American Airlines is squeezing 172 seats into all of their Boeing 737s. These same planes had 150 seats before US Airways management took over the airline.
They accomplish this by squeezing seats closer together (even in first class) and taking back space from the lavatories and galleys. There are no seat back video screens, and there aren’t even any ovens in the back galley so coach flights to Brazil don’t get hot meals. They’re planning to put a similar interior into their Airbus A321 aircraft as well.
The airline talks about creating a ‘living room experience’ with faster inflight wifi that allows streaming video to your phone while sitting in cramped seats.
However in addition to faster internet American’s 737s and A321s are also getting bigger overhead bins.
Have you ever sat at the gate area and had an agent announce that everyone in the last couple of boarding groups would have to gate check their bags? And have you then boarded and found there was plenty of bin space?
- American wants to depart exactly on time. They are willing to inconvenience customers to do it.
- Gate agents get yelled at by managers over delays. Their ‘Success at the Gate’ metrics depend on it also.
- Gate checking bags can take time. If passengers are allowed to board with bags and discover there’s no space, checking the bags can be the difference between a D0 departure and one that hurts employee metrics and makes President Robert Isom angry.
- So agents figure it’s better to make customers check their bags just in case bins wind up full. That will get the plane out on time and keep them from getting yelled at by managers.
American’s new ‘torquemada interior’ (as I call ‘Project Oasis’) comes with bigger bins, though, where there’s enough space for each passenger to have a standard sized rollaboard onboard. So as long as each passenger only brings their allowable carry on bags and stows their personal item under the seat there should be no need to check a bag.
- Agents won’t have to tell customers bins are full when they aren’t really full, just in case
- Ironically while this new interior could help with on time metrics by avoiding gate checking bags it also removes one of the key reasons to get an American Airlines co-brand credit card — early boarding. You don’t need to board early if everyone on the plane will have space for their bag.
As more and more planes are converted to this interior American has added a notice to agent screens at the gate letting them know the plane has the torquemada interior and there’s no need to make passengers gate check bags in advance.
This has been in place since December 11th. Have you flown a new densified American Airlines plane since then, and have you noticed agents allowing all passengers to board with their carry on bags?