The new business class seats on American Airlines look great, but the biggest news is not the seat, but the plans to enlarge premium cabins, which represents a welcome shift in strategy for American Airlines. Embracing quality and quantity seems like a winning strategy to me.
New American Airlines “Flagship Suite” Business Class Seat
American Airlines has chosen the Adient Ascent seat for its new business class, which I had the chance to try out earlier this year onboard a Qatar Airways 787-9 from Doha to Copenhagen. It is an excellent seat and comfortable in all positions, with plenty of room to stretch out while sleeping. It has privacy doors as well (though I don’t get nearly as excited about doors as others).
We’ll see those seats onboard newly-delivered 787-9 aircraft starting in 2024 and eventually on the 777-300ER, which will undergo a retrofit.
AA also unveiled new herringbone business class seats, similar to what we see onboard the JetBlue A321neo, for new A321XLR transcontinental fleet. The A321T fleet, currently offering business class and first class, will be retrofitted to remove lie-flat seating and match the rest of the A321 fleet.
As part of the news, American Airlines has confirmed that it is discontinuing three-cabin first class and will join Delta and United in eliminating a higher cabin above business class. It is not clear yet what will happen to Flagship Dining facilities, currently reserved only for first class passengers, but I expect those will stick around.
The Size Of Premium Cabins Are Growing – American Airlines Embraces Quality + Quantity
But the biggest news is not the seat. The biggest news is that premium seating in American’s longhaul fleet will grow more than 45% by 2026.
Recall that just a few years ago, American Airlines was ripping out premium cabin seats (and seatback screens) as it faced an identity crisis. It appears the carrier has wisely decided that its course to success is by differentiating itself from the budget carriers in the USA and offering a premium product that travelers will pay a premium to enjoy.
American’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft will have 51 Flagship Suite seats and 32 premium economy seats, and the airline’s Airbus A321XLR aircraft will feature 20 business class seats and 12 premium economy seats. Just as exciting, the retrofitted 777-300ER aircraft will feature 70 Flagship Suite seats and 44 premium economy seats.
This is potentially good news for those who like to upgrade or use points for travel and great news for all who wish to travel in premium cabins, as this represents a welcome investment in the premium cabin experience.
Not only is American Airlines investing in a new business class suite, but the carrier is increasing its premium seating by 45% (including business and premium economy) by 2026 on its longhaul fleet. This represents an exciting premium-driven vision that we have not seen for many seasons at AA.