American Suspending 777-200 Retrofits, Looking For New Seat Manufacturer

For quite a while now, American has been in the process of refreshing their longhaul fleet. This is happening both in the form of taking delivery of new planes (including Boeing 787s and 777-300ERs), as well as retrofitting existing planes with new cabins (including their 767-300s and 777-200s).

I love American’s 777-300ERs, as they feature reverse herringbone seats in business class, which are licensed from Cathay Pacific (which is why they’re virtually identical).

American-Business-Class

American-777-300-2

Originally most people assumed that American’s 777-200s would feature those same seats, given that the “bones” of the cabin are the same. However, American instead decided to go with a different seat. While I haven’t flown the plane yet, based on what I’ve heard the seat isn’t quite as spacious as the 777-300ER business class seat.

American-New-Business-1

American-New-Business-2

So why did American go with a Zodiac seat on the 777-200 rather than the same seat as the 777-300ER? Apparently because the reverse herringbone seat was only licensed for the 777-300ER, and it was cheaper for American to come up with a new seat design altogether, rather than license that seat for the 777-200 as well.

As some have probably noticed, American has been slower than expected with reconfiguring the 777-200s. So far a handful of the 777-200s feature the new business class product. That’s because the seat manufacturer hasn’t been delivering on their promised time schedule, and American has also had quality issues with the seats (for example, there are issues with the center partitions of the business class seats).

While we don’t have all the details yet, due to these problems American is apparently dumping Zodiac as their seat manufacturer for the 777-200 and future Boeing 787-9s.

Via Runway Girl Network, an American spokesperson is quoted as saying the following:

“Our Business Suite supplied by Zodiac is an excellent product with good reviews, but the seats are far behind schedule and continue to cause significant delays to our plans to improve the travel experience for our customers. We’re confident that selecting a new vendor now will provide enough time for our partners to install a new seat-type on the 787-9, which is scheduled for delivery in 2016.”

So what does this mean going forward?

“The 787-8 program will remain unchanged and deliver in its entirety with the Zodiac Business Suite. This will include the last three aircraft that deliver in 2017 after American takes a break for some 787-9 deliveries.”

About 13 777-200 aircraft are being retrofitted with the Zodiac Business Suite – these aircraft will have 260 seats, notes the airline. “As we work with Zodiac and a new vendor on seat deliveries, we’ll determine which 777-200s with the 289 seat configuration will have the new seat type.”

 

They must have been having some serious issues to make such drastic changes. This means American will now have three kinds of new 777 business class seats — those on the 777-300ERs, and then two types on the 777-200. And then they’ll also have two types of 787 business class seats — those on the 787-8, and then a different kind for the 787-9.

So those old 777-200 cabins might be around for quite a while.

American-777-First-Class-01

Have you experienced American’s new 777-200 or 787 seats? What did you think of them?

Comments

  1. I’ve flown this product a few times. Facing backwards each time, as the rear-facing config is slightly more spacious than the forward-facing option, and more private when fully reclined.

    The biggest problem I had with the seat was that it didn’t feel stable when seated or reclined, and moved around whenever the person in the row behind shifted at all. Why connect seats like this in the first place? Seems like a design flaw from the beginning as this has been a problem on each of the planes/seats I experienced.

  2. I’ve flown 3 times now in the 772 refit seats. In all 3 cases, the center partitions were stuck in the upright position and when the person behind you adjusts their seat you feel every movement. Also it’s very difficult to select a seat in this cabin based upon whether you want privacy or to be able to see your traveling companion. The seats are not aligned in a uniform manner, so for example one window seat may have complete privacy, whereas another window seat may put you face to face with someone across the aisle. It’s very tricky to figure out, and the online seat maps don’t reflect the true alignment.

  3. Flew JFK-LHR AA business backwards. When we got to LHR my husband was disoriented. Diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia. Drs felt flying backwards may have caused this. Will never fly backwards again.

  4. @ Lucky – Since you mentioned the 767-300 retrofit at the beginning only I assume that effort will be unaffected correct?

  5. I have flown the 777-200 new seats 4 times and the 300 ER twice. I like the 300ER a LOT more. I was dissapointed when I saw that the new 787s are going to have the 777 200 seats. I am going to try the 787s to japan soon. Definately the seats that are facing backwards are better BUT it feels awkward when you take off for at least 10 minutes while the plane is still climbing in altitude.

  6. @Lucky I love facing backwards and forwards on Americans Businnes class on the 787-800 Dreamliner. I have only sat on the window side!!

  7. @Andre correct, the B767-300 retrofit should not be affected, as these seats are manufactured by Thompson Aero Seating 🙂

  8. I have flown 777-200 retrofit and 787 – both in backward configuration. No problem with the backward configuration. However, there is certainly less space especially for storage vs. 777-300. On a recent DFW-PVG flight on 787 we were delayed by ca. 50 min because 3 business seats were broken and AA was trying to fix them. Ground support fixed 2 but failed with 1 and the flight went to PVG with one broken seat.

  9. Have yet to fly the 773, so I can’t compare “up.” I flew the 772 retrofit out of SCL to DFW a few times when it was on this route, in a backwards-facing window seat each time. I liked it more than the NGBC seats on the old 772 (obvs), but as noted it was very narrow and required a lot of “scooching” to get out of the seat when it was extended for sleep, or putting it into the seat position. Backwards-facing seats appear to have more room at the shoulders. I didn’t notice the instability issues that have been commented on in many places, including here. Regardless of how it compares to the 773, I’ll take this new 772 J over the old any day.

  10. I flew AA J class in the 787 from DFW to Buenos Aires a few weeks ago. I had a forward facing seat, and it was very nice. When in flat bed mode, I felt it could use a few more inches for elbow room since I prefer to sleep on my stomach. With that said I mostly slept on my side and was out for about 6 hours.

    BTW – use the bathroom on the right side of the plane…its about 40% bigger than the regular ones, lots of space for changing.

  11. Flew last December on the first B77D in the center backwards facing seat and it was OK. As noted already, bit less storage compared to the B77W.

    One thing I found odd was that forward facing seat across me had a ‘over the shoulder’ seat belt, whereas I didn’t – even though on the takeoff I was the one needing it. Bad design, or bad implementation of a good design?

  12. I’ve flown 4 times on AA’s 787 service to PEK. After some 50 hours spent in that business seat, I feel qualified to say the following:

    NO THANK YOU.

    On my most recent flight to PEK, I was jarred awake each time the guy 1 row AHEAD of me got up to use the lavatory.

    Apparently, these seats are connected. The result is a teeter totter effect. I am a very sound sleeper on planes, so you cannot begin to imagine how annoying it was to be awoken every hour when 1A had to pee.

    F minus, AA.

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