American Airlines Expects To Add First Class Seats To Airbus A319 Fleet

When American Airlines took delivery of its first Airbus A319s in 2013, they used a tighter configuration than with past fleets. So after US Airways management took over about six months later, they didn’t seek to redo the interiors. And they found it easy to configure older (1998-2006 delivery) US Airways A319s to match, albeit without seat back entertainment and with a less comfortable and less padded seat.

As American has squeezed even more seats into planes – for instance going from carrying 150 to 160 and now 172 seats on Boeing 737-800s, while removing seat back video – they haven’t done more to the Airbus A319s. Legacy American A319s still have seat back screens. This fleet lacks the larger overhead bins of the 737s, and that the Airbus A321s are getting as they have seat back screens removed and more seats added.

Legacy American Airlines Airbus A319

American Airlines would like to modify these A319s as well, and in particular add more first class seats. Just 8 seats up front isn’t enough to sell on many of the routes where the aircraft gets deployed. As airline President Robert Isom explained it to flight attendants in an internal meeting this week, a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing,

Where do we go from here? There’s some things on the A319 that I’d like to look at. I think that if you talked to Brian [Znotins] today he’d rather have an A319 with a larger first class section. I think that we’d like to have oversized bins in that aircraft. We’d like to have a much more common fleet from the 319 perspective. Probably a ways to go on that, but that’s something that we’ll probably tee up next.

Znotins, who is the airline’s Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning, added,

We would obviously love to do a modification on the 319s as Robert says to add more first class seats, to get the bigger bins, have a better product on board. But we do have a number of reconfiguration opportunities in front of us. And we need to prioritize which ones are best. Right now our priority is getting the Oasis installed into the 321 aircraft and then once we get into next year we will decide how we best use our financial and most importantly TechOps resources to be able to improve the experience and the configuration of other airplanes. We don’t have any plans to share now but we are looking at the various options in front of us to see which one the best one is to tackle next.

American Airlines Airbus A319

So refreshing the A319s with more first class seats, and bigger overhead bins, is potentially in the cards and a decision that would be made next year. The question is where they’d get the room to add first class seats. As it stands, with the same number of seats up front, Delta crams four more passengers into their Airbus A319s. They won’t want to give up seats. Expect, then, smaller lavatories and less personal space for passengers in back if this happens.

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. It is ridiculous that from BTR to DFW there are 9 first class seats available but I connect to a 319 from DFW to EGE (Vail) on a plane with only 8 first class seats.

  2. Delta put the 2 rear lavs at the very back of the plane where half of the galley used to be as part of Airbus’ Space Flex cabin. They are not in the cabin as AA’s A319 lavs are.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more controller1. As a. Exp based in Vail it’s ridiculous. Flew 1341 today per usual back of the bus. You know it’s bad when I have flights to LAX in a few months and am relieved it’s a crj-7 and have to deal with the eagles nest – yet know won’t be cramped in the back

  4. Really makes me cringe to see those clueless twits use such big words (for them) like “better” and “improve” to describe their intentions. The execs at AA are worse than the government when it comes to just about anything they touch and tinker with. Those 4 extra F seats will come at a huge cost, make no mistake.

  5. Hopefully, that comes with free unlimited internet access during the entire flight at no extra charge. And it would be nice if they had a treadmill on the place, so you can do your cardio. L 😛 L

  6. Is AA seriously doubling down on removing IFE? I wish that entire C suite would go back to America West! What a bunch of clowns.

  7. Mark my words, it’ll be amazing! 12 F seats in the same space as 8 were previously!

    AA really knows how to make money!

    /s This almost cannot end well, even though I’d ostensibly agree with everything stated.

  8. I was on an American A321nx last week. What a great plane compared to the 738 Oasis stuff. Hope they do not mess that one up.

  9. Theres no reason A319s mainline jets should have less first class seats then regional jet planes.

  10. As the article points out, Delta has 132 seats in its A319s compared to American’s 128. That’s unusually candid for this blog. My question is why are American’s planes usually portrayed as being more cramped than Delta’s on most airline blogs? I hate to be the bearer of this news, but there’s only so much available space in a given aircraft. I’ve flown on both Delta’s and American’s A319s and there’s very little difference between them in real-world comfort – or lack thereof. Yet this blog’s readers are consistently being misled (in my opinion, based on both physics and my personal experience) to believe American’s A319s are more cramped than Delta’s. Why is that? Why the apparent vendetta this blog has against American? If this blog is supposed to be a “thought leader” maybe “quality of information is more important than quantity”, to paraphrase a line from the PBS/BBC program “I Claudius”. I’d like to see a bit more personal space on aircraft, but given the flying public’s focus on low fares over virtually everything else, I’m not certain that will ever happen. So, as the comic Pogo put it, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” We can only blame ourselves as consumers for cramped airline interiors. But at least on legacy carriers, one has the option to buy up.

  11. I like Delta, but I am always headed west so I would rather connect at DFW than ATL or DTW. The best thing at DFW is SkyLink — not AA.

  12. Radio,
    just cut to the chase.
    Delta has 2 lavs in part of the space that AA has for the rear galley. Lavs on opposite sides of the coach cabin take up the space equivalent to a row of seats.

    American and Delta have roughly comparable space in the coach cabin. Delta made room for more first class seats by moving the lavs.

    If AA doesn’t do the same or remove coach seats in order to add first class seats, they will have no choice but to take space and that will most likely come at the expense of less space. but it isn’t even a given that can happen because seats have to line up w/ the exits. The A319 is just not long enough to cram extra rows in anywhere you want.

    The same principle applies to the A321s which Delta and American both operate.

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