When American Airlines rolled out their ‘Concept D’ business class seat with the Boeing 787-8 and on some Boeing 777-200s there were several problems.
- They weren’t mounted to the floor well and passengers in one center seat could cause movement in another.
- The dividers between the center seats would get stuck in the up or the down position.
Concept D Business Class
American seemingly gave up fixing the dividers and locked them dividers in place. If they’re up and they don’t go down then they aren’t broken. The inability to move them up or down is just an unsupported feature.
Divider Up Between Middle Seats
B/E Aerospace Super Diamond
In an employee question and answer session this week American Airlines CEO Doug Parker put it this way about the Concept D seats: “It’s this company Zodiac, if you want go Google them, they’re not a very good quality manufacturer of seats.” (They had production problems, but they have offered fantastic seats to some of the world’s best airlines for many years.)
American started putting the Super Diamond business class seats into planes. But they didn’t buy moveable partitions between center seats, which is a big loss — if you’re stuck in a center seat and not traveling with someone there’s a real lack of privacy which can be awkward for sleeping. Women tell me this is doubly true for them.
American never went back and replaced the Concept D seats, and never went back and fixed the divider issue either. They just kept dividers locked in the up position.
At this past week’s employee Q&A ‘Crew News’ session one flight attendant questioned that decision. She says most of her passengers in middle seats are couples traveling together and they hate the divider being locked ‘up’.
The solution though isn’t that American should lock them all in the up position or all in the down position. The solution is that American should have dividers for their business class center seats that work. And after three years of doing nothing to fix the dividers that may actually be on the radar.
According to David Seymour American’s Senior Vice President of Integrated Operations,
The priority for us is actually to fix them so if you want it up it can go up and if you want it down you can leave it down. And that’s what we’re working on. ..We’ve got to get downtime. …We’re working now internally on our own design to get it. ..There’s a very confined space that we’re working in there to get it designed so that it will be robust and we don’t go through another stage of it’s working it’s not it’s working it’s not. So we’re working on that process right now…
Once we come up with the design it requires the downtime that Vasu’s group gives us in order to take the seats apart to get into that space to do it. We’ve determined we’ve got to do something to fix it once and for all. That’s really where the engineering team is really focused in on trying to get that so we don’t have these problems.
Of course once American finally fixes the Concept D seats the Super Diamond seats in most Boeing 777-200s and in Boeing 787-9s still won’t even have dividers.