New Report: American Airlines Is Dropping International First Class

American Airlines could offer a truly top shelf international first class product without making big capital investments. And with so many airlines having dropped the product there’s real opportunity to make money here. There just aren’t a lot of options between business class and flying private anymore, and much of private jet travel is ill-suited for long haul.

Nonetheless I have been expecting American Airlines to move in the other direction, that once they introduce their next generation business class product they’d retire international first class. (They’re expected to drop first class on premium cross country flights in favor of an improved business class in 2024 as well.)

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER First Class, Credit: American

I’ve suggested as recently as April that I don’t expect American Airlines to continue offering its “Flagship First Class” product as it takes delivery of new planes with new business class and potentially retrofits aircraft with existing seats.

Now aviation watchdog JonNYC reports that it is, essentially, a done deal that the only long haul international aircraft with a first class cabin above business class – American’s 10 Boeing 777-300ERs – will eventually lose first class.

Doesn't seem to be any doubt at this juncture; when those AA 773's go in for cabin refit, they will come -out- with no first class seats in 'em.

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) August 25, 2022

American doesn’t even have to wait to retrofit the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with first class to officially ‘end’ selling first class. They can treat first and business as one cabin, restricting seats in the former first class cabin to customers paying “Business Plus” fares which also, incidentally, come with access to American’s Flagship First Dining inside of the airline’s dedicated business class lounges (at New York JFK, Miami and Dallas – Fort Worth, with LAX’s Dining still closed).

Before the pandemic I noted that no decision on this had been made. Two and a half years later we know a lot about the airline’s plans for business class, and absolutely nothing about a new first class product. That tells me there isn’t one.

It would be a shame to see Flagship First Class disappear from American Airlines. I’d far rather see them invest in a truly first class product. They have Flagship First Class Dining, Five Star service on the ground, and aircraft selling the product already. And it’s a market that few airlines compete against them to service. Modest tweaks would go a long way, but unfortunately signs point in the opposite direction.

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