The departure lounge for Gate 41 at LAX, for American's inaugural flight to SYD.

The departure lounge for Gate 41 at LAX, for American’s inaugural flight to SYD. #AvGeeks cringe at this banner…

Updated 12/22/2015 @ 4:38pm PT

Want a chance to win a gift bag, courtesy of American Airlines? Scroll down, leave a comment below, and a winner will be randomly selected!

With critters, music, food, gifts, and didgeridoos on hand, American Airlines celebrated its inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Sydney last Thursday, marking the first time the airline has directly flown to Australia from the contiguous 48 states with its own aircraft, this route featuring its flagship Boeing 777-300ER.

But even hard-core AvGeeks would be hard pressed  to focus on the 777 on the other side of the windows when there was a baby kangaroo (WHAT?!)…

An American Airlines 777-300ER (N720AN) bound for SYD pushes back from Gate 41 at LAX.

An American Airlines 777-300ER (N720AN) bound for SYD pushes back from Gate 41 at LAX

The carrier had previously served Sydney from Dallas with a stop in Honolulu, but that route ended in 1992 and American has since relied on oneworld partner Qantas for service to Australia through codesharing.

This new flight is part of an larger cooperative trans-Pacific strategy between American and Qantas; the shift of one of the LAX frequencies to American freed up the aircraft for Qantas to resume non-stop service between Sydney and San Francisco, which it suspended in 2011.

To match Qantas’ standards, American introduced enhanced service and amenities in business class not found on other routes, such as pajamas and additional meal choices. Complimentary Five-Star Service is also being mulled for first class passengers.

“We’re really committed to growing at LAX,” said Kyle Mabry, Managing Director of Global Sales for American’s West Region. “We’re excited about next year because we will add a couple of great routes that we’ve already announced, including Auckland and [Tokyo] Haneda, and that is the focus, definitely, of this hub in L.A.”

American’s new service to New Zealand from Los Angeles will commence in June of 2016 using the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The new LAX-Tokyo Haneda service will begin on February 11, making it twice daily flights to Toyko from Los Angeles, with the other flight servicing Tokyo Narita from LAX.  Uncorroborated rumors suggest that American may the cease LAX-Tokyo Narita flight at some point, with access to Narita continuing to be available through oneworld partner Japan Airlines.

“We want to build a really robust hub,” Mabry continued. “Where we’ll go next, we’re not sure… right now, we’re looking at a lot of opportunities. The new aircraft that are coming on board our fleet are actually great additions because they allow us to fly to places economically that might not have worked before, so it opens a whole new set of horizons that we’re really still evaluating right now.  The opportunities are limitless.”

“This [flight to Sydney] really is significant to our growth into the Asia-Pacific region,” added Juan Carlos Liscano, Managing Director of Operations at LAX for American. “It’s really a statement to our belief that Los Angeles is the gateway to the Pacific, and this is our access to the fifth continent out of LAX Airport for American Airlines customers.”

Gate 41 at LAX for American's inaugural flight to SYD.

Gate 41 at LAX for American’s inaugural flight to SYD

Speaking of customers, the excitement level in the departure lounge before the inaugural flight was palpable, highlighted in no small part by the photo op with the baby kangaroo (or, “joey” for those Australians) whose name was, appropriately enough, “Sydney.” There was a constant queue for the photo booth, and many waiting were not actually flying to Sydney (the city). In speaking to some of the passengers waiting in line for Sydney (the kangaroo), there were a wide range of thoughts regarding the inaugural flight:

  • Jose Kirchner, who also goes by the handle JDiver on the frequent flying forum Flyertalk: He purposely booked a seat knowing that this flight was the inaugural. He was connecting onto Perth for a few days before returning home to Sacramento.
  • Adriana and her son, who arrived on the inbound flight from Miami, with Los Angeles as their final destination: They said that the crew on her flight announced something about the new onward service to Sydney; however, they did not expect to walk into a party atmosphere.  “We had no idea. It was surprising to see all this, but it’s cool.”
  • Solara, who is from Costa Rica and lives in Los Angeles: She was heading to Sydney for a week, and her father had mentioned that it was the inaugural flight when he booked it for her.
  • Married couple Jake and Ashley, going to Brazil: “We came from San Francisco,” said Jake, “and we’re on our way to Miami. And then we saw a kangaroo, and we were like, ‘well, I guess we gotta make a pit stop.’ I said, ‘I think that’s a kangaroo over there…’ [Ashley:] WHAT?!”
  • Then there were Tim and Kelsey, actually flying to Sydney: They booked their tickets on the Qantas website and happen to be on this flight. “We had absolutely no idea, we were wondering [what was going on]… this is American to Sydney?”  When asked whether they saw Sydney (the kangaroo), their response: “A real kangaroo…?”

Aside from poor Tim and Kelsey, the common thread was that nobody had any idea that they would be taking pictures with a kangaroo that day, but they were all very excited about it. Along with Sydney (the kangaroo), there was also a skink and a lizard representing Australia’s diverse fauna.

As for having a taste of Australia, a buffet station was set up with meat pies, croissant rolls, and Aussie-favorite “Lamingtons,” which are cubes of sponge cake coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut. A live DJ was playing Australian folk music as well as playing his didgeridoos. There was also a ribbon-cutting with comically-large scissors that surely would not make TSA so happy.

Just before boarding started, Mabry and Liscano took a couple of minutes to thank everyone for being part of the celebration and speak a few words about the flight, the 20-year partnership with Qantas, and American’s buildup at LAX. Shortly thereafter, the announcement was made and passengers started to queue up for boarding. Everyone on the flight received a commemorative blanket, and a few received gift bags containing memory foam neck pillows, aboriginal-style keychains, and even a few rugby balls.

At last, it was time to send the flight on its way.

Author’s Note: I myself will be taking this flight in the very near future for a personal trip, and will be writing up a review, so please stay tuned!

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that American would cease operating LAX-NRT when it makes the switch to HND. It has been clarified that as of right now, American’s schedule shows both flights in operation, and that the cessation of the NRT flight is an unconfirmed rumor.


giftbagSo what’s this about a gift bag?

Well, one lucky winner will receive a gift bag complete with a memory-foam pillow, keychain, blanket, and tote bag. Another winner will receive a blanket. Leave a comment (or two) below for your chance to win.

Giveaway rules: Open to anyone with a U.S. mailing address, 18 or older. One lucky commenter will win a gift bag, courtesy of American Airlines, and another will win a commemorative blanket. To enter, just leave a comment below. Maximum two entries per person. For those with multiple comments, only the first two will count. Winners will be randomly selected on January 9, 2016 by a random number generator from Winners will be announced on January 9 and contacted for mailing address. Prizes must be mailed to a U.S. address. If, after five days, a prize is unclaimed or cannot be sent, another winner will be selected. All decisions are final, all rights reserved. By entering this giveaway, you agree to the aforementioned terms.



SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - LOS ANGELES, CA. With LAX serving as a second home, John enjoys being confined to an aluminum (or now carbon composite) cylinder jetting through the air miles above the terra firma. He has logged millions of miles in such conditions and enjoyed it 99% of the time. Email: You can also read more about John's non-AVGeek musings on his personal blog, VNAFlyer.
Large Group Airport Homecomings – Too Much Love?

I like the blankets.

In addition to IAH’s new service on ANZ… Australasian pricing should be heating up.

It’s a wonderful time to be alive, isn’t it?

John | AirlineReporter

What says ‘Australia’ to tourists more than a koala or a kangaroo. Gets ’em every time. And superb slogan on AA’s blankets: lie flat down under.

That kangaroo was definitely drawing in other passengers like matter to a black hole. I think they should have kanagaroos at every event and occasion, even if it has nothing to do with Australia!

Riley Garrigan

I hope to try the service in the next year.

I’m very excited to be trying out the flight in the coming week myself!

John | AirlineReporter

I would love to win,a surprise for my sister

Evan Chapnan

Happy to see AA fly this route! Looking forward to flying to Australia at some point in the next few years, it’s on my bucket list!



Same here! I thought holding a baby kangaroo was going to be my final bucket list item for 2015… and then we decided to go to Sydney ourselves, thanks to the availability of this flight.

John | AirlineReporter

John Nguyen Correspondent, AirlineReporter

Can’t wait to fly this route hopefully next year!

Andrew Rice

My first foreign travel (other than Mexico or Canada) was to Australia in 1996. Flew United to Sydney, via LAX. LAX to SYD is a long one! Nice article.

Thanks! A block time of 15h5m is going to require a lot of stretching in between bouts of sleep. Hopefully some good movies will be loaded into the IFE system.

John | AirlineReporter

Michael Traxler

That would be awesome to fly in 787 down under some time.

Keep an eye out for launch of AA’s LAX-AKL flight! That will be operated by a 787-8.

John | AirlineReporter

ryan tietz

Congrats AA on your new Aussie route. Hopefully New Years 2017 I’ll go down under.

The only airline to fly is…American…More service to more (NEW) destinations, brand spanking new planes, great on-board service, airport clubs that are fabulous, VIP direct-to-plane car service, adding a premium economy cabin on long-haul flights, wi-fi & in-seat entertainment on select aircraft, they created AAdvantage – the largest airline frequent flyer program, they have a great partnership with “oneworld” carriers that span the globe, an airline computer system that didn’t let its passengers down on “cut over day,” a newly blended team (from AA/US) working together to make the world’s biggest airline even better. One airline, oneworld, one American…That’s why AA is MY preferred airline.

I’d be nice to cross the Pacific in that 77W!

It’s a sweet ride, that’s for sure. Hopefully AA can refurb the rest of their 777 fleet in due time, and those will be just as nice if not even nicer (minus the first class cabin, of course).

John | AirlineReporter

Barry Vogel

I’m booked 1/2016. Can’t wait

Blaine Nickeson

Awesome, Barry! Have a great time! Flying in economy or fancy-style?

Blaine – Managing Editor | AirlineReporter

Sydney and Haneda, here I come!

Gary Parente

Going to try to get on that flight using my wife’s flight benefits, standby but worth it! Can’t wait for the New Zealand flight also. Go American!!

Good luck! Hopefully the fact that it’s a new route will mean there’s some space for you.

I think you stand a good chance, at least in economy. It’s a big plane to fill, even on that route, so non-holiday times should have plenty of seats. IMO (not corroborated yet) is they couldn’t use anything other than the 77W, to match what Qantas is offering… so the premium cabins are needed (especially in first), as well as the cargo lift capacity.

John | AirlineReporter

Baby kangaroo is adorable :3

World Traveler

Planning for 2016 vacation. This will help us narrow down where we choose to go.

AA’s AKL flight isn’t until June, but we were looking at flying into SYD and out of AKL… it’s a good way to hit up both OZ and NZ since you’re “in the neighborhood” so to speak, and it doesn’t really affect the price too much.

John | AirlineReporter

They should have Kangaroo greeters at the gates =)

At every gate for every flight, everyday!

John | AirlineReporter

Tom McNulty

Great flight route kickoff party for the Flight to SYD. Wish I could go !!!!!

Beautiful plane for a long flight!

Man, I wish I’d been at LAX to see Sydney (the kangaroo)…

Juan G. Robbin

I enjoy your writing style and the photos. You give a detailed yet animated account of your experiences. Keep doing this! I’m a fan.

Why thank you! I try my best to entertain and try to paint a picture. Sometimes it’s difficult… there was an even chance that this piece was going to be 20 photos of Sydney the kangaroo and nothing else.

John | AirlineReporter

Blaine Nickeson

That’s exactly why we haven’t fired John yet!

Blaine – Managing Editor | AirlineReporter

Yagrel Ruber

I want that bag 🙂

Great video, can’t wait to try the service out in February!

Aaron Illenberger

Awesome to see this new route 🙂

Margaret Lindsley

Love AA and their new flight to SYD


CJ Taylor

Love the look of it all!

Sorry…but your comment that service to New Zealand is “first time ever’ for American is not correct. AA flew to Auckland from 1970 until 1974 with B707’s and again from 1990 until 1992 initially with DC-10-30’s and later with Air N.Z. code-share B767. Hope this clarifies for you. AA retiree.

Thanks for the correction! I’ll be sure to update the story to reflect that bit of info.

John | AirlineReporter

Appreciate the update of N.Z. service. I’m very much looking forward to welcoming AA back to AKL in 2016.

good luck with the new route. all the best

Toni Durr

So, SO exciting!

Boris Virchow

Cancelled my Qantas reservation in favor of the American flight

love aussie land

Love the business class seats on American’s 777-300er. JFK to Heathrow really isn’t long enough to enjoy the seat, so I guess I’ll have to try the LAX to Sydney flight.

John Edwards

I remember flying out of Honolulu on an American DC-10-30. I was upgraded to business class. Great service and great aircraft! Here’s to long success Down Under!!!

Troy Brown

Definitely on my bucket list and getting to fly a 777. That my friends is a Win

Probably still better to fly Qantas instead of AA to Sydney.

Though there were hiccups reported on the inaugural flight, business is supposed to received an enhance service, which includes more meal choices, pajamas, and a mattress pad. I’ll be able to report on economy service on this route very soon.

John | AirlineReporter

No whammies, no whammies

Living in DFW, I would probably opt for the non-stop from here to SYD…even with the occiasional tech stop

Whoa… a little more…Pajamas in J class. woohoo! Is it wrong that I love flight PJs?

Nope… there’s just something fun about airplane PJs, even if they’re comically too small a la JAL.

How long is this flight?

The flight is blocked at 15 hours, 5 minutes.

John | AirlineReporter

Jonathan chao

Pj! I wonder if the pj’s will look like a tent on me.

Where’s the DFW route??

Blaine Nickeson

Qantas flies DFW-SYD. It’s currently the longest flight in the world.

Blaine – Managing Editor | AirlineReporter

Jim Twyford

Hope to make the trip next year to visit distant relatives in Sydney.

I’ve been to the Land Down Under twice now. What a beautiful country, great people and so much history! Looking forward to my next visit to Oz and maybe NZ, too!!

What a crazy way to get comments on ones site. As for Oz, love the place and looking forward to going back on AA. Should be a lot better than flights on UAL!!!

Kerry Meissner

I love American Airlines!

Kerry Meissner

Fond memories of “LuxuryLiner” service as an interliner working at Eastern Air Lines.

Chicago should be next up!

Hope to take this flight sometime in 2016!

The world is indeed getting smaller.


Sam Hackworth

A dream trip for us!

I hope this signals the beginning of a revived and upgraded fleet and cabin experience aboard AA. Will fly this route on AA in March!

It’s neat to see American trying to step up their game and the 5 star service offering looks superb. Living in Asia for the past 8 years means I’ve been predominantly relying on Cathay Pacific and to a lesser extant, Singapore Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, EVA, JAL and Jetstar for my travels. These carriers really changed my expecations of service and quality.

Nice to see American, with the newer fleet, expanding its routes at LAX. Now it’s time for MIA to get in on the APAC action (Tokyo/Beijing/Shanghai, plus more Europe (Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome), and South Africa (CapeTown/Johannesburg).

The blanket looks cool!

The new AA LAX-SYD is another great option for my family to get to Australia every winter!

I’m not in it for the prize, as I’m an Aussie in Sydney, but it was fantastic seeing the livery flying past Ikea at Alexandria.

And that blanket is nice!

Paul Buttigieg

AA is really upping the ante! If I had to choose between UA, QF, AA or AC (from YVR), I would definitely give AA a try on this route. Let’s hope this route works for AA!

Bernard B

I’d go for the rugby ball…. but anything else will also suffice!

Bernard B

Looking forward to my first trip downunder!

I am going to Sydney next year —I will give American a try if the price is right

This route’s a great add.

This looks like a great product. 77Ws are great aircraft for these long routes.

I want to be an AvGeek Reporter in my next life!

I like bags too!

Woot! I love airline schwag!

Speaking of airline schwag, if anyone is interested in Braniff merch, let me know. Stickers, shirts, toys, etc.

I am looking forward to booking this in the future. The 77W is good as long as you can stay forward of MCE, anything behind that would be tough on a long flight like this.

Ian Sharma

G’day L.A.!

UAL will likely have to step-up its offering with all of the competition on the SYD routes. It will be interesting to watch.

More flights need kangaroos

Can’t wait to fly this route!…and maybe win the giveaway:)

Would love to win!

Excited to be able to fly this new route!

Love the photo op with the “joey”!

Alex Nieves

Very cool that they had a kangaroo and all these festivities!

I’m excited for this. More flights down under and more competition between the airlines will definitely benefit the customers. Thanks for this giveaway.

Isaac Schwartz

Happy holidays to all!

Congrats to AA on beginning SYD! The new food options on the flight look much better than some of the normal opinions for International flights.

I want a blanket!

Andrew Vu

Would be a great prize to start out the new year!

Nothing better than a kangaroo waiting for you at the gate! Great article.

Now all that’s left for AA is Africa!

All this American swag would complement my AA-Chicago Cubs towel!

American seems to really be working to be all things to all people, offering both new high end service, as well as low value, “low-fare” no-frills low end service too. Trying to be all things to all people, maybe that’s what makes them an “All American”.

Joe Cleary

Looks like a great flight– Australia is on my bucket list– I better start accumulating in my AAdvantage miles.

Johnny Nguyen

I’m going to have to fly to Sydney now!

That Kangaroo looks cute in that pouche bag :-)!

A real kangaroo !?

Paul Grant

I love this gift set.

Nicholas Griffih

I’ve never really wanted to spend that much time at once on an aircraft, but Americans 777-300ER has changed my mind. Beautiful jet with very acommodating interior

Isaac Schwartz


King F Hui

I have family living in Australia and tried many airlines (QF, AC, UA, NZ, CX, SQ) from North America to Australia. AA will be my next choice.

Looking forward to flying the 787!

Looks like a great gift set!

That aircraft is probably the only reason I would fly American ever again… but hey they brought a Kangaroo so that’s awesome in my book!


Love the B77W. Flew DFW-HKG earlier this year, very comfortable flight. Expect the same to SYD.

Martin Vance

Nice A/C for the route. Looks like some serious competition is in store. Great job AA !

Barry Vogel

Can’t wait to fly there

Lovely news, great job to AA

swag is good

Love the tail shot on Twitter, look forward to being on board soon in 2016.

Matt Bowling

AA is an airline, not an Automobile Association!

Love the new livery

Scott Kagarice

American is a fantastic airline! I’ve flown with them about 40 times this year, and I’ve loved every flight!

Harrison moore

I want to pet a kangaroo

Calvin Newman

I want a kangaroo to sit next to on a 777!

Calvin Newman

Does the 777-ER give the plane more weight than the regular 777? How much more fuel can it hold?

I love the gift set!

Australia rocks!


I want a kangaroo at my gate.

I was on AA’s DFW-HKG inaugural. Winning a goodies bag from this flight would be a nice additin to my collection 🙂

Marc Boccaccio

The AA 777-300 is such a beautiful airplane! I’m glad to see it being used more often out of LAX and will now also consider this flight when making my plans to visit Australia in the future. Hopefully the amenities offered on this aircraft will filter down to the rest of the AA long haul fleet soon.

Still haven’t had a chance to catch a ride on the 77W, definitely on my avgeek bucket list!

Melvin A.

John, thank you for this excellent post! Looking forward to be on this flight someday….

Great article!

Sam Hackworth

A dream trip for us!

Sam Hackworth

And I truly mean that!

Margaret Lindsley

Love AA. I hope To fly AA 9/2016.


Pegi Close

I’m flying AA to SYD in may,2016. Love the 777 and can’t wait.

Kevin Heard

What a GREAT opportunity.. both for AA and the passengers!!! Congrats to American on the flight. I have a dear acquaintance East of Perth; and it would be really phenomenal to take this flight.

Margaret Lindsey

AA is the best of the big domestic carriers. The 777W is tops too. Don’t think a kangaroo will be on board

Boris Virchow

AA and SYD perfect together

Family members (unfortunately not me) flew from ORD to NRT this past summer on AA’s 787 and enjoyed the flight.

Ben St Aubyn

I was at SYD when she approached from the Pacific.,
Gotta say Ive never seen a aircraft that’s so terrific,
Glistening in the Australian sun,
Being American has never been so much fun.

Peg Close

I have family in Australia. American is the way to go

Sally Valenza

Best way to fly is with American Airlines. Especially to Sydney.

Right now in Sydney -the Water’s so warm,
Thinking this should be my norm.

Sally Valenza

American is my favorite airline. I fly the m every chance I get.

Luis Suarez

American will make a great job with this route and bring better ties between American Airlines and Qantas

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