Flight Review: American Airlines Business Class Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita (LAX to NRT)

In this post, you’re going to get a 2-for-1 deal! This is a combined review of AA 169 and AA 170 in business class, which is Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo Narita (NRT) and back on Boeing 777-200s. I booked these tickets in coach and applied SWUs, which cleared about 3 days in advance in both directions.

It’s a little misleading because the official marketing title of the seats is “New Generation Business Class” (NGBC), which would imply that the seats are cutting edge, but they’re essentially recliner seats that recline a lot. I wouldn’t really call them angled-flat, but I find them pretty comfortable for sleeping because of the way they non-flat parts cradle your body. I also really like the bedding for business class, since the pillows are large, and the blankets are cool and non-staticky (similar to the blankets on Turkish Airlines in business class).

New generation business class seat

New generation business class seat

Seat back with screen and table extender/small storage space

Seat back with screen and table extender/small storage space

Seat controls

Seat controls

Armrest and plugs

Armrest and plugs

Amenity kit and slippers

Amenity kit and slippers

At each seat were an amenity kit and slippers. The amenity kit is nothing special, but slippers! I love slippers on airplanes (why do airlines give you socks? slippers >>> socks), and I really appreciate slippers in business class.

The business class cabin is a 2-3-2 seating combination. Obviously if you’re traveling with someone, you want a pair near the window, but if you’re a solo traveler and don’t want a window seat, I’d recommend an aisle in the middle as the middle seats in the middle are the last seats to fill up, so you might not have a neighbor. Additionally, if you’re in an aisle on a window side pair, the person next to you HAS to climb over you to get out, while if you’re in an aisle in the middle, the person in the middle has two choices over how to get out.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

In both directions, I pre-ordered meals, but here are the menus for the outbound from LAX to NRT.

Food menu

Food menu

More menu

More menu

More menu

More menu

For the outbound, I preordered a strict vegetarian meal or VGML. The VGML started off with an iceberg lettuce salad with a side of mushrooms and tomatoes. This wasn’t a great start, given that I don’t really like any of these foods (which I acknowledge is my own fault, but does anyone like iceberg lettuce and flavorless tomatoes?). What was AA’s fault is that the bread was served cold (i.e. rock hard) with butter (which isn’t vegan), and the vinaigrette was frozen.

VGML starter

VGML starter

The VGML main course was vaguely Indian with basmati rice, peas and potatoes, and some vegetables. It was fine, but I think United so far has my favorite VGML meals (I can’t believe I’m saying anything nice about United).

VGML main course

VGML main course

Then, of course, was the infamous sundae (more on my feelings about sundaes on planes here). I mostly got one for the whipped cream.

Sundae

Sundae

For a mid-flight snack, I grabbed a fruit plate (there were fruit plates and cheese plates set out in the galley), and they had udon noodles on the menu, so I asked for some of those. To me, udon is generally served hot, but the flight attendant serving me had no idea what he was doing, so he just gave them to me cold. Not sure if that’s how they’re normally served.

Mid-flight snack

Mid-flight snack

The pre-arrival meal was served over 2 hours prior to arrival, which is a bit of a pet peeve given that you generally want to maximize sleep on these flights. The VGML pre-arrival meal was pretty sad looking (and served with crackers that weren’t actually vegan), so I also got a pizza off the normal menu, which wasn’t great.

VGML pre-arrival meal

VGML pre-arrival meal

Normal pre-arrival snack

Normal pre-arrival pizza

The headsets were also collected 90 minutes prior to arrival, and flight attendants were giving out in-ear headphones from coach as a replacement. It seemed like the flight attendants were just really, really eager to get to Tokyo, or else perhaps they had written down some times wrong.

On the way back, the flight was largely the same, although I pre-ordered a Japanese meal (which you should pre-order if you want since they don’t normally cater them). Here’s the normal menu:

Return menu

Return menu

More return menu

More return menu

And the Japanese menu:

More return menu

Japanese meal menu

The Japanese meal was decent. Some things were a little salty (e.g. the roe salad and the herring salad), some things were a little weird (e.g. fish and cheese?), but I thought the main course was solid, and I would probably pre-order a Japanese meal again if I flew this route in business class.

Japanese meal

Japanese meal

Japanese meal entree

Japanese meal entree

One thing I also don’t get about US airlines is why the flight attendants on these foreign routes don’t have better foreign language proficiency. Like why do less than half of your flight attendants speak Japanese on flights to Japan? But I guess that’s a lesser problem than the fact that most of the crews are more senior and seem to have stopped giving a fug a couple decades ago.

Anyway, I slept well on the non-lie-flat seats, I like the bedding, I like the slippers, and I like that I can apply SWUs to any coach fare and get upgraded to business class. Would fly again.

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