American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Review [HNL to DFW]

American Airlines First Class Seat 777 300ER Side View

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After spending several days in both Maui and Honolulu, it was time to begin the journey back to the mainland, this time on a red-eye flight that would take me from Honolulu to Dallas and then onward to Washington, D.C.

American runs 1 to 2 red-eye flights a day from Honolulu to Dallas, and these flights are instrumental in getting passengers to the U.S. East Coast where the time difference is so far ahead of Hawaii.

Overall, the flight was quite pleasurable, and I was able to get several hours of sleep before arriving in Dallas and making my way on to my connecting flight. This review will look at the aircraft American flies on this route, the seats, onboard service, and what you can expect when you fly out of Hawaii to the mainland U.S.

Airline: American Airlines (AA)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Flight #: AA102
Route: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) to Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)
Date: December 20, 2020
Duration: 7 hrs 15 min
Cabin & Layout: Business Class (seated in First Class), 8-seats, 1-1-1 config
Seat(s): 2A
Typical Retail Cost: $1,136 per person one-way (my cost was approximately $300 one-way in economy class, upgraded using an upgrade certificate)

Introduction 

There are really only 2 ways to get back from Hawaii to the East Coast U.S. You can either take a flight to Los Angeles or another gateway city on the West Coast, overnight, and then continue onwards the next day — or you can take a red-eye flight leaving in the late evening from Honolulu, and arriving into the Midwest early the next morning in time for connecting flights.

Needing to be back in Washington, D.C., I opted for a red-eye flight. As an American Airlines Executive Platinum member, I had several systemwide upgrade vouchers to use, and I applied these to my reservation, taking me from Main Cabin to business class.

Normally, this flight is only sold with business class as the highest cabin of service, but interestingly, this plane featured first class seats beyond business class that were able to be reserved for no additional charge. While I’d only receive the service benefits of business class, I was able to sit in a much larger first class seat, so this review will feature a mix of highlights from the business class experience and the first class hard product.

Hot Tip: If you have miles to use, or are an elite member with systemwide upgrades, you can get great value out of using them to get to/from Hawaii. Keep in mind that you can upgrade up to 3 segments in this manner.

Booking

Depending on the season you’re traveling in, you’ll find either an early evening red-eye departure and/or a late evening red-eye departure. I booked onto the latter in order to maximize my rest onboard.

Typically, American’s flat-bed flights to Hawaii (from Dallas and Chicago) sell at the highest premium, so it’s not uncommon for these trips to be close to $2,000 round-trip in a premium cabin. It’s also a fairly tough route to upgrade on, but due to COVID-19 and a slump in demand for traffic to Hawaii, I was able to easily score an upgrade at booking.

At the Airport

Before you head to the check-in counters, you need to put your bag through one of the agriculture scanners — this won’t take more than a moment.

HNL Agriculture Scan
If you don’t put your bags through the agriculture scan you could be subject to a fine!

Since this flight leaves very late in the evening, check-in was quite a breeze as there was hardly anyone in the check-in queue. There were plexiglass shields at the counter to help provide a barrier between passengers and staff.

AA HNL Check In
With such a late-night departure, there were no other passengers in the check-in queue.

Because of my status, and because I was seated in business class, I was allowed to use the priority check-in lane, though it wouldn’t have made a difference on this flight as there was no one in the Main Cabin lane, either. I was checking 2 bags, and the agent promptly scanned everything and handed me a boarding pass to head through security. I was inside the secure area within a few minutes.

American Airlines HNL Check In
American Airlines offers a priority check-in queue for those seated in a premium cabin or those who are elite-level passengers.

Due to COVID-19, all lounges within the airport were either closed, or had closed well before my arrival, so if you’re arriving early for your flight during the pandemic, you should be aware that your lounge options will be limited.

HNL Qantas Lounge Closure
There were no lounges open in the airport for this evening departure. Prior to the pandemic, there would have been several options available for lounges, even during the evening.

Honolulu’s airport does have a great feature, though. Because the airport is semi-outdoors, there is a gazebo within the middle of the terminal area, and you can take the elevator down and walk through the park to get there. It’s a very tranquil spot to relax, and in normal times, is directly near most of the airline clubs that would ordinarily be in operation. Since restaurants and other things to do are limited, it was really nice to sit in this park of sorts and get some fresh air before the long flight to Dallas.

Hot Tip: There’s really no need to arrive at the airport early for your flight during the pandemic — there are typically no lines at check-in or security and you’ll be in the gate area within just a few minutes.

Flight

Aircraft

This flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, American’s flagship aircraft. This plane is normally divided into 4 sections — first class, business class, premium economy, and economy — but on this flight, only business class, premium economy, and economy were operating, and the first class seats were up for grabs by any business class passenger for no additional charge. This was where I was seated.

Hot Tip: American usually serves Hawaii with a 777-200 aircraft from Dallas and Chicago, though you’ll find the 777-300ER often subbed in for this plane. When you do, you may be able to select a first class seat if you’re ticketed in business class.

Boarding

Boarding was quite chaotic on this flight, as are most flights that are filled with predominantly leisure passengers. Passengers were encouraged to space apart using social distancing markers on the floor, but these were completely ignored in favor of a mass stampede in boarding the aircraft.

AA HNL Gate Area
Despite the pandemic, the gate area was packed with passengers waiting to board.

While boarding groups were called, many passengers in later groups attempted to board first, making for a messy process. Passengers with disabilities were called, followed by those in Groups 1 and 2, and then remaining sections.

American Airlines HNL Departure Gate
American Airlines operates only wide-body flights between Honolulu and Dallas. These flights leave at the far end of the terminal at gates equipped to handle these planes.

First Class (Sold as Business Class)

The first class cabin had 8 seats, each with direct aisle access. There were 2 rows of 4 seats, and even though this was the same layout as business class, these seats were far roomier, and there’s much more space to spread out.

AA 777 300ER First Business
Image Credit: SeatGuru

Each seat folded into a fully lie-flat bed, and for this flight, a small pillow and blanket were provided. There was a large television monitor straight ahead, great for viewing movies while relaxing or eating. The seat overall had a ton more room than business class, and even accommodated a space where a companion could sit during meal times to dine with you.

AA First Class Cabin Overview
The first class cabin features 8 seats, 4 per row.

The 1 unique feature about these first class seats was that they swivel inwards, towards the desk area against the window. Here, you can work in privacy, and there’s a large separate tray table where you can spread out. Since you face away from the aisle, it’s a perfect position to work without being disturbed by those walking past.

AA 777 300ER First Class Seat Back
The first class seats on this aircraft are incredibly wide and roomy, perfect for when you need to work or rest.

There’s also a removable tablet you can use to control every aspect of your suite, including seat position, lighting, inflight entertainment options, and privacy lighting.

American Airlines 777 300ER First Class Seat
The first class seats on the 777-300ER are the largest and most spacious seats American Airlines offers on its aircraft.

If you wanted to dine with another passenger, you certainly could thanks to the oversized ottoman that doubles as a companion seat.

AA 777 300ER Ottoman
You’re allowed to dine with another passenger in your first class suite, thanks to the companion seat that doubles as an ottoman.

Your entire seat is controlled by a small screen next to your seat. This control is removable so you can keep it next to you as you sleep.

AA 777 300ER First Class Seat Control
Your seat can be reclined from a small touch screen next to your seat.

Amenities

There were few amenities on this flight since it’s considered a domestic flight. There was no amenity kit, and only a simple blanket and pillow were provided. Unlike American’s premium transcontinental or oceangoing lights, this particular route did not feature any additional services like mattress pads, slippers, pajamas, or premium blankets. For the inflight entertainment, I was given a pair of noise-canceling headphones to use.

Hot Tip: Since this flight leaves very late, consider your clothing before boarding. You may want to change into something more comfortable in the terminal, allowing you to get right to sleep once the plane takes off.

Entertainment

Entertainment on this flight was provided via the built-in screens at each seat. Unlike in business class, the first class seats have televisions that already face the seat, so you can actually watch any programming from takeoff to landing without having to swing out the monitor into a viewable position. This was a great feature since you don’t have to cut off your movie early just to stow your television.

One thing that American tends to do well is inflight entertainment on these built-in screens, and there’s a large variety of movies and shows you can watch from pretty much any genre.

American Airlines 777 300ER First Class Seat with IFE
The first class seats feature a large entertainment screen directly ahead, offering a variety of movies and television shows.

Meal and Service

Even with the late departure of this flight, dinner was served shortly after takeoff.

Thanks to pandemic procedures, there wasn’t a pre-departure beverage service, and drinks in the air were served in plastic cups, but it’s still nice to have a meal considering American has eliminated them on a vast majority of routes.

Here was the menu from the flight:

Honolulu to Dallas Flight Menu
Signature Mai Tai cocktail and full bar menu
Small PlateRoast Ponzu Cauliflower
ginger tahini sauce
Main PlatesBraised Beef Short Ribs
wasabi mashed potatoes, baby bok choy, baby carrotsTeriyaki Salmon
Shanghai egg noodles, sauteed vegetables, teriyaki sauce

Edamame and Shiitake Mushroom Mezzaluna
sauteed mushrooms, edamame, teriyaki pomodoro sauce

DessertSeasonal Dessert
Prior to ArrivalFresh Seasonal Dessert
yogurt

I selected the beef and everything was served on 1 tray due to COVID-19 precautions. The meal certainly wasn’t memorable, and you don’t fly American Airlines for the inflight food. It was tolerable considering I was hungry, but certainly not something I’d order on the ground. The bread roll was individually wrapped, and each of the food items was also covered for everyone’s protection.

Service on this flight was very abbreviated, mostly due to the social distancing protocols in place, though I would have appreciated a few more pass-throughs of the cabin seeing if anyone wanted any additional beverages.

AA HNL DFW First Class Beverage Service
While there was a full bar on this flight, everything was served in disposable plastic cups due to the COVID pandemic.

You are required to keep your mask on throughout the entire flight and can remove it for brief moments to eat or drink. With this being a long flight, ensure you are wearing a comfortable mask!

Mask compliance seemed relatively good on this flight — while there weren’t many passengers up front, everyone seemed to willingly comply with the regulations. It’s worth noting that American does not provide masks onboard, but there are sanitizer wipes at each seat.

American Airlines Business Class Dinner HNL DFW
The dinner service was served all on 1 tray and featured a semi-edible cut of beef.

Final Thoughts

If you need to fly from Hawaii to the mainland, there’s no better option than a widebody plane with lie-flat seats. That said, if you’re a flyer who prefers daytime flights instead of red-eyes, you may not enjoy this particular routing.

American’s business and first class seats offer a solid option for catching some shut-eye on an overnight flight, though its catering does leave something to be desired. I would definitely consider this flight the next time I needed to get back from Hawaii, as it leaves you much closer to the East Coast for connections, and, for me, that’s really important.


Frequently asked questions

Where in Hawaii does American Airlines fly?

American Airlines flies to these cities in Hawaii:

  • Lihue (LIH) on Kauai
  • Honolulu (HNL) on Oahu
  • Kahului (OGG) on Maui
  • Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA) on the Big Island

What terminal is American Airlines in Honolulu?

American Airlines flies out of Terminal 2 in Honolulu (HNL). The check-in area features both Main Cabin and Priority check-in, and there is an Admirals Club just inside the secure area where you can relax before your flight.

Does American Airlines have flat-beds in business class?

American Airlines flat-bed business class seats on its 787-8, 787-9, 777-200 and 777-300ER aircraft. In addition, American offers first class flat-bed seats on its 777-300ER aircraft.

Does American Airlines have lie-flat seats to Hawaii?

American regularly offers flat-bed seats from Dallas (DFW) to Honolulu (HNL), Dallas (DFW) to Maui (OGG), Dallas (DFW) to Kona (KOA), and Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL). You may find a flat-bed product on select flights out of Phoenix (PHX) or Los Angeles (LAX), though this is not a regular offering throughout the year.

James Larounis

About James Larounis

Jamie first got his hook on miles and points during a high school choir trip to Europe, where he flew in Lufthansa First Class (thanks to his dad’s then US Airways miles) because economy was sold out.

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