Flying Long-haul on an American Airlines Boeing 787

Airways reviews American Airlines flight AA719 from Rome to Philadelphia on one of the carrier's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.



April 29, 2023

DALLAS — American Airlines (AA), the largest airline in the world by fleet size, has all kinds of mixed reviews. Some customers find their product extremely disappointing, while others find absolutely nothing wrong with it.

The airline serves 50 countries daily and has more destinations than any other U.S. carrier. In the near future, AA plans to replace most of its long-haul international routes with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Today, we will be reviewing flight AA719 from Rome-Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) on one of the carrier's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in economy class.

FCO. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways

Preflight, Boarding

American is located in FCO’s Terminal 3. They operate daily flights to PHL, Dallas (DFW), New York (JFK), and Charlotte (CLT) on the Boeing 787-9 and 777-200ER. None of these flights are overnight - they depart in the late morning and arrive in the early afternoon.

AA 719 was scheduled to depart at 10:20 AM but was delayed to 11:40 AM after an issue at the aircraft’s previous airport. The duration will be 9 hours and 20 minutes, meaning that we would arrive in PHL at 3:00 PM. 

Boarding was on-time and so was departure. Boarding was slow in some parts, but all passengers still managed to board within an hour.

Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways

Seat Comfort

As you enter the economy cabin of the 787, you immediately notice the seat cushions. They are made out of soft leather with lots of cushioning. However, the seat is quite narrow. It’s difficult to keep sufficient space between you and the person next to you.

There is good leg space, even with a carry-on stowed in front of you. Although I was assigned to the back row, there is little reclining space. While that is upsetting, the cushioning the seat offers is very comfortable. 

For the long flight, all passengers were offered a blanket and pillow. The Boeing 787’s overhead bins were very spacious and more than enough. And, of course, the entire cabin was quiet compared to other modern airliners (even at the very back of the aircraft) as part of the Dreamliner’s design.

The ambient lighting in the 787's cabin creates a relaxing and vibrant atmosphere. Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways

In-Flight Entertainment System

Just like any other modern long-haul airliner, AA's Dreamliners have screens in front of every seat. These screens have a reasonable size, and remote controls, but are nothing special - they are similar to all other long-haul cabins, but there are a few key differences.

A difference is that these screens are dimmer when compared to others. Passengers could only make out the full picture once the windows were tinted dark and the cabin dimly light. This was due to the privacy screen protectors installed—it’s hard for somebody to see what their neighbor is watching due to the screen’s dark tint.

There is a wide selection of movies, with a long list of films that were recently added within the past month. That way, passengers like me could keep themselves busy the entire flight with their favorite movies.

The non-vegetarian meal choice consisted of chicken and vegetables, bread, butter, and carrot cake. Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways

In-Flight Meal, Crew Service

About an hour after departure, the cabin crew rolled out meal service. They started with snacks and drinks, which had a wide selection of juice, sodas, and especially wine.

The non-vegetarian option was chicken with a side of vegetables, while the vegetarian was pasta. Both meals had bread, butter, and a dessert of carrot cake. The meals were cleaned up by the cabin crew soon after.

Three hours into the flight, they came back with ice cream and more beverages. It was a nice touch after a quick meal.

One hour before initial descent, sandwiches were passed out with another vegetarian (eggplant sandwich) and non-vegetarian (turkey and cheese) option. Unfortunately, the supply ran out of non-vegetarian sandwiches as they approached the last row of the aircraft, where I was seated.

Ever since departure, the cabin crew was quick and efficient. They immediately respond to any requests the passengers have and look out for anyone who may be in need of assistance. 

However, at times, I noticed that some of the crew acted slightly rude toward some passengers, such as using profanity and acting unprofessional at times. Nonetheless, they appeared to be experienced and they clearly knew what they were doing.

AA719 encountered a Swiss A330 flying alongside us as we were beginning our descent. Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways

Final Approach, Final Thoughts

Even with a delayed departure, AA 719 managed to land at PHL about one hour early due to our modified flight path. The approach was quite bumpy as there was a storm approaching, but it was a good end to a day flight. Deplaning was efficient, and all passengers exited the aircraft in ten minutes with no issues.

Although AA is widely known to have little comfort, bad service, and endless delays, I happened to find this flight very eventful. While our flight was delayed, I found the cabin crew to be efficient and attentive, despite their occasional unprofessional behavior.

But most importantly, the leather economy seats are comfortable with good legroom and soft cushions. I hope that my AA flights in the future will be similar to this one.

I would suggest adding slightly wider seats, tastier meal options, and a more advanced in-flight entertainment system, though.

Featured image: American Airlines N822AN Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways