American Airlines Orders 50 Airbus A321XLRs

Filed Under: American

Read more: We’ve seen A321XLR orders from Qantas, JetstarAer Lingus, IberiaFrontier, JetSMART, and Wizz AirAmerican, JetBlue, and United. Should passengers dread the A321XLR, though?

Well here comes an A321XLR order that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

American orders 50 A321XLRs

American Airlines has just placed an order for 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft. This deal includes the conversion of 30 A321neo orders (they have a total of 100 A321neos on order), as well as 20 additional A321XLR orders.

The A321XLR is Airbus’ new long range single aisle plane, which will be able to operate up to 4,700nm nonstop once it enters service in 2023.

When will American take delivery of A321XLRs?

American will take delivery of their A321XLRs over the following timeframe, which I consider to be pretty quick:

  • 8 in 2023
  • 22 in 2024
  • 20 in 2025

Where will American fly A321XLRs?

American Airlines has desperately been in need of a plane like this. American is in the process of retiring their 757s and 767s, leaving them without a plane to operate long haul flights to secondary markets. The A321XLR fills this niche perfectly.

Rendering of American A321XLR

American Airlines is pretty explicit in saying that their primary goal with the A321XLR is to operate the aircraft from US East Coast airports to medium-sized European cities.

So you can expect that the A321XLRs will primarily be based at New York JFK and Philadelphia, and from there they can fly virtually anywhere in Europe. I’d expect them to be flown to markets like Budapest, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Prague, etc.

However, I’d note that an order for 50 planes is huge, and suggests to me that the planes will be used for many more routes than just East Coast to Europe. I could also see some A321XLRs being based in Miami, and being used for flights to South America.

Here’s a map showing the plane’s range from New York:

Here’s a map showing the plane’s range from Philadelphia:

And here’s a map showing the plane’s range from Miami:

How will American configure their A321XLRs?

Earlier I wrote a post with details on what the A321XLR means for passengers.

While we don’t have exact details yet on how American will configure A321XLRs, American President Robert Isom did drop some hints in an interview today:

That’s the hope as of now, though we’re still several years off from these planes being delivered, and I’m not sure what Isom said has fully gone through American’s bean counting department. 😉

If American does in fact go with direct aisle access in business class, perhaps their business class will be similar to the first class product they have on their A321Ts, which are used on premium transcontinental flights.

American’s A321T first class

So it sounds like American’s A321XLRs won’t simply have the same B/E Aerospace Diamond seats that they currently have in business class on their A321Ts and 757s.

American’s 757 business class

American is also considering new business class seats for their other long haul aircraft.

Bottom line

The A321XLR is a plane that American desperately needs, so I’m happy to see they placed this order so they could secure early slots.

Like I said, this order has been rumored for a while, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. Though I guess in some way I am a bit surprised that American was actually proactive enough to place the order, since I feel like their strategy lately has just been to do as little as possible while hoping for the best.

What do you make of American’s A321XLR order?

  1. Very happy about this and the A21X. We will soon have direct service to otherwise underserved European cities like NAP, OTP, TLL, PRG, etc.

  2. ORD-OGG or DWF-OGG might be nice too. Having to go through PHX or LAX to get to Maui is a PITA.

  3. I’d skip that JFK map. Other than to LHR, GRU, secondary British Isles (if any left), Spain, and at most CDG, absolutely nothing isn’t off the potential chopping block a bit further down the road.

    Even EZE is skating on thin ice (but that’s more due to Argentina’s economy once again in cyclical collapse, not AA’s fault).

    So unless AA is planning to do something bold like A321XLR service on JFK-LIM (which isn’t all that bold if their JV app with LATAM clears), then I dunno what exactly AA has in plan for JFK…. assuming they have a plan at all.

  4. @ henry LAX — Everything is certainly on the chopping block, but I think you’re exactly right. It’s airports like DUB, EDI, etc., where they could use A321XLRs from JFK.

  5. “Though I guess in some way I am a bit surprised that American was actually proactive enough to place the order, since I feel like their strategy lately has just been to do as little as possible while hoping for the best.”

    While generally true I don’t think this really applies to American when it comes to refreshing their fleet. They are doing that more regularly than any of the other domestic carriers.

  6. @James AA already flies DFW-OGG year-round on a 777. I highly doubt they’ll replace it with an A321XLR and even if they did it won’t be as nice as what they have now. ORD-OGG though, is perhaps a possibility.

  7. I think that PHL-HNL/OGG would be a great route avoiding the hassle of going through DFW, ORD, LAX, SFO or SEA.

  8. Oh poor Doug Parker.

    Trump is going to hate you. American not buying American planes.

    Need to learn how DL (and maybe UA) is doing at such fragile times.
    You wait for the 797-6, and if fails to deliver (likely, since it hardly can beat the economics of single aisle) then you (AA) order 321XLR.
    Passengers like new planes not a remake or planes with a tiny lavatory that anyone 6′ or over 250lbs will hate.

    On another news, DL just picked up the rest of 757 from AA for $100k a jet.

    By the way, I also think DL will convert some of their 321neo into XLR and serve Asia from SEA.

  9. As a PHL-based flyer, if I could like the posts from Nate and Joe Kantanck, I would a million times!

    PHL to OGG would be a fantastic route, make it happen AA!

  10. No way they will fly these new planes from MIA to South America. That’s where the 772s, A330s, and original 788s will spend their golden years.

  11. @ D3KingAmerican — I think you’re thinking of the major markets, but for smaller markets (Brasilia, Cordoba, etc.), the A321XLR could be the only plane that makes sense.

  12. Please please please bring back AA metal to Europe ex-Boston with these aircraft. Even just the summer seasonal BOS-CDG nonstop would be awesome. Or AA could use the aircraft to expand into European cities other than LHR out of BOS and try to take back lift from jetBlue since jetBlue will launch BOS-European flights before AA gets these aircraft.

    These aircraft could also be used to expand into thin LHR routes that BA/AA can’t operate profitably due to appropriate aircraft sizing. BDL-LHR? CLE-LHR? Upgrade PIT-LHR to daily. Etc. A bunch of flatbed J seats on these aircraft could make using up a pair of LHR landing/takeoff slots worth it.

  13. I just don’t like the idea of this aircraft. It means the TA market will be dominated for another generation by ancient technology, uncomfortable cabins operating a 35-40 year-old design. This is a depressing development, no idea why people are excited.

    All because Boeing was too damn slow to launch NMA and ignite some real competition – just witness all the improvements introduced on the A350 after the 787 sold so well….

  14. I´m wondering if after this shopping spree for this Airbus there´s any business left for the 797. Every single airplane Airbus sells eats away the business case for the 797 which I think is vaporware anyways.

  15. @dfw88 I assume that 777 can be used elsewhere at higher revenue. I agree, not my choice but given LAX and soon PHX are going to basically all A321 to Hawaii why not DFW?

  16. Transatlanic in a narrow body? You won’t find me on those flights. AA has no strategy, they just keep throwing ideas at the wall. Cannot wait for Wall Street to give these goons the boot.

  17. I’m seeing a lot of suggestions for east coast to mid Europe flights which I think could be handled by a A321LR. Not sure AA would want to dedicate an XLR to the routes.

    Regardless you won’t find me on a narrow body TATL

  18. I’m not sure why many seem pleased with American’s plans. Narrow body 8-hour flights are not at the top of y wish list. Wide bodies have more space and better services (usually). I don’t think anyone believes Isom’s claims about density.

  19. AA will also prolly swap in some on the PHX-Hawaii market as they fly the LUS 757’s from PHX to HNL,OGG,KOA, and ITO daily, only some parts of the year they upgauge HNL to an A330.

  20. Ponder this Airbus lovers: most of these “orders” for the 321XLR are conversions form the 321NEO which appears to have gone from the penthouse to the outhouse since the 321X was launched.
    AA: 50 airplanes 30 of which are conversions. QF 36 airplanes 26 of which are conversions. Indigo 50 “orders” 32 MOU (sorry what was that about BA’s MAX order being a joke because its only an LOI) and 18 conversions. So the wonderful selling 321XLR has 30 net new orders and 32 MOUs. Meanwhile the 321 NEO got thumped for 74 lost conversions.

  21. I just don’t understand why so many people are against single aisle jets for long hauls. It’s less people in there – and that’s a very good thing! (In my eyes at least). And hey, jet service starfed with 707, DC-8, Convair,… they all were single-aisle and everyone loved them…

  22. When it comes to cabin interior choice, If Parker is still running the s**t show at USAir, (Ooops!) I meant the “New American” I’d put my 321XLR money on PROJECT OASIS all the way baby-

  23. @skedguy

    The A321neo seems to be doing fine.

    “AirAsia has become the largest customer for the Airbus A321neo after converting 253 of its A320neo orders to the larger variant.”

    “Quick & rough math: Airbus has received orders for roughly 4,250 A321s of all generations. Including 2,450+ A321neos (all sub-variants)”

  24. Airbus has just successfully replaced the. 757 one of Boeing best performing aircrafts. Sad for Boeing they concentrate all of their time and energy trying to make the 737 a super aircraft when they should have been finding a way to upgrade the 757 into a new generation aircraft.

  25. This is good news because “10 abreast wide body comfort” is a total lie as is 9 and 11 abreast. Being an Airbus it’s built around 18 inch (not 17) seats and 2 inch armrests and being a single aisle they can’t reduce it like they do in wide bodies. The comfort will come not only from the nice wide seats but bypassing hubs. Airbus have 1 reduced cabin altitude from 8000ft to 6000ft. 2 introduced 30% more massive bins which can easily store three full sized roller bags above each aisle 3 increased water supply from 200 to 490 liters and introduced a garbage compactor to handle the waste expected from the multiple hot meal services. The aircraft is a little slow but that’s better than having to wait several hours waiting for a connecting flight.

  26. While long haul flights in economy class **ideally should have seats with a minimum width of 18” and at least 33” row pitch to allow for of modicum of comfort** (including modest recline to better allow for sleep on overnight red-eye flights when many long haul flights are operated) when one is (literally) strapped into exceptionally limited space (as if being handcuffed to a desk in a police station or to a bench located in a small room adjacent to the main hall in customs and immigration), often next to total strangers who may/may not be taller/bigger overall than themselves, all while being confined into a space smaller than a utility closet, or their favorite chair at home to read or watch tv, if most major airlines configure their Airbus A321XLRs with **NOT LESS than 32” row pitch**, then apart from those appallingly small/narrow lavatories (especially that hideous, claustrophobic outboard side lav/loo in the rear bulkhead [that Airbus hilariously calls “SpaceFlex” say the way American gives new meaning to the word used for its (so NOT an) “Oasis” 737s – but ah, I digress!] which translates as: to enter and use, most passengers must be flexible enough themselves to stoop/crouch; and then, once inside, flexible enough to do their calls of nature in spaces smaller/narrower than an outhouse, their dog’s doghouse, or the bathrooms in their child’s pre-K school; and finally, wash their hands using a sink not much bigger than their cell phones before heading back out to their seats and touching the top of every other aisle seat as they wend their way back to their own seat…) even an average sized person of 5’8” who fits comfortably into W32 Levi’s [like me!] had to crouch to enter, and then could barely move around [pivot/turn] once inside, a narrow body A321LR/XLR at 32” pitch + 18” wide seats will still beat hands-down ANY (atrocious & hideous) 9-abreast “densified” Boeing 787 or an equally horrible 10-abreast “densified” 777 with their exceptionally narrow aisles and those preposterously narrow 17”-17.2” wide seats that even an average size person (like me) CANNOT fit into comfortably seeing as the width of my (modest sized) shoulders alone is 18”, which means from the get go the seats are NOT wide enough for an average size person to fit into!

    I mean, HELLO! did anyone see that NBC News interview a month or two ago where NEITHER Lester Holt NOR Dougie P fit in the economy seats of the 10-abreast Boeing 777 used as a prop for the interview – even when they were seated pivoting sideways to (kinda sorta) face each other?

    Don’t know about other readers here, but over the past 18 months I flew a pair each of those exceptionally nasty densified 777 and 787 Boeing beasts, each time for ultra long haul red eye flights, ~11 hrs LHR-JNB-LHR and ~16 hrs JFK-TPE-JFK, and they were every bit as horrible to actually experience as most have described them as being.

    So, if by some miracle, A321s used for long haul flights turn out to have 18” wide seats AND 32” (or maybe even 33” – hey, once can dream…) row pitch, then other than those nasty micro loos, it just might turn out that these narrow bodies are actually BETTER than any of those hideously uncomfortable densified Boeing 10-abreast 777s and 9-abreast 787s!

    Just sayin‘ 😉

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