Details: American Airlines’ Premium Boeing 787-9s With 244 Seats

Details: American Airlines’ Premium Boeing 787-9s With 244 Seats

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American Airlines is in the process of making some major changes to its long haul passenger experience. The airline is introducing an all-new business class product, and in the process, is eliminating “premium” first class.

This new international passenger experience will debut on newly delivered Boeing 787-9s, and the airline has just put its first route with this aircraft on sale, between Dallas and Brisbane as of October 2024. We now finally know what the seat map will look like for this plane, so I wanted to go over all the details.

American will have 30 premium Boeing 787-9s

American currently has 59 Boeing 787s in its fleet, comprised of 37 787-8s (the smaller variant), and 22 787-9s (the larger variant). At this point, American’s wide body aircraft order book still consists of 30 jets, all of which are 787-9s.

American is taking a new direction with these upcoming 787-9s, as they’re all expected to feature a different passenger experience, and they’ll be in a significantly less dense configuration, so they’ll be designed for premium and ultra long haul markets. While it’ll take some time for American to take delivery of all of these jets, this should represent a very nice improvement to the passenger experience.

American premium Boeing 787-9 layout & seat map

American’s premium Boeing 787-9s will feature just 244 seats, compared to the 285 seats that American’s existing Boeing 787-9s have. Just to break that down further:

  • Future 787-9s will have 51 business class seats, 32 premium economy seats, 18 extra legroom economy seats, and 143 economy seats
  • Current 787-9s have 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, 36 extra legroom economy seats, and 198 economy seats

So this will be one of the most sparsely configured Boeing 787-9s out there, and that translates to lots of premium seats.

Now let’s take a look at what we can expect from each cabin on this aircraft. Note that there will be Viasat Wi-Fi on these jets, which compares very favorably to the Panasonic Wi-Fi you’ll currently find on American’s wide body fleet.

American’s premium 787-9 business class cabin & seats

American’s premium Boeing 787-9s will feature a staggering 51 business class seats. These will be reverse herringbone seats with doors that are in a 1-2-1 configuration, and they’ll be spread across two cabins. The forward cabin will have 32 business class seats, while the rear business class cabin will have 19 business class seats. There will be a walk-up bar in the center galley between the two cabins.

Premium American 787-9 business class seat map

In business class, American Airlines has selected the Adient Ascent seat, which are comfortable reverse herringbone seats with doors. This should be a very nice improvement over American’s existing product. This is a highly customizable seat, and it’s one that you’ll also find on Qatar Airways’ 787-9s.

New American 787-9 business class
New American 787-9 business class

American’s premium 787-9 premium economy cabin & seats

American’s premium Boeing 787-9s will feature 32 premium economy seats. These seats will be in a 2-3-2 configuration, and will be in a single cabin, between the second and third set of doors.

Premium American 787-9 premium economy seat map

American’s new premium economy product looks great, in terms seat finishes, privacy, technology, and even storage.

New American 787-9 premium economy
New American 787-9 premium economy

American’s premium 787-9 economy cabin & seats

American’s premium Boeing 787-9s will feature just 161 economy seats. This cabin will be configured in a 3-3-3 layout, and it’s quite an interesting setup.

The first thing to note is how little Main Cabin Extra this aircraft has — there’s no real Main Cabin Extra cabin, but rather the carrier’s extra legroom economy seating will only be in the two exit rows. So if you’re traveling as a family with young ones, you won’t be getting extra legroom economy seating on this aircraft.

There’s a small mini-cabin behind premium economy, consisting of rows 20, 21, and 22 (you can actually see that two pictures up). Then the rear cabin of the aircraft starts in row 23, and that’s also where most of the economy cabin is.

Premium American 787-9 economy seat map

Don’t expect anything revolutionary here, but there will be new cabin finishes, and higher quality entertainment screens.

American premium Boeing 787-9 routes & flights

In addition to Boeing 787-9s having a new passenger experience, the biggest difference is just how premium these jets are. American’s existing 787-8s have 20 business class seats, existing 787-9s have 30 business class seats, and the new 787-9s have 51 business class seats. So that represents a 70-155% increase in business class seats, which is huge.

American has struggled for years with how to configure its wide body jets, and we’ve seen configurations changed several times:

  • On the one hand, there are synergies to having a consistent configuration, so that planes can easily be cycled throughout the system efficiently
  • On the other hand, not all markets have the same amount of premium demand; American has generally taken the approach of cramming as many seats as possible into jets, and that has largely applied to 787s up until now

I imagine these 787-9s will primarily be used in two ways:

  • In markets with a lot of premium demand, where American wants to offer its best product; for example, this would include flights to London, Tokyo, etc.
  • In ultra long range markets where American needs a lighter aircraft in order to not take a payload penalty; since the plane has fewer seats, it also weighs less

So long term, I think we’ll primarily see the premium 787-9s flying to premium joint venture hubs. However, the first confirmed route for this aircraft is Dallas to Brisbane, and clearly the aircraft will serve that route because of how long it is, and American needing a lighter aircraft.

American doesn’t operate many ultra long haul flights, but if the airline were to add more ultra long haul flights in the future (like to Hong Kong or Singapore), you can expect the premium 787-9 would serve those markets.

American will have fly 787-9s to premium and ultra long haul destinations

Bottom line

American Airlines will soon start taking delivery of 30 new Boeing 787-9s, featuring a new premium layout. These planes will have new seats in all cabins, including business class suites with doors, and an improved premium economy.

The biggest change with this aircraft is the layout, though. They’ll feature just 244 seats, with a huge 51-seat business class cabin. I’m excited to see these planes in service soon.

What do you make of American’s upcoming premium Boeing 787-9s?

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  1. dee Guest

    Unfortunately, they have such dismal service and performance standards that it will still be a poor experience. They do fly safely, which is the only thing good about them. This is like the usual AA email ..."in order to serve you better" that guarantees will end up paying more because less seats and higher costs leads to increased prices, especially with American.

  2. Anrew Stewart Guest

    I am suprised that theydo not plan to have a real First Class on the super long hauls , since the Asian airlines do as well as BA and some European lines.. While the business class is OK it does not compare or compete with the Emirates and other Luxury long hauls it great for Atlantic and South American crossings , but I f i have the money or Miles/points to pay first vs Busines I would go First in hauls over 8/9 hours...

  3. Ross Wells Guest

    Will management have the flight attendant staffing that is needed? Or will it be understaffed like all of AAs other planes are now?

    1. Gorge Whifdorf Guest

      Two flight attendants serving cheese and crackers with a glass of Blossom Hill wine before they vanish for the next 12 hours.

  4. Miamiflyer Guest

    Less dense configuration/ fewer seats translates into higher fares.
    Premium demand for these long routes will be there until the fares become completely ridiculous.
    But economy fares will increase significantly.

  5. Steven e Guest

    I just looked at the fare DFW BNE business $AUD 21,000 are they kidding and that’s ONE WAY

  6. CPH-Flyer Gold

    195 seats on the JAL APEX 787-9
    213 seats on ANA 787-9
    216 seats on BA 787-9
    236 seats on Qantas 787-9

    While the new AA cabins look nice, they are a good deal away from being one of the lightest configurations out there.

  7. RF Diamond

    AA should restore the HKG route with this config. Would be great to see them fly this to SIN also. Too bad about the lack of MCE seats. AA couldn't cut out 1 row to fit in more MCE?

  8. Peer Guest

    The amount of MCE is a huge disappointment and anything but "premium". Especially if you subtract the bulkhead seats that are not suitable for a tall person, being unable to stretch the legs.

  9. Sharon Guest

    Are all of the remaining 30 787-9's going to be delivered in this configuration or will we see more deliveries of the 787-9 in the 285 seat configuration?

  10. Randy Diamond

    What about seat 10A? that would make it 52 (versus 51) and match the 77W.

  11. Peter Guest

    So which are the 18 extra legroom seats on coach? You say exit row but there seems to be only one row marked on the seat map

    1. Randy Diamond

      Add the bulkheads and you get 18.

    2. Randy Diamond

      Seat maps on AA.com - you can now book flights on DFW to BNE. Rows 20, 21, 22 are a coach minicabin with bulkhead being MCE.

      Exit row 23 is a bulkhead facing the restrooms.

  12. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    If AA continues to hand out "Amenity Boxes", I won't be flying with them anywhere. Ridiculous. They want THOUSANDS of Dollars for an old seat, rubbery chicken, spotty service, and then they give me a thin cardboard BOX??? NO thanks. Will be booking and flying with Airlines that reward passengers for their loyalty and "treat" passengers to a FLAGSHIP experience. Give passengers the option if they want an Amenity Kit or nothing at all or...

    If AA continues to hand out "Amenity Boxes", I won't be flying with them anywhere. Ridiculous. They want THOUSANDS of Dollars for an old seat, rubbery chicken, spotty service, and then they give me a thin cardboard BOX??? NO thanks. Will be booking and flying with Airlines that reward passengers for their loyalty and "treat" passengers to a FLAGSHIP experience. Give passengers the option if they want an Amenity Kit or nothing at all or a stupid box. We want the reusable high quality bags. ThAAnks!

    1. DFW Flyer Guest

      Would you say the same thing about Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, or Qatar Airways? They don’t give out fancy bags. Behind a nice seat, bedding, and fast WiFi, the container the amenities come in is the least of my concerns for hard product.

      It’s going to come off as preachy but, maybe just take a step back and realize what a privilege it is to even be in that seat before getting upset over a bag you won’t use (even if you think you will).

  13. Joseph Guest

    The idea of a walk up bar on AA means either it is shut down immediately by the surly APFA drones OR no cabin service/go wait in the line OR even more likely yet passengers must go to the walk-up for service but the crew turns the fasten seatbelt sign on. Nothing good will come of it.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Joseph -- Lol, I think the intent is that it's a walk-up self-service bar, much like you'll find on the 777-300ER right now. There's no way American is pulling an Emirates here.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Alcohol cannot be self service so this is snacks and soft drinks at most

    3. Redacted Guest

      Virgin’s upper class bar is self service.

    4. Eric Guest

      They are in violation of an FAR is doing so on flights departing or heading to the states .

    5. Eric Guest

      Something this article doesn’t mention is the fact that pre pandemic levels of FA staffing have not returned. The 787-800 had 8 working fas . The 787-900 has 9 fas . Four in business . So if they keep that same number of fas , expect slower service and not as personalized.

  14. LovetoFly Guest

    If the same old, tired, mean, don't want to work FA's are working these ultra-premium 789s then what's the point. Going from 30 seats to 51 seats in business class on their 789s only translates into more work for those flight attendants. I wonder how many of them are happy knowing their workload will soon increase as these aircraft enter the fleet?

    1. D3kingg Guest

      Every time I step on a non U.S. carrier how come all the airline employees give great service ? I’ve had better flights in Y on Virgin Atlantic , Qantas , and British Airways than on American in J.

    2. Eric Guest

      The current staffing is only four fas for business . Four in main cabin . And they take breaks on long haul . So they are overworked . That aircraft should have at least five fas working in business and 6 in main cabin . Three per aisle .

    3. Steven E Guest

      Hmmm well it better be an all on one tray service because it’s going to take that 16 plus hours to deliver the J class service …..OR not. It will be a quick dinner, lights out window shades locked until the lacklustre breakfast “service” begins

  15. D3kingg Guest

    I’ll either be in seat 14A or stick with row 21. I don’t understand the allure of premium economy seat from a comfort standpoint although I’d say that privacy divider looks to be the biggest upgrade on this new configuration.

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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.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Joseph -- Lol, I think the intent is that it's a walk-up self-service bar, much like you'll find on the 777-300ER right now. There's no way American is pulling an Emirates here.

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CPH-Flyer Gold

195 seats on the JAL APEX 787-9 213 seats on ANA 787-9 216 seats on BA 787-9 236 seats on Qantas 787-9 While the new AA cabins look nice, they are a good deal away from being one of the lightest configurations out there.

2
DFW Flyer Guest

Would you say the same thing about Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, or Qatar Airways? They don’t give out fancy bags. Behind a nice seat, bedding, and fast WiFi, the container the amenities come in is the least of my concerns for hard product. It’s going to come off as preachy but, maybe just take a step back and realize what a privilege it is to even be in that seat before getting upset over a bag you won’t use (even if you think you will).

2
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