American unveiled snazzy new business and premium economy cabins at the cost of first class

American unveiled snazzy new business and premium economy cabins at the cost of first class
American unveiled snazzy new business and premium economy cabins at the cost of first class

American Airlines is going all-in with the premium experience – with a twist.

The Fort Worth-based carrier on Tuesday unveiled new business-class and premium economy cabins that will debut in 2024 on newly delivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A321XLR aircraft.

The airline will also retrofit two of its most premium planes with the new products, though it will come at the cost of first class on planes that currently have business class.

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There’s a lot to unpack in the announcement, so read on for more details.

American has introduced new business-class suites

Headlining the news is the introduction of a brand-new business-class product for American. The carrier is installing private suites in the forward cabin on all new 787-9 Dreamliners starting in 2024.

American Airlines

These so-called flagship suites will be arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and feature direct aisle access for each passenger. Additionally, each seat will have a privacy door, a lounge seating option and extended personal space. It looks like there will also be a privacy divider between the center seats.

American Airlines

American’s new seat is custom designed for the carrier and is based on the standard reverse herringbone design. All seats are located away from the aisle for added privacy and personal space.

This move has been a long time coming for American. There was a long-standing rumor that the airline would install private suites in business class on its new Dreamliners, and now it has been officially confirmed.

American Airlines

In fact, back in April, news leaked that American would outfit its new Dreamliners in a premium-heavy configuration with all-new seats. Dubbed the “787-9P”, the new jets will feature 51 business-class pods, 32 premium economy recliners, 18 extra-legroom coach seats and 143 standard economy ones.

American Airlines

American’s existing 787-9s have 30 biz pods and 21 premium economy recliners, so the new jets will add significantly more premium seats. It wasn’t immediately clear if American plans to retrofit its existing Dreamliners with the new product, and we’ll update the story when we learn more.

Airbus A321XLR gets a new seat

In addition to the wide-body Dreamliner, America’s narrow-body fleet is also getting an upgrade.

When the carrier debuts the Airbus A321XLR in 2024, this single-aisle jet will represent an entirely new business-class product for the carrier.

American Airlines

It will sport 20 flagship suites arranged in a 1-1 configuration, similar to JetBlue Airways’ new mint business-class pod on the Airbus A321neo.

These seats will also feature sliding privacy doors, larger storage areas and HD personal televisions. Unlike the new long-haul business-class suite, these seats will face the aisle in a herringbone configuration.

American Airlines

These A321XLRs will also feature 12 premium economy recliners

American Airlines

American plans to deploy these jets on transatlantic flights that may not have enough demand for larger wide-body jets, and it’s likely the planes will also be deployed on premium transcontinental flights – more on that below.

Premium Economy gets an upgrade

While the most noticeable changes will be in business class, American is also introducing a new premium economy recliner to the new 787-9 and A321XLR fleet.

American Airlines

With new privacy wings and additional storage areas, these seats will likely be popular among those looking to upgrade their travel experience without splurging for a business-class seat. Based on the rendering, these seats do not appear to have foot rests.

These seats look very similar to Delta’s new custom-designed domestic first-class recliners that debuted on the Airbus A321neo earlier this year.

American Airlines

American will install 32 of these seats on the 787-9 Dreamliner and 12 on the A321XLR.

American Airlines

Notably, this will be the first time an American narrow-body aircraft will feature premium economy. However, it makes sense for the carrier to add this popular cabin given the airline’s deployment plans for the jet – on long and thin transatlantic routes.

Farewell to Flagship First

Along with the new cabin, American is officially retiring its flagship First Cabin.

This is because by the end of 2024 the airline will be retrofitting its existing jet fleet with these exclusive seats: the Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A321T.

Historically, the Airbus A321T has been one of the most premium aircraft in the US, as the carrier has deployed it exclusively on premium transcontinental routes from New York and Boston to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Jack Grief/The Points Guy

This A321 subfleet currently has 10 flagship first pods, 20 flagship business lie-flats and 72 economy seats, half of which are in extra-legroom configurations.

Going forward, American will line up 16 A321Ts with the rest of its A321 fleet, though the carrier promises it will offer lie-flat seats on premium transcontinental routes departing from New York and Boston.

Jack Grief/The Points Guy

Meanwhile, the airline’s 20 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft currently feature eight flagship first pods, 52 flagship business lie-flats, 28 premium economy recliners and 216 economy seats.

Jack Grief/The Points Guy

After retrofitting, they will feature a whopping 70 flagship business-class suites and 44 premium economy seats — but no flagship first pod.

It was not immediately clear what American would do with its airport’s flagship First Dining facilities, which currently offer a restaurant-style pre-departure dining experience to the airline’s most premium flyers.

Jack Grief/The Points Guy

The airline is likely to keep these outposts open and sell access at an additional cost – a move the airline began testing earlier this year.

last row

While the big story is that American is investing in premium experiences, it’s worth noting that the airline still suffers from a lot of product inconsistencies.

While the newly delivered Dreamliners, 777-300s and A321XLRs will have new seats, the carrier has not announced plans to update its remaining widebodies.

American Airlines

That means the existing 787-8 and -9 Dreamliners, along with the 777-200, will continue to feature a different product. Worse, the airline will still fly its much inferior Safran Concept D zig-zag style business-class seats that alternate between forward and rear facing.

Of course, the airline could decide to retrofit more of its existing planes, but only time will tell if the carrier decides to do so.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking until American puts its new seats into service, starting with its new delivery jets in 2024.

The article is in Bengali

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