Trip Report: American Airlines (B787-9) Main Cabin Extra SYD-LAX

The Details

  • Flight: AA72
  • Aircraft: B787-9
  • Class: Main Cabin Extra
  • Seat: 12A and 12B
  • Route: Sydney Kingsford Smith International (SYD)-Los Angeles International (LAX)
  • Distance: 7,618 miles
  • Duration: 13hrs 10min
  • Departure: 10:10AM
  • Arrival: 5:59AM

The Preflight

After spending a few lovely days on the North Island of New Zealand, it was time for my SO and I to return home. We had an early morning flight from Auckland to Sydney with Qantas on their A330 before our connecting flight to Los Angeles.

I had originally waitlisted both my SO and I for business class on this flight but alas the cabin was booked to capacity. Our flight was departing at 10:00AM from SYD which made our layover roughly two hours and 30 minutes.

We decided to check-out the AMEX International Lounge in Sydney which I had access to thanks to my AMEX Platinum card. It was very crowded but had excellent views of the apron.

With 20 minutes to boarding we left the lounge to walk towards our gate. We passed by a few widebodies including a Vietnam Airlines A350 and Cathay Pacific A330.

Boarding began on time at 9:10AM and was fairly orderly.

The B787-9 carrying us to Los Angeles, registration N820AL, was delivered brand new to American Airlines in Sept 2019. She was the very first B787-9 in the AA fleet.

The Flight

American Airlines offers 30 business, 21 premium economy, 36 Main Cabin, and 198 Main Cabin seats aboard their B787-9. Thanks to my AAdvantage status, I had managed to select two Main Cabin Extra seats in the bulkhead row for my SO and I. The Main Cabin seats were all arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration. There was 31″ of pitch. Because the tray table and IFE screen were stored in the armrest; the seat width was reduced to 16.2″.

Awaiting at the seat was a standard economy pillow and blanket.

12A Main Cabin Extra

There was ample legroom with enough space for me get into the aisle without having 12B and 12C get up from their seat.

Legroom Bulkhead

The IFE screen was fairly responsive to touch. However, the screen was tiny. The AA inflight entertainment options were excellent with a wide variety of new movies to choose from.

IFE Screen

Each seat was equipped with a USB port below the screen. There was an IFE remote stored in the armrest between the seats.

IFE remote

Directly on the bulkhead was a large screen which featured the flight map.


Once the doors were closed, flight attendants came through the cabin handing out menus. It was a nice touch compared to what I was expecting (“chicken or beef?”)

We pushed back and began a long taxi to the runway passing by a Qantas A380 and a Jetstar 787.

Qantas A380
Jetstar 787

After a smooth takeoff we passed over the gorgeous Australian coast.

Australian Coast

30 minutes after takeoff, the crew came around with huge plastic bags filled with pretzels and went down the aisle handing them out. After that a flight attendant handed out hot towelettes.

Pretzels and Hot Towel

The beverage service began shortly after the towelettes were handed out. All beverages were free of charge (including hard liquor and wine). I decided to have the prosecco… which I regretted. It tasted like sugar water and the middle was completely frozen into an ice ball.

Prosecco and Water

For the main service, I chose the chilled sesame chicken with tabbouleh salad and sesame soy dressing. It was delicious. Easily one of the best economy meals I’ve had. The chicken was tender, the salad fresh, and the soy dressing perfectly flavorful. Dessert was chocolate mousse. The bread was cold and rock hard.

Chilled Sesame Chicken with Tabbouleh Salad, Chocolate Mousse

Halfway through the flight, about 6 hours after the main service, flight attendants came through with the mid-flight snack. The “Angus Beef Pie” was toasted and smelled good. However, I could taste how many calories were in it after a few bites and decided against finishing it. The ice cream bar was frozen solid but after a few minutes was good. There was another beverage service.

Angus Beef Pie, Weis Ice Cream Bar

The arrival meal was served about 90 minutes prior to landing. Eggs were of standard economy quality. The bacon slightly chewy and potatoes cooked through. There was a side of Greek yogurt and granola and a muffin.

Traditional American Breakfast, Greek Yogurt, Granola, Apple Cinnamon Muffin

With about 60 minutes to go, flight attendants unlocked the windows and I could see the sun rise as we passed along the California coast.


We arrived at Gate 41 and waited about 10 minutes for a tow. The walk from Terminal 4 to Tom Bradley IT was another 10 minutes. Thanks to Global Entry we cruised through CBP. Thanks for the ride!

All in all, the 13 hours on AA72 passed by fairly quickly as I managed to get about seven hours of sleep. The Main Cabin Extra seats are an economical way to fly across the pacific (especially if the upgrades do not clear) in relative comfort. However, if I were older or wider, I would have definitely been more uncomfortable.

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