World first: American to offer three-class domestic service
Amid controversy surrounding a potential merger with US Airways, American Airlines has made a major announcement. The airline intends to make interior refinements onboard its more than 200 new narrowbody deliveries from Airbus and Boeing – part of a previously announced order for 460 new aircraft – that will give it a unique position in the market.
Left: American plans to install first-class Flagship suites on its transcontinental A321s
"We intend to be the only airline to offer a three-class service and the first to offer fully lie-flat First and Business Class seats on transcontinental flights with our Airbus A321 transcontinental aircraft," said Virasb Vahidi, American's chief commercial officer. "By using the A321 aircraft with three classes of service and outfitted with fully lie-flat premium class seats, all-aisle access in First Class (pictured above), and state-of-the-art amenities, we will be able to continue providing an industry-leading premium experience on transcontinental routes, while significantly reducing costs through improved fuel efficiency."
As previously announced, American plans to take delivery of 130 current generation Airbus aircraft from the A321 and A319 variants and up to 100 Boeing 737-800s through 2017. American plans to configure some of the A321s for use on transcontinental flights and intends to use the remaining A321s, as well as all of the A319s and new Boeing 737-800s to retire aging aircraft in its existing fleet.
Designed in partnership with James Park Associates (JPA), the overall design, trim and finish of these aircraft will reflect the look and feel of the new American and will complement the interior design scheme of the airline's highly anticipated Boeing 777-300ERs and redesigned 777-200ERs to provide customers with a more consistent experience between aircraft types.
In addition to modern interiors, these aircraft will also keep customers connected with inflight Wi-Fi throughout the aircraft; entertained with in-seat entertainment at every seat; and fully charged with individual 110-volt universal AC power outlets and USB jacks at every seat. Plus, Main Cabin Extra seating, installed on all new deliveries beginning in August 2012 on the Boeing 737-800, will offer the option of more legroom and priority boarding privileges.
The First Class cabin will be outfitted with 10 fully lie-flat seats in a 1-1 configuration, giving every seat direct aisle access – a feature that no other domestic airline offers. Customers can individually adjust any component of the fully lie-flat seat, designed by Sicma, including the seat back, head rest and leg rest. The seats feature a large tray table and work surface and an individual storage unit for stowing personal items. Seat controls have a more intuitive design for optimum customer comfort and simplicity.
The Business Class cabin will be outfitted with 20 fully lie-flat seats, designed by B/E, in a 2-2 configuration. In the Main Cabin the seats will be designed by Recaro and arranged in a 3-3 configuration. The option to enjoy more legroom is available with 36 Main Cabin Extra seats. More details about the Business Class and Main Cabin seats will be provided at a later date.
Above: The A321 Business Class cabins will be outfitted with fully lie-flat seats, all with aisle access
To ensure customers traveling from coast to coast have access to the latest in inflight entertainment, American plans to outfit the entire aircraft with seat-to-seat chat, live text news and weather updates, 3-D moving maps, airport maps, connecting gate information, and more.
For customers traveling in the premium class cabins, a complimentary inflight entertainment selection of up to 75 movies, more than 150 TV programs, more than 350 audio selections and up to 15 games will be available on a 15.4in HD-capable touchscreen monitor positioned in each seat. Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headsets will be available.
In the Main Cabin, every seatback will have an 8.9in HD-capable touchscreen monitor with an assortment of movies, TV programs, games and audio selections.
American intends to take delivery of these aircraft beginning in November 2013 through 2014. The A321 transcontinental aircraft will replace American's existing fleet of Boeing 767-200s and fly between New York JFK and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and JFK and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
A321, A319 and Boeing 737-800
The remaining A321s, as well as all of the A319s and 100 Boeing 737-800 new deliveries, will feature modern technology and entertainment options for customers traveling throughout the USA.
American intends to replace its fleet of domestic Boeing 757-200s and MD-80s with A321s, A319s and Boeing 737-800s – all with leather seats, Wi-Fi and in-seat inflight entertainment throughout the aircraft. These aircraft will have a two-class cabin configuration, Main Cabin Extra seating (pictured left) and 110-volt universal AC power outlets at every seat.
Above: Seats throughout Economy Class are designed to improve overall customer comfort
Similar to the inflight entertainment capabilities of the A321 transcontinental aircraft, American also plans to give customers onboard these aircraft access to seat-to-seat chat, weather updates, 3D moving maps, airport maps, connecting gate information and more.
For customers traveling in the First Class cabin, a complimentary inflight entertainment selection of up to 75 movies, more than 150 TV programs, more than 350 audio selections and up to 15 games will be available on a 12.1in HD-capable touchscreen monitor positioned in each seat. Customers in the Main Cabin will also enjoy an assortment of movies, TV programs, games and audio selections on 8.9in HD-capable touchscreen monitors in each seat.
These aircraft will be delivered beginning with the A319s in July 2013, followed by the Boeing 737-800s in October 2013 and the A321s in the second quarter of 2014. American is still evaluating the specific markets these aircraft will serve.
American's new narrowbody deliveries are part of a series of investments the airline is making to renew its fleet and an integral piece of the plan to transform it into the youngest fleet among the major US airlines in the next five years. For example, in May American announced plans to redesign its fleet of 777-200ERs to offer fully lie-flat Business Class seats with all-aisle access, Main Cabin Extra seating, Wi-Fi and in-seat entertainment throughout the aircraft. American also announced plans to refresh up to half of its fleet of 767-300ERs to include fully lie-flat Business Class seats with all-aisle access and Main Cabin Extra seating. American also has orders for 10 Boeing 777-300ERs that are anticipated for delivery beginning later this year.