Could This Be the New American Airlines Business Class Seat?

American has dropped Zodiac as their seat supplier and will therefore need a new business class seat.

American’s new Boeing 777-300ERs got an off the shelf business class seat from Zodiac Aerospace. It’s basically the US Airways seat, later adopted by airlines like Cathay Pacific and EVA Air. It’s a fantastic seat.

For their Boeing 777-200s being retrofit, and their new Boeing 787s, they went with a custom-designed business class seat from Zodiac. It’s sleek looking, and the rear-facing seats have fantastic table space, but in my opinion it feels tight and confining especially at the shoulders in bed mode.

The 777-200 retrofit project has been slow. Deliveries of the 787s had been delayed. And that’s long been though to be the result of slow deliveries of seats from Zodiac. American’s 787-9 and some of their 777-200s are therefore looking for new seats.

American’s lawsuit against seatmaker Zodiac says it faces fines under its contract with Boeing over the late seats which Zodiac is obligated to reimburse. (Full lawsuit here (.pdf). American also contends that since their agreement with Zodiac was terminated for cause, Zodiac is obligated to cover the extra costs of American obtaining the seats elsewhere.

Industry sources have said that Boeing has exerted strong pressure on American to take delivery of the 787-9 aircraft as previously scheduled. As seats are the full responsibility of the airline, sources say, Boeing could ask American to take the 787-9 aircraft whether or not seats have been installed. American therefore finds itself forced to immediately identify a substitute seat vendor.

Skift speculates “that B/E Aerospace in Winston-Salem North Carolina is the likely candidate to step in at this point. The manufacturer is large enough to meet demands, located within the U.S., and has a long-standing relationship within the new American Airlines Group as a supplier to US Airways.”

The most likely seat from B/E Aerospace would be their ‘Super Diamond’ business class offering.

A full-flat seat featuring luxury design influences and styling flexibility found in luxury transportation, Super Diamond™ features a highly resolved composite body that saves weight and adds structural strength, resulting in greater stiffness of the table and in overall strength and rigidity of the structure.

This would be my guess as well.

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. Oddly, the prayer for relief explicitly seeks “reprocurement” costs – the additional cost to procure like seats, but I see no explicit request for any late acceptance costs Boeing might demand. Requies for Relief (i) requests all contact damages, which may cover that, but it seems prominent in its absence.

  2. This is the best in market seat UNITED has on order, but UNITED has further custom enhancements to blow the competition away.

    HPdbaAA will have to get in line behind the UNITED orders, and good luck getting a seat that has more than 3 positions. Anyone ever fly the cheap skate US version of the Cirrus seat…

  3. Having flown both, I can tell you the Cirrus (Zodiac) seat is far more comfortable than the Super Diamond from B/E. The footwell on this one is quite restrictive as the tray table tucks under the screen rather than coming out from the side.

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