Hong Kong has become one of my favorite cities and I just returned from a quick trip. With American Airlines’ nonstop service between DFW and Hong Kong, it makes short trips doable over a long weekend. (At least for me!)
Here’s my full report on the world’s tenth longest commercial airline route, out and back!
Outbound Trip: DFW >> HKG
American Airlines 777-300ER, Seat 31C
Upon arrival at DFW, I quickly cleared security at Terminal D and headed straight for the Admirals Club which happened to also be immediately next to my gate. The Admirals Club at Terminal D is rather large but it’s often nearly full. Considering this was a morning departure, it was only have half full. This particular lounge is just fine with average food. The best part of the lounge is the expansive windows, perfect for planespotting and snapping a few avgeek photos.
Pro Tip: Even with TSA PreCheck, security queues at Terminal D can be very long during the evening rush. Plan a bit of extra time as there are many international flights departing after 4 PM.
The flight was completely full and there were a LOT of elite flyers on this plane. The boarding gate was D23 which is about the worst gate in Terminal D for boarding a plane as large as the 777-300ER. There’s just not enough room to board over 300 passengers. Plus, many of the elites on this flight were quite self-important and kept shoving ahead of everyone. One lady announced 4 times out loud she was Platinum and needed to get ahead. I really don’t like elites with a “do-you-know-who-I-am” attitude and this particular flight had to be a pretty stark example of that.Once on board, things started to settled down.
As a OneWorld Sapphire, I receive complimentary Main Cabin Extra seating at the time of booking. There is a Main Cabin Extra “cabin” at the front of Economy with 3-3-3 seating rather than 3-4-3 seating as is the case in most of Economy. My seat however was near the rear of Economy in the last bulkhead row aisle seat: 31C. This is considered a Main Cabin Extra seat due to the extensive bulkhead legroom. If you’re sitting in 31A, be aware of the emergency door protruding into your legroom. It’s not terrible but something to keep in mind.
I had plenty of time to board and grab decent overhead bin space which was critical as being in a bulkhead row, one can’t have any bags in front of them. My seat had no shortage a legroom although being a bulkhead row, the armrest is not movable and the seat width can be slightly reduced. The new Main Cabin seats on American lean back as well as articulate so the recline is improved over the old seats.
We departed about 20 minutes late as the plane starting refueling a bit late. Once that was behind us, we were cleared for departure and we were up in the air. Maria, one of the crew members, was seated in the crew jumpseat directly in front of me. We struck up conversation pretty much right away and ended up have nice chats the whole flight. She certainly made the flight more enjoyable with her pleasant attitude and our conversations about travel in general.
Meal service started about an hour into the flight. We started with pretzel and drinks, followed by lunch shortly after the snack. For lunch, I opted for the beef and rice which was just fine. Nothing spectacular. After all, this is Economy. About 6 hours into the flight the crew handed out snacks which include a cold turkey sandwich and ice cream. This seems to be the standard Economy snack from all US to Asia flights on American. The sandwich has some type of spread on it that makes me gag. The ice cream, though, is always delicious.Snacks like Milano cookies and potato chips and water or orange juice are available throughout the flight in the galley. About 1.5 hours before landing, a final meal was served. There was a choice of a breakfast sandwich or chicken with rice. My body wasn’t on morning time so I opted for the chicken and rice which was just fine.
I watched a couple of movies in-flight and since I was in a bulkhead row, the IFE system was in the arm of the seat. I did utilize the in-flight WiFi throughout the flight which I think for a 16 hour flight, was reasonably priced at $19 for the entire duration. The WiFi connection was decent most of the flight although there would occasionally be 10 minute increments where the WiFi would stop working.Overall, on the outbound flight, I had about as good of an experience as one can have on 16 hour flight in Economy. Being in a bulkhead seat with lots of extra legroom does help. I certainly appreciate the ease of getting in and out of your seat without you or someone else climbing over you.
Return Trip: HKG >> DFW
American Airlines 777-300ER, Seat 33J
On my return flight, I arrived much earlier departure as Hong Kong Airport has some of the best lounges in the world. As a OneWorld Sapphire, I am able to access OneWorld Business Class lounges. I arrived at HKG about 2.5 hours before boarding. It was a very humid (as usual!) day in Hong Kong and I definitely wanted a fresh shower before my 14 hour flight back to Dallas.I first visited the Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge as I had never visited this lounge. I took a nice shower and grabbed a small snack. This lounge is a bit small although the showers are fantastic! I then decided to head over to the Cathay Pacific “The Bridge” Lounge as I’ve visited that lounge before and adore it. The food selection is much better in The Bridge than The Wing when comparing Business Class lounges. The views are also far better from The Bridge.
About 10 minutes before scheduled boarding, I headed to Gate 43 for boarding. Folks were starting to line up for and like most flights at HKG, there are only 2 boarding groups: First/Business/OneWorld Elites and Economy. Boarding was orderly although we had to pass through a secondary bag screening in the jetway. A man behind me nearly had a meltdown because they asked him to throw out his water bottle. He screamed at the poor security agent “BUT I HAVE TSA PRECHECK!!!”. The guy was a bit out of hand and only embarrassed himself. Sorry dude, you’re in Hong Kong, they don’t care about TSA PreCheck.Once on board, it took quite a while for everyone to board due to the secondary screenings on the jet bridge.
I settled into my seat, 33J, which is an aisle seat on the right window side. The two rows in front, 31 and 32, are 2 seats per row. Row 33 increase to 3 per row, leaving no seat in front of the aisle seat. This gave me lots of legroom as if I were in a bulkhead yet lacking the advantage of my seatmates having the extra room. Therefore if the passenger in the middle or window seat wanted to get up, I would have to get up as well. There were a couple of delays due to busy runway congestion as well as some light rainstorms. We ultimately departed about 45 minutes late. I took a nap immediately the first hour and awoke just before meal time. Lunch was a beef noodles dish which came with some type of inedible desert.
After meal time, I went to pull the IFE screen which was located in the armrest of my seat since I had no seat in front of me. As soon as the arm of the screen was fully extended, the arm would collapse. I now had no entertainment system for a 14 hour flight! One of the flight attendants offered to tape it to my seat but I declined as this would be a pain when trying to get out of my seat. Thankfully, I had some shows downloaded on my iPhone. Ultimately I spent most of the flight on my laptop getting some work done thank to the WiFi.
The crew on this flight wasn’t nearly as friendly as the the crew on my outbound flight but by no means rude. The crew seemed a bit impatient with some of the passengers who didn’t want to listen or follow crew directions. Like the outbound flight, snacks were available in the galley throughout the flight and a cold sandwich and ice cream were served about halfway through the flight.A pre-landing meal was served about an hour before landing and I opted for the vegetarian curry dish which was just fine. Not too much to love or hate. The lady seated next to me did not speak English although she made no effort to use body language or hand gestures to let the crew what she wanted to hit to drink. She just stared at them. The crew was getting quite frustrated with her at meal time.
Overall, I had a pretty good experience in ultra-longhaul Economy. Main Cabin Extra seating makes the long journey just a bit better with better legroom and overall, a bit more space to spread out. I definitely had a better experience on the outbound than the return as the broken IFE was certainly a major disappointment. I contacted AA customer service about this issue and they apologized and gave me 10,000 bonus AAdvantage miles as a nice gesture. Sweet!For a solo traveler, the best Economy seats on the 777-300ER are 31A, 31C, 31J, and 31L. For couples, these seats work well too as there are just two seats on the window rows. Flying aboard a brand new 777-300 ER is also a welcome upgrade over and older 777 or 767 in the AA fleet. American Airlines is doing a good job on their fleet overhaul and the 777-300ER is no exception. I hope these planes are well maintained for years to come because I’m a fan!