Truly disappointing news from One Mile At a Time yesterday. American Airlines has quietly unveiled seat maps for their new Airbus A319s.
It’s not Lucky’s fault, but I did vomit just a bit when I saw his post. These first A319s are configured with only 8 seats in First Class.
The flight map goes on to show a total of 3 rows in Main Cabin Extra (American’s second iteration of expanded legroom in coach).
One other small change here is that it looks like American is only blocking the first row of coach for airport control as opposed to the first two rows which was generally the policy for as long as I can recall.
Why is this so bad? One of the big advantages for me when I travel on American is that I always get upgraded. Not just usually. I recently thought I was going to miss an upgrade which would have been my first one in 2013. And, I think I only missed 1 upgrade last year on over 50 flights.
I talked fairly fondly about American’s amount of seats in First Class when I was quoted by the New York Times a few months ago but was a bit concerned that American would change how they processed upgrades for elites. Now, if some routes are going to have less First Class seats and more elites get upgraded for free (which hasn’t been confirmed yet) American isn’t as compelling to me from an upgrade standpoint anymore. At that point, domestic route networks become much more important if I’m just as likely to be in the back of the bus on American as I am on United.
I understand why American bought the A319s. They got a sick deal from Airbus because Airbus was trying to break Boeing’s monopoly on American Airlines’ business. And, I even understand why there are less premium seats on the A319, since the operating economics of these smaller planes make it tough for airlines to be profitable. But, 8 seats strikes me as a bit more severe than expected. If anything, I was expecting a reduction to 12 from the very generous 16 seats that their smallest planes have now.
I’m not running for the doors yet. But, I’m going to be as nervous as a cat in a room filled with rocking chairs waiting for the seat maps for the A321s.