American is adding seats to aircraft, with a goal of becoming just as cramped as United and Delta.
“The seating configurations we’re going to are the same number of seats on the 737, for example, that Delta has. We haven’t finished the analysis on the 777 yet, but it will be consistent with what airlines like Delta have,” Kirby said.
…“We think it’s important to be competitive with United and Delta. You can have a premium product, but a premium product in markets where there is premium demand and customers who are willing to pay for it,” Kirby said.
American’s MD80s already have had more seats added, and 737s will be getting more seats soon. Both of these moves were reported last June.
Now they’re working out how they’ll add seats to their 777-200s as well.
Here’s the before and after seating for these three aircraft types:
American, under its pre-merger management, had been emphasizing premium product. That gave us a fantastic new business class aboard the Boeing 777-300ER. It gave us a new top shelf product onboard the Airbus A321 for the New York – Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.
But even previous management wasn’t generous with coach. The 777-300ER features 10 across seating in coach.
While their new Airbus A319s are great looking aircraft, they have fewer first class and main cabin extra seats than the planes they’re meant to replace. The new 737 interior is great, too but better inflight entertainment doesn’t mean more comfortable seating. They’re sticking in more seats and using ‘slimline seats’ which I don’t find padded as well. I wouldn’t want to fly long distances in them.
US Airways has less legroom in its domestic first class than American does. I expect the trend towards less room to continue, on routes where they cannot attribute a revenue premium directly to a premium product. That doesn’t mean nothing good in the air, US Airways pioneered what’s the new American (and Cathay Pacific, as well as others’) business class seat. But it means if they can’t pin revenue on meals, we won’t get meals. And if they can’t pin revenue on 38 inches of legroom versus 36 in first class, we’re likely to get 36 inches.
Taking a hard look at the numbers is important, but over-relying on models that are mis-specified and fail to capture consumer decisions accurately can lead to bad results.
I’m personally hoping that experiments like the new Airbus A321 pan out in a measurable way and quickly, to make the case for retaining as much of American’s product as possible under new management.