I’ve written extensively about the new American Airlines standard domestic seating setup. They first rolled it out on the Boeing 737 MAX (I reviewed the inaugural flight in coach). Then they began to retrofit their existing Boeing 737s to add more seats. And then it leaked exactly how they’ll be doing this to their Airbus A321s also.
- More seats, less space between seats
- But American argues customers have as much ‘space’ because the seats are thinner (less padding), there’s no seat back video taking up space, and the seats have only limited recline.
- Smaller lavatories
- Faster internet speeds and bigger overhead bins
First class and extra legroom coach seats lose legroom, too. And the first class seat isn’t as well designed as the old seat either.
But it could have been worse for some passengers. American’s original plan was for more extra legroom coach seats (better chance of escape) while a few seats would have just 29 inches of pitch which is the distance from seat back to seat back.
Word leaked about these changes and employees were up in arms (and thoroughly embarrassed). The airline backed down, and didn’t ultimately go to 29 inch pitch.
However at the time when that was still the plan there was a brilliant video that I somehow missed but that Demetrius J. points me to. I keep watching it and completely losing it, this is hilarious.
It’s from Taiwan-based TomoNews. There are English subtitles which is great, but you have to listen with the sound on not just for the Chinese narration but the sound effects. It’s that brilliant.
I do not love what American is doing to their domestic fleet. They say they want to be a premium airline and have customers pay more to fly them — a strategy inconsistent with offering a product that isn’t as good as before.
They’ve made great strides with their international business class, their premium cross country flights (though when United puts 787-10 flights on these routes their business class will trump – at least on those planes for as long as it lasts), and their business class lounges. There’s a tremendous dichotomy between American Airlines domestic and international, and between international business and coach.
That said I think the new domestic product would be fine on flights up to three hours, I just wish there were more extra legroom seats (and that those actually had extra legroom) in order to have space to work. The real problem is that American intends to operate planes with these crammed in cabins on flights that are 5 or more hours long.