American’s New Domestic First Class Seat Looks Familiar…

Filed Under: American, US Airways

Now that the merger between American and US Airways is complete, the “new” airline has the task of aligning their onboard products as much as possible. US Airways’ planes are notoriously outdated, as the domestic fleet doesn’t have any personal entertainment, or even power ports (which is what I care most about). Furthermore, American is retrofitting much of the US Airways fleet with Main Cabin Extra, which is their extra legroom economy seating.

Former US Airways first class

In the case of the former US Airways Airbus A319s, this is both good and bad news. The bad news is that they’re reducing the number of first class seats from 12 to eight. The good news is that they’re adding Main Cabin Extra and updating their interiors.

American’s new 737 interiors (with Main Cabin Extra)

However, what’s surprising to me is that American isn’t using the same first class seats for the former US Airways A319s that they’re using for their own A319s. The product between the two carriers is already so inconsistent, that it’s sort of surprising they’d choose different finishes yet again.

Adam snapped the below picture of those new first class seats, and there’s one thing that’s especially interesting about them.


American’s new first class seats seem to look almost exactly like the premium economy seats which American will soon be introducing on their longhaul fleet. Now, the first class seats don’t have the leg rests, but aside from that it seems to be exactly the same seat. So in terms of seat comfort, I think flying one of these A319s in first class can give you a good idea of what we can expect when premium economy is introduced.


Bottom line

I find the product inconsistency as American is updating their fleet to be puzzling. For example, for longhaul flights, American chose one type of seat for their 777-300, another seat for their 777-200, and now they’re creating a third type of seat for the 777-200. And that product is different than what they have on the 767, or on the former US Airways A330s.

It seems they’ll also be inconsistent domestically, and introduce a slightly different first class seat on the ex-US Airways fleet. If you try it, I guess you’ll know what to expect from American’s premium economy seat, once it’s introduced.

Have you flown the new first class seat on the former US Airways A319 aircraft?

  1. Delta has different products on its international fleets – it helps avoid the cycle issues of getting stuck with dated technology on the whole fleet.

    But this first class / premium economy thing feels like a cost exercise.

  2. AA’s service is wildly inconsistent, so, it seems consistent to offer wildly inconsistent seats as well.

  3. Easy answer Sir: short term, short-sighted view. They’re probably buying the Premium Economy seats in bulk so they had them cheaper and decided to go that way. Even if it means keeping more different types of seats in stock for break/fix, I’m sure they’ll eventually go for that seat in all their domestic fleet!

    Hey, at least in the states you get different seats in First/Business. As you often point out, all we get is a bog-standard economy seat with the middle seat blocked out.

  4. January 2016: The premium economy seats look like domestic first!
    February 2016: Those first class seats look like premium economy!

  5. I actually have always felt BA Premium Economy felt like AA domestic biz with a leg rest. I may be in the minority here, but I feel like this makes sense. Honestly, my only complaint about this would be that the domestic seat doesn’t have the leg rest as they run this product on transcon routes (different discussion). And it’s still 100% better than the bullcrap the European airlines call “Business class” on intra-Europe flights.

  6. I’ve always felt that premium economy seats on int’l flights was consistent with domestic first class seats, so this is not an issue to me. Look at JAL’s premium economy seat, width and pitch is consistent with a domestic first class seat with only the foot rest being different.

    Currently American prices their US Air metal flights cheaper than their AA metal flights, I wonder if that will still be true when the plans are refitted.

  7. Yeah, I’m not seeing the problem here. The INTL Premium Economy seats have already been described as being ‘very similar’ to domestic first. With AA updating US Airways planes, it seems reasonable that they’d use whatever’s ‘newest’ to lower their costs. They probably dropped the footrests to save weight.

    Not really surprised by the wide variety of seats that are being used as the fleets merge. Eventually that will get narrowed down with future refreshes. And considering the current AA cabin interiors being rolled out (ie slimline first seats) are already 5-6 years old, is it really that bad or surprising that they’re going with a newer seat?

  8. The inconsistencies are greater than those stated above. First of all they have only announced Y+ on the 319s which are a very small subset – not the majority of the fleet. We have not heard anything about the strategy for the remainder of the fleet.

    IIRC the L-US 319s will not have the PTVs either and they are only installing one power outlet per set of seats where L-AA has 2 per.

    A pig with lipstick is still a pig. And AA with Parker running it is still USAir.

  9. All your pictures have a Macbook Air, so I feel fairly certain about my prediction that you own one–which makes your power port comment curious. Even a little bit of planning and you can have battery throughout any domestic itinerary. My MBP (which supposedly has a slightly shorter battery life) lasts me through CHO-ATL, on my layover, and ATL-LAX… with plenty to spare. Plugging in during a layover and I probably arrive with 60-70%…

  10. I dissent — I find the 319 seats upfront quite uncomfortable, especially for napping. Hopefully the off-the-shelf long-haul Prem-Y product will be much better, but AA should not have cheapened out and removed the legrests.

    @Andy — 53% of AA’s domestic departures are on RJs, and they will put an RJ on a 4 hour flight. And plenty of AA’s 5-6 hour flights have these cheap seats up front. I don’t like BA’s short haul premium seating a bit, but you’ll never be stuck on >4 hour flights with this Y-prem seating crap as you do with AA.

  11. On the topic of power ports, I find that American’s power ports on the A321T to be horrible, especially in coach. They’re tilted forward so my MacBook power brick always falls out. Even my iPhone power adapter falls out because the outlets can’t seem to hold onto a plug. I even tried a euro adapter and had the same result. Business and first class are a little better because at least the plug is perpendicular to the ground but I still find that my MacBook power adapter falls out regularly. And don’t get me started with how frequently they just don’t work at all…

  12. Regarding the comments that they removed the leg rest: Most of the AA Premium Y seats don’t have leg rests either. Only the seats in the first row have them, and of course those are the ones that are shown in all the advertising… To be fair, that’s the case for many airlines’ Premium Y products as well (BA, LH…).

  13. It is unfortunate that AA is going to a premium econ seat in first on the A319. I find that the AA seat in first on the A321S is the best domestic seat in the US. The video screen is huge and sharp, flight following has all the options you could want except exterior cameras, and the personal space for drinks and storing newspapers or magazines is abundant. The A321 first-class seat is hands down superior to anything in the DL fleet. I’d fly AA over DL for this seat alone. Maybe it is too big for the A319. In an “intensely competitive” industry, AA seems to be giving away all of its advantages.

  14. Flying this right now. I can say that in the full upright position it is a bit uncomfortable. In my opinion, legroom is and usable seat width is slightly improved over the ex-US 319. What is most annoying though is that the tray table is elevated. If you are working on a laptop, this means that you can’t use the arm rests to support yourself as easily. Makes me feel like I need t-rex arms.

  15. How do European airlines get away with putting coach seats in business & just not putting passengers in the middle seat For a one hour flight maybe ok but not 4-5 hr flights

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