American Airlines Begins Removing First Class, TVs, and Legroom From Fleet Of Cross Country Planes

The best American Airlines domestic aircraft is the one that it flies on premium cross-country routes like New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Airbus A321T (T for transcon) features first class, business class and economy.


American Airlines Airbus A321T First Class

American Airlines is ending its Flagship First Class product over the next few years. Only two planes have it today.

  • When new Boeing 787-9 planes are delivered with business class suites with doors, they will also retrofit their Boeing 777-300ER planes – eliminating international first class, and adding these new business class seats.

  • They will drop first class from these A321T planes. In fact they are going to modify the aircraft to a standard A321 Oasis domestic configuration with just recliner seats up front and coach in back. For premium cross country flights they’re expected to use new Airbus A321XLR planes which, once delivered, will have business class suites with doors as well.

While the Airbus A321XLR is still in the future – the aircraft hasn’t been certified yet, so Airbus can’t deliver any – American is beginning the process of switching its existing fleet of A321T planes into the standard, less luxurious configuration.


American Airlines Airbus A321T Business Class

As reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC they’re taking one plane out of service to retrofit it, to create the standard process for doing so – although they need to keep the rest of the fleet intact until those A321XLRs arrive.

Already down to just 16 planes in service, these aircraft currently have 10 first class; 20 business class; and 72 coach seats – half of which are extra legroom “main cabin extra” seats. In the new configuration they will go from 102 total seats up to 196 – 20 first class and 176 coach.

While it’s lamentable that American Airlines is dropping their most premium first class service, that includes ground services like Flagship First Dining (and equivalent Chelsea lounge) at New York JFK, Miami and Dallas – Fort Worth, the biggest difference is going to be in economy because:

  • They’ll be removing seatback entertainment screens
  • A greater proportion of seats will be regular coach without extra legroom
  • And even regular coach seats will have less legroom on the aircraft than today
  • They’re even removing a galley – passengers won’t be fed as much either!


American Airlines A321T Economy

American Airlines planned to eliminate first class when US Airways management took over a decade ago. US Airways was used to being the low cost leader, rather than a premium airline, and couldn’t fathom selling those seats. They quickly learned that there was demand, especially from corporate buyers out of L.A. That’s dried up somewhat since the pandemic.

On the airline’s inaugural flight, right after the takeover, a Vice President that had come over from the US Airways side told me they expected to rip out first class from these new A321Ts back then. There’s always been a bias against premium from this management team.


American Airlines First Class Cabin On The A321T Will Disappear

They’ve believed that if they could only become operationally reliable, they’d be profitable. It turns out that reliability is just table stakes rather than enough, and a high cost airline needs to generate a revenue premium which requires quality product.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I accumulate AA airlmiles so I always fly AA. Please post more articles like this one as it will make getting my preferred seat a certainty! I love AA!

  2. Don’t worry….pretty soon no matter where you want to fly or what ever accommodations you want….We will have a drone for that.

  3. How can one of the worst airlines ever carry American name?
    We’re the laughingstock of the world.

  4. I’m tired of overweight people who get seats next to me and intrude into my space. There doesn’t appear to be a remedy other than taking your chance with first class

  5. The most uncomfortable flight of my life was on American Airlines. Across the US. The seat was hard as a rock. I could not sleep or find a comfortable position. I won’t fly te airline again.

  6. I just got off a 15 hour flight, Boston to Hong Kong. If they’re minimizing economy leg room, I can tell you I certainly won’t fly with them.
    15 hours is a long time with pretzel like accommodations, no entertainment, and less food.

  7. When flying to South America I end up on AA usually in 2 legs, and in business class. In the
    Longest leg they stuff me in economy at business class price. Then a long lay over in MIA and very long walk to the departing gate. Been 2 times pot smoking drunks delayed the flight. Must ban alcohol at airports and òn flights. If you have to drink to fly stay the heck home.

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