First American A321 Two Class Routes And Cabins

American has just announced the initial schedules for their two class A321s, which they’ll be taking delivery of in the coming months.

American three class A321s

Earlier in the year, American began taking delivery of their sexy A321T aircraft, which were designed to fly their premium transcontinental routes between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco. They were replacing the spacious but gas guzzling 767-200s which previously served the routes.

American A321T from window
American A321T

Within just a few months, these A321s now exclusively operate American’s flights between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco.

It’s kind of cool to see a narrowbody plane in a three cabin configuration, with a first, business, and economy class cabin. I’ve had the chance to fly American’s A321T first class between New York and Los Angeles, and it is indeed a really impressive product. Their first class product is very similar to the business class product on their new 777-300ER aircraft. Given that United has eliminated first class on their premium transcontinental flights, American is the only airline running three cabin service on these routes.

First class seat
American A321T first class seat

American’s new two class A321s are coming

However, this isn’t the extent of American’s A321 deliveries. Starting in a couple of months American will be taking delivery of more A321s, which will be operating between different city pairs.

Via airlineroute.net, here are the routes American will initially be operating the two class A321s on:

Los Angeles – Dallas
01AUG14 – 18AUG14 1 Daily
03SEP14 – 01OCT14 2 Daily

Los Angeles – Las Vegas
03SEP14 – 01OCT14 1 Daily

Los Angeles – Miami
19AUG14 – 01OCT14 1 Daily

San Francisco – Dallas
03SEP14 – 01OCT14 1 Daily

Not surprisingly, the A321s are operating high frequency routes, as you’d expect given the configuration of these aircraft.

American two class A321 configuration and features

So should we be excited about American’s new two cabin A321 aircraft? Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it. On the plus side, the A321 will feature:

  • Personal televisions at every seat
  • Wifi
  • 110v outlets
  • USB ports

If you’re trying to upgrade, however, you may not be quite as excited. American is configuring their two cabin A321s with 16 first class seats and 165 economy class seats. 16 first class seats are the same number of first class seats that American has on their MD-80s and 737-800s, though both of those planes have substantially fewer economy seats (meaning the ratio of first class seats to economy class seats isn’t nearly as favorable for someone trying to upgrade).

American-A321-First-Class
American A321 first class

American is “rightsizing”/US Airways-sizing first class cabins

Here’s a quick rundown comparing the percentage of first class seats to total seats throughout American’s domestic fleet:

AircraftFirst Class SeatsEconomy Class Seats% First Class Seats
MD-8016120~12%
A3198120~6%
737-80016134~11%
757-20024160~13%
A32116165~9%

 

As you can see, American’s “old school” planes — the MD-80, 737, and 757, all feature 16-24 first class seats, which makes up 11-13% of the total number of seats on those plane. Meanwhile on their new delivery aircraft — the A319s and A321s — first class makes up 6-9% of the total number of seats on those planes.

So there’s no doubt American is trying to “rightsize” their cabins here. Rather than creating cabins where upgrades consistently clear, they’re trying to maximize the total number of seats while still offering a first class cabin.

Of course as a frequent flyer I’m not happy about it, but I can certainly understand why they’re doing this. It’s interesting to compare this to the percentage of first class seats in US Airways’ domestic fleet:

AircraftFirst Class SeatsEconomy Class Seats% First Class Seats
737-40012132~8%
A31912112~10%
A32012138~8%
A32116171~9%
757-20014176~7%

 

As you can see, they all hover in the 7-10% range, so really American is adopting a similar approach with their domestic fleet.

Bottom line

It seems to be a given that American will sort of be adopting the US Airways ratio of the number of first class seats to the number of economy class seats. As a frequent flyer I’m not happy about it, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it, and I can understand why they’d do this.

In fairness to American, they have been adding Main Cabin Extra to their fleet over the past several years, which reduces the number of economy seats. So I suppose it could be argued that Main Cabin Extra is coming at the expense of an extra row of first class.

Comments

  1. I struggle to understand how they (airlines in general and in the US particularly) can get away with calling two hard products so far apart in terms of quality the same name! It’s not even the A321T business class product branded as FIRST… it’s pretty much a premium economy product!

  2. Interesting that AA is actually putting themselves behind Delta, who has 20 F seats on 739s and has announced plans to have 20 F seats on A321s.

  3. To make it fair, they should make free hot meals on all flights where F gets them an executive platinum benefit, when they don’t get upgraded.

  4. @Robbie

    I’m sorry to say this but -Get your head out of the clouds. That’s about as likely to happen as Costa Rica winning the world cup!.

  5. @ Lucky – I’ve always wondered why do most legacy airlines refer to what’s clearly a business-class product as “first”? Is that a carryover from the old days when there was no such thing as “business” class and there was only economy and first?

    P.S. How can we petition BA to stop charging 3x points for AA/US “first” flights? 😉

  6. @ Ivan Y — Hah, if only there were a way to do the latter — totally agree!

    As far as “first class” goes, that’s a great question. Think it’s just a name that has been around for a long time, and they haven’t felt a need to change it.

  7. Question on the 2-class 321s. There are two versions of this aircraft – one has 2 extra rows in coach and in-seat entertainment screens in business class. The other has 2 fewer rows in coach and no in-seat entertainment in business. We booked one (in business) and they SWAPPED PLANES to the one with no in-seat entertainment after booking. It’s not clear from the floorplan, but this is an obvious downgrade. Do we have any chance of resolution with AA?

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