American Adding First Class Seats To A319s & A320s

American Adding First Class Seats To A319s & A320s

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It’s a big day when it comes to the future of American’s fleet (I mean, not that there’s all that much to get excited about, though the numbers are impressive). American has just placed an order for 260+ jets from Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer. Separately, American has announced plans to install more first class seats on its smallest mainline jets, to meet evolving demand.

American refreshing Airbus jets with more first class seats

American has revealed plans to refresh its Airbus A319 and Airbus A320 fleet starting in 2025. With this project, we’ll see the planes get power at every seat, larger overhead bins, and new seats with updated trim and finish.

Perhaps most exciting of all is that each of these planes will be getting an extra row of first class seats:

  • Airbus A319s will go from eight first class seats to 12 first class seats
  • Airbus A320s will go from 12 first class seats to 16 first class seats

American claims that this is in response to customers’ increasing demand for premium cabin seats. A 33-50% increase in first class seats on these aircraft is significant. Hopefully it leads to more AAdvantage upgrades, though in reality a lot of unsold first class seats nowadays are upgraded with cash.

American also claims that premium seating in the fleet is expected to grow by more than 20% by 2026. However, it’s not clear to me if that’s a percentage of total seats, or just an absolute increase. Unfortunately American doesn’t have plans to increase first class capacity on its Boeing 737s (800s and MAX 8s) or Airbus A321s (ceos and neos) beyond the current 16 and 20 seats, respectively.

For context on how these planes fit into American’s fleet, the airline currently has 133 Airbus A319s and 48 Airbus A320s. Most of these were inherited by American during the merger with US Airways. The A319s are an average of nearly 20 years old, while the A320s are an average of nearly 20 years old. While they’re used throughout North America, you’ll find these jets the most in the Northeast.

American Airbus A319s are getting new interiors

Expect Airbus A319 & A320 cabins to get tighter

On balance, updates to these aircraft are probably good news, in terms of more first class seats, consistent power ports, and larger overhead bins. For the past several years, American’s focus has been on having a consistent Airbus A321 and Boeing 737 fleet, and soon we’ll see the airline focus on its A319s and A320s.

The thing to keep in mind is that as American reconfigures these aircraft, we’re not only seeing more first class seats installed, but we’re also seeing overall capacity increase, meaning that seating will get tighter.

For example, Airbus A319s currently have 128 seats, comprised of eight first class seats and 120 economy seats. Capacity will soon increase to 132 seats, identical to what you’ll find on Delta, where there are 12 first class seats and 120 economy seats.

I imagine it’ll be the same story on A320s, with American following Delta’s lead. American’s A320s have 150 seats, comprised of 12 first class seats and 138 economy seats. Capacity will probably increase to 157 seats, including 16 first class seats and 141 economy seats.

No wonder Delta does better with revenue — the airline is great at cramming seats into (largely very old) planes, but mood lighting and seat back entertainment make people forget about that. American could learn a thing or two.

American is adding more first class seats

Bottom line

In 2025, American will be adding a row of first class seats to its Airbus A319s and A320s, meaning the planes will have 12 and 16 first class seats, respectively. These planes will get full cabin overhauls, including larger overhead bins, power at every seat, and a tighter cabin. American will be able to increase the overall capacity of the cabin while also adding a row of first class seats.

These changes are a mixed bag, though on balance I’d consider this to be a positive development.

What do you make of American’s Airbus cabin changes?

Conversations (44)
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  1. Steve Guest

    Having flown on a 1999 American 320 originally from America West last night, this is long overdue. These cabins are beyond tired!

  2. Cr- Guest

    Delta does better in revenue because they are by far the best US major airline flying. They also have many flyers that are very loyal to Delta. If you could change your measly airline to Delta, I’m sure that you would.

  3. TWAviator Guest

    It’s 2024, power at every seat is not a differentiator anymore, it’s expected. Why they’re still trying to sell that as a benefit is ridiculous and makes American look so sad. So it’s one more row of first class, and tighter configuration at every seat. Good news for AA hub captives, for anyone else who has choices in carriers- yawn. I’ll keep flying Delta thanks.

    1. Arthur V. Guest

      Given your aparent like for DL and dislike for AA be aware that AA is going to DL's current configuration, not worse. DL fits 157 pax into their A320s and 132 into their A319s, vs 150 and 128 respectively currently for for AA.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      correct. Alot of people don't understand the Airbus SpaceFlex concept which is how DL has been able to add more seats and which AA is copying

  4. Bill Guest

    They are not “first class” seats.
    They are “premium economy” seats at best.
    You’ve been brainwashed Ben.
    I got better “business class” seats than that in the early 90’s.

    1. Redacted Guest

      You do realize there’s a difference between domestic and international first class, right?

      Ben is using the correct terminology. Your opinion doesn’t change basic facts.

    2. Bill Guest

      Sure. Take a look at the AA A320 metal between JFK/ORD and LAX/SFO or the AA 777 between LAX and MIA and tell me if that “first class” looks any different.

    3. TWAviator Guest

      In domestic Europe their “business class” seats are literally economy seats with a tray table pulled out in the middle. Calm down, these seats are fine for what they’re made to do.

    4. Bill Guest

      Some of these flights are well over 6 hours. There’s no way in “H” I’d pay (or use points) for that kinds of first class product. Again, you’ve all been drinking the koolaid. Didn’t used to be that way at all

    5. TWAviator Guest

      What in the heck are you talking about? Lie flat seats weren’t even a thing until quite recently- and that was internationally. Before that first class was angled lie flat or large…. recliner seats. I flew in them on TWA in the 90’s. Lie flat seats are expensive to operate, so they’re on long haul international and PREMIUM domestic routes like JFK-LAX. No airline is offering lie flat seats from New York to Chicago because...

      What in the heck are you talking about? Lie flat seats weren’t even a thing until quite recently- and that was internationally. Before that first class was angled lie flat or large…. recliner seats. I flew in them on TWA in the 90’s. Lie flat seats are expensive to operate, so they’re on long haul international and PREMIUM domestic routes like JFK-LAX. No airline is offering lie flat seats from New York to Chicago because no one would pay what it would cost to fly in that seat for two hours.

      You come off very entitled, and if you were running an airline it’s clear it would not survive very long at all. But you’re right, you don’t have to pay for it if you don’t like it- so enjoy economy!

  5. Miami305 Gold

    Correction. Not a merger.

    USAIR bought American when they were in bankruptcy.

    1. KennyT New Member

      "USAir dba American Airlines," as they say, with good reason.

    2. N1120A Guest

      That's actually not true at all. American was, by far, the larger part of the merger. Certain US Airways management stayed, but that's not the same

  6. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Yeah I'm also confused on one point, where are they increasing First Class by 50%? I count around 20-33% more.......but agreed, AA needs to bring back IFE. Seriously. Their app sucks and watching something on my tiny phone screen that I have to hold isn't the same. Plus I can't do the cool map view things.

    1. Jaycee Guest

      Going from 8 seats in First to 12 seats in First on the A319 is a 50% increase because of math.

  7. sunviking82 Guest

    I prefer AA seating because I don't have a HUGE box for a usually poor quanlity TV taking up my underseat storage and leg room. I am glad to see the A319 improvements (they already have power btw) but getting the memory foam seats, larger bins and device holders are a huge plus. Doubt AA will change the capcity much on the A320s however. If they go to 157, it means four FA verses 3....

    I prefer AA seating because I don't have a HUGE box for a usually poor quanlity TV taking up my underseat storage and leg room. I am glad to see the A319 improvements (they already have power btw) but getting the memory foam seats, larger bins and device holders are a huge plus. Doubt AA will change the capcity much on the A320s however. If they go to 157, it means four FA verses 3. The cost out weighs the benefits for sure. New bins, seats and USB power (they have AC power too) A320 and A321 are two of my favs.

    I hope AA adds the "Eagle" and name in brushed metal to the bulk heads, needs a little freshing up and upscaling the look and feel. Can't wait for the upgrades.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you do realize that the state of the art for seatback IFE no longer involves a box under the seat in front of you?

      Delta developed its own system which other dedicated IFE manufacturers are copying that involves tablets attached to the seatbacks with essentially only the power coming through the seat.

      The content is streamed from a server on the plane.

      Delta's newer and refurbished fleets have that system.

    2. BradStPete Diamond

      yet another reason why Delta is my preferred ride.

    3. Redacted Guest

      What a bizarre comment. Have you actually flown Delta recently or are you just making wild assumptions?

    4. Cr- Guest

      Too bad your stuck with your terribly inconsistent, awful airline. Put Delta down as much as you want, they rate higher in almost all categories. Just the facts.

  8. Rio Guest

    When will US non-transcontinental domestic flights add more true lie-flat business/fist class instead of fake first class, which is essentially Premium Economy seats?

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Probably sometime around... never.

      What'd even be the point of that?

    2. Redacted Guest

      Ah yes, as opposed to those glorious domestic/intra-continental European first class seats that recline all the way to….

      Wait. What? That’s just a blocked middle seat.

  9. George Romey Guest

    I think AA will aggressively monetize the domestic premium cabin even more. AA certainly isn't adding F seats for upgraders. Surprised at the A320s as didn't think they'd be around by the end of the decade.

    1. N1120A Guest

      Domestic seating configuration changes are comparatively cheap to make, so whether the 320s are leaving the fleet or not won't really make a difference

  10. Arthur V. Guest

    A little premature on guessing a tighter seat fit> if the bathrooms are relocated into the tail as United has amongst many world carriers on their new A321s or Delta's A319s one can add an additional row. Why is this a bash AA column? Has anyone looked at the UA seat map for their A321s?

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Ben is an equal opportunity offender. He "bashes" when it helps to drive conversation. As long as it is respectful and fact-based, it can be good for discussion.

      And Delta gets more per seat mile than American so it doesn't lead in revenue by just cramming in seats. Delta delivers a higher quality product - and the DOT's closeout of 2023 consumer data except for consumer complaints puts DL at the top of the industry...

      Ben is an equal opportunity offender. He "bashes" when it helps to drive conversation. As long as it is respectful and fact-based, it can be good for discussion.

      And Delta gets more per seat mile than American so it doesn't lead in revenue by just cramming in seats. Delta delivers a higher quality product - and the DOT's closeout of 2023 consumer data except for consumer complaints puts DL at the top of the industry on a collective basis of DOT metrics.

      And the reason why Delta was able to fit more seats in its A319s and A320s as well as on their A321CEOs is by using the Airbus SpaceFlex lavs which make the lavs and galleys tighter but doesn't do anything with seat space that they couldn't otherwise do.

      DL's decision to not put SpaceFlex lavs on its A321NEOs says there is a place for tight lavs and small galleys and the cut off seems to be flights up to about 4 hours but not aircraft that do transcon and longer flights.

    2. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Tim Dunn: Wahhhh-WAAAHHHH Waaaaaaahhhhhhaaaaaaahhhhh

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      keeping you bent out of shape is my goal

  11. Alonzo Diamond

    So this still means 1 FA delivering unexceptional service in first class. What else is new.

    1. Robert J Fahr Guest

      Very good point.

  12. Alasdair Jones Guest

    Hi Ben. I'm confused by this: "The A319s are an average of nearly 20 years old, while the A320s are an average of nearly 20 years old". Does that mean they're the same average, so theres an "also" missing, or is there a typo and one of the numbers should be different?
    Cheers

    1. Scudder Diamond

      Ben doesn't proofread his posts—stick around and you'll get you'll get used to it.

    2. Mark Guest

      @Scudder, the irony of a grammar error in your comment.

  13. Just Asking Guest

    Would A320 with 157 seats need an additional flight attendant per CFR 91.533 ?
    https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-91/subpart-F/section-91.533

    "(3) For airplanes having more than 100 passengers on board, two flight attendants plus one additional flight attendant for each unit (or part of a unit) of 50 passengers above 100."

    1. DXR Guest

      I think the correct reg is 14CFR part 121.391 since AA is a part 121 carrier. But, yes they would need to add it

    2. N1120A Guest

      That said, how many FAs is AA currently staffing on A320s?

  14. shoeguy Guest

    The LUS A319/A320s will be replaced with the order announced today. The LUS 319/320s still have some life in them. They are younger than all of the DL (inherited from NW 319/320) and much of the UA 320/319 fleet, which mostly, stems from a 1992 order, with a top up in 2002 for a few 319s and more recently, second hand 319s from a China-based airline.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      I suspect AA is going to keep its A320 fleet alot longer.
      Delta has some of the oldest A320s at over 30 years. While they were supposed to be targeted to be replaced by the MAX 10 order, I am not sure how close the oldest DL A320s are to the end of their usable life.

      Airplane age is a meaningless statistic. Fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and reliability are what matters to bean counters....

      I suspect AA is going to keep its A320 fleet alot longer.
      Delta has some of the oldest A320s at over 30 years. While they were supposed to be targeted to be replaced by the MAX 10 order, I am not sure how close the oldest DL A320s are to the end of their usable life.

      Airplane age is a meaningless statistic. Fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and reliability are what matters to bean counters. A decent, comfortable cabin with amenities is what customers want. With the exception of a few models, any amenity that is part of the US airline fleet can be placed on any of the models.
      Customers don't and shouldn't care how old a plane is. They care what is onboard.

    2. N1120A Guest

      AA has already scrapped ~20% of the A320 fleet inherited from US. With the 737-800 and 737MAX8 fleet being something like 8 times the size, it makes little sense to keep the 320s around beyond the delivery schedule for the combined 737 and A321N orders in the near future. The 319 fleet is nearly 3 times the size of the 320 fleet and that size does have a significant place for AA. My guess is...

      AA has already scrapped ~20% of the A320 fleet inherited from US. With the 737-800 and 737MAX8 fleet being something like 8 times the size, it makes little sense to keep the 320s around beyond the delivery schedule for the combined 737 and A321N orders in the near future. The 319 fleet is nearly 3 times the size of the 320 fleet and that size does have a significant place for AA. My guess is they're waiting to see of Airbus pulls the trigger on the A220-500 or if they will go to the MAX 7

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Miami305 Gold

Correction. Not a merger. USAIR bought American when they were in bankruptcy.

5
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

Tim Dunn: Wahhhh-WAAAHHHH Waaaaaaahhhhhhaaaaaaahhhhh

2
Tim Dunn Diamond

you do realize that the state of the art for seatback IFE no longer involves a box under the seat in front of you? Delta developed its own system which other dedicated IFE manufacturers are copying that involves tablets attached to the seatbacks with essentially only the power coming through the seat. The content is streamed from a server on the plane. Delta's newer and refurbished fleets have that system.

2
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