Flight: Charlotte Douglas (NC) to London Heathrow
Airline: American Airlines
Flight Number: AA732
Plane: Boeing 777-200
Cabin: Flagship Business
Charlotte is one of American Airline’s major hubs on the ‘sort of’ East-ish Coast (though I am sure many would argue it’s the Mid-West), as well as JFK, PHL, MIA and ORD.
American Airlines operate either two or three daily flights from Charlotte to London Heathrow, depending on the season:
AA730 @ 18:45- lands Heathrow @ 07:40
AA732 @ 20:15 – lands Heathrow @ 09:05
AA734 @ 23:20 – lands Heathrow @ 12:15 (season)
Each flight is about 7:50 in length, and I believe all operated on the Boeing 777-200.
We all have our own preferences for flight times, and some people may see the 18:45 as preferable, as it gives you a whole day in London. I prefer much later flights (in my view they help with jet lag), so would have taken the 23:30, but because it’s seasonal it wasn’t operating on the date I travelled. For me, landing at 09:00 into Heathrow and trying to stay away for the day is a struggle! But on this occasion I managed it somehow!
This was a connection for me (positioning flight) back to the UK, so all my checking in was already done.
This means when landing in Charlotte, I walked straight from my gate to the departing gate – via the Lounge of course!
American Airlines offer two lounges in Charlotte’s Douglas Airport (CLT). The Admirals Club in Concourse B and the Admirals Club in Concourse D.
In my view, the Admirals Clubs in CLT don’t quite cut it for those flying internationally. The food is cheese cubes and the usual ‘domestic’ food offered, and there are no showers. So, before my flight, I headed over to the American Express Centurion Lounge for dinner and a shower, which is at Concourse D/E.
My flight was on American’s Boeing 777-200 – image borrowed from my trip from New York!
My understanding is that American’s 777-200’s are configured the same with 37 x Business Class seats, 24 x Premium Economy Seats and 212 Economy Seats – a total of 273 seats.
I was sitting in 1L back to Heathrow, and I’ve reviewed the exact same seat on the 777-200 here. This seat was slightly different in that the table ‘slid down’ from under the screen, and the screen didn’t have to be ‘flipped out’. There are some small variances between American’s Business Class offerings, I believe they are all technically ‘Flagship Business’ – but the seats have some small differences.
One thing I was thankful when I boarded is that the ground staff had put the bedding above the screen. This is a piece of thoughtfulness I appreciated, as so often I find all the bedding dumped on the seat, which you then spend 10 minutes blocking the aisle putting away. So well done Charlotte ground staff for that one!
Food and Drink
Before takeoff the Cabin Crew came around with Champagne, Orange Juice and Water.
The Champagne offered was Durval-Leroy Brut Reserve NV, which retails about £40 a bottle – so not a bad choice!
Once taken off, a pre-meal drinks service was offered. As always on American, I took Dos Equis, which was severed with hot nuts in a bowl (take note BA!).
Other drinks offered a decent set of wines, beers and soft drinks. I generally find that American’s choices of wine are pretty good, and I was even offered a little wine taste – which was pretty good!
Depending how and where I fly, I find American’s dinner service to vary. Sometimes it’s offered as a 3-course meal and other times 2-course. Given the relatively short flight to London, I was happy for this to be service as a 2-course meal, which it was.
As usual, I’d pre-ordered my meal using the AA website, and the Cabin Crew had my order ready and noted. I was offered a choice to change (like my Seattle flight), but I was happy with my choice!
There was a single starter offered, which was Latin Shaved Beef, along with a Seasonal Greens salad.
Main meal options were:
- Herb grilled beef filet
- Herbed roasted chicken breast
- Macadamia crusted sea bass
- Artichoke ravioli
I went for the beef filet, which was pretty good – although this was a bit of a beefy dinner!
Options for desert were:
- Ice cream sundae
- Cheese plate
- Salted caramel tartlet
I am usually stuck between the sundae and cheese – but often the cheese is put out for snacks later on, so I went for the sundae. As always on AA, it was pretty good!
Breakfast offered on the flight were two options:
- Swiss cheese omelet
- Fresh fruit bowl
I am not entirely why suddenly airlines have scrapped theFull English options (British Airways have too) – but it seems it’s the way things are going!
I went for the omelet, which was served with biscuits and fruit.
I’d say this is one of the best breakfasts I’ve had on American for several years – so pretty good!
I am always appreciate of with American Airlines and their snacks. They seem to be more hearty and wholesome than other airlines who shove out some crips and other bare minimum things.
In this case I was going to sleep and didn’t touch the snacks – but here’s a picture of the galley snacks from another flight I took with American recently.
I’d previously complained on a flight I took with American recently about the Amenities Kit offered, which I said was cheap looking from Shinola.
I’m not sure what has happened, but the good old-fashioned high-quality Amenities Kits were back from American on this flight! These were also from Shinola, but the quality of the bag really nice.
Inside the Amenities Kit was
- Lip balm
- Body lotion
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- The world’s smallest pen
All in all I thought this was pretty good, and seemed to back to AA’s pre-Covid high-end Amenities Kit standards!
Wifi was available on the plane. I am not quite sure how American price their Wifi, but does seem to be at times fairly random.
A 2-hour flight pass was $29, but a full flight (just under 8 hours) was $35. These prices are much different from daytime flight I’ve had with American, where a full-flight day pass has been around $20 to $25.
There may be all kinds of reasons behind this beyond my comprehension – maybe Satellite Internet is more expensive at night? I am not sure, but as I intended to sleep, I didn’t need the Wifi for anything I was doing………..and if it was daytime, I would be been pretty peeved to pay $35, to be honest.
I tend to find that American’s entertainment system is pretty good – and this flight didn’t disappoint.
There was plenty of movies, TV and music on this flight. I quite enjoyed watching one AA’s originals, which was a couple visiting South Carolina and Charleston (one of my favourite places in the US…………in fact in the world).
Unlike BA (who seemingly can’t be bothered), American do seem to update their IFE on a monthly basis, so there is plenty of ‘new’ things to look at.
I always find that American’s IFE screens are just the right size, and always work perfectly.
For those who don’t know, American offer headphones with the IFE……….These are Bang and Olufsen headphones. They are OK, but nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, American have an opposing view, and around 90mins before landing will collect the headphones, and will replace them with cheap and nasty Avis wired headphones……..This is extremely strictly enforced, and the headphones counted in – and trust me they are counted, as I’ve had Cabin Crew on other AA flights demand to check bags (not mine) to check nobody is walking off the plane with them! This whole ‘headphone-gate’ thing is something that does tend to sour an otherwise pretty good Business Class experience – especially as the headphones aren’t that good.
I’ll say it here now………….American Airlines’ Cabin Crew can be a real mixed bag, and you really don’t know what you’re going to get.
The good news is that AA’s Cabin Crew for this flight were great! In fact, usually AA’s Cabin Crew out of Charlotte are always fun and friendly – must be a North Carolina thing!
Dinner service was fast and efficient – ostensibly because they knew people wanted to get to sleep on a relatively short flight. I was invited to try both the Reds on offer with my dinner, as a little wine tasting exercise. I was regularly offered re-fills. I was even thanked for being a OneWorld Emerald member – that’s never happened to me on a flight with AA before!
Another thing, which I really appreciate on AA, is they will push the breakfast service as late as they possibly can – which is what they did on this flight. It’s not unknown for AA’s breakfast to start 35mins before landing – which on a New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, etc really helps add that bit extra sleep in!
So, hats off to the Cabin Crew – they did great!
Landing in Heathrow
For various holding reasons we didn’t land until 09:30, which wasn’t a huge issue for me………more sleep!
Luggage came out fairly quickly (albeit that Passport Control was being woefully slow).
I then headed to the rather fantastic American Airlines Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, which is a great arrivals lounge, for a shower and a de-brief with colleagues.
This was a great flight, and classic American Airlines at its best. The 7-and-a-bit-hour flights are always pretty hellish for sleep, timezone changes, and being dumped into Heathrow relatively early – but the service was conducted in a way which maximized sleep time for passengers – which was really good!
The Cabin crew were great, hard product was great, food was AA’s usual hearty self – so well done to AA for this!
The only two small gripes I have are (a) the lounges and not having showering facilities; and (b) ‘headphone-gate’, but that it something that’s been going on for years!
Other than that, this flight is the exact reason I prefer American Airlines as my preferred carrier for positioning transatlantic routes!
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