Where to sit on the American Airlines 787 Dreamliner


American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Cabin
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Cabin

Looking for the best seats on American Airlines‘ new 787 Dreamliner? I was on board for the first flight and took copious notes (and more than a few photos) to help find out which seats are the best and which will leave you wanting for more. Here’s where I will want to sit when I’m on the plane. (Click on any of the photos for a larger version.)

Business Class

The new American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class seat is the one the carrier custom designed in cooperation with Zodiac. It offers a fully flat bed and plenty of privacy, which is both good and bad. The seats alternate forward and rear facing and are set in a herringbone layout rather than in line with the fuselage. The seats taper at the top which means when fully reclined it can be a bit tight for passengers who are broader in the shoulders. A few folks on the inaugural commented on that, but there’s not much to do about that at this point. Fortunately when upright the seat back is a bit forward so not pinched in as tight.



For privacy the single window seats on the outside of the aisle are hard to beat. My favorites in the cabin are seats 2 or 4A/L. They are rear facing which means great views of the wing and engine out the window and all the comfort and privacy. Plus your head is against the window rather than on the aisle side. I’d generally aim for L over A if possible as the lav on that side is the larger, accessible one.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Window Seat
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Window Seat

Seats 5D/H (the center pair) appear to be slightly shorter than the others on board but I didn’t have my tape measure with me to confirm. Row 5 is also adjacent to the “walk-up bar” area which is really just a counter where snacks are put out more than a bar. Still, there might be some noise issues there. Ditto for row 6 with the bar and the lavs.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Center Seats
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Center Seats (But the divider wouldn’t go down!)

In theory the center pair seats facing backwards (2/4/7 D/H) are the best when traveling with someone else. In those seats your head is close enough that you can reasonably talk and such. Assuming you can figure out how to get the privacy divider to go down, that is. No one could figure that out during the first flight.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Rear Facing Seat
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Rear Facing Seat

The forward facing seats do offer the ability to lower the arm rest and create a bit more space but that also leaves you much more exposed to the aisle, something I try to avoid as much as possible.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Rear Facing Seat
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Business Class Rear Facing Seat


Economy Class

With a 3-3-3 layout, even in Main Cabin Extra, there are not a ton of great seats in economy. Still, there are a few worth looking at if you have the chance. The outboard bulkhead seats (8A/B/C & 8J/K/L) have plenty of legroom and would probably be my first choice if I can get them.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Bulkhead
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Bulkhead

The exit row at 19 also has plenty of legroom but the window seat is only a half window and only if reclined. It also seemed that the fuselage intruded a bit more at the shoulders there, though maybe that was just because of no window. There is plenty of leg room in the A/L seats, even with the exit door there. Row 19 does have the lav/galley issue to contend with should that be a concern of yours.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Exit Row 19
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Exit Row 19

Rows 18, 29 and 30 have a different configuration than the others. The outboard seats are pairs rather than trios. For many couples traveling together this means no “extra” person in your row so those seats are desired. Alas, in the AA 787 layout there are some challenges with those seats. Row 18 backs up to the lavatories. They still recline but leaning back against the lav will likely be a less than spectacular experience.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Row 18
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Row 18

Rows 29 & 30 are actually better than row 18 in my opinion because there is extra space next to the window seat which offers up storage once in flight but not during take-off & landing. The down-side of these seats is that they are all the way in the back so the last passengers to get off the plane, the window seat is not actually against the fuselage so if you lean against the wall to sleep that’s not going to work well and limited overhead bin space.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Row 29
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Row 29

Because of the crew rest bunks overhead at the back of the plane there are no overhead bins in the center section there. That affects the last 3 or 4 rows but only over the center 3 seats. And, while the bins are much larger on the 787s than older aircraft the loss of those bins does mean potential for more trouble finding bin space for your bags.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Cabin
American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Cabin

Row 26 does not have windows because of the fuselage join point. The rest of the seats on board were pretty much all the same to me.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

11 Comments

  1. While on the plane last night the flight crew said the center dividers have been disabled due to wiring issues. Apparently when the divider is lowered it is hitting wires and causing shorts.

  2. I don’t always fly on an American 787, but when I do, I prefer to sit on my butt.

  3. Thanks for including both J and Y reviews, very helpful

    In your first post you mentioned the IFE screens don’t tilt in Y, making for a potential issue if the guy in front reclines. How bad is viewing in that case, would you say? Completely un-viewable or just less than ideal?

  4. I booked a flight on the American 787 Dreamliner in June and happened to be flying first, from your knowledge is there a meal service like a full 3 course meal?

  5. I believe the rear facing center seats are rows 3/5/7. Best for couples once they fix the divider problem.

  6. Are the seats along the emergency exit row 20 restricted width due to immovable arm rests? It looked like from the launch video that it does not, but now that I think about it, where would the meal tray go?

    Probably just answered my own question.

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