Reader Matt S asked the following in the “Ask Lucky” forum:
My wife and I are planning a trip to France next summer. I was able to snag (on hold) two first class seats on AA80 DFW>LHR, then onward LHR>CDG. Having read your post about AA removing F from all 777-200s, I’m wondering if I should expect this flight to have an F cabin or not. The AA seat map showed three classes, while SeatGuru shows two configurations for this flight – with and without F. If I do end up in J, should I expect to receive the mileage difference back? The flight is June 2016, if that helps. Thanks!
I figured I’d answer this question here, since I know many are in a similar boat.
American is in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet
For a while now American has been in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet. This is coming both in the form of taking delivery of new aircraft, like the 777-300ER, as well as reconfiguring their existing aircraft with new cabins, including the 777-200 and the 767-300.
As part of their 777-200 reconfiguration process, American is going from their current three cabin configuration to a two cabin configuration.
Currently American has a first class cabin…
A business class cabin, with angled seats…
And then an economy cabin.
As part of the reconfiguration, American will be eliminating first class, and will instead be installing a new business class product.
The new business class product will be a huge improvement over the old one, given that business class seats are fully flat and all feature direct aisle access.
Odds of getting the new 777-200?
So Matt S has tickets in 777-200 old first class for next summer, and is wondering the odds of his plane being swapped to a refurbished 777-200, which won’t feature a first class cabin anymore. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- So far only a handful of the four dozen or so 777-200s have been refurbished
- The process has been slower than anticipated, and as of now I believe American is optimistically aiming to finish the 777-200 refurbishment by late 2017
- Never trust SeatGuru when it comes to seatmaps for a specific flight; always go with what the seatmap published directly by the airline shows
- 11 months out it’s really tough to predict what kind of a plane you’ll have next summer, so I wouldn’t count on getting one type of plane or another, necessarily; airlines frequently optimize equipment/schedules as the departure date approaches
What to expect if the plane is swapped
Assuming you’re booked in first class and a flight is swapped from an “old” 777-200 to a refurbished 777-200 without first class, what should you expect? I’d say:
- The difference in miles between the two tickets (in this case a 12,500 mile refund, since you’re going from first class to business class)
- Being rebooked on another route in first class on American metal, even if there’s no award space (perhaps on a 777-300ER)
Those are the two things I would reasonably expect. And to be honest, in your shoes I’d be hoping for an equipment swap. I’d almost take American’s new 777-200 business class over the old 777-200 first class, or at the very least use it to swap to American’s 777-300ER first class.
It’s tough to know what American is thinking 11 months in advance. I wouldn’t count on an equipment swap, but it also wouldn’t surprise me. And frankly if you do get an equipment swap, I think you’ll get a more favorable outcome that way.