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China 2014: American Airlines Business Class Shanghai to Dallas (PVG to DFW)

I flew business class on this segment not because I applied a systemwide upgrade, but because I got an elusive operational upgrade. Economy was heavily oversold (and extremely light on the flight from DFW to PVG such that I had an entire row of seats to myself in coach), and a ton of people got op-ups.

Actually, I almost didn’t get the op-up. They called my name and gave me a new boarding pass, but then they called my name again to tell me that they couldn’t give me an op-up because I had pre-ordered a special meal (VGML), and they couldn’t feed that meal to a different passenger, so they had to give my seat to someone else. I was not particularly happy about that, so I pulled a little bit of a DYKWIA and asked if they could just call catering to ask if they could cater an additional economy meal and let me have my upgrade (I also offered to not eat on the flight). After a little bit of waiting and me looking sad, they did end up giving me a business class seat.

For flights to the US, there’s a secondary security check, mostly to make you throw out your water so you go thirsty on the plane and use the bathroom less. If you really want to get water on the plane, which I find necessary for flights in coach, my strategy is to have a decoy water bottle. I place one (or more) bottles at the bottom of my bag, and I have one on the top which I throw out at the security check. Once they see me get rid of the top bottle, they usually wave me through.

Anyway, at the secondary security check this time, I heard one of the security women yelling, “I will not let you bring this dangerous good on the airplane!” She was quite insistent and raising her voice. The offending item was a cigarette lighter, and the owner of said lighter said that it was an extremely expensive lighter worth over $500 USD, and he wasn’t going to get rid of it. He said that he was flying first class and couldn’t believe that he was being treated so poorly. They went back and forth a while, but the security woman had her way and they confiscated the item.

This obviously upset the man, and then he started complaining about everything on the flight. Like he said that he spent $15,000 on his “first class” tickets and expected a lie-flat seat and flew lie-flat seats on the way over, but he was seated in business class, and American doesn’t fly lie-flat business class seats to anywhere in Asia except for Hong Kong. I felt bad for the flight attendants who were on the receiving end of his abuse, and I commiserated with them for having to deal with him.

I won’t review the hard product since I’ve reviewed AA business class on the 777-200 before, but I will post the menus and pictures of the food.

Business class menu PVG-DFW
Food menu continued
Drink menu business class PVG-DFW
Roasted chicken appetizer and side salad
Strozzapreti (aka priest choker) pasta
Sundae :/
Mixed pepper quiche, salad, and banoffee tart

By far, the best part of all of the food was the banoffee tart. I’m not really sure why you don’t see banoffee more in the US, since it’s delicious. Who doesn’t like bananas, cream, and toffee The banoffee tart was clearly superior to the subpar sundae, which is totally overrated. Cheesy pasta is also overrated, as I find that airlines often just try to smother pasta dishes in cheese to obscure the poorly cooked and flavored pasta and vegetables.

That being said, the food was as expected for business class on an American airline (i.e. mediocre), but I was super grateful for getting the upgrade in the first place, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining too much. I find AA’s business class seats on the 777-200 to be decently comfortable for a non-lie-flat seat (I like the seats better than slanty-flat seats), I like the blanket and pillows, and I appreciate that they provide slippers (one of the only business class amenities that I actually use). I’ll be glad to see business class transition to lie-flat on AA, but I think these seats are fine in the interim.


  1. on the lighter issue ( and similar issues) I am surprised no one has come up with a plan to have pre paid mail pouches for purchase at the gate areas,

    1. I have seen mailing stations in the security line for people to mail things that they can’t bring past TSA, but I don’t believe they’re common. I didn’t get a good look at the item specifically in question, but common lighters are allowed by TSA…

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