The rumors are true: American Airlines will be eliminating long-haul first class in the coming years.
But travelers with good heels need not worry much. The airline plans to consolidate its Flagship First and Flagship Business classes on its most premium-heavy aircraft into a new Flagship Suite configuration, which offers direct aisle access and a privacy door for all on its many high-priced routes. promises.
American will also update and expand the Premium Economy cabin on those planes as part of the overhaul, installing new seats with headrest wing for more privacy.
“The key point in all of this is that American Airlines continues to listen to our customers and continue to receive feedback from our customers,” Julie Rath, vice president of American customer experience, told USA TODAY. “Our flagship suites that we are delivering are in line with customer expectations in a truly premium cabin.”
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What will American’s new flagship suite be like?
Flagship suite seats will have privacy doors and direct aisle access for each passenger, as well as increased personal space compared to existing flagship business class seats. Every new flagship seat will convert to a completely flat bed.
“Privacy Gateway is really important to our customers,” Rath said. Feedback from passengers also encouraged the airline to focus on maximizing personal space as they designed the new product.
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“We really work with all of our partners, whether it’s the companies we buy the seats from, the interior designers like we’re doing our lounges,” Rath said. “How can we align and deliver the right products for the American Airlines customer?”
The renderings reveal that the new suites will feature dark upholstery and carpeting with offset light gray and wood trims around the entertainment system and partitions.
What will American’s new premium economy seats be like?
American Airlines was the first US carrier to introduce a dedicated premium economy cabin on its long-haul jets nearly six years ago, and plans to update many of those seats show just how popular the class has become.
The rendering reveals that the new premium economy seats will get privacy wings near the headrests and updated multi-tone upholstery.
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“There is definitely more demand for premium products,” Rath said. “This is another step in the evolution of truly listening to our customers.”
When can customers expect to see these updates?
It will take some time for these new seats to enter passenger service. American Airlines said deliveries of its first aircraft with the new configuration are expected in 2024, with full retrofits of existing aircraft not expected until late 2025 or early 2026.
American said the new Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A321XLRs are set to be delivered with the new seats in 2024. Its flagship long-haul Boeing 777-300ER will be retrofitted later, and its existing Airbus A321T, currently used in premium transcontinental service, will be refitted to align with the airline’s other A320 configurations. That plan suggests that those premium single-aisle aircraft will be replaced with XLRs for service between coasts once they are delivered.
For now, American has no plans to reconfigure its 777-200 or 787-8 aircraft, which will retain the current business class and premium economy layout.