Dumb – And Chillingly Ignorant – American’s Suites With Doors Won’t ‘Show The Door To The Poor’

Chris Matyszczyk is known for taking my airline leaks and sensationalizing them. Here, though he takes word of American Airlines business class seats coming with doors on the airline’s new delivery Boeing 787-9s and uses that to pull his very best Christopher Elliott, which is to say taking a travel story he doesn’t understand and doing his best to turn it into an allegory about class warfare and socialism of the North Korean variety.

And Matyszczyk’s rambling prose makes about as much sense as Kim Jong Un’s. The piece is titled, “American Airlines just showed the door to customers who aren’t rich”

He starts with airlines being short-staffed and business travel not having fully returned. He then attributes word of the new business class seats to The Points Guy which was a day late with the revelation and failed to cite anyone who had covered it the day before. (Update: After I wrote this piece and scheduled it, I’ve seen others writing about it as well, here’s Lucky’s take.)

Matyszczyk calls business class with doors a “gated community” when in fact the curtain between classes goes back decades. He says that fewer seats on these planes is bad for The Poors, when in fact a less-densified American Airlines aircraft should be celebrated by all. While he’s implying there are fewer saats for the Little People he does nothing to analyze the extent to which other airline options won’t provide such travel as well (or whether American Airlines is likely to earn a revenue premium or continue its strategy as the ‘low price leader’).

He then says something about Southwest changing its online distribution strategy for business travel, as though that is anything other than a non-sequitur.

And then something about which boarding door gets used mattering although he doesn’t understand the issue well enough to frame it this way: coach passengers today will usually board through 2L and walk through premium economy not business; that could change with a new LOPA that includes more business seats but for Matyszczyk to argue this he ought to get to work on a leaked cabin layout.

The experience can be exacerbated on planes when Economy Class passengers board and walk past Fancy Class passengers who are already on their second glass of champagne.

…If you’re a regular American Airlines Economy Class customer and you have to walk through the gated community, how will you feel when you get to your own seat? Oh, I may have forgotten to mention it. Economy Class seats aren’t changing from the last iteration of this plane.

So… the economy experience is… now worse than before, but there will be more opportunities to escape it? And that’s somehow a bad thing.

Let’s be clear: American Airlines business class is not ‘for the rich at the expense of the poor’.

  • While American Airlines business class isn’t generally for The Poors, this is business class, not first class.
  • Historically it’s the province of middle managers flying on someone else’s dime.
  • When was the last time you saw Elon or Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates in American Airlines business class? To be sure Prince William once flew American Airlines coach but he also flew Ryanair.
  • American won’t be the first, or even among the first, to put doors on business class. Delta already did it (arguably second, or even third) and United is working on plans for it too.
  • American’s plan is for more business class seats, and greater supply should mean some of the seats available at a lower price – including lower mileage pricing and for upgrades – making business class even less the province of the rich than it is today.

Rather than leading to greater inequality there’s a reasonable chance better business class will spell the end of Flagship First Class on American Airlines.

New American Airlines CEO Robert Isom is on record telling employees that American will continue to stay laser-focused on the Spirit Airlines and Frontier business segment,

[T]oday there is a real drive within the industry and with the traveling public to want to have really at the end of the day low cost seats. And we’ve got to be cognizant of what’s out there in the marketplace and what people want to pay.

The fastest growing airlines in the United States Spirit and Frontier. Most profitable airlines in the United States Spirit. We have to be cognizant of the marketplace and that real estate that’s how we make our money.

We don’t want to make decisions that ultimately put us at a disadvantage, we’d never do that.

At the end of the day though remember that even Air Koryo offers business class.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Chris Matyszczyk is the epitome of media scum. Always sensationalizes everything with the most disingenuous click-bait headlines.

  2. 1. If you’re going to call people dumb or ignorant, how about you write coherently, at least in the freakin’ headline? As written, it expresses criticism of the suites themselves.

    2. What is your data source for business class passengers being middle managers? Backing up a bit, what’s your definition of a middle manager? If you mean anybody who has direct reports yet is also a direct report of somebody higher up — then, okay, but this group includes the ultra high net worth segment.

    3. You will not see any corporate officer like Musk on any commercial aircraft because their contract with their board of directors prohibits all commercial travel.

  3. Well, Isom has his work cut out for him with AA’s debt and high unit costs…..

  4. Well, we could settle all this simply by going over to Central Park and asking Richard Quest his thoughts on the matter. Just don’t touch the rope…..you don’t want to know what the other end is attached to.

  5. Doesn’t his argument fall apart on the fact that most people who are in those seats are the very opposite of rich, but slaves to their corporate bosses?

    The majority of the people up front dont pay for their tickets with money but with the lack of vacation time and to be at the disposal of their owners…err.bosses 24/7

  6. An internet troll should just be ignored- two widely read bloggers responding just adds fuel .

  7. I read that article yesterday and thought it was ridiculous. It seems he’d like it more if they crammed even more economy seat in, so the Poors would have more seats albeit less room in each seat.

  8. Typical, thinly veiled, attempt at pushing the liberal class warfare agenda. He did everything but call AA racist because AA economy seats “unfairly discriminate against black and brown people”.

  9. Dbesg article ever written. Should be ashamed to call yourself a journalist.
    Stop trying to write fake stories just to get people to read it.
    Same guy who said American is not trying to be premium is the same guy who is saying they are too premium.

  10. @Bob. Well put, to some extent. There’s certainly a segment of J flyers that are running their lives into the ground for the benefit of distant stockholders….. a glass of cheap grocery store champagne to drink in front of “the poors” isn’t much compensation.

    Is it useful to generalize to the level of seating classes? People have different priorities and preferences of value. I know people who will sit in AA Economy one day and charter a Citation for $7K/hr the next (not corporate – paid out of own personal pocket)…. and others who don’t have a ton of assets/income but will stretch to J for long flights.

    Sure, those in front are wealthier in general than those in the back — but the truly poor rarely fly and I think this piece mostly reflects class anxiety between the upper-middle and lower-upper classes. The “$400K a year flying first class working stiff” vs “$95K flying coach working stiff” while the ownership class strolls through the FBO.

  11. But When delta decided to go with doors on their delta one porduct nobody said a anything now i see morons like this writing stupid articles because American decides to step up their game….

  12. You’re right… but I’ve gotta say his analogy to gated communities is a good one. 🙂

  13. He’s right about economy and PE passengers walking through business class and first class. U.S. airports should use two boarding doors on widebody aircraft. Its not about class but having a better experience for all and a faster boarding process. Asian airports generally use two (or sometimes three on A380s) boarding doors and boarding is faster and easier for everyone. Often Asian airlines use multiple doors for boarding on their flights from the U.S.. With two doors, people in the business cabin aren’t blocking the aisle as they settle in, economy passengers get to their seats quicker and easier and FAs can provide service in business and first without delaying boarding. Two boarding doors on widebodies makes too much sense for U.S; airlines to do it.

  14. This peasant thinks AA FAs serve refills on PDBs? Heck, the moment they put doors on the seats, they’ll probably tell everyone to keep them closed. Less service needed, that way.

  15. The people who spend time to understand the tricks of flying is a pretty small group. The vast majority of people I know fly a lot of Spirit and Frontier and complain about it all the time, just to save a little money. Yet they will spend lots of money on other things that would not be important to me. Its just the mindset of a lot of people out there that the way to fly is to buy the cheapest seat available. If you suggested there was a difference between the airlines or that you could use points or miles to sit in F or business class, they would just stare at you blankly.

    Many of the people in F are not rich, just smart enough to figure out that there are a lot of ways to get there that don’t cost a lot.

  16. Today I learned that a series of sentences are good enough to be published as an article. There are 5 total paragraphs in that piece longer than 1 sentence. (Ignoring the hilarity of the “doors on first class is bad because people walk by them and cause fights” argument….especially when you don’t usually even walk by the business seats on many widebodies these days)

  17. An absolute moron spewing nonsensical liberal/socialist garbage. If it bothers him, take a bus or train….hopefully permanently out of the country.

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