American Airlines To Introduce New Seats In 2023

Filed Under: American

While this is still a few years off, it looks like American plans to introduce new seats in all cabins on long haul flights…

American Airlines asking frequent flyers to test new seats

There are widespread reports of American Airlines reaching out to frequent flyers in the DFW area, offering them 15,000 bonus miles for taking part in a one hour “airline seat comparison study.” American is working with an outside company for this project.

At first when I saw this I wondered what exactly these seats could be for. Are they hoping they can squeeze even more seats on planes than they have with Oasis? Are they looking at seats for their new A321XLR?

American’s 737 Oasis cabin

American will introduce new long haul seats in 2023

The always knowledgeable @xJonNYC reports that American Airlines is apparently planning on installing new seats on long haul planes starting in 2023.

American is apparently thinking of introducing new seats in business class, premium economy, and economy, and as you’d expect, this is a process that takes years from start to finish.

What’s happening in 2023?

Why would American be considering new seats in 2023, specifically?

For one, in 2018 American Airlines placed an order for additional Boeing 787s, which they’ll use long term to replace 767s, A330s, and aging 777s. They’ll start taking delivery of their next batch of 25 787-9s as of 2023, and the plan is for those planes to feature the new seats.

But that’s not all. American Airlines has also placed an order for 50 Airbus A321XLRs, which will join American’s fleet starting in 2023. American will use these for long haul flights.

American wants fully flat business class seats with direct aisle access, as well as proper premium economy seats, on these A321XLRs.

Rendering of American Airlines A321XLR

American will eventually retrofit existing planes

Fleet consistency has never been a priority for American, to put it mildly. This is true across all cabins and planes.

That being said, @xJonNYC reports that American eventually plans on retrofitting existing planes with these seats. It remains to be seen what “eventually” means, as I’d take it to possibly mean 2030 or beyond.

New American 787 business class seats?

At the moment I’d argue American’s best business class seat is the Super Diamond seat, and I actually don’t think there are too many business class seats out there that are better.

American’s current best 787-9 business class

Therefore I’ll be curious to see what American chooses (update: here are some hints about the business class seats American is considering).

As far as “generic” seats go, Apex Suites are my favorite business class seats, but they’re not high density enough for American to consider them, in my opinion.

Oman Air’s Apex Suites

Could they simply slap a door on the Super Diamond seat they currently have, like British Airways has done with their new Club Suites?

British Airways’ new Club Suites

I suspect any product they would introduce would feature a door. If that’s the case and they don’t go with the British Airways approach, I would think they’d choose a staggered configuration, given that it’s most efficient. This would be something like Qatar Airways Qsuites or ANA The Room.

Qatar Airways’ Qsuites

New American A321XLR business class seats?

American currently has direct aisle access on their A321Ts, though those reverse herringbone seats are sold as first class. They’re probably not dense enough for American to consider as their A321XLR business class seat.

American’s A321T first class

With JetBlue soon expanding across the Atlantic, apparently one seat they’re considering for their new Mint cabin is the VantageSolo seat, since they have the same goal of offering direct aisle access from every seat.

The VantageSolo seat cabin configuration

The VantageSolo seat

The VantageSolo seat

Product concepts really do go through cycles. This looks an awful lot like a herringbone seat (facing towards the aisle and away from the window), which at this point is typically considered to be outdated.

But since we’re talking about narrow bodies, maybe what’s old is new again…

Bottom line

As much as I’ll give American a hard time for other things, they’ve historically done a good job with their premium international seats:

Delta’s 767 business class

I’ll be curious to see what American comes up with, both for their 787-9s (and presumably other wide bodies), as well as for their A321XLRs.

What are you expecting from American’s new international seats?

  1. If American went for something similar to the Qsuites/ANA’s new business class, that would be pretty insane… I suppose that’ll one-up Delta?

  2. dougie and his friends won’t invest in anything too respectable, i imagine. i expect a lot of half-measures and compromises and when 2023 rolls around we’ll all be underwhelmed together. quote me on this.

  3. Correction – AA’s best seat is their Cirrus reverse herringbone. Super Diamond is a destroyer of knees and shins.

    Sadly, I suspect they’ll go with something similar to either the BA seat, or the relatively high-density UA seat.

  4. Did you ever fly with the A330 on American (ex-US Air)? No? One of the worst seats out there and they’re using that plane even to LHR. This is the plane that has to go. I don’t know how they can still use this plane. Even the crew apologizes for the seats.

  5. I agree with Not Lucky that the best AA J seats, if not the best J seats out there, are still the good old Reverse Herringbone on 77W (licensed from CX?). Super Diamond seats are a runner up in AA’s fleet but they are not knees-friendly for tall people. Forget about all the fake doors on BA, D1, etc. Citrus Reverse Herringbone still offers the most amount of space in J.

  6. The takeaway is that they’ve only asked for an hour from the DFW area frequent flyers. That indicates mild changes.

    If it was revolutionary change (for American), the airline would host them on simulated flights in a mock-up cabin, usually including an actual overnight in a mock-up cabin with full service. That’s just how it’s done.

    Therefore, expect only mild changes.

  7. I’m also surprised that there appears no Non Disclosure Agreement required for the participants. That’s also usually the norm. Perhaps again indicating the upgrade may just be mild.

  8. It will just be horrible; just like everything American Airlines has done to make flying truly an unenjoyable experience!

  9. BREAKING!!! Skytrax just announced American is now a five-star airline, based on the seats they haven’t tested or selected yet but will install starting in 2023.

  10. Ben, I think it’s unfair to say that “fleet consistency has never been a priority for American, to put it mildly”. Before the merger, long-haul angle-flat J seats were consistent (with minor variations) across all aircraft types, including 777, 767 and 757, and were installed fairly quickly on the entire fleet in the middle 2000s, at a time when the type was considered best practice in the industry. So for quite a few years, the long-haul J experience on AA was consistent and not too shabby, especially compared to UA and DL.

    On the BA seat, having recently flown it I must say that I was underwhelmed. The door adds little privacy IMHO, given that the Super Diamond seat enclosures are in general quite low; you can see the heads of people all around you sitting up, and anyone walking down the aisle easily looks into your “private” suite. The other tweak BA has made in the seat is not taking advantage of the thick armrest for storage as other airlines using this seat (including AA) do, which may or may not be related to the door. So I hope AA doesn’t follow them.

  11. Is it me? Or is it weird that I wouldn’t mind a seat without direct aisle access as long as it’s not herringbone. I hate herringbone seats.

  12. For the comment about concepts going in cycles, I’m sure narrow body places will feature standard reverse herringbone seats in premium cabins in about 5-15 years. Since it’s a relatively new and little competition market, anything with direct aisle access would work. Then as time goes on, airlines will differentiate themselves with better seats.

  13. I expect something cutting edge modern as 2023 is still quite a ways off.

    @Ben I think the business class seats currently on the 789 restrict my legroom when trying to sleep because of the tray table being under the tv. The business class seat on the 77W is more spacious but you don’t get the improved cabin pressure as you do on the dreamliner. The 789 is American’s best bird in the fleet but not the best seat. In terms of seat comfort. I know you work and do stuff that may be better with the super diamond aerospace seat.

  14. @Leigh, slow down little pony. This is simply a first step in a long process. Invites to cabin mock-ups will follow later. This is an initial focus group survey.

  15. Family will no longer sit together ? How will 3 yr old sit by themselves. If you took 5 rows out of each side of the plane, we would have more leg room.

  16. @John
    Now that you are insanely attacking Qatar on pretty much every post, I’m beginning to think you’re actually paid by the Saudis. It’s getting bizarre. If you want to be an effective attack dog you need to be much more subtle, bro.

    This article goes big on one of the issues which is most important to me: fleet consistency. It’s all very well an airline having one product which is world-leading if the reality is that you’re more likely to end up with something else.

    When I have a choice of which airline to travel with, I’m much more interested in what is the *worst* seat offered by that airline — because that’s what I’m gambling I won’t end up in.

  17. For me, fleet consistency is key. It does an airline no good at all to have the “best” seats/kit or configuration if only a handful of their aircraft actually HAVE that kit. Having flown the Super Diamond seat several times, I happen to like it – so whatever choices AA make, I hope that the Super Diamond figures in *somehow*.

  18. As a resident of Charlotte (and I guess the same is true of those in PHL and PHX), we’ve been waiting 5 years for them to bother switching out the old envoy seats, or doing ANYTHING with any of the A320/321s since the merger/takeover, so I’m not holding my breath.

  19. Ugh. The tray table in the super diamond seat doesn’t fully retract, so you slam your knees into it every time you roll over. Best seat my ass.

  20. The problem with putting a long haul J product in a narrow body is that they are significantly more than half the width of even the widest wide body.

    Consequently, with a single aisle, current products aimed at the widebody market tend not to work very well. Reverse herringbone in particular can’t be sufficiently angled to make efficient use of the width without access becoming an issue, hence the relatively low density of AA’s transcontinental F.

    Going twin aisle would create a challenge for overhead storage, not to mention space used by the 2nd aisle in a narrower cabin.

    So the herringbone design comes as really being the only single aisle arrangement that provides direct aisle access to all seats, and works despite the cabin width, despite its inherent drawbacks.

    Will be interesting to see what developments come in this space.

  21. I’d check out the short list just released from the Crystal Cabin Awards. Thompson has released their newest rendering of the 1-1 narrow body seat. It has doors and looks quite spacious.

  22. @ Jeff — Hmmm, where did you see the newest rendering of the seat? Not seeing it in the short list photo file, so if you have a link I’d appreciate it. Curious what they’ve come up with!

  23. @SloMan – AA also had “coffin” seats, their 777 Pacific F seats. Good luck finding a pic of that.

  24. If American does go for staggered suites I’d assume that they’d look more like Delta One than Qsuite or the Room. Just because it’s denser and it’s American we’re talking about

  25. @Betty I fly CLT-LHR regularly and agree completely re: the A330-300s. I stopped with those flights until they get new planes and now either take CLT-RDU-LHR for the 772s RDU gets, or CLT-TPA-LGW on AA/BA 772 old Club World. Anything is better. BA also have CHS-LHR on a 788 but right now it’s old Club World and involves a bit of a drive. Apparently AA were retiring the A333s last year, and will switch to the newer A332s, but even those are the old envoy seats. A321s here are a joke too. Seats 23A and F are better than those up the front.

  26. I don’t quite care much for the Super Diamond, while older, I much rather have the business class on the 77W, they are larger and you don’t have to shove your feet into a tiny cub hole. I like to be able to bend my legs up.
    Also, the super diamonds are only “nice” on the 787-9, they are horrible on the 777-200, due to certification issues they ended up putting a HUGE airbag mounted on the right side of the seatbelt, it takes off a good 1 to 2″ of width of the seat.

    The cub on the Q-Suite seats aren’t so bad, but given Doug’s lag of “care” towards passengers, I seriously doubt we would see anything that nice on AA.

    Overall AA isn’t so bad right now, quite frankly on the hard product they are one of the best on US’s Airlines, they just need a vision for the company and improvements on the soft product.

  27. @ Jeff — Sorry, found the pictures now. I might be missing something, but where are you seeing a door? I don’t believe the product has doors?

  28. I have never understood why QANTAS can offer widebody transcontinental flights with internationally configured business class between Sydney & Perth & American cannot.

    That being said, their current A321T aircraft is amazing for the American market. Every time they introduce a new aircraft, they should consider not doing the same same but consider 3 class seating (eliminating only the First Class seats from Transcon but retaining the business class, main cabin extra and main cabin!)

    I don’t know why Americans accept cheese cheese cheese junk meals and inferior premium products and don’t call out these carriers more often. Take a look at CX – they’re not perfect but highly consistent!

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