Rendering Reveals American’s New Better Than Business Class “Row 1 Premium Seat”

With American Airlines dropping Flagship First Class in favor of a new business class suites product with doors, I wrote to expect a ‘better than first class seat’ within the cabin in row 1 at least on widebody aircraft.

That’s a strategy we’ve seen from other airlines like JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic, making use of the extra space that results from positioning against the bulkhead, and also by other airlines eliminating first class but not reconfiguring aircraft.

This isn’t just speculation or inside leaks, though. It actually appears to be an Easter egg in the cabin rendering that American Airlines shared with their announcement, even though they’re unwilling to comment on the feature at this point. Reader Andy points out

If you look at the render of the widebody seat package the first row of seats has a black door with a red stripe on it and the seat in that section is black. It doesn’t show that way on the render for the narrowbody new first class. Maybe this is a stretch, but it sure looks like based on the pictures that will be an upgraded “business plus” type setup.

Here’s a close-up of a middle seat in row 1 from the American Airlines rendering of new business suites for the Boeing 787:

Given the positioning at the bulkhead, there’s no seat in front that needs to protrude into this one’s space. As a result it’s a more spacious experience. And like other airlines I’d expect American to treat this as a premium seat in the cabin – they even clearly differentiate it with a separate color scheme in their rendering.

That makes sense with the two different seat finishes aviation watchdog JonNYC tweeted about last month:

Expect that American Airlines will offer an even more premium business class suite in row one. It’ll be interesting to see whether they effectively make it a first class product on the ground with Flagship First check-in (perhaps rebranded) and Flagship First Dining inside of certain business class lounges, but not a differentiated on board product. That could make sense, marketing appropriately what to expect, since the onboard experience (food and beverage as well as inflight service) is the area where they’ve struggled to deliver a first class service to date.

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. Too bad that row is up front, right next to the bright lights, slamming cabinets, clanking service items and nonstop loud chatter from the galley. American’s longhaul crews seem to take particular pleasure in making as much noise as they can while passengers are trying to sleep.

  2. This is not new to me. Singapore airline first center of first row of business class were the same configuration. They did not market it differently. Season traveler knew to pick this seat because they can have more foot area.

  3. Will all these planes be Boeing and made in USA?
    I heard AA was buying planes from Russia which will put me much more often on their competitors.

  4. Who cares?? Not that American has devalued its miles so much and matched BA’s rip-off fees, why fly them?

  5. This makes some actual logical sense from AA for once.

    AA’s current first class is – at best – business-class quality. The seat is definitely better, but it’s less private and there is no first class service or catering to speak of.

    With this, they can upsell a seat with more space, while continuing to only provide business-class level service and catering to the traveler in that overall cabin.

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