American Is Dropping First Class, But May Still Have A Better Seat Than Business Class

American Airlines is introducing a new business class seat with doors both for its new delivery Boeing 787-9 aircraft and to retrofit its Boeing 777-300ERs which will see the elimination of international first class.

They’ll also introduce a new narrowbody business suite for the Airbus A321XLR when it’s delivered, and no longer fly Airbus A321T planes with first class on premium cross country routes (retrofitting those planes as standard domestic A321s).

Credit: American Airlines

Together this means American Airlines will no longer offer Flagship First Class. However that doesn’t necessary meal they’ll no longer offer a seat that’s better than business class – indeed, that’s better than their new business class suite with doors.

Aviation watchdog JonNYC shares to expect a better seat in row one of widebody business class:

("more like a suite" being my take/verbiage, not something akin to QR etc etc.)

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 20, 2022

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 20, 2022

Several airlines have premium products within a larger business class cabin. Historically that’s come when an airline eliminates international first class but doesn’t retrofit the seats – food and amenities may be the same as business, but those front row seats are the old business seats. Sometimes they’re sold at a premium and sometimes bookable by an airline’s top elite frequent flyers. For instance when US Airways eliminated their international first class, the first row (former first class) offered true flat seats while the rest of business class had angled seating, and row 1 was bookable by full fare passengers and by the airline’s Chairmans Preferred (100,000 mile) elite members.

Virgin Atlantic’s new business class will include a premium front row. JetBlue’s new business class has a premium front row and American’s Airbus A321XLR business product, the Collins Aurora seat, looks very similar to the Thompson product JetBlue is using. So airlines are now putting this in proactively.

new jetblue mint

Credit: JetBlue

I reached out to American and they offered that they are “excited to unveil our new Flagship Suite seats for our new Boeing 787-9 and A321XLR aircraft” and that as they “may have more to share” as they “get closer to the delivery” of the first new planes.

We’ll see for certain whether they have a ‘better product in row 1 of the plane’ than even the new business suite, whether on their Boeing 777-300ERs, 787-9s, or even Airbus A321XLRs – or even all three. Regardless there are going to be a lot of different business class products on American Airlines for some time.

  • I have to think they’ll retrofit existing Boeing 787-9s with the new cabin
  • I would not expect Boeing 777-200s to see these new suites
  • Currently they use both Super Diamond and ‘Concept D’ business class seats in 787s and 777s, and will likely have both for some time – in addition to these new business suites, though the 777-300ER Cirrus seat will be retired with this refresh.

Several readers have asked, what does this leave for United Airlines and its Polaris seat – always intended as a ‘good enough’ lie flat direct aisle access, but generally considered inferior to the American and Delta (and Air France, Air Canada, and new British Airways) seats? They are planning doors for business class as well.

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