Breaking: 14 American Airlines Oasis Interior 737s Have Been Grounded Due to Faulty Work

I’ve been a huge critic of the American Airlines “Project Oasis” to take their existing Boeing 737s and replace interiors with more seats; less comfortable seats; less distance between seats; less recline; no seat back video; and smaller lavatories (plus bigger overhead bins).

These retrofitted planes, which have the same interiors as their new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, are less comfortable in all classes of service. There’s less space even in first class, and there’s seemingly been little thought given to the seats which don’t work well for under seat storage and have a bar which protrudes from the lower back for maximum discomfort.

It’s been rumored that American would cry uncle and remove some seats from the planes, implicitly acknowledging that they’ve gone too far. The airline is now even getting questions about whether their new inferior product is a cause of their revenue problems.

However it seems there’s now a whole new problem with this project. Yesterday a Transportation Workers Union official tweeted to me that several of the new less comfortable retrofitted Boeing 737s are unfit.

Currently reports are that 14 of the modified Boeing 737s have been taken out of service with the notation “OASIS MOD EVAL”

Apparently planes that were modified in one location are being inspected. An issue was found with two aircraft and so all similarly-modified aircraft need to be inspected.

According to an American Airlines spokesperson,

At American, safety is our number one priority and is always at the forefront of all that we do.

American operates 304 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and we have identified an issue with the quality of work conducted on overhead bins on two of these Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The interiors on these aircraft were recently updated by a long-time FAA-licensed vendor.

After further inspection by American, the work that was conducted on these two aircraft was not up to our standards. Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively removed from service the additional 12 aircraft that were updated by this vendor and have notified the FAA. We will perform additional inspection work on these 14 aircraft. Though the issue did not impact the safety of flight of these aircraft, we are working with our vendor and the FAA to immediately address this issue.

We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this has caused. Our team has rebooked all customers that were impacted by nearly 40 flight cancellations thus far and will continue to work proactively to get our customers to their final destination.

I’m not sure it’s fair to be talking about 304 Boeing 737-800s, and that only 14 have been taken out of service — there are a total of 69 planes that have been retrofit with the new interior, and all 14 that were done at one facility have been taken out of service.

Overhead bin issues can ground an aircraft — it’s a carefully worded statement to say that the issue did not impact the safety of flight if it wasn’t a big deal there wouldn’t be this response.

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. Sounds like this guy might have just hit the nail on the head….Isom has given this Parker guy enough rope to hang himself…”Sure, boss, people will love less comfortable seats, less space and no entertainment” and as soon as you run things into the ground, I’ll be happy to give people what they want, LOL…Most of these people never start from the ground up so they have NO IDEA what it is like for most of America (and the world) to actually fly. While a plane has what, 20 biz class seats? The majority of folks are stuck in the back and whichever carrier can make that 2, 4, 6 or 10 hours just a little less miserable, heck, perhaps even (gasp) enjoyable or remotely comfortable will get the win. Southwest isn’t perfect (I hate no seat selection) but I give them HUGE credit for TRYING to appeal to the masses and make it a reasonably comfortable, not miserable experience while giving people reasonable fares…Maybe the execs should do an undercover boss and go flying on theirs and others planes to see what is needed…but that would make too much sense for these “geniuses” 🙂

  2. As much as I hate AA and walked away last year, this is now getting interesting.

    Allegedly, mind you – Isom is possibly trying to sabotage Parker’s reign by allowing these customer-unfriendly decisions to be made?

    It doesn’t make sense. The BoD would look at both the CEO *AND* President for replacement when terrible strategy has ruined a company. It doesn’t make sense for Isom to do this unless he’s looking to retire from the industry.

    This also makes me question Parker’s sensibility even more. If Dougie is being played as a fool and the public knows it, what does that say about Dougie as a CEO?

  3. That tweet is an interesting twist on this whole saga. It has really been head-scratching to watch AA destroy its domestic experience (and brand) with project oasis, just after they seemed to have finally achieved a swift and effective implantation of a very decent international premium product.

    One tweet is certainly not enough to base assumptions on but could it be that Parker (who is certainly not stupid) is just so out of touch/removed from direct customer feedback he has let himself been manipulated into believing this plan will work?

    But that fails to explain the whole slew of face-slappingky bad strategic decisions recently – cutting their codeshares with QR and EY, without offering any south-Asian services themselves, just as Delta partnered with Jet… and abandoning NYC to the point where their JFK terminal is being (effectively) partially sublet to BA soon to run their huge TATL operation… mind-blowing and not all these decisions are as reversible as “Oasis” might be…

  4. Bet you’d believe the safety of a flight was impacted pretty severely if an overhead bin falls on your head…

  5. Doesn’t matter if Isom is trying to sabotage via Oasis plan (although installation is not Isom’s doing). Parker signed off on Oasis. If you have subordinates constantly making bad decisions and you don’t fire them, its as if you made the decision.

  6. Parker can’t see past the spreadsheets. Running an airline is more than just bean counting.

  7. you know between the overhead bins and the Oasis mess is this a harbinger of things to come? Are the wheels coming off AA? It appears maybe low not qualified bid got the work in some cases and they got caught. While this is not Dougie but downward pressure to reduce operating costs. That can be very dangerous in the airline business.

    I for one am cautious about AA frankly staying with AS/UA.

  8. What does “Long time FAA licensed vendor” mean? Maybe the TWU union folks are right “AA should care” and do all work with their own employees. I agree with most readers the board of directors need to wake up and fire Parker!

  9. Oh Darned! The dense torture-tubes will be halted for a while. Well that’s a good thing for paying customers at least. Oh darned on their profits. Just darned. Karma?

  10. Hmm maybe I should check the old resume to make sure the i’s are doted and the t’s are crossed just in case the AA BOD’s comes a calling. I have a lot of great ideas.

  11. The planes are completely safe unless someone suffers explosive diarrhea in the lav.

  12. I always buy first class and AA sucks so badly that I will only fly them when they are the most direct routing, almost without regard to increased price. It might improve if they would fill the horizontal bar in the back of the first class seat with the accoutrements of an actual bar.

    I just paid $999 for a one-way MINT JFK-LAS v. what would have been $489 on AA.

    MINT has it’s own problems: Walking / riding 25 minutes each direction to the AA lounge in Terminal 8. It’s almost impossible to time arrival at JFK accurately so I always get there way too early. JBLU arrives in to LAS after a 6:20 flight in Winter and has to wait for a gate at 12:50 am. That’s twice now, with the first time being 40 minutes. But, I’d rather have directtv and fly-fi and decent food.

    Ah, Memories of the 3.5 hour Uber ride to JFK (not including the breakdown of the Uber) on the first snowy day in November , and if I were still in shape I might walk the 13.5 miles.

    I know I’ve gotten off on a tangent but I don’t understand why people like living in NY. It’s probably just me and other retirees.

  13. Boeing’s 737-800 recently had to make an emergency landing on route from Egypt to graz/austria after a big bang in the back of the plane made it difficult to keep the plane in the air. Boeing has a serious quality problem not only with the 737 max of which 2 new planes crashed recently but also with the new air force tanker planes kc10 and kc135 which the Pentagon refused to take.sighting quality problems. Letting the 737 up in the air again is ignorant. The plane is now almost twice the size of the orig. 737 in the 1960s. It needs to be redesigned from scratch !

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