Surprise: American’s Newest Business Class Is Already Flying!

This actually caught me off guard. As anyone who follows American’s premium cabin changes probably knows, American is planning on installing a new business class product throughout their 777-200, A350, and 787 fleet.

American initially installed a new type of business class product on these planes, though unfortunately they’ve had many issues with the seats, including both the production schedule as well as the quality of the seats, to the point that they discontinued their contract with Zodiac and found a new vendor.

American-Business-Class-787-3
American’s current 787-8 & 777-200 business class seat

In early May we learned that American would be installing the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat on their 777-200, A350, and 787 aircraft going forward. These are the same types of business class seats as on Air Canada, China AirlinesQatar Airways, Virgin Australia, etc.

American-BE-Aerospace-Seat
American’s newest 777 business class seat

This is a type of reverse herringbone seat, and generally similar to the one American has on their 777-300ER aircraft.

American-Business-Class
American’s 777-300ER business class seat

Up until now, it was my understanding that the first plane to feature the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats would be the Boeing 787-9, which will be going into service starting in October. Then that seat would be installed on all 787s and A350s going forward, as well as later retrofitted onto existing 777-200 aircraft.

So I was quite surprised this morning when I received an email from reader Jacob, who just flew an American 777-200 with B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats. Apparently it was the first revenue flight since the plane got reconfigured, making this the first commercial American flight with B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats — there really are OMAAT readers everywhere (well, at least on every plane). 😉

Here’s what Jacob had to say about the product:

As far as I understand, the plane came in early this morning from Tulsa. The pilots were saying this just came from maintenance and it was its first revenue flight after having the seats installed. Interestingly, only the new business seats were installed. There was no premium economy seating on the plane.

The seats felt a little wider than the older version, and of course, all the seats were forward facing instead of the alternating forward and backward. Everything was pretty similar except for a few things:

  • Instead of turning on the reading light with the remote control, you physically pushed it out of the console.
  • The tray table has a latch under it to extend it and pull it closer to you. This was the only thing that gave the flight attendants a little trouble.
  • The seatbelt airbag thing somehow got even bigger. Now it’s just absurdly big. And the seatbelt you actually click into a buckle that’s actually inside the seat. More like a normal car.

It’s interesting to note that American hasn’t installed premium economy on these planes. This whole reconfiguration process seems like a huge mess, as there’s now yet another sub-fleet of American planes.

Here are the pictures Jacob shared of the product:

American-New-Business-Class-777-1

American-New-Business-Class-777-2

American-New-Business-Class-777-3

American-New-Business-Class-777-4

American-New-Business-Class-777-5

American-New-Business-Class-777-6

American-New-Business-Class-777-7

American-New-Business-Class-777-10

American-New-Business-Class-777-8

American-New-Business-Class-777-9

Fascinating, as I had no clue American was already installing this product on select 777 aircraft.

Thanks for sharing the pictures, Jacob, and I’ll sure be on the lookout for this plane going forward!

Has anyone else yet flown an American 777-200 with B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class seats?

Comments

  1. Looks like HPdbaAA went incredibly tight with the pitch and width of this version.

    Much more so than the Cirrus flying the 777-300 and A321.

    UA Polaris will beat this.

  2. Where was he flying? Can we get a tail number? I have to fly to GRU next week for business and biz seats on all 77W routes on AA are sold out…

  3. I guess we were used to the AA or Zodiac laziness in updating the seats. I guess B/E gets the work done 🙂

  4. A received a notification about a week ago that my DFW-NRT flight in November had changed. I checked and I went from First Class to the upgraded business class. Having a hard time getting my miles back, though. The first agent I spoke to said I would not receive any miles back, as I was still in the highest class of service. I knew that was not true, so I called again. This time I was told I would receive the difference in miles between first and business, but only after I have already flown. – I was expecting to receive the difference in miles, but not having to wait until I have flown. Is this true? Also, would you just keep the same itinerary or try another route to get first class? Flying with family of four. Thanks!

  5. It would be great to know the reconfiguration schedule if one exists. The new cabin looks great!

  6. Pretty sure this was N783AN.
    It had already been reconfigured once to have 37 zodiac seats and 3-4-3 in Y, even in MCE

  7. Travis-
    I would call them again. I had the same issue with one of my flights and they refunded my miles to what the J flight would cost as well as my Mom’s who was flying with me for our flight in Sept.

  8. It makes absolutely ZERO sense why they wouldn’t install the PEY seats. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to do it all in one shot? It’s like the AAdvantage program. Release the changes all in one shot! Why do it piecemeal?

  9. Fantastic scoop, Ben!

    FYI – The tail number is N783AN. It’s currently in MIA right now after going:
    – TUL-DFW as AA9651
    – DFW-MIA as AA2336

  10. Gonna guess they planned to install these business seats before announcing premium economy and that’s why they didn’t install them….unless they take main cabin extra or exit rows and call those premium economy, which is my worst fear about the PE class.

  11. @ Greg
    United Polaris has 1.5 seats in the same space as 1 AA SuperDiamond. Polaris will not beat this.

  12. Just to be clear, will the already-retrofitted 777-200s that have Zodiac be swapped out for the super diamond type? Or only the yet-to-be refinished -200’s?

  13. This is so bizarre!!! That explains my puzzlement this morning, when I boarded the aircraft and noticed that all the seats were forward-facing. I was on this flight this morning and it was indeed flight 2336 from DFW to MIA. When I received notification last night that I had been upgraded to first class and went to the seat selection page, I saw it was the configuration that had forward-facing as well as rear-facing seats. Since I selected 1L, a forward-facing seat, my seat was not affected by the new configuration. Once on board I couldn’t understand why all seats were facing forward. Now I know! Thanks, Jacob! Thanks, Ben! Very comfy seat, huge video screen. You have room to stash luggage in front of you (and it’s allowed!) and several storage areas to be able to keep all your devices, cords, headphones, chargers, etc… I laid it flat for about 40 minutes and wish it had been for several hours.

  14. Crazy maybe unrelated question? We are on Flight 60 DFW/MIA next April on a 777. I studied Seat Guru and then looked at seat availability. Rows 1-4 are First, then 8-13 Business, followed by 20-45 Economy. Surprisingly, when I selected our seats, the biz class rows were available for BOTH MilesAAver award AND regular economy price, while the MCE and premium seats further back required an upcharge (I’m flying on miles, while hubs and daughter are in paid economy.

    I called AA and the agent had no explanation. I asked if there would possibly be an equipment swap before the flight – she said no. I explained that, according to SeatGuru, those seats in the middle of the plane had biz class dimensions. Why would they make pax pay extra $ for MCE in seats that aren’t as nice as the seats we reserved and we didn’t pay extra? This is a curveball I didn’t anticipate in all my research. Any insight is appreciated!! I would rather spend extra miles ahead of time than get stuck in regular economy at flight time. I’m 6’0″ and built like a manatee…

  15. FYI, if you look at making a reservation on a 772 later this year (was looking at November today), the Business class available seat maps no longer show you the last 2 rows (11 and 12) of the current Business class section, because the seat count will of course go down from the current 45 seats to 36 or 37 seats with the new seat configuration, and presumably also because AA may refurbish the 772s quicker than anticipated?

  16. Wow, that is odd. I flew N783AN LHR-DFW on June 3 with the Zodiac seats. I guess they ripped those out and replaced them with the Super Diamond. This was not a complete refurbish of a 772, only a J seat re-install on a 37J 772.

  17. This looks like the business class configuration for the aircraft that I flew on AA flight 72, SYD-LAX, July 13th. It was a very comfortable journey.

  18. I helped on the install of the new seats, removed the new Zodiac that have been in less than a year. It was the first mod using the new BE Seats so we had to sell the configuration to the FAA under a STC new prototype. We only did the first/business section since we can only do one STC at a time. Not sure on the coach upgrade yet, that will be another STC prototype the feds will want to sign off on. It’s in the works though. AC N783AN nose number 7AP.

  19. @Jeff@AA: Typically, what would an airline do with seats that are removed and no longer in use, especially since the Zodiac seats are so new? Does the airline just dispose/recycle them or do they try to resell them to other airlines?

  20. @John
    The removed and almost new Zodiac seats and monuments were reintroduced into stock, and used to replace broken components on other aircraft with the zodiac furniture until all AC are retrofitted woth the new diamond seats, zodiac could not keep up with replacement parts for American, seems Zodiac’s seats were continously breaking. OMG they are
    extremely NOT Mechanic friendly. Hopefully these will be a better seat for American and the public.

  21. @Jeff@AA

    So basically, the existing seats are kept as spare parts for the remaining aircraft with Zodiac seats?

    After all the aircraft are retrofitted with the B/E seats and the Zodiac parts are no longer useful, would the seat then be disposed of?

  22. The new Premium Economy seats have not been rolled out as of yet. However, we are already seeing the same seat installed on some refurbished ex-US A319 as Domestic First Class seats.

  23. They’ve finally seem to have modern lighting (soft and colored).

    Albeit given the horrendous training of their flight attendants, I am sure they’ll be blaring the white lights at full strength at all times.

  24. American’s new config is identical to AC’s 787 Int’l Biz Class configuration and seats – although AC has a wider and higher res IFE screen. Bottom line: great arrangement, but tight on the leg space due to the table which slides forwards instead of out of the way based on my flights on AC.

  25. I have a question I hope someone can answer.on the middle seats in first. How much does the divider separate the 2 seats? Is it removable? I’m flying this configuration in September with my wife and we don’t want it to separate us too much. Will be be able to see and talk to each other? She needs some physical help especially cutting up meals and I need to know if I’ll be able to reach over like on most domestic first class seats.

  26. @Larry: The divider is not the problem. It’s the angle of the seats. If you want to hold a conversation, both of you will have to strain yourselves to be able to see each other. I would suggest an adjacent window and aisle seat on any reverse herringbone arrangement if you want to communicate with another person as easily as possible. It would be easier to perform the tasks that you mention across the aisle – you will have to leave your seat either way unfortunately since it is difficult to reach out once the table is extended. For couples, the front facing parallel seating is still the best imo.

  27. @Jared: Thanks. Think I’ll book a different plane. I really need to be next to her without having to get up. Really appreciate the reply. This is what I was looking for.

  28. Look closely at the photo of the aisle … The privacy bump in the wall of the seat is curved, whereas in the debut of the product the privacy bump on the prototype seat there is more square and has corners… Hmm…

  29. Just flew the new configuration on a 772, while the overall seat is much better than the original retrofit with backaards seats, something that really bothered me was the huge airbag attached to the belt. While the seat is up, it stays nezt to your side, reducing seat width, quite annoying.
    I fly on the 789 next week, per thephtos I’ve seen, the new seats have the shoulder belt and not the airbag style one. Let’s hope that’s the case.

  30. Just flew the new configuration on a 772, while the overall seat is much better than the original retrofit with backwards seats, something that really bothered me was the huge airbag attached to the belt. While the seat is up, it stays next to your side, reducing seat width, quite annoying.
    I fly on the 789 next week, per the photos I’ve seen, the new seats have the shoulder belt and not the airbag style one. Let’s hope that’s the case.

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