A Big Change (At Least For Me) At My Favorite Airline, And I Can’t Even Blame Doug Parker

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.

At My

 

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).

At My

 

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.

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9 Comments

  1. Reminds one of the F-100. 8F, 90ish Y. Good times. We’ll see what the new managers do. Keeping that first row of Y blocked would make it easy to adjust the map to reflect 12F if that’s what the new folks decide they want. My concern would be that the economics of the new airline are going to be very different than current US, so they may decide 8F is the way they want to go. I don’t fly AA much anymore…not because I wouldn’t, just because of where I live. I’d be just as disappointed as you if I were a regular AA flyer.

    1. MJ, one other thing. I do think it’s likely that a reduced number of F seats is in AA’s future. However, as a good friend pointed out to me, AA has 9 seats in F on their newer RJs, which makes 8 here all the more puzzling.

      1. Agreed. I understand the economics of the A319 are tricky, but only know that from what I read on the boards, and in reading a little background on DL’s decision to go from 16F to 12F on their A319 fleet. AA initially ordered these birds in relation to a proposal to the APA for what they referred to as industry sub-standard pay rates, if I recall correctly. Memory is foggy now. Long story short, I’m not sure the ultimate final configuration for the new AA’s A319 fleet is set in stone just yet.

        1. MJ, I wasn’t aware of the discussions with the APA. AA must have gotten a great price to take the A319s if they ultimately agreed to have a completely different config to make them profitable.

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