American Airlines Expected To Drop First Class On Cross Country Routes In 2024

American Airlines is the only airline offering first class in addition to business class on some cross country flights. They do this with a dedicated fleet of Airbus A321T aircraft. However this special fleet, and special product, seem unlikely to last.

American’s Airbus A321T is outfitted with just 102 seats, including a true first class that’s just one seat on either side of the aisle. It was developed under legacy American Airlines management and when US Airways took over they were highly skeptical of the premium configuration. One legacy US Airways Vice President told me the configuration wouldn’t last, even before it took its first flight. However they kept it and pre-Covid it was very popular with corporate customers on the Los Angeles – New York JFK route.

American Airlines Airbus A321T First Class

Nonetheless before the pandemic American Airlines told employees they had no plans to refresh the Airbus A321T cabins despite their interiors getting a bit long in the tooth. They offered a fantastic and competitive product when first introduced at the start of 2014.

Back in April I wrote that I expected the Airbus A321T to be replaced on premium cross country routes by the new Airbus A321XLR. Noted aviation insider JonNYC now reports this as well.

Well, I had it wrong -then- but I'll push in further this time; I say that the A321T will start to exit premium transcon service right as 321XLR starts arriving, so currently, 2024.Plays well with Robert Isom's desire to minimize subfleets, and, well, those 321Ts gettin tired

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) August 17, 2022

Planes to be reconfigured. They're less than nine years old right now.

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) August 17, 2022

The Airbus A321XLRs that American has on order were supposed to start arriving in 2023 but are now expected to start arriving in 2024. They’ll feature new business class seats and be capable of flying to Europe.

  • This would mean a new business class product on premium cross country flights
  • It would allow American to reconfigure the A321T aircraft to match the rest of their A321s
  • That would mean more seats, fewer premium seats, and less legroom in coach on those A321s (as well as the removal of seat back entertainment screens)

American Airlines Airbus A321T Business Class

The new A321XLR will likely feature a better business class than what is in the A321T, but it won’t offer first class, and it won’t offer as nice a coach experience. It is, however, expected to offer premium economy which the current A321T does not have.

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