New American Business Class: Bad For Employees?

New American Business Class: Bad For Employees?

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American Airlines recently unveiled its new business class product, and with that we’ll also see the airline eliminate its “premium” first class. While I’d say this change is great in terms of the passenger experience, I can’t help but think of the implications of this for the company’s employees.

Airline industry employees get great travel perks

One of the valuable perks of working in the airline industry is free (except taxes & fees) or heavily discounted travel, typically on a space available basis. While policies can vary significantly by airline, at the “big three” US airlines, employees get the best seats on a space available basis.

Now, in fairness, when traveling on a space available basis, airline employees are assigned seats after all “revenue” customers. That’s to say that they’re filling seats that would truly otherwise be empty. So whether it’s the standby list for economy or the upgrade list for business class, getting on a particular flight is far from a sure bet.

The value of this benefit is at times pretty limited if you’re trying to travel domestically in economy. For example, take a look at routes like Miami to Dallas or Dallas to Los Angeles, where every seat is typically taken, and there’s a long standby list of revenue customers. Airline employees may find that they don’t clear for several flights in a row.

Meanwhile arguably it’s “premium” first class where this benefit is most valuable. American has a “proper” first class on Boeing 777-300ERs (used for select long haul routes) and Airbus A321Ts (used for premium transcontinental routes). Elite members aren’t eligible for complimentary upgrades from business class to first class, so it’s not unusual to find a lot of empty premium seats on these planes, and those are almost always filled by employees.

This is especially true on routes like New York to Los Angeles, where there might only be two people booked in first class, but then the cabin almost always goes out full with employees. In many ways, American employees currently have the best setup of the “big three” US carriers for these perks, since American is also the only airline to have a “premium” first class product, shielded from upgraders.

American Airlines Airbus A321T first class

American employees will see fewer premium cabin seats

With American Airlines introducing a new business class and eliminating first class in the process (around late 2024), I can’t help but think of the major implications this will have on some employees.

First of all, American will be taking A321Ts off premium transcon routes, replacing them with planes that have premium economy and business class in place of first class and business class. This will almost certainly lead to a significant reduction in the ratio of premium seats, and without first class, elite members will likely have top priority for those upgrades.

So while these routes are currently a goldmine for employees looking to travel in first class, once this change kicks in I can’t imagine they’ll ever see the forward cabin on a premium transcon route again.

In the case of long haul routes, American often had at least a few empty first class seats even on otherwise busy routes where business class upgrades were tough to come by. So more often than not there were some non-revs in first class on long haul routes.

That’s going to be much trickier when there’s no longer a first class cabin, but rather business class is the highest cabin. Now, in fairness, American is increasing its business class capacity on some jets, so maybe it’s not all bad news. In some cases I imagine employees will still have no issues clearing into business class, in situations where the upgrade list isn’t particularly long. Nonetheless, I think it’ll be significantly more challenging than before.

For American employees who enjoy flying in premium cabins, I do think the new business class and elimination of first class will have some significant implications. While these kinds of travel benefits have long been controversial, let me say that ultimately I’m happy for those employees who have been able to use these perks. Pay in the airline industry generally isn’t great, and this is a very nice incentive for people who work really hard. If it’s good for morale and makes employees happy, that’s a win-win.

That being said, I do think the generous travel benefits for employees are also part of the reason airlines invest so little in the soft product of premium cabins. At the end of the day, premium transcon routes are always catered for 10 people in first class, even if there are only a few paying passengers.

Often one of the nice things about premium cabins on foreign airlines is that they’re not full, while that’s almost never the case on a US airline.

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER first class

Bottom line

American Airlines is introducing a new business class product as of 2024, which is something to look forward to. At the same time, the airline will be eliminating “premium” first class. I don’t consider that to be a huge loss in general, since American wasn’t investing much in the soft product, and the hard product wasn’t great either.

That being said, there’s no denying that this has significant implications for many airline employees. Travel benefits are a big reason people choose to work in the airline industry, and it will become significantly harder for airline employees to score premium seats on some routes, especially on premium transcon routes. In particular, I imagine there are some sad New York or Los Angeles based American employees who aren’t happy about this change.

Do you see things the way I do, or anyone have a different take?

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  1. Al Guest

    Absurdos los comentarios aquí leído, está bien claro, los empleados viajan si hay asientos disponibles, no vendidos, a última hora 5 minutos antes de la salida, de esta manera el o los asientos no se irán vacíos.

  2. Rob Guest

    The thing that really annoys me is the comments made here, especially about the elites that complain that they can't get an upgrade. It must be really nice to have your company pay for your tickets and let you collect the points, meanwhile the employees at this airline do deserve a huge reward for their employment, putting up with the weather, putting up with customers attitudes, from the front line workers, to the employees on...

    The thing that really annoys me is the comments made here, especially about the elites that complain that they can't get an upgrade. It must be really nice to have your company pay for your tickets and let you collect the points, meanwhile the employees at this airline do deserve a huge reward for their employment, putting up with the weather, putting up with customers attitudes, from the front line workers, to the employees on the ramp, to the supervisors that have to come to the gates and to the airplanes to deal with disgusting childish attitude passengers. This is nowhere near the attitude of passengers as it was in the '80s and '90s, there is no Jet Setters anymore! The deregulation has brought out the worst in passengers flying on our airlines these days. Especially in the cabin, when a flight attendant tells you to put your tray table up prior to landing you do so, or seat belts on, you just simply don't get pissed off and assault a flight attendant for giving you FAA commands. Most people seem to be so entitled these days it's sickening. I was the kind of person who would purposely track down your bag when you got transferred over to another flight and to make sure that your bag made it on your flight so you wouldn't have to go back to the airport to go pick your bag up...or go track you down before you got to the baggage claim area because you forgot your stroller you left on the Jet bridge... These special things weren't even in my job description...That was in the good old days... These days I don't even want to have any customer contact with you, I just do my job with 100% no more 150%.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      @Rob

      If this is your attitude, you shouldn't be in the service industry. It will only torment you. Your positive vibe days are behind you now. Maybe it's time to move on.

      And you seem to cite FAA commands, but you claim 'bogus' rules are also set by FAA? If you can't tell the difference between bogus and real FAA rules, you shouldn't be carrying out those rules or duty related to it.

      "when a...

      @Rob

      If this is your attitude, you shouldn't be in the service industry. It will only torment you. Your positive vibe days are behind you now. Maybe it's time to move on.

      And you seem to cite FAA commands, but you claim 'bogus' rules are also set by FAA? If you can't tell the difference between bogus and real FAA rules, you shouldn't be carrying out those rules or duty related to it.

      "when a flight attendant tells you to put your tray table up prior to landing "
      FAR Part 121 Sec. 121.577 - Stowage of food, beverage, and passenger service equipment during airplane movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing.

      "or seat belts on"
      FAR Part 121 Sec 121.317
      Each passenger required by Sec. 121.311(b) to occupy a seat or berth shall fasten his or her safety belt about him or her and keep it fastened while the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign is lighted.

      One of the most commonly cited bogus FAA rule is the use of front of cabin lavatory.
      There is no FAA rule against that. You can decline and we have to comply, but don't make up rules to back you up.

      Because, an authoritarian on a power trip can always cite
      FAR Part 121 Sec. 121.580
      No person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember's duties aboard an aircraft being operated under this part.
      While this doesn't grant unlimited power to the crewmember, including making up bogus rules, it does give them a near absolute authority with no due process. Since any humble conversation can be viewed by a crewmember as threaten or interference. Not just no due process, but it's your word vs the person in uniform.

      You are a contrast to @AAgal, but I still understand what you've been through and appreciate your service back before deregulation.

  3. Regina Guest

    You really are running out of ideas.
    No it isn't true. First class is not full of employees. American will oversell coach , premium economy , business and cabin roll the every cabin to make sure all seats are taken.
    Yes, overselling business on the 321t is an everyday practice
    Keys and EP end up getting the free upgrade. So , no. Stop making stuff up.

  4. Bryant Guest

    Nobody never realized, these hard working employees doing much contributions for company for lesser pay, in most advanced transportation industry. Definitely, they deserve better treatment by company.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      And you also have executives who not only get a big fat severance, they get to keep their flight benefits for life.

  5. Christina Guest

    In the early to mid 90s, I was a flight attendant for Pan Am Express, and Trans World Express.We had a department for us to book flights for other airlines that were either free, or about $100 per trip. I flew to about 25 countries, used flight crew discounts to book rooms, and it was awesome! That no longer exists at any airline. Now married to an AA pilot, I/my husband/daughter get to fly free/close...

    In the early to mid 90s, I was a flight attendant for Pan Am Express, and Trans World Express.We had a department for us to book flights for other airlines that were either free, or about $100 per trip. I flew to about 25 countries, used flight crew discounts to book rooms, and it was awesome! That no longer exists at any airline. Now married to an AA pilot, I/my husband/daughter get to fly free/close to free, but I haven’t flown anywhere for years. I wouldn’t fly due to covid, can’t fly now, because all the flights are oversold. Last time I flew was for an emergency. Chief pilot gave me a “must ride” seat going. Trying to get home, i was repeatedly bumped off flights out of San Diego. Spent $250 for a night in SD hotel, which was represented as $175, but after an undisclosed “report fee”, the price increased. Next night, bumped again, I spent the night in the airport (armrests, and sloped seats are designed to keep people from sleeping on them). There really is no benefit for airline employees/family members any more. The industry is miserable compared to what it used to be. Pilots and F/As are overworked, underpaid, Their families are also paying the price for their loved ones never being home, and exhausted/jet-lagged and miserable when they finally get home - they feel used by their employers, as their lifestyles are not what they expected when choosing their professions, due to the airlines executives cheating them out of the income they should be earning. They cannot strike, as they are considered “essential workers,” and they would disrupt the national economy/transportation industry. Basically, all they can do is, perhaps, conduct a sick-out. Then they are subject to arbitration, which typically benefits the airline, never the employees. Major airlines make massive profits, but do everything they can to NOT share the proceeds with the employees who worked to make those profits. Don’t think you’Re going to travel the world for free if you work in the industry, or are appropriately related to them. You will spend more on hotel rooms by the time you get repeatedly bumped as a non-rev than the ticket would have cost you. BTW, international pilots only get a few hours overseas, by the time they get the needed rest to come back home. The industry sucks!!!!!!!!

    1. Eskimo Guest

      While I don't know exactly what happened at SAN. But if you were more creative, you could have found a way.
      I'm sure AA had at least 20 flights per day out of SAN. You got stuck for 2 nights meaning that you could not find a single seat from SAN on 30-40 flights?

      Flight benefits might not be as easy as back in the 90s, but " can’t fly now, because all...

      While I don't know exactly what happened at SAN. But if you were more creative, you could have found a way.
      I'm sure AA had at least 20 flights per day out of SAN. You got stuck for 2 nights meaning that you could not find a single seat from SAN on 30-40 flights?

      Flight benefits might not be as easy as back in the 90s, but " can’t fly now, because all the flights are oversold. " is just pure ignorance, like how you had a hard time flying out of SAN.

      While it is a crazy summer, most of my flights were departing with some empty seats. And probably only once this summer was my 'last flight' out is completely full. This doesn't represent the whole industry but if I were flying non-rev this summer, I probably wouldn't get stuck 2 nights somewhere.

      I feel people who are flying standby complaining about getting stuck for days is no different that coach customers demand an international business seat upgrade because it's vacant.
      You know how the system and rules work, don't cross the entitlement line.

    2. Jake212 Guest

      @christina

      I realize your career only went as far as Express airlines, which likely means you maybe finished high school at best. But before you spew that much nonsense again *please* do us all a favor and learn some decent grammar.

      I understand this isn’t English class, but my god nobody will take anything you post seriously having one long post that’s not broken up into paragraphs with proper punctuation. I’m sure your husband...

      @christina

      I realize your career only went as far as Express airlines, which likely means you maybe finished high school at best. But before you spew that much nonsense again *please* do us all a favor and learn some decent grammar.

      I understand this isn’t English class, but my god nobody will take anything you post seriously having one long post that’s not broken up into paragraphs with proper punctuation. I’m sure your husband enjoys his time away and has met flight attendants half your age that keep him occupied now. Bless your heart.

  6. John Guest

    Who cares? Most American based airlines are appalling.

  7. AA_Berlin Guest

    Sorry Ben, but this post is simply wrong on so many levels. I won’t get into the details but I am sure JonNYC could give you a better understanding of how hard (or easy) it is to get premium seats regardless of aircraft types. And nope - investments in products do not take employees travel benefits into consideration - why would they?!

    1. Irfan K Guest

      This topic could have been is published in American airline's employees forum or any other related publications but definitely not here.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Why would they not?
      Who determines the plane and configurations, not employees?
      Of course, they also have a duty to the company but to say they don't take into consideration at all is probably not true.

      I would also think people who can 'game' bump vouchers would have as much knowledge, if not more, than JonNYC when it comes to non-revs getting seats.

      And I still don't get why it is wrong?

  8. FlyerDon Guest

    Using the transcon service to make some kind of point is misleading. The vast majority of AA employees do not work in LA or New York and would rarely, if ever, fly on a transcon flight. That leaves the 777-300 with its 8 first class seats. The odds of getting up there are pretty small, you’re much more likely to get stuck in a middle seat in the back. When MCE came along we used...

    Using the transcon service to make some kind of point is misleading. The vast majority of AA employees do not work in LA or New York and would rarely, if ever, fly on a transcon flight. That leaves the 777-300 with its 8 first class seats. The odds of getting up there are pretty small, you’re much more likely to get stuck in a middle seat in the back. When MCE came along we used to joke that it was the new nonrev first class. Having said this I do believe that D3, buddy pass, travelers should not be upgraded at all. Most of the employees that I know feel the same way and would be happy to give up the D3 “benefit”. As a matter of fact most employees I know, other than commuters, buy tickets when they really need to get somewhere. The days of partying in first class ending sometime in the 90’s.

  9. KareK Guest

    Flight benefits are useless now. You need to keep in mind that people work hard for the benefits. You may poo poo at them wanting to be in first but you work for the benefits you have at your company and want benefits for loyalty, like an upgrade. We all pay one way or another for what we get for work. Let's be respectful of people and their work and wanting the benefits that they work for.

  10. Steve Guest

    I’m actually happy to see a refreshed premium offering for my company - something we can actually be proud of. If that means less upgrades, so be it.

    On a side note, while I can appreciate the message Ben is trying to convey, it’s a little disappointing to read a lot of these comments. I feel like most of us are hard working individuals who actually care about the product we offer - we try...

    I’m actually happy to see a refreshed premium offering for my company - something we can actually be proud of. If that means less upgrades, so be it.

    On a side note, while I can appreciate the message Ben is trying to convey, it’s a little disappointing to read a lot of these comments. I feel like most of us are hard working individuals who actually care about the product we offer - we try to do the best we can given the tools / resources provided to us by management. If we happen to get a premium seat as part of an employment perk, great. If not, no big deal, we still have a great job with awesome perks. Let’s just try to be kinder one another.

  11. Fed UP Guest

    Boo hoo... too bad... the fact the US airline filled up 3 cabin aircraft in First with employees, rather than upgrade paying customers, who have flown 1, 2 or 3 million miles, was appalling

  12. Madonna Guest

    As long as free travel is as safe as paid, free is a plus for all employees.

  13. Bob Brown Guest

    Considering the employees are getting shitty pay for dealing with shitty passengers, riding in an upgrade is considered a good perk.

  14. Leigh Guest

    The hyperbole and bitterness of many of the comments is sad and shocking.

    Staff space available travel has always been the same, not just on AA, but all airlines.

    As someone or two said below, non rev passengers and staff are just happy if they get a seat in economy.

    I’m 20 years EXP on AA, and I have no augida if empty F or J seats are given to non rev staff. In...

    The hyperbole and bitterness of many of the comments is sad and shocking.

    Staff space available travel has always been the same, not just on AA, but all airlines.

    As someone or two said below, non rev passengers and staff are just happy if they get a seat in economy.

    I’m 20 years EXP on AA, and I have no augida if empty F or J seats are given to non rev staff. In fact, I think it an excellent benefit for them.

    Those who say that those empty seats should be given to revenue paxs (like me), don’t know the tricky challenge of maintaining revenue integrity in the forward cabins. They just want it all, whereas I’m completely fine with what I pay for or get with my status…that’s just fair.

    Geez, such obnoxious comments.

  15. iamhere Guest

    In a way this is unfair. They could charge points or an amount of cash for an upgrade and if reasonable many would do it and put the employees in economy. So, people with statuses and people who are willing to pay with cash or points a reasonable fee are not considered but staff in a way have more priority.

  16. Andy Guest

    Considering the reviews AA receives for its "first class" its not much of a loss. Maybe the reasons its evalued so low by many reviewers is the fact that working crew mostly serve their own nonworking fellow employees there....

  17. JT Guest

    As an AA employee myself, thanks for presenting a fair view of the situation. A lot of times, the “bloggers” are so fast to bash on non-rev travelers, when truly we see premium cabin travel (when we’re able to clear) as a good consolation for the below market pay. Sad to see first go, but hopefully the increased number of premium seats fleet-wide makes up for it.

  18. Julian Guest

    So the rev pax should be bothered for the non rev employees losing their free upgrades? Out of touch report indeed! It is time AA prioritise rev pax before any non rev pax. Otherwise pax should be wise where to spend their money and vote with their feet.

    1. Toppy Guest

      Do you honestly think this only impacts AA. You're delusional. This is an airline perk that all have. Who exactly are you going to go to that's any different?

  19. JJ Guest

    I used to fly LAX HKG all the time. The 1st class cabin always had a ton of standby's get filled. Crazy that the nicest seats on their longest haul flights were basically a perk.

    Drove me nuts that there was no way for me to book this as there were never award seats, but it was basically given away

  20. AAgal Guest

    I am an AA employee. I begin my shift at 3 a.m. My pay is comparable to fast food franchises. My flight benefits makes all that sting less. I understand my flight benefits are a privilege, not a right. Working for a carrier with first and business class has been great on the occasional flights I would get an upgrade. I know when I attempt to get on a flight that an upgrade was never...

    I am an AA employee. I begin my shift at 3 a.m. My pay is comparable to fast food franchises. My flight benefits makes all that sting less. I understand my flight benefits are a privilege, not a right. Working for a carrier with first and business class has been great on the occasional flights I would get an upgrade. I know when I attempt to get on a flight that an upgrade was never guaranteed, it just was a lovely thing that happened. It definitely helps remind all of us why we drive through blizzards at 1 am to get to work to check in people who may decide to tell me I am a (choose your fave ugly word here) when I inform them of a delay. It reminds us why we still come back even after every last one of us has some sort of back/neck/hip/etc. injury from throwing 50 lb. plus bags every few minutes for our ten hour shifts. I know I feel a sense of pride in my carrier allowing me to feel like a queen even just for a couple hours every now and then. We are all currently aware none of us will probably ever see an upgrade ever again. Currently, our upgrade lists for every flight are generally between 25-60 people long....its almost comical- an I don't even work at a major city. I dont expect the average joe reading this blog to understand. But if you work somewhere that gives you a Christmas bonus or any bonus for that matter, you know how awesome that feels and will make your day. This was like our Christmas bonus in a way. Im sorry to see the couple of comments on here who are ready to dismiss this opportunity for us as if we don't deserve it. But maybe your the guy who called me a c**t the other day when we had a crew delay that was completely out of my hands.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Thank you for your service.
      Sometimes passengers just don't realize what front line employees can or cannot do in their power.
      I have traveled enough to tell when employees have done their best or just being lazy (with some incompetency in between) and most of the time, they are doing their best with one hand tied behind their back.

      One thing I do like employees, especially cabin crews, to stop doing is citing bogus rules or go on a power trip.

    2. Rob Guest

      Those bogus rules are set up by the FAA BTW... Don't like it? take the bus... Or maybe you're the corporate jet if your boss will let you?

    3. Eskimo Guest

      @Rob

      I'll go ask my boss if I can be Eskimo the Jet. I sure definitely will be faster than Thomas the tank.

      LOL, "Those bogus rules are set up by the FAA BTW."
      Just like fact checkers are writing fake news?
      You're it.

  21. Richard Guest

    Who would bother paying for first class on US airlines with the knowledge the empty seats would be filled by freeloading employees?

    1. K-La Guest

      They have been for decades sir.

    2. Madonna Guest

      Employees work for what they get, any plus is earned…and surly appreciated,if you don’t like it take a bus next time you travel!

  22. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The best part of an article like this is that it is very apparent who the AA employees are - as if there was much doubt before.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Says the man who’s the most obvious ex-Delta employee in the OMAAT comments.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      for someone that is supposedly an ex-employee, I clearly know volumes about the airline industry. Maybe, just maybe, I gain my knowledge of the industry from government and industry sources.
      None of which changes that AA employees - or at least some of them - have a clear entitlement mindset about their pass benefits.
      Ben undoubtedly teed up the conversation because he has seen it. Having AA employees - past or present -...

      for someone that is supposedly an ex-employee, I clearly know volumes about the airline industry. Maybe, just maybe, I gain my knowledge of the industry from government and industry sources.
      None of which changes that AA employees - or at least some of them - have a clear entitlement mindset about their pass benefits.
      Ben undoubtedly teed up the conversation because he has seen it. Having AA employees - past or present - attack him or other revenue passengers simply confirms the internet lore and undoubtedly his personal observations.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      Dude, you can't go calling out people having entitlement mindset when you are demanding denied boarding compensation twice the value of your ticket for an Ukulele on your flight.

      Of course OMAAT would bring up a known controversial subject. Might be fun for Ben too.
      Non-rev entitlement vs. paying passengers who think they deserve it more happens on every airline not just AA. I doubt Ben would care or want to fish out airline...

      Dude, you can't go calling out people having entitlement mindset when you are demanding denied boarding compensation twice the value of your ticket for an Ukulele on your flight.

      Of course OMAAT would bring up a known controversial subject. Might be fun for Ben too.
      Non-rev entitlement vs. paying passengers who think they deserve it more happens on every airline not just AA. I doubt Ben would care or want to fish out airline employees with this post. He has all his personal airline contacts that he needs.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      seriously... the vast majority of people that replied to the WN article which Ben posted agreed that they didn't want to be on that flight esp. if they were not informed before.
      And I demanded nothing. Reread what I actually wrote instead of manipulating and distorting.

      And AA employees - active or former - identified themselves. Nobody had to fish them out.
      Of course, virtually all use made up user names.
      I'd love for you to prove that you really are an eskimo.

    5. Eskimo Guest

      Reread it. And I quote you, full quote no manipulating of any words.
      "As long as they announced it in the gate area before, gave people that didn't want to be on the plane denied boarding compensation twice the value of their ticket, and the ability to smash those guitars as soon as they got on the plane, sure."

      Is that not your expectation of compensation aka. your demands?

      You, and others, have every...

      Reread it. And I quote you, full quote no manipulating of any words.
      "As long as they announced it in the gate area before, gave people that didn't want to be on the plane denied boarding compensation twice the value of their ticket, and the ability to smash those guitars as soon as they got on the plane, sure."

      Is that not your expectation of compensation aka. your demands?

      You, and others, have every right to be upset or even "not fly with them ever again". But feeling you deserve compensation, especially double, is just an entitlement. WN did nothing wrong, just something you don't like.

      As for being an Eskimo, I fish out people that are full of moose shit. Employees or not.

  23. Pete Guest

    There’s no point running a first class cabin for staff and upgrades; it’s simply idiotic. If the seats don’t sell, replace them with seats that do. It’s a business, not a charity.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      The fact that this has gone on for so many years is the only thing that is mind-blowing.

    2. Apple Guest

      Well, technically, Pete it is a charity. A charity that the US tax payers give money to ever decade to keep them in business.

    3. Bagoly Guest

      But this is an example of where part of a business has been captured by employees/unions.
      There is plenty of bad treatment of employees by management which unions should resist - why did not the union bargain this outrageous perk away for better basic conditions?

  24. Jordan Gold

    Where to start, because I know exactly where this is coming from.

    Your blog is all about freeloading, points/awards/certs etc. :-) - well it was... The A321T was a thorn you couldn't get around, because you felt you should get upgraded from a J ticket for next to nothing, and not the outrageous redemption AA set up.

    Are you aware that some of the seats in F are already prepaid in corporate packages?...

    Where to start, because I know exactly where this is coming from.

    Your blog is all about freeloading, points/awards/certs etc. :-) - well it was... The A321T was a thorn you couldn't get around, because you felt you should get upgraded from a J ticket for next to nothing, and not the outrageous redemption AA set up.

    Are you aware that some of the seats in F are already prepaid in corporate packages? Filling the seat with an employee was not losing the airline money...Just like some hotels. It was understandable to keep out those who did not wish to pay.

    You always whine about things that do not break your way, and I recall two of your posts from a few years ago whining and complaining about employees in F on the transcons. Your attitude was these F seats should go to revenue customers only. Airline employees deserve perks, especially when they have to deal with entitled customers like you (granted, I am one of these customers haha) but I do not begrudge employees their perks, and never feel I am better than a fellow human being (or person).

    I've seen F full and J with a few open seats, and the standby list was loooooong. Not all seats get filled with revenue passengers.

    Sooooo this week you are happy. I knew this article was coming. No more employees before YOU! If you can't have it, they can't have it.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Is this in response to the question “Show me where the bad blogger man hurt you?"

    2. Gregg Guest

      I'm glad for this change. These employees should never be in F while an executive platinum member is sitting in coach because J is full. Always was a ridiculous approach by AA.

    3. red_robbo Guest

      Is this really true? That AA would downgrade a passenger even if there were available seats in a higher cabin? In my 40+ years with a European airline this would never have happened. Always upgrade commercials before downgrading.
      Then with staff, they got the cabin they were entitled to on the type of concession they were using, and only upgraded if seats were not available in their entitled cabin.
      Automatic upgrades for all...

      Is this really true? That AA would downgrade a passenger even if there were available seats in a higher cabin? In my 40+ years with a European airline this would never have happened. Always upgrade commercials before downgrading.
      Then with staff, they got the cabin they were entitled to on the type of concession they were using, and only upgraded if seats were not available in their entitled cabin.
      Automatic upgrades for all staff to the highest cabin was a pipedream.

  25. R Lind Guest

    Shielded form upgrades? Really? Who pays the freight, clearly not the employees. AA employees are some of the worst in the business for customer care so its karma

  26. Crosscourt Guest

    @sean m and a vast majority of them shouldn't be allowed to stay, the level of service is so poor.

  27. D3kingg Guest

    I only flew first class and business class when I non revved. I gotta bag full of American Airlines international first class and business class tickets I saved over the years. They retail worth more than your lives. Get lost haters.

    Weho boys , Hasidics , and Hollywood wannabes butt hurt they couldn’t upgrade to first class when business class was full on the jfk lax transcon. That was hilarious how they’d run up to the podium and harass the gate agents.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      And a measly D3 is bragging about a premium cabin here, LOL.
      Also berating and discriminating paying customers too.

      Now that isn't going to end well.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @Eskimo

      I retired from non revving after going 8 out of 8 flights all in first class and business class. Yes that’s correct. All from D3 position. I’m the goat.

      I’m joking about the NY LA crowd. Nothing discriminatory rather amusing. I know what was once acceptable in 2011 is no longer in 2022.

      American’s logistics and operations are one of the most efficient in the world.

      Do you want me to write a book ?

    3. Eskimo Guest

      You're not the goat, you're the kingg.
      Yes please write a book (or a blog). Would be a fun read. As long you represent it as a comic.
      If Chris Rock or you said it in a comedy club open mic, I would care less.
      Because guess what, if you don't write your book in 2022, by 2033 it's going to get worse.

      Retired or not, just don't get someone else in trouble.

    4. Pete Guest

      First class isn’t a cabin, it’s a lifestyle. Enjoy being a king in the air, because when you land your back the sad reality of your real life.

    5. Gregg Guest

      What a disgusting post. Remember who pays your salary. I'm glad this "perk" is ending. Enjoy a middle seat in coach!

    6. D3kingg Guest

      @eskimo

      I was more than a king. I was the lord of non revs.

    7. MIAA Guest

      Keyword being “was”

    8. Eskimo Guest

      goat lord D3 kingg.

      Sounds like a typical Fortnite id.

  28. JetSetFly Guest

    I'm not sure now.... but I remember few years ago, I spoke to a Four Seasons employee and he told me they get x number of days per year for free stays at any Four Seasons of their choosing. I find this as a great policy as employees get to see how other Four Seasons employees do their jobs while they get to stay at a hotel that they probably cannot afford to stay otherwise.

    ...

    I'm not sure now.... but I remember few years ago, I spoke to a Four Seasons employee and he told me they get x number of days per year for free stays at any Four Seasons of their choosing. I find this as a great policy as employees get to see how other Four Seasons employees do their jobs while they get to stay at a hotel that they probably cannot afford to stay otherwise.

    Why not just give x number of miles to airline employees yearly as part of compensation package? That way they can decide to splurge it on one F class ticket or maybe spread it out to many trips in economy.

  29. Eskimo Guest

    Employees probably made peace with this issue when their 77W came with 8F when the then shorter 772 had 16F.
    I also believe even for non-rev, it's costlier to fly in a premium cabin. For employees that doesn't have much surplus, that could mean making a trip or not.
    And we didn't even touch imputed income yet.

    1. Hajava Guest

      Flying in a premium cabin is completely free for those who work at American, Delta, and JetBlue. Also, imputed income is not a thing if it’s just the employee flying. Completely free. JetBlue doesn’t even do imputed income for any employees.

    2. Jahava Guest

      Flying in a premium cabin is completely free for those who work at American, Delta, and JetBlue. Also, imputed income is not a thing if it’s just the employee flying. Completely free. JetBlue doesn’t even do imputed income for any employees at all.

    3. Dan77W Guest

      Most of us employees couldn’t care less, we are just happy to get a seat. A big seat is a welcome surprise but nothing more. I’m glad you didnt touch imputed cause we are not subjected to it (some classes of dependent are, but we are not).

    4. Eskimo Guest

      Thank you.
      And there you go, an actual employee response to address the question.

      "Most of us employees couldn’t care less, we are just happy to get a seat."

    5. Dan77W Guest

      I would say that’s the attitude of 95% of us.

    6. Kate MacPherson Guest

      Absolutely correct!

    7. Gregg Guest

      There's no imputed income.

  30. Mike Guest

    This article is laughable. Come on Ben, this is hardly worth writing about. This looks is coming from an airline employee of the big 3.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      You must be new here. Welcome!

    2. Dan77W Guest

      Slow newsday, gotta stir up the animosity towards industry employees!

    3. Jordan Gold

      Oh no, I spelled out exactly where this is coming from.

  31. Dominic Kivni Guest

    Airlines need to optimize their cabins to generate revenue from paying customers, whether their employees get to travel for free in luxury vs a mere economy seat should be the very last priority if they want to stay out of Chapter 11

  32. Never In Doubt Guest

    Sean M. woke up today and chose sarcasm.

    1. Frog Guest

      I almost can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or really believes what he’s saying…

  33. derek Guest

    Misplaced priorities. AA employees should get the bottom of the barrel seats. Customers first. Even a basic economy passenger will have fond memories of AA if upgraded but will not buy it. An premium economy might buy it. If there are still empty seats, AA could either upgrade elites (and risk them never buying upgrades) or do it randomly (and get rave reviews when someone is upgraded).

    AA employees are the enemy.

    1. Dan77W Guest

      Derek,

      That attitude over the past 30 yrs from AA mgt is why their service is so crappy.

    2. Gregg Guest

      The employees did it to themselves.

  34. Tim Dunn Diamond

    While I and others would love to see the percentage of first class seats that are occupied by American employees, internet lore is that it has been high.
    If so, that describes precisely why AA needs to end it and reallocate its resources in a way that maximizes revenue for paying passengers.
    Perhaps first class has become a sacred cow that no one - including Parker that desperately needed labor's support - would...

    While I and others would love to see the percentage of first class seats that are occupied by American employees, internet lore is that it has been high.
    If so, that describes precisely why AA needs to end it and reallocate its resources in a way that maximizes revenue for paying passengers.
    Perhaps first class has become a sacred cow that no one - including Parker that desperately needed labor's support - would touch.
    I always believed that Isom would do what is necessary to turn AA around and this might be an indication that he is.

    1. Jordan Gold

      Some of the seats are already paid for in corporate contracts, for last minute execs running to the other coast. The seat is ALWAYS available up to a certain time.

      I know on very good authority the revenue vs non-rev numbers on the A321T from a higher up in Dallas, but not all things are for public consumption. This plane is their most profitable, or was until the pandemic.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Given that American's profit margin has been below 5%, the lowest in the US airline industry for years, having the most profitable fleet type is not a terribly high bar.
      And part of the reason why AA got by with the A321T concept was because fuel prices were low for a big chunk of the decade of the 2010s. That era is not likely to ever return.
      And having excess seats is still...

      Given that American's profit margin has been below 5%, the lowest in the US airline industry for years, having the most profitable fleet type is not a terribly high bar.
      And part of the reason why AA got by with the A321T concept was because fuel prices were low for a big chunk of the decade of the 2010s. That era is not likely to ever return.
      And having excess seats is still wasted revenue generating opportunities. Period.
      Delta carries 2X as much revenue per flight on its 767-300ERs than AA does on its A321Ts - and that is confirmable with DOT data which includes cargo revenue. B6 ALSO carries far more revenue per Mint flight than AA does on A321Ts.
      If the concept of the A321T was as profitable as you think it is, AA would transfer it to the A321NEOs. It is being ended because all of these seats in the first class cabin - or the ones filled with AA employees - cost the company enromous revenue generating capacity that other airlines see no need to sacrifice - and don't.

  35. Sean M. Guest

    APFA needs to take a stand here and refuse to work these new aircraft if they care about their members. After all the sacrifices made by workers this is nothing but a slap in their face!

    1. AC Guest

      @Sean - obviously an employee and you are biased. It is paying customers (and getting money for credit card miles) that drive the airline’s business. As much as you think you are replaceable in a heartbeat and frankly AA has way too many senior FAs and other employees. They need to all quit or get fired so some fresh blood (at lower cost) can come onboard. This is the worst downside of unions - protecting...

      @Sean - obviously an employee and you are biased. It is paying customers (and getting money for credit card miles) that drive the airline’s business. As much as you think you are replaceable in a heartbeat and frankly AA has way too many senior FAs and other employees. They need to all quit or get fired so some fresh blood (at lower cost) can come onboard. This is the worst downside of unions - protecting seniority over capability with no regard to the economic impact on the company

    2. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Employees are are given a benefit here, not guaranteed FC. What about the other airlines that don't have FC? So weird this whole "fight".

  36. Chase Guest

    Actually I think you’ve got it backwards. This will be much better for AA employees in particular because today AA is running planes with the smallest premium footprint on them. After the update, the premium cabins will expand dramatically, so it depends on how AA manages the monetization of those cabins that will determine the outcome for employees. JFK-LAX/SFO are pretty minor exception routes where employees make out like bandits, and they only have 20...

    Actually I think you’ve got it backwards. This will be much better for AA employees in particular because today AA is running planes with the smallest premium footprint on them. After the update, the premium cabins will expand dramatically, so it depends on how AA manages the monetization of those cabins that will determine the outcome for employees. JFK-LAX/SFO are pretty minor exception routes where employees make out like bandits, and they only have 20 777s with F on them anyways. So I think this should be a net plus for employees IMO.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      The problem is that the employees will be competing with revenue customers for upgrades rather than on the basis of their seniority. It makes a mockery of the benefits of long service with the company once they allow paying customers into the foremost cabin for free.

    2. David Guest

      What's the purpose of AA, to fly paying customers and hopefully turn a profit, or provide non-rev seats for employees?

    3. Gregg Guest

      Heaven forbid paying customers sit in F? Over-entitled employees are making a mockery of this business!

  37. Nate Guest

    Folks that are rooting for airline employees to get shafted misunderstand the issue, I think. While I am not an airline employee, I do understand that the free travel experience is part of their compensation package.

    I am sure their free fly benefits will remain around the same or, in a tight labor market, the unions will negotiate additional monetary compensation that will be paid for by the shareholders or you, the dear customer...

    Folks that are rooting for airline employees to get shafted misunderstand the issue, I think. While I am not an airline employee, I do understand that the free travel experience is part of their compensation package.

    I am sure their free fly benefits will remain around the same or, in a tight labor market, the unions will negotiate additional monetary compensation that will be paid for by the shareholders or you, the dear customer in higher fares.

    Where you, the dear customer, are getting played is in all the mergers and trade barriers to foreign competition, which result in less capacity and competition, and thereby higher fares or less spare capacity given to you at reduced rates through their fake currency or heavy user perks.
    My guess is that the differences between spare capacity being used as compensation in international vs. domestic flights has to do with taxes and labor laws, which tend to drive the bus on these type of issues.

    1. Gregg Guest

      It's not an either or thing. We should turn the screws on the US airline employees AND allow foreign competition.

  38. jcil Guest

    Even the passenger with the lowest cost economy fare deserves the upgrade to business or PE before any employee does. Take care of your paying customers first--all of them. The only way an employee flies free in business is if the rest of the plane is empty of paying passengers.

    1. Brian Gasser Guest

      @jcil I disagree. People who pay Y fares, get a Y product. People who pay J fares get a J product. Airlines such as JetBlue dont allow you to switch cabins unless you pay. The benefit for AA and its customers is that offering this perk to their employees, allows the airline to offer lower wages.

      The 3 cabin product on the A321T is in need of a refresh. The F cabin seems like a lot of non-rev space that can be better monetized.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      @Brian Gasser - most of that space is being used by commuting crew who use it for valuable rest. Would you be willing to risk your safety by allowing a tired pilot who had to be sent to economy class just because someone was willing to pay for the seat?

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Sean,
      Commuting is a choice. If someone is fatigued or will be because of where they travel to get to work, then they should consider flying out of a closer base.
      There are plenty of airline employees that live in the city of their base or certainly not all the way across the country - which is how the A321Ts are used.
      Revenue passengers shouldn't have to subsidize AA employees that commute...

      Sean,
      Commuting is a choice. If someone is fatigued or will be because of where they travel to get to work, then they should consider flying out of a closer base.
      There are plenty of airline employees that live in the city of their base or certainly not all the way across the country - which is how the A321Ts are used.
      Revenue passengers shouldn't have to subsidize AA employees that commute from one side of the US to the other and neither should AA employees that do not commute or do so much closer to home.

    4. Gregg Guest

      What a joke. If you want rest then just move!!

    5. jcil Guest

      That's fine. But then apply that standard to the elites as well, including top tier. You're "elite" and want a J cabin--pay cash for it or sit in the back. I could be convinced that absolutely no upgrades are the best policy. Everyone gets exactly what they pay for. (cash or points)

    6. Gregg Guest

      You have no clue how to run an airline.

      Again, over-entitled employees are ruining this industry.

    7. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      LOL. JCil is SO way off on how business, the economy, and society works.

  39. George Romey Guest

    So AA is suppose to configure it's planes so that employees can get free rides?

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Customers come and go but employees stay their entire career.

    2. OnlyFirst New Member

      And seem to show little regard for their customers or their employer much of that time.

    3. SK Guest

      As a 35 year retired airline pilot I’m appalled that employees(be it pilots, flight attendants or other non-flight crew) feel that premium seating for free “standby” travel is an entitlement. I’ve had friends that are top-tier frequent fliers that don’t get status upgrades that gripe less then the airline’s own employees? Crew members commuting to work should never expect to get legally required rest in a premium seat and claim it’s a safety issue! Really?

  40. TravelinWilly Guest

    Considering how little AA’s flight attendants care about paying customers, I find it hard to get my panties in a bunch because the flight attendants have fewer chances to score more legroom on their free flights.

    1. K-La Guest

      Not all employees are flight attendants.

  41. AdamH Gold

    While I agree with general premise here, I think this overlooks two large other factors:

    First, AA in my recent experience has gotten much better at overselling Y/J on these planes knowing folks aren't buying F. I have been op-upped to F on my last two AA T-Cons and the planes have gone out full. On my most recent, I bought a last min J ticket with no seats left so it was pretty obvious...

    While I agree with general premise here, I think this overlooks two large other factors:

    First, AA in my recent experience has gotten much better at overselling Y/J on these planes knowing folks aren't buying F. I have been op-upped to F on my last two AA T-Cons and the planes have gone out full. On my most recent, I bought a last min J ticket with no seats left so it was pretty obvious what was going to happen.

    Second, AA remains the only big 3 carrier to not require special upgrade instruments on these flights. I have to imagine that will change to some extent, right now elites can just select premium Y on domestic routes, when they have a wide body scheduled. I have to imagine that will change and will fall more in line with how UA treats premium Y on their ps routes (i.e. it is an official cabin). Then the big question will be who will be the first carrier to really clamp down on Y to J upgrades when passing premium Y. My guess is AA won't be the first to move but I have to imagine there isn't a single carrier not thinking about how to handle this.

    The final factor to me is there is no question we will likely see another pull back in travel budgets as the economy slows and then its anyones guess how the airlines try to juice revenues and play up loyalty.

    1. --- Guest

      DL is already the first to move here. If you buy economy, GUCs only let you upgrade from economy to premium economy (but you'll be allowed to waitlist for business, which won't clear until 24 hrs before departure). So technically you're still clearing to business, but it's the first step I guess.

      UA probably will allow you to continue to clear from economy to business, given that PlusPoints are more flexible.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

George Romey Guest

So AA is suppose to configure it's planes so that employees can get free rides?

6
TravelinWilly Guest

Considering how little AA’s flight attendants care about paying customers, I find it hard to get my panties in a bunch because the flight attendants have fewer chances to score more legroom on their free flights.

6
Pete Guest

There’s no point running a first class cabin for staff and upgrades; it’s simply idiotic. If the seats don’t sell, replace them with seats that do. It’s a business, not a charity.

5
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