce beast of late. So I’ll likely need to buy a coach ticket and use one of my Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer) upgrade certificates in order to see it some time after the summer travel season.

    About Gary Leff

    Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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    1. The idea of rear facing and forward facing seats is pretty cool. It is a novel improvement over the 777-300er seats to accommodate to the 777-200 wide body.

      Look forward to a review in the near future, Gary!

    2. Aha, any interesting post indeed.

      Coming to a 777-200 near you…when?

      What precisely is “cool” about facing backwards?

      And is the screen really that much smaller, or is that an optical illusion?

    3. @Robert Hanson – the benefit of rear-facing is that they should be able to squeeze more personal space into the business class suite itself. United uses a forward-back system in business class in order to squeeze 8-across into their legacy “new” business class 777s. American will do front/back and still have just four seats (as they have in the 777-300ER front-facing).

      My guess is that the screen issue above is an optical illusion but can’t wait to see for myself.

    4. It appears seats are losing 3.5″ of bed space relative to the 777-300. I’m not at the moment thinking this will be a plus. I also don’t see how this is going to create ‘more’ personal space – as they are jamming two ‘bodies’ into the same general space front and back (one forward – one back)…so in terms of real estate it’s a 2-2-2 cabin fully flat if you consider the sq ft of floor space – just that it’s on a slant.

      I also (think I) see a lack of personal storage space. Gone (it appears) is the shoulder height cubby from the 777-300.

      Of course, this WILL be an improvement over the existing 777-200 – without question – but what I’m seeing has me thinking I’ll still seek out the 777-300 when possible.

    5. Now that AA and DL have introduced better international products, and LH is updating its seats, do you think UA will update its now-dated 8-across product?

      I’d bet against it, UA management has a track record of being penny wise pound foolish. They won’t see the benefit of providing aisle access from every seat or even a walk-up bar.

    6. Do you know the current routes of the new planes particularly the 777-300? I havent been to LHR recently and don’t have plans to fly to Sao Paolo so I am not sure when I will have a chance to fly the new planes.

    7. I’m really concerned with shoulder space. The pictures make it look VERY tight.

      Also, why lose the storage space under the triangle-shaped side table? It doesn’t appear that there’s anything obvious taking up that space in the new seat. So now everything has to go up into the overhead bins for takeoff and landing? Meh.

    8. Stop the presses. Are the former First class amenities going to be given out in J on the new two-class birds?

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