Will American Airlines Fix Unpopular First Class Seats?

Filed Under: American

Update: American has started the process of making these changes, in a program that’s internally known as “Project Kodiak.”

American Airlines has gotten quite a bit of flak for the cabins they’ve installed on their newest planes, and it looks like the airline may actually be listening to some customer feedback… or so it’s rumored.

American Airlines’ “Oasis” interiors

American calls their new cabins “Oasis” interiors, though in reality they’re anything but (here’s how to tell if you’re on an Oasis 737).

These were first installed on the 737 MAX, though American has also been in the process of retrofitting existing 737-800s with these cabins. With these new interiors, American is able to fit in an extra 12 seats compared to the previous configuration.

I’ve shared my detailed thoughts on these Oasis interiors, and they’re not comfortable at all, though I do think American has almost gotten disproportionately bad press for them. In economy they’re not that much worse than what other airlines are offering.

For a long time there have been rumors of American possibly reconsidering these interiors, though up until now nothing has materialized. That might finally change, at least partly.

American may change Oasis first class seats

The always knowledgable @xJonNYC shares some rumors about the conclusions American has seemingly come to with these interiors:

So it would appear that:

  • American won’t be changing their Oasis economy seats, presumably because they don’t think they’re losing economy customers because of the interiors
  • American will be making improvements to their Oasis first class seats, including better seat padding, actually making under seat storage possible, adding a USB outlet and tablet holder to the seat back, and more

To me the Oasis first class cabin feels like it was designed by someone who never actually bothered to sit in the seat or simulate what it would be like to fly in the seat under normal circumstances.

It’s almost impossible to store anything under the seat, due to protrusions there.

American eliminated personal televisions and encourages you to use your own tablet, but the only place to store a tablet is on the tray table, which is annoying.

And in general the seat padding is just really, really bad.

These changes would go a long way to making these first class seats less bad. American still isn’t choosing to make their product a point of differentiation, but at least they’re trying to blend in, and not make it a point that makes people book away.

What American says about these rumors

While @xJonNYC is incredibly reliable, obviously ideas are constantly being thrown around, and often plans change at airlines last minute.

So I reached out to American to ask if they had any comment on these rumors, and here’s what a spokesperson had to say:

We are always reviewing data that customers and team members provide on our products, but we have nothing new to share at this time. Some of this speculation is coming from our decision to pause Boeing 737 interior retrofits over the summer so we can focus solely on running a reliable operation.

While it’s true that some of the earlier speculation about the Oasis retrofits being discontinued came from the program being suspended over the summer, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this here, but I also always find American’s communications team to be incredibly transparent, unlike at some other airlines.

If they’re not seriously considering something they typically tell me outright in a statement. So the non-denial here leads me to believe that there’s some validity to this, and it’s only a matter of time until something is announced.

Bottom line

As of now these are rumors, though it sure sounds to me like American is considering modifying their Oasis first class seats, and the non-denial from American further leads me to believe this.

The seats are so poorly designed, and some minor improvements could go a long way in making these seats less bad, especially if this is the standard seat American will be offering going forward.

For now we’ll want to mark this as “developing.” Unfortunately it sounds like any positive changes would be limited to first class, and not economy.

  1. I buy 1st on flights of > 2 hrs within USA. Was frequently on AA, until the seats were changed out.
    Prefer Alaska and Jet Blue now.

  2. They absolutely better address these terrible seats in both cabins. I hope they bring the bulkhead back too.

  3. Am I only the one wondering why the world’s largest airline needs to stop 737 refits to allow it to “focus solely on running a reliable operation”?

    Ignoring the fact that American is still failing at what it claims to be its main focus, doesn’t this sound like an inability to chew gum and walk at the same time?

  4. Yeah, the underseat storage thing is ridiculous and I’m surprised the degree to which airlines seemingly don’t put any thought into this *at all*. Especially when they run out of overhead bin space on a full load. I travel with just a backpack that will fit under the seat in front of me (and I put it there if at all possible), but if there are protrusions or weirdness that prevent me from doing so, my bag has to occupy a spot in an overhead bin that would be perfectly sufficient for someone else’s rollerboard…

    They’re just creating their own problems, and it doesn’t seem to be that difficult to see cause & effect here.

  5. Aside from the unpadded and cramped seats, a bathroom too small for someone over 6′ to use with dignity, and a suicidal computer system the AA 737 Max is a great plane!

  6. @ziggy – That’s AA code for we can’t take any 737-800s offline because we’re already short 24 737 until the Max gets recertified.

  7. Is that seat (and its padding and protrusions) the same as the Premium Economy seat in the widebodies with that class of service?

  8. Ziggy, I think “focus solely on running a reliable operation” means not taking aircraft out of service because they’re needed to fill in for MAXs.

  9. @Ziggy, with the 737-max planes pulled, they needed all hands on deck this summer. So no sending planes to the shop for new seats

  10. @John, you can get a bluetooth transmitter to plug into the headphone jack. I have one I bought on Amazon for about $25 that I keep in my headphone case.

  11. @Ziggy you ignore the fact that they have lost 20+ planes due to the 737Max grounding whose routes still need to be covered

  12. Jesus. I follow you like a Bible. You really SUCK on this article. Not that bad in Y? Did you consider the bathroom situation? The difficulty in an out of those seats? (Let’s hope nobody has to evacuate them in little time). Are you in cahoots with them? #SAD

  13. Are these seats identical to the ones on the 8 seat FC cabins on Airbus A319s? I fly those a decent amount but amongst all my 737-800 aircraft use am yet to come across an “Oasis” variant.

    I do find it really annoying that on the A319s that you cannot store anything in the middle of the seats in front of you. On other aircraft I like throwing my small bag there for boarding/taxi so I can stretch my legs out into you know, the space I/my epmployer paid for when buying FC…

  14. Come on dude, don’t try to convince us that AA’s new steerage product isn’t abjectly inferior to others. You’ve flown DL recently right? You think DL’s A220 Y is comparable to this LCC oasis nonsense? Not a chance.

  15. “… focus on a reliable operation” ???? LOL. Oasis seats? No oasis, things remain a desert at AA.

  16. When you install the same exact seats in Premium Economy and First, that is all that needs to be said.

    And I’m with LAXJeff, PLEASE bring back the bulkhead!

  17. I’m so dick of Lucky trying to be an airline expart or some sort. He has no knowledge of airline management. Stick with your miles.
    He speaks like I heard this “rumor” talks like he is in airline business, he is not. Just a blogger. Get over it.

  18. The AA product is horrible. The last time i stepped onto the 321, I felt nothing. It’s hard to describe but the last time I flew on Delta and United, the employees took pride in their aircraft I don’t get that feeling from American.

  19. I will not use my smartphone for watching movies. The battery life of a smartphone is short, maybe 2 years.

    Since January 2019, I have relegated AA to 5th choice, which means that I probably won’t fly it this year. Ahead of AA is DL, UA for the big guys and AS, WN for the medium guys.

  20. A LAS-ORD oasis flight in main cabin extra was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me with AA. I literally swore to never fly them again. I would rather CONNECT through another city than endure a non-stop of more than an hour on one of those again. It was worse than Spirit. My backside hurt for two days from those seats. Typically at ORD you can choose between AA and UA for many flights, so I’m lucky I have a way around them.

  21. Being based at CLT (and it would be the case for those based at PHL, and PHX too), anything new from American would be nice. Domestic first for us means old USAir First seats where back in the day (4 years ago), you could upgrade for $50 from economy. They have padding and are wide, but there’s no power, no IFE, and feel old and tired. If you think AA are ignoring first pax with bad new seats, try living in an old US Airways city where we have been ignored since the takeover/merger (including international first which is basically still envoy). I’m surprised they bothered to even paint our old metal.

  22. Been on the refitted FC on 737-800, agree entirely! For an under 2 hour flight it is tolerable, but longer is downright uncomfortable. I think it is similar to the refitted 319s. First time on that was 2016 and I was appalled.

    Now that I’m retired, I’ll burn my 1.5M AAdvantage miles on CX and QR. Domestic flights will be based on convenience and price. AA has lost my loyalty.

  23. Between the 737 MAX mess and AA’s new uncomfortable seats, I avoid any AA flying.
    AA: Relegate the Manager who made the seat decision to loading baggage.

  24. The hard product on these planes, whether in economy or first, is substandard. It is laughable to call these seats first, they look and feel cheap. I also wish they would let more passengers flying in first access their lounges as part of the ticket. And agree that the bathroom design is poor.

  25. My first trip treating myself to 1st
    Class. Worst experience ever!!
    Will never fly American again.
    Wish I knew then what I know now! Paying that much money for a seat that was about as comfortable as a metal folding chair.

  26. I have already stopped flying American AIrlines’ narrowbody domestic flights since last year. The only flights that I am flying now is basically their international flights, their premium transcontinental flights, domestic flights operated by their three-class A321s or international planes, or American Eagle/Connection CRJ-700/EMB-175 flights. I avoid AA’s Boeing 737-800s and former US Airways planes at all costs. Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest are my main domestic airlines now especially I don’t need to pay change fees on all their flights due to my elite status or Southwest’s generous “no change fee” policies. Unless AA decides to reintroduce a more roomy first class and main cabin extra cabin on these 737s, I have no interest in them anytime soon.

  27. @Pam – I feel you on that one! I like to save my points for biz class int’l travel, and always fly coach domestically. I had toyed with the idea of upgrading to first for my ORD-LAS flight late last year. OMG when I boarded and saw those first class seats I about died. Those are literally the same seats Spirit calls Biggie Seats and charges like $30 extra for. Turns on that particular flight I flew whatever AA calls economy plus…I think Main Cabin Extra? WHAT a nightmare…I can’t even imagine what people all the way in the back were going through. I’m not normally a big regulation guy, but this has gone too far. The feds need to mandate some rules here…either that or open up the skies and let Lufthansa, Emirates and the like start flying domestically here. These constant mergers have decimated competition and this is what we are left with….misery in the sky. I do love to travel, but even I hate flying now. I never thought I would ever feel that way.

  28. Just let Emirates,Air France,Singapore Airlines etc fly domestically and you ll have American Airlines rushing to put back personal televisions and completely refurbish their unpractical & uncomfortable interiors both in First Class & Economy.
    For me, Delta is the best American carrier by far,no doubt about that but in several airports there is no other choice than flying on AA so this monopoly situation enables this airline to completely ignore passengers’preferences.

  29. The US Air genes are beginning to be expressed by American Airlines. Passengers=cargo. More cargo=more profits. No where to put your tablet? Discomfort of seating? DVTs? Quit you’re whining.

    Their new marketing scheme must include targeting the obese with “inclusive” discounts and perks, like adjacent passengers to sweat on.

  30. Has to be the worst airline I’ve ever flown on , Chicago to San Fran
    ‘Business class ‘ plane was scruffy , staff scruffy , and food awful
    Will never fly with them again when I visit the us

  31. I cant believe people like you complain about flying, there is nothing wrong with the seats, the pitch, or the storage.

    The way airplanes are configured they will be criticized by the public no matter what changes are made.

    The airlines could make the pitch 40 inches and people would still complain.

  32. “Cause great is what we’re going for…”

    You’ve got a long, long, long way to go. You’ve never failed to disappoint us with a new low, despite Platinum Plus status.

    It’s great getting upgrades … but it would be nice if you didn’t cancel the f’ing flights … or if you were on time to allow for connections to be made … or to hold a flight for 10 minutes to allow a passenger that’s just landed, running for the gate, and making it 7 minutes before scheduled departure , only to be told “the door is closed” … or to fire the rude gate personnel who seem to have forgotten that passengers are customers.

  33. Even though you may have found an oasis, you’re still stuck in the desert, and it sucks. Oasis is a fitting name because no matter how much whipped cream they put on top of that turd, you know what you’re in for on the first bite. For those of you without wit, American is simply the worst US airline.

  34. The last time I flew first class on American, I had to sit next to a dog. The dog in its carrier blocked access to the aisle. The man with the dog insisted I move my backpack out of the overhead bin so that there would be enough room for his carry on luggage and the dog. First class on American has truly ” gone to the dogs.” Next trip I will be flying another airline.

  35. This will be my last year with AA. Iam done with all bad services, delays, bs upgrades and overprices tickets……

  36. I don’t fly AA anymore unless it’s literally the only option left. Jetblue, Delta, or United for me. 🙂

  37. Instead of fixing the row of problem first class seats, take that row and spread it between the economy you crushed. I will never ride AA again. And never any American airlines abroad as long as other foreign airlines don’t crush passengers.

  38. Crush passengers!!! So you want the pitch to be extended? And who do you expect should pay for that? Repitching a airplane is very expensive. Do you expect the cost of the flight to stay the same or go down?

    This is the problem with people who fly, they expect the experience to be like sitting on their couch, and for it to cost next to nothing to fly!!!

    The fastest, most efficent, safest mode of travel in the world is flying. And all you can do is find ways to complain.

  39. I guess it is all relative…better than being in what my family calls ‘sardine seats’ in main cabin. And think of premium economy….the bike pedal foot rest. Really bad.
    It all started when my tiny daughter said unsolicited when entering first class…What happened to the leather? Even a four year old could assess the downgrade. Now 29 years old.

  40. The seats in economy have less knee room than an economy seat on their Regional Jets. I was more comfortable in economy on both the CRJ and the ERJ than on regular AA. Also bin size even in First is abysmally small. Leave your 1980 bins behind and join the new millennium; go look at the bins that Alaska uses, they put AA bins to shame.

  41. The seats in economy have less knee room than an economy seat on their Regional Jets. I was more comfortable in economy on both the CRJ and the ERJ than on regular AA. Also bin size even in First is abysmally small. Leave your 1980 bins behind and join the new millennium; go look at the bins that Alaska uses, they put AA bins to shame.

    You do realize that the regional carriers are not owned by AA

  42. I wish they would stop using the usair 321’s (pigs) on long flights like CLT to LAX. MCE are hard to obtain unless you book way ahead of time.

  43. First class on American flight from Phoenix to Miami was a joke. No TV, no room for bags, seats were a little bigger but not worth the price. I will be choosing other airlines instead.

  44. Love Delta… but booking the flight I was on this morning was done too late to get on with them. Flew 1st class American for the first… and LAST time.

    3 hour flight was super uncomfortable.

    Seriously? A glass of water before take-off , horrible seats, under seat storage was the pits, no place to put my own iPad, NO POWER for my devices…. and then… having to listen to an overly loud flight attendant tell us all how to get the Barclaycard while we were taxi’ing in at landing was just too much.

    Never again.

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