American Flying A321T On 187 Mile Flight

Perhaps the single most comfortable aircraft equipped for domestic US operations is American’s A321T, which is the aircraft used for their premium transcontinental flights out of New York JFK. I’d argue it’s perhaps the sexiest narrowbody commercial aircraft anywhere.

The A321 features three cabins of service. The first class cabin consists of 10 seats, spread across five rows in a 1-1 configuration. These are the same reverse herringbone seats American has in business class on the 777-300ER.

American-A321

Business class consists of fully flat seats in a 2-2 configuration, similar to the business class seats offered on many other airlines.

American-A321-Business

American ordinarily only flies these planes between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco, as it’s a very special subfleet which is the best fit for that market.

However, for a limited time it looks like American is flying their A321T aircraft between New York JFK and Boston. Through January 4, 2016, a majority of American flights between the two airports are operated by the A321T.

American-A321

The flights are being sold as two cabin, meaning you can only book either first class or economy. If you book first class (or are upgraded to first class), you receive a reverse herringbone first class seat.

American-A321-Boston-1

Meanwhile the business class seats are being sold as economy, so if you’re an elite member you should be able to snag one of those seats for free.

American-A321-Boston

The bad news is that this is just a 187 mile flight, and the flying time can be as short as 30 minutes. So while this is a cool route, you won’t really be able to fully enjoy one of the first or business class seats, as you’ll probably have at most 10 minutes to recline your seat.

I do find this aircraft assignment in general to be rather curious. My assumption would be that American is operating the A321T between New York and Boston during the holidays since they have a spare due to reduced service in the plane’s normal markets. That seems a bit backwards, as you’d assume that around the holiday would be the busiest time in the JFK to LAX/SFO market.

Also keep in mind that the A321T has only a total of 102 seats, so it’s not like the plane is adding capacity to the Boston route. It’s American’s lowest capacity mainline aircraft, so has significantly fewer seats than the 737s which ordinarily operate the flight.

Bottom line

While the perks of an A321T are limited on a 187 mile flight, this is still a pretty cool route, as it’s the first time I recall American operating this aircraft on another route over a significant period of time. Given the air traffic control delays which are common in New York, perhaps there’s some value in the better seat with the amount of time you’ll spend on the ground alone.

Will you be flying American’s A321T between New York and Boston over the coming weeks? Anyone have a theory as to why they’re operating it on the route?

(Tip of the hat to Jeffrey)

Comments

  1. 1) revise your question above – it’s missing words and therefore doesn’t make sense. You write “Will be flying American’s A321T between New York and Boston over the coming weeks?”. You need a word of some sort between “Will” and “be”.
    2) It’s simply moving capacity to where it’s needed during a heavy leisure travel period/ light paid premium travel period. JFK-LAX/SFO is primarily a business route, so they reduce frequency during what’s primarily a leisure-focused time of year. BOS-JFK is generally a feeder route and while it needs some service to connect to the south america and europe flights at JFK probably doesn’t need as much. The 738s which normally ply the route are needed elsewhere where there is paid/ high yield demand to leisure destinations during this leisure travel season.

  2. @Jason
    Yes, I think that that explanation ultimately makes the most sense. I was scratching my head when I first read it as well, but your explanation clears it up.

  3. Apparently they’ve used the A321Ts on LAX-SFO on select weekends as well, presumably for the same reason (extra transcon birds sitting around and better uses for the 738s)

  4. Yeah I’m with @Jason and @W.

    Looking at AA.com there are 5 outbound flights from SFO to JFK this Sunday (all 321T) and 3 inbound flights from JFK to SFO on Jan 1.

    Compare that to 8 SFO->JFK on Jan 17 and 5 JFK->SFO on Jan 22. They need to reroute the 321T to routes that need more capacity for the holidays, JFK-BOS and LAX-SFO presumably the prime targets given the amount of travel between the two by families and people going home.

  5. @DWT Interesting. It would actually be somewhat worth flying one of these SFO-LAX. I wonder what first class goes for on that route.

  6. When AA flys a 3-cabin internationally configured plan domestically as a 2-cabin flight, you don’t need to be an elite to pre-select a business seat for free. But ironically enough, you have to be an elite or pay for main cabin extra!

  7. @Dbeach. First, btw, on AA 209 on the 25th is currently $276. Cheaper even than the $350 you’d spend on first class on AA 5945 in an E-75. Granted, most people would probably want to be home for Christmas around noon than at 6:15PM

  8. I booked on an A321T for SFO-LAX, but cancelled it. DL F was $60 cheaper, which itself wasn’t much more than lowest Y. With zero status, it just wasn’t worth the price difference for such a short flight, IMHO. Still, it must be a nice surprise for those who get to enjoy the J seats, albeit with Y service.

  9. AA ought to add the A321 transcontinental service all the time on BOS – LAX. They will have a subpar offering to JetBlue once Mint service starts from BOS to LAX & SFO in 2016.

  10. I guess I’m on the losing side of this–there are only 3 flights JFK-SFO on 12/23, which I would expect to be one of the busier travel days. Do I want to take the 9:35pm flight and arrive past 4am NY time, or wait to take the 7am flight on 12/24? *Sigh*

  11. Adding the A321T on the BOS-LAX market and just offer 2 cabin service would work . There would be 30 first class seats and the service would be identical in both rows 1-5 as 6-10 . I once had a change of equipment on that route from a 763 to 762 and got bumped into First (almost 8yrs ago to this date) . They just treated the business and first cabins the same.

    These A321T flights from JFK-BOS will also be a good opportunity for US Airways pilots and crew to get more familiarized with the plane.

  12. Ha, just before reading this I booked myself on SFO-LAX Dec 31 and was surprised to see a 1-1 configuration when it came time to select seats!

  13. Yes! I’m going to be flying to NY. I need to book this to try out the new A321T F cabin. Thanks for the heads up!

  14. AA could be flying the 32B beyond January 4th. I just picked my F seat in late February, so far it’s just me in that 1×1 cabin.

  15. Looks like today’s 5PM BOS-JFK is being swapped out for a 757. Wonder how my pair of F seat assignments will be affected. Too short of a flight to bother dealing with it.

    BTW, AA still says its a 32B, but the seatmap and EF reflect a 757.

  16. A few years ago when American flew the 767-200 3 class service between LAX (or SFO) and JFK they would on occasion use these planes for an LAX-EWR or LAX-IAH not stop route. If you were a Gold Elite or higher status you could reserve a seat in the business class cabin (without the perks of course) even while booking the lowest economy fare, thus a very comfortable transcon flight.

  17. Lucky,

    Premium travel is at a low over the holidays (no business travelers, budget-conscious families with kids in tow.)

    Check out JetBlue’s one way fares on 12/31 from JFK to LAX. Every MINT flight has seats for $499. (Ususally never less than $599.) In some cases MINT is a couple of bucks less then flexible economy!

  18. Does American fly the A321 on any transpacific flights to Hawaii? I’m looking for departures out of Phx or Lax where I can apply my systemwide upgrades to biz class

  19. Looks like it is a seasonal thing because I just put a flight on hold for December 2016 and it is showing the 32b.

    I booked an economy awards flight for 20k from GIG-BOS via JFK. For the JFK-BOS leg, it is showing business class seats available for “elite and full fare”. My wife is Plat so maybe that it why I was able to select them!?

    We always fly this route and have never been able to choose anything other than economy (especially when paying with miles), double bonus since it is on the 321!

    We just flew this plane from SFO-JFK (www.flyfamilyfly.com) and loved it, def our fav!

  20. I am booked BOS to JFK to LHR in September 2016 and the BOSJFK segment appears to be on the A321T as well. Was surprised when I went to check the seatmap and saw 1×1 in F.

  21. @Mark Yeah, Same was for me flying to LHR last month. My flight actually got switched to being on the A321T, a pleasant surprise. It’s a hilariously short but amazing flight, and prepare for every single passenger in economy to make a joke about the apparrent opulence of your seat as they board!

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