Source: American Airlines
There is currently one Boeing 777-200 flying with this seat. They did that retrofit early for certification. American has taken delivery of its first 787-9 with this seat and with premium economy. That plane will fly Dallas – London on October 4, back October 5, and then enter domestic service for about a month.
The B/E Aerospace Super Diamond is one of the world’s best business class seats, but American seems to have made one very poor decision customizing theirs.
This is a Fabulous Seat, Potentially the Best in the World, But…
Virgin Australia uses the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond as its new business class seat. So does Qatar. This is a fantastic seat overall, arguably better than the one on American’s Boeing 777-300ER.
A conversation earlier today made me wonder what was up with one key feature of the seat, however: privacy dividers between the center seats.
American’s Boeing 787-8s and 777-200s have an issue with these dividers, they’re generally stuck in the up position or the down position but cannot be moved by passengers.
Airlines use dividers to create a sense of privacy for middle seat passengers, so that they are acceptable both for couples traveling together and for solo passengers. When going into sleep mode especially having an extra sense of separation from a stranger is a must.
reports and photos of AA’s version of super diamond seat lead me to conclude that AA has decided to forego the divider feature on it’s version of the seat.
American Airlines confirms to me that “the business class does not have privacy dividers.”
I’m genuinely shocked. The Qatar version of the seat has a divider that can be pushed down between the seats. The Virgin Australia seat’s divider moves forward and backward. American chose not to have a divider at all. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this decision.
These are expensive seats. They take up a lot of real estate in the plane. But for solo passengers stuck in the middle seats it’s better than six across seating without direct aisle access, but it doesn’t provide privacy. Solo business travelers stuck in those seats will not be happy, and may start actively avoiding the seats.
Aisle seats on the planes are at a huge premium for solo travelers of course those tend to fill up first leaving last minute high fare passengers left with an inferior experience. It’s almost unfathomable that American decided to buy these seats… without the dividers. There has to be a backstory to why they would make what seems like such a collosal mistake — which, on a Friday afternoon, will have to wait.
This Seat Joins American’s Other Business Class Seats
American introduced the Boeing 777-300ER with their first lie flat business class seat, an outstanding off the shelf Cirrus version that’s found in Cathay Pacific and EVA Air business class.
Boeing 777-300ER Business Class
The seat for American’s 767s is fully flat with all seats having direct aisle access. But 767s are narrower aircraft, so they selected the narrower Thompson Vantage seat for this aircraft. I find them claustrophobic for sleeping.
Boeing 767 New Business Class
American worked on their own concept seat that was going to be even more spacious for the conversion of 777-200s and for Boeing 787s. The design got cut back, there were delays, and indeed Boeing 777-200s aren’t even close to done with the conversion.
Boeing 777-200 New Business Class (Zodiac)
Delivery of American’s Boeing 787s were delayed because this new seat wasn’t available from manufacturer Zodiac.
Boeing 787 Business Class
So American terminated its contract and sued Zodiac, and went shopping for a new seat — the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond.
Meanwhile American has started to equip their international 757s with lie flat seats. This is the only aircraft that isn’t going to offer direct aisle access, it’s a 2-by-2 configuration similar to what United is retiring in favor of the new Polaris product. There’s also no inflight entertainment built into the seat.
Boeing 757 Business Class, credit: American Airlines
Meanwhile, until retrofits are done, there are international flights still running with the old angled business seat.
Boeing 767, Old Business Class
How Does This New Seat Compare?
I haven’t flown this year, though have a few trips booked on the new 787-9. I anticipate that for a solo traveler in the window seats, and for couples traveling together in the middle, this should be American’s best business class products and indeed should give American one of the best business class seats in the world.
But for solo travelers in the middle seat it will fall behind American’s Boeing 777-300ER seat, and potentially behind the 777-200 and 787-8 seat if those seats have their dividers stuck in the down position on a given flight.