American Expected to Add Even More Seats to Old US Airways Airbus A321s

More than three years into the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, there’s been little effort to offer a consistent product across the two fleets. US Airways aircraft for the most part haven’t been given “Main Cabin Extra” extra legroom seating in coach, and they haven’t even been given power ports.

US Airways management, after all, removed power from the Airbus planes they inherited when American West took over US Airways a dozen years ago.

As a result there’s ‘good’ planes to fly (legacy American) and what I call the basket of the deplorables (legacy US Airways).

Last month I wrote that American has a plan to finally add power ports to the bulk of the fleet although it will take until the end of 2020. (They say they’ll be at 85%, presumably not adding power to planes they intend to retire.)

JonNYC who usually has reliable information tweets,

He suggests power (which we know to expect) and more seats. The current legacy US Airways Airbus A321 configuration is 187 seats — 171 economy and 16 first class (no Main Cabin Extra). Presumably they’ve figured out a way to get to 190 seats and offer extra legroom seats in some fashion as well — perhaps tighter pitch (less legroom) in first class in addition to the move they’ve already been making to slimline seats in economy.

One version of the rumor that I’m more skeptical of is American adding a row of first class in the new configuration — although Delta manages 192 seats with 20 first class, extra legroom coach and regular coach so it’s possible.

I checked with American and while they refused to confirm the 190 seat information, they did not deny it either.

Since taking over, former US Airways management has sought to squeeze additional seats into aircraft. They’ve added seats to legacy American Airlines Boeing 737-800s, MD80s, and Boeing 777-200s. They’ve even added seats to US Airways Airbus A319s as those have been renovated with fewer first class seats and the addition of Main Cabin Extra.

Not great for passenger experience, but good for the airline’s cost per available seat mile.

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. Can we stop pretending JonNYC is some ultra well connected person with inside sources ? It’s an officially sanctioned leak, and he’s an employee tasked with gauging the public opinion before they go official, plain and simple.

  2. @HenryLAX

    ha ha SOOOOOOO true !!!

    Wow Bruce it’s so weird how you always show up right after Batman was here …

  3. Not too sure how many of your readers fly DL, but let me tell you that those Airbus they fly have the worse FC in the sky, tight is not the word to us, so for DL to get 190 seats plus 20 FC in a A321 means no space to move.

  4. Hard to figure out how DL does it – between front door and first exit row – DL has 5 F rows at 36″ pitch and 3 DL comfort at 34: pitch. Plus DL has a closet on both side in that space.

    AA has 4 rows of F at 38″ pitch and 3 MCE at 34 pitch, no closet. That 4×2″ is only a savings of 8″. I have to assume that DL has no leg room in its bulk head seats. DL must have slim line seats and counts that in it pitch???

  5. This is great news for legacy US Airways planes as they will get proper MCE, but this kind of spells bad news for the legacy AA 321s as this potentially will mean less MCE given the configuration they aim to achieve.

    For those who apparently feels JonNYC is some sort of “paid insider” – you are clearly the presumptive type.

  6. @Henry LAX

    I won’t disagree with you that there’s probably some effort to float information Jon’s way from time to time, but how many employees do you know that are allowed to publicly criticize their employer on social media? It would quite a stretch to say he’s on their payroll.

  7. Very, very nicely explained, @Red.

    But one correction; AA goes to GREAT lengths to try and prevent me from accessing this info– including firing people and setting traps, etc– they just haven’t.

  8. The seat arrangement is secondary to the fact that the cabins will get a much-needed refresh. To the smartphone era!

  9. Still won’t make them all that great, but the addition of MCE means that many of us can at least stop actively avoiding this metal…

  10. @C Carley – yes, it did. US Airways was acquired out of bankruptcy, America West’s leadership took over.

    Of course a new company was formed to facilitate this transaction. Investors got a majority, then America West shareholders, and a small portion went to US Airways creditors.

  11. I’m lifetime gold on AA and I spent several hours on a LAS-LAX flight yesterday :/ on a 5 month old 321S.

    The good: USB and powerport. after 2.5 hrs in the USB my android phone was 50% charged. On this particular flight we had video in seatback, which was a lifesaver. Not everyone has their devices charged etc, I dont want to install new apps from each and every airline just to watch video, I like the flightpath show on flights of any length etc. I am firmly in favor of video in seatback, despite the loss in foot space.

    The bad: cramped in coach. I could not imagine cross country in this seat. As well commented before, seat cushion is way too short, probably to bump up the measured pitch, and is uncomfortable unless you recline quite a bit. (I could not snag an eco+ seat).

    Point is this: this is a brand new plane with video. In other words, it’s as good as its ever going to get on the new American. And its not great. And as we know, seatback video is going away. Without that video, I would say it kinda sux! Minus video, yesterday I would have been far more comfortable on a typical Southwest setup.

    Add’tl point is this – I can only imagine how bad the retrofits will be.

    I am moving farther away than ever from loyalty to AA or any one airline. As the Orange in Chief would say: Sad.

  12. Just my opinion – but seat pitch doesn’t always mean legroom. The DL first is a prime example (seat pitch is seat back to tray table, in an easier explanation.). You can have large seats (DL) with the seat cushion being so close to the magazine holder in seat in front of you.

    And yes C Carly – A West most certainly was the surviving company, with the name retention of US. Likewise, AA is really US with name retention of AA (look at the bankruptcy documents, which are available online.)

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