At the final ‘Crew News’ employee forum of the year a pilot asked American Airlines President Robert Isom about ‘oasis’ cabin modifications and how that relates to the Boeing 737 MAX’s return to service.
American unveiled a new cabin interior with the 737 MAX and has been retrofitting their existing fleet of Boeing 737-800s with this new interior. They paused this retrofit when the MAX was grounded, not wanting to take additional planes out of service. The retrofit program has restarted even though that means American has to cancel more flights than they otherwise would have as a result of the MAX grounding.
“Project Oasis” retrofits mean:
- Less legroom and less underseat storage space in first class, harder seats with less padding, and the elimination of the cabin divider between first and coach.
- Fewer Main Cabin Extra seats, and the ones that remain have less space than before and less comfortable chairs.
- Tighter coach than ever before, with just 30 inches from seat back to seat back. American compensates for reduced space by also reducing padding in the seats and reducing seat recline.
- Squeezing more seats in, partly by reducing the space between seats and partly by shrinking the size of the lavatories, one American Airlines pilot called these new lavatories the most miserable experience in the world.
In addition to less comfortable seats with less legroom, American is installing bigger overhead bins. That way the plane can hold one full-sized carry on bag per passenger, reducing boarding delays by reducing how often customers have to gate check their bags and the time passengers spend hunting for bin space. The new standard also means that passengers won’t have seat back video screens, either.
Before US Airways management took over American’s Boeing 737s had 150 seats. US Airways management took that up to 160 seats five years ago. This new configuration squeezes in two more rows to bring the total seats up to 172.
American Airlines President Robert Isom told employees that there are currently 72 planes with this new interior and that by summer 2020 they will have reconfigured 150 with Oasis.
And, he says, customers like the new Torquemada configuration,
[C]ustomer feedback, there are some changes we’re going to be making around the first class cabin, but in the coach cabin…those have been met with a lot of nice response from our customers and one that we view as a real success.
It should be no surprise that in the echo chamber of the American Airlines C-Suite no one can hear the passengers scream. That’s why, after a horrible 2019 operationally and financially, the American Airlines strategy is to stay focused on doing the exact same things.