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:
diff finishes pic.twitter.com/qZNSoCTsrj
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) August 19, 2022
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.