Here’s The New Business Class Seat American Airlines Will Select

American Airlines is testing new business class seats. This week they’re even testing new coach and premium economy seats with customers. Next week they’ll test new seat options for business class. And once that happens the leaks will, presumably, start pouring out.

However we don’t need to wait for leaked word on the seats American is trialing to know not just what they’re considering but to make a strong educated guess about the seat they will actually select.

  • Rockwell Collins currently provides all of their seats. They got fantastic pricing on seats giving what was then B/E Aerospace all of their business. They bought seats but didn’t worry about the details, which is why they’re having to rip out the domestic first class (MiQ) seats and fix the way they’re mounted to the aircraft to provide underseat storage, fix the seat padding, and make other changes as well. Their current seat supplier should have an inside track on retaining the business and an edge on pricing for the volume.

  • American will add doors to business class. Delta business class has doors (a Thompson Vantage XL seat, which I do not much like) and their joint venture partner British Airways is adding doors to its business class. British Airways is even moving into American’s terminal 8 in New York. For product consistency American will want a similar offering as BA, and for competitive reasons they’ll want to match Delta. The new business class seat American chooses will have doors.

  • British Airways is using the same seat American already has. American has been installing Super Diamond seats from Rockwell Collins. That’s what’s in their Boeing 787-9s and the bulk of their Boeing 777-200s. That’s what’ll be in their new Boeing 787-8s that begin delivery this year, with the fix that center seats will have a privacy divider (something American left out in earlier seats). British Airways slapped doors onto the American seat.

  • Going with the British Airways seat is most cost effective. It sticks with Rockwell Collins for bulk pricing. It provides the most consistency in product. And it allows for cost-effective retrofits as well, they can keep existing installed Super Diamond seats and replace the shells, adding a door.

American Airlines Super Diamond Business Class Without Doors

To be sure, American is considering and testing more than one seat. They haven’t actually decided what seat to go with. But I’d be surprised if, at the end of the day, they choose something other than to use the same Super Diamond seat they’ve been installing in planes and follow British Airways’ lead by adding doors.

New British Airways Super Diamond Business Class, Credit: British Airways

New British Airways Super Diamond Business Class, Credit: British Airways

The open question is whether they’ll order stock Super Diamond seats, in American colors, as they’ve largely done so far or whether they’ll invest in customization. Custom seat trim is something that US Airways management mocked but former legacy American Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Virasb Vahidi had emphasized. It’s also something British Airways has done with their seats and frankly the custom stitching looks fantastic.

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. One thing is certain, USdbaAA will go with the cheapest option. This will include doing absolutely nothing for years. They’ll make big splash about the new seats with lots of pretty pictures and, like UA, delay installation as long possible so that it will take most of a decade to appear fleet-wide, if at all.

  2. The Thompson Vantage XL seat is too large to fit on a 767 1-2-1. Is that also the case with Super Diamond seats? If so is there any word on when AA will choose a new seat for its 767s?

  3. D1 “suites” – a name that doesn’t go with the cramped feel those seats have – at least have a splash of color that is refreshing. I hope AA abandons its 50-shades-of-gray color scheme and goes for something more pleasant.

  4. @John The Thompson Vantage is already installed on AA’s 767s, so they definitely fit. Also, there will be no new seat on the 763s as that’s what the incoming 788s will replace (along with some older 772s).

  5. @A.Man, Thompson Vantage XL like D1 suites will not fit on 767 1-2-1. Thompson Vantage will. The problem is the 767’s fuselage and cabin is the narrowest of any widebody.  Width of the 767 is 186 inches.  The 777 width is 231 inches.  

  6. I find Doors too confining for the limited Cabin Space available to work with. And addressing the Fifty Shades comment…..I would rather look at the current AA cabin Any Day than that cheap assed Faux Chanel-like quilted BS Blue color on Delta….Now THAT is Ugly in Any Cabin. What AA really needs to get Rid of are those disgusting Gray table linens……awful from Day One. (Getting rid of their Management Team wouldn’t be a Bad Idea either).

  7. I agree with Roger that the A table linens suck. Not only are they gray, they aren’t even big enough to cover the table.

  8. As long as they replace the dreadful seats on the 777-200 which half go forward, and half go backward. Those must qualify as the all-time worst idea ever. I avoid their 777-200 with a passion. I will fly on a 777-300ER, or 787-9, but I will even re-route myself to avoid those crummy, cheap, forward-backward seat aircraft.

  9. These appear to be very similar or identical to the Virgin Australia business class seat. My main issue is that the pop open cabinets on the deck under the window are very shallow and cannot accommodate much. For example, the amenity kit would not even fit.

  10. @Gregory
    I agree with you on the lack of space being an issue. While I’d generally rather have more space to exist, I end up with things all over, especially if I’m actually working on the flight rather than sleeping. Color though, doesn’t really matter to me.

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