American Airlines is the last remaining United States airline to offer a true first-class product, but has plans to phase out the product. There are only two aircraft models in American’s fleet that have a Flagship First cabin.
First class phaseout
First class cabins are no longer common in the United States, and in many parts of the world. Airlines have swapped first class cabins for business class seats, which are smaller but also lie flat. American Airlines is the only remaining US airline with a true first-class, lie-flat product in its fleet. The airline’s Airbus A321T aircraft which are used on select transcontinental routes, have 10 first class seats. American’s Boeing 777-300ERs have eight Flagship First seats. The Flagship First class is only offered on aircraft that also have the Flagship Business class, which is located behind first.
American Airlines’ Flagship First seats on the Boeing 777-300ER offer ample room and three windows per window seat. Photo: American Airlines
On the A321T, the Flagship First and Flagship Business seats are the exact same, with the only difference between cabins being the cabin configuration. In first, the A321T is configured in 1-1 seating, and business is configured in 2-2, with both seats having the ability to lie flat. On the Boeing 777-300ER, the Flagship First cabin is configured in 1-2-1 seating, with very large seats that also swivel. There are only eight Flagship First seats on the 777s, which will start to be phased next year.
American has plans to introduce a new long-haul business class product on the new deliveries of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in 2023, and the new product will also be installed on some 777-300ER aircraft in the fleet. There is no way to tell when the 777s will be retrofitted, but it will likely be a few years before the Flagship First product is removed from the Boeing widebody aircraft. The airline also has plans to reconfigure its Airbus A321T aircraft in a standard domestic configuration, making way for the new Airbus A321XLRs to be used on premium transcontinental routes. The airline expects to begin taking deliveries of the A321XLR aircraft in 2024.
Recent American Airlines news
Earlier this week, American Airlines announced that regional operator Air Wisconsin would be joining the American Eagle family by March 2023. American announced that it plans to be “aggressive in leading the industry in tackling this challenge”, the challenge being the regional pilot shortage in the United States. In a memo to the American Airlines staff, chief financial officer Derek Kerr said,
“Our wholly owned and partner regional carriers strengthen our network by providing safe, reliable and convenient service from small- and medium-size communities to our hubs. They supply the right equipment to meet customer demand across all cities in our network. Air Wisconsin and its 1,100 team members will be a fantastic addition to the American Eagle family. “
Tickets for Air Wisconsin operated flights for American Eagle are expected to go on sale in the coming months, with operations commencing in March of next year. Air Wisconsin has a fleet of CRJ200 aircraft, some of the last remaining 50-seat passenger aircraft in the United States.