American Airlines Employees React to Deferring 737 MAX Deliveries

Along with American’s decision to order new Boeing 787s to replacing aging 767s, 777-200s, and A330s, they’ve deferred delivery of 40 out of the 100 Boeing 737 MAXs they’ve ordered. These now aren’t scheduled to be delivered until 2025 – 2026.

One employee commented on American’s internal message board that “Maybe AA is really listening to the customers and decided the MAX isn’t all too popular!”

Indeed the 737 MAX has the airline’s new standard interior that may passengers are unhappy with. Distance from seat back to seat back has been reduced to 30 inches throughout economy. They’ve squeezed in more seats by shrinking the lavatories. And they’re removed seat back video screens. Even first class has less legroom.

The airline responds to criticism saying that most people carry their own devices anyway (though many don’t consider watching video on a call phone to be the equal of a seat back screen, and not every family of 5 has 5 iPads). They also note that the 737 MAX had been getting ratings from customers that are at least as good as for their other aircraft.

However I’ve noted first that you’d expect this because for the first several months they were giving away high speed internet on the aircraft, and second that this is truly ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’ when compared to the legacy US Airways ‘basket of deplorables’ fleet.

And indeed one American Airlines pilot calls the new standard lavatory the ‘most miserable experience in the world’ and refuses to deadhead on the aircraft.

Unfortunately contra this employee’s hope that American’s new inferior domestic product would be delayed alongside the deferral of new 737 MAXs, the deferment means that Boeing 737 Classics will fly longer in the fleet and will therefore go through the interior conversion program to give them the same densified seating and smushed lavatories as the 737 MAX known as Project Oasis.

Another employee points this out,

The [737 MAX] itself is fantastic what they decide to put inside (most likely a cheap product) is the problem. Oh and too many seats.

The conversation among employees continues, “OMG.. When I tell you I hate the MAX… hope they finally listen to the many complaints about the plane. It is awful.”

Another points out though, “AA doesn’t listen to customers.”

American seems focused on ConciergeKey customers and international premium cabins while degrading their domestic product. At least their domestic first class Kosher for Passover meals are good.

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, 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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  1. How many times will you recycle this same story about the 737Max? We get it.

    It’s like fatal attraction.

  2. Really Gary, posting employee comments from an INTERNAL discussion board without their permission? One thing to post statements by executives, but this really crosses an ethical line.

  3. Got UA 1K via status challenge. First 35000 pqm on UA has been a generally better experience than recent activity on AA. 1K may prove eventually to be no better than AA ExPlat but at least I can see for myself. And I get to avoid experiencing the further implosion of a once great airline.

  4. The 787 experience on AA is great. I however won’t ever set foot on a 737 MAX. Hopefully someone from AA is reading this.

  5. Gary, you’re getting really lazy. You keep recycling the same content with just a couple nuggets of fresh words.

    Enough already. If you have new things to say, say it. Don’t keep copying and pasting the same crap we’ve all read 100 times. And the last sentence? Come on. What the hell does that have to do with this story? Nothing. It’s a terrible non-sequitur that you’re using to drive clicks.

    You’re better than this clickbait garbage. Don’t start devolving your site for clicks.

  6. Please do not blame Boeing or the 737 MAX! What you dislike is how (un-)American is configuring their 737- MAX. Boeing would put giant lavs and 37 inch pitch between seats if American ordered the airplanes that way. It is American Airlines choice to make their airplanes, whether Boeing, Airbus, or other, uncomfortable for their soon to be gone, unless all they went is a cheap seat, passengers.

    The 737-MAX is a wonderful airplane, and while better than the somewhat competitive products offered by state-sponsered “competitors” to Boeing, it is the airlines, like (un-)American who make the configuration choice for the number of seats and small fry everything else.

  7. Keeping this in the news is a good thing
    Thank you Gary!
    It’s a reminder that few want an inferior aircraft
    It’s a message to American that
    if they want a premium customer in any cabin they had better make some changes
    After 20 plus years I’m done with them
    And last but not least never in all the decades I have been with AA has listening to customers and customer service in general ever been so terrible
    I hope I live to see the day that Parker is removed or forced to leave office for any reason
    He has ruined the company in every aspect possible
    From having to exit and recheck my baggage for every single segment to horrible food and a lack of service through out
    They have forced me into carriers such as Cathay Singapore Qantas Emirates Ethiad
    and others that I didn’t know existed
    They are all vastly superior on their worst operating. Day compared to the hostile toxic environment @ American

  8. A flight attendant I know very well (and trust for telling it like it is be it the good, the bad, and everything in between without any drama or bs) said basically the same thing as the pilot Gary cites above in his post, and put it this way:

    Many F/A’s HATE AA’s crappy, densified planes with teeny-tiny, hard as cement blocks, no legroom seats & would rather WORK the flight they’re deadheading on than be wedged into these despicably small, uncomfortable, seats…

    …and yes, F/A’s are also sick & tired for having to “apologize” to a great many passengers about how crappy their airline has become since Dougie & Co. conned their labor leaders into accepting the grand Faustian bargain to take over, and then destroy legacy American, which for nearly two decades many considered the best domestic airline in terms of service/product delivery and other passenger centric/valued aspects that Dougie & Co. has since stripped away to better line his/their own pockets by intentionally creating a product so awful, even he doesn’t bother flying aboard new planes that are too miserable for him to squeeze his princely bum and the rest of his pretty tall body into…be it those teensy-weensy no legroom seats, or those appallingly small (child sized) loos where most average sized adults literally has to stand/sit sideways to use when nature calls…

    But CEO Dougie & his pals at AA sure do LOVE counting the money from everyone else he/they expects to just sit down, shut ’the eff’ up – and “show him/they the ’effing’ money”…

    …just like his pals at Bedbug…er Bloody Awful…oops!…I mean BRITISH Airways crowed in their infamous Dec 2016 powerpoint slide presentation do… 😉

  9. Gary, please keep bringing this up. The more negative press the better. AA’s pr can spin it anyway they like. Their hard and soft domestic products are pure CRAAP now!! They need to be held accountable!

  10. Come to think of it, maybe instead of blanket reregulation of our airline industry cartel…

    [Sidebar: the handful, or just four, and too few and extremely hypocritical oligopolist companies whose CEOs and shareholders just love preaching the gospel/virtues of the free market capitalism, shareholders’ rights and “fair” [as long as the rules are rigged in their favor, that is] “competition” … alas, all while being one of the most desperately NON-COMPETITIVE industries where barriers to entry for newcomers are not just high, but for all practical purposes, IMPOSSIBLY HIGH – or even more like altogether VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE when considering that nobody is offering the capital needed to fund startups, not to mention the total lack of access to gates, slots, etc., at key airports and fortress hubs that would be needed for ANY chance at becoming a viable competitor to the gangsters now running our too few airlines…]

    …we implemented one and ONLY one new regulation of our now cartelized airlines…and the beauty is it’s simplicity:

    The CEO, ALL MANAGEMENT, and ESPECIALLY DIVA on the Board of Directors, AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS **MUST FLY AT ALL TIMES IN THE WORST SEATS/CLASS OF SERVICE THEY EXPECT THE VAST MAJORITY^ OF THEIR FARE PAYING CUSTOMERS** to sit in for…hours and hours and hours…and hours that they themselves already KNOW are so HORRIBLE they don’t bother to even try flying under the same inhospitable, clearly unpalatable, butt numbing, leg cramping, knee smashing, conditions they gladly accept money from everyone else (but them, of course) to be confined in for what feels like an enternity when one is actually doing what they don’t, and won’t unless forced to, do themselves…

    …so, maybe it’s just time to pass only one new law instead of the reregulation that otherwise, and ultimately, will be required to tame the “greed run amok” beast that already has hijacked our oligopolist airlines…

    …a law REQUIRING those who are responsible for creating these horribly abusive, and sometimes even ridiculously sadistic, seats/cabins to SIT AND FLY IN THE HORRIBLE CONDITIONS and OTHER CLEVER MISERIES THEY CREATED…

    that they, too HATE and AVOID…yet SO LOVE PROFITING FROM!

    Sure would LOVE to see how long the rest of us would be expected to just take this abuse…and told to sit down and shut the ‘eff’ up?

    ^(aka the 85% of economy passengers that PAY THEIR OBSCENELY HIGH SALARIES & whose hard earned cash funds those obscenely large, multi-billion dollar, wealth transferrring stock buybacks via companies that face NO MEANINGFUL threat of new entrants, yet rely heavily on publicly funded infrastructure [airports and transportation links to/from; the skies above us; air traffic control, just to name a very few things that are taxpayer funded that our airlines conveniently omit when they whine about how “hard” the “burden” existing consumer protections and/or safety regulations are] that itself are the insurmountable barrier that makes possible these windfall profits and the resultant orgy of greed as expressed by their blatantly oligopolist business models where the ONLY form of ‘competition’ is to see who can SCREW their customers more and get away with it…)

  11. When I first begin to fly for business (before deregulation) the product was much better. However, it was too expensive for the vast majority of non-business travelers so they took a train, or the bus, or drove long destinations. Deregulation has pushed the airlines into chasing the public masses who once used other forms of transportation for non-business (i.e., non-tax deductible travel). The result is what we have now gotten.

    Going back to the old regulated system would result in improved comfort but drastically higher prices due to fewer non-business travelers. Many foreign airlines have that much more passenger friendly comfort many of us crave only because they are subsidized by their governments.

    We are only getting the product quality that the vast majority of travelers are actually willing to pay for. Airline management “greed” is an unfair characterization, IMO. Profit margins on a percentage of revenue basis are extremely thin compared to many other industries. If the degree of comfort some of us want were instituted, ticket prices would need to be increased dramatically unless the government subsidized the industry.

    Bottom line is that we are only getting exactly what most of us are willing to pay for–nothing more and nothing less.

    Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, employed by any airline. Also, I hate tiny airline restrooms and poor legroom coach seating as much or more than anyone (I am over ^’ tall and well over 200 lbs) so it is miserable for more than 2 hours in coach.

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