American’s first Airbus A321neo is about to enter commercial service on Tuesday, April 2. They have 100 of the ‘new engine option’ planes on order (22 of these deliveries have been deferred). It’s being outfitted in a new ‘dense’ configuration along the lines of the American Airlines 737 MAX, which has the airline’s new standard domestic interior.
Airbus A321 interior, credit: American Airlines
In a communication to employees the airline is highlighting five features of the new aircraft.
- “[M]ore premium seats than our other A321s, including 20 in first class and 47 in Main Cabin Extra.” Indeed there are more seats overall and they’ve added a fifth row of first class, though both Main Cabin Extra and first class have less space than American’s customers are used to, and in my opinion less comfortable seats. If they had added an additional row of seats to the plane they’d be required to add another flight attendant. That makes me skeptical of American’s claim that “If our customers want the good seats, we have them.”
- Larger “Airbus XL” overhead bins. That means less gate checking of bags, which is good for customers. In fact the airline now flags for gate agents when planes have bigger bins so they don’t demand passengers give up their bags. Bigger bins also means gate checking of bags isn’t delaying departure.
- “high-speed Wi-Fi, free live TV, free wireless entertainment, USB power at every seat and A/C power at every seat” but no seat back screens.
- “[A]dditional forward oven and galley, with heated floor panels for crew comfort”
- “3 extra jump seats for traveling flight attendants.”
Airbus A321 galley, credit: American Airlines
Though American is promoting it as crew-friendly the galley actually look cramped to me the way it’s framed, though it’s possible it’s just their photo.
Four more first class seats than existing Airbus A321s, and than on Boeing 737s, is welcome but probably not for crew — it’s more passengers to serve, a heavier workload up front than they’re used to. There won’t be additional crew to be serving more passengers. The neo itself looks like a great aircraft, though.