American Airlines retrofitted its domestic fleet. Legacy American Airlines Boeing 737s and Airbus A321s that had seat back entertainment had those screens removed. They added seats to planes, giving each passenger less room (even in first class). They even shrunk the lavatories.
There are two strange things about this fleet, though.
- The ‘new domestic product’ was poorly planned. They didn’t even build a cabin mockup before they began installing seats. As a result they got a lot of the details wrong, bolting the first class seats to the floor without thinking – preventing passengers from having underseat storage space – and lacking the tablet holders in first class that were giving to coach passengers. They wound up having to retrofit planes that they’d just retrofit to fix the problems.
Ultimately it was clear that the details of the product weren’t important enough to the airline to matter, even though it would be the primary product offered to its customers, because the airline’s CEO at the time didn’t even bother to try it for over six months after it was flying.
- A decade into the merger, and over 5 years from rollout of their new product, they haven’t updated the entire fleet – and have no plans in place to do so. There are some positives in the new configuration like larger overhead bins. But Airbus A319s, which still have seat back entertainment screens if they were purchased by American Airlines before the merger, haven’t gotten these.
And the legacy US Airways ‘Basket of Deplorables’ planes haven’t been touched, other than new seat covers.
The condition of the interiors of American Airlines A320s is sad. The American Airlines social media team tells customers that will change – but that isn’t true.
We're still working on updating all of our planes. In the meantime enjoy the retro vibes!
— americanair (@AmericanAir) March 19, 2023
Whenever I’ve flagged photos like these, the response I’ve gotten has been ‘well passengers wouldn’t want us to delay their flights to fix these seats’ – but that begs the questions, (1) why is it always the A320s? (2) What are they doing – or not doing – when the planes aren’t flying to maintain the interiors so that this doesn’t happen so frequently?
American Airlines retired its Embraer E-195s, Boeing 757s and 767s, and Airbus A330s during the pandemic, and its MD80s right before that. But this fleet of around 48 planes continues to operate. Many of them date to the 90s, from America West Airlines and from US Airways prior to being taken over by America West. The newest one is 17 years old (only three are less than 20 years old).
Leaving aside the regional jets that remain parked, the carrier is not even fully utilizing the mainline aircraft that it has yet. To be sure there have been delays delivering new aircraft from both Boeing and Airbus. However there’s no announced plans to retire these Airbus A320s, or to update them. And they’ve been flying these planes for years having already updated their Boeing 737s and Airbus A321s, a process that continued throughout the pandemic using government cash.
[…] always the Airbus A320, that plane makes passengers do strange […]