We’ve predicted it for years, but a knowledgeable insider suggests that international first class on American Airlines is finally on the way out.
Insider: American Airlines Will Eliminate International First Class
Currently, American Airlines offers its international or premium first class product onboard select Airbus A321 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
Just last week there was intense speculation that the Airbus planes with first class, known as the A321T, would undergo a retrofit which would remove first class and add premium economy class by 2024.
That would have left only the 777-300ER fleet with first class.
Last night, industry insider JonNYC posted the following message:
— Matthew Klint – Live And Let’s Fly (@LiveandLetsFly) August 25, 2022
American Airlines is introducing a new business class seat for its 777-300ER as well and with that will come a retrofit. JonNYC, who is almost always accurate, says the first class seat is likely to be removed during this process.
And let’s face it, it just makes sense. American Airlines has chosen not to invest in its onboard first class product (truly, a missed opportunity) and it simply does not make sense to have extra cabins of service.
Even the old “but Hollywood contracts require a real first class” argument is no longer the case…contracts have been renegotiated. First Class is generally not required.
Now all of this, if true, is years away. We won’t see a new business class seat unveiled until next year and likely won’t see it on the 777-300ER for several years to come. But it marks another step toward the elimination of first class. This time, though, it is more than speculation.
What Will AA Do With Flagship First Dining?
Currently, AA offers an innovative restaurant-like service for those passengers who fly in international first class. I don’t expect AA to close down these Flagship Dining facilities. Instead, I think AA will either create a special oneworld Emerald lounge (this has been rumored in cooperation with joint venture partner British Airways) or will integrate the dining experience into the Flagship Lounge, much like United Airlines does with its Polaris Lounges and like Delta is rumored to be developing with its new line of Delta One lounges.
In either case, I would expect these dining facilities to remain. After all, AA has already invested in this beautiful common space and it does mark a product differentiator than can be. monetized in another way should first class disappear.
I do view the elimination of international first class on American Airlines as a loss, for the reasons I outlined above. As the only U.S. carrier to offer it, American had (and still has) a chance to differentiate the product and sell it…trust me, my wealthy clients at Award Expert are willing to fork over the money if the product is compelling. Sadly, AA has all but given up on first class already. The news concerning the A321T last week and 777-300ER this week suggests that AA will shortly make what we already predicted the official news.
image: American Airlines