American Airlines is the last remaining United States airline to offer a true first class product but has plans to phase out the product. Indeed, there are only two aircraft models in American’s fleet that have a Flagship First Cabin. But how long before this is phased out? Let’s find out……
First class cabin are no longer common in the United States, and indeed in many parts of the world. Instead, airlines have swapped first class cabins for business class seats, which are smaller but also lie flat. American Airline is the only remaining U.S. airline with a truly First-Class, lie-flat product in it’s fleet.
The airlines Airbus A321T aircraft which are used on select transcontinental routes have 10 First-Class seats. Meanwhile, 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, as expected, located behind first.
In first, the A321T is configures in 1-1 configuration, while 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 layout, with very large seats that also swivel. there are only eight Flagship First seats on each 777. However, these cabins will start to be phased out next year…..
Why is this ? Well, American has plans to introduce a new long-haul business class product on the new deliveries of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in 2023. This 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 fully removed from the Boeing widebody aircraft. The airline also has plans to reconfigure its Airbus A321T aircraft in a standard domestic configuration, making a new 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.
With this in mind, it may be a few more years before American’s first class cabin is no longer bookable. But at this point, we can see that the end is coming ….So is First Class becoming a thing of the past?
Well perhaps the name itself will be gone. But, as frequent travelers may have already noticed, it’s really just a solution that involves renaming various travel classes. What might have been First class 30 years ago, is now business class, And what might have been business class back then, is now premium economy.
At the same time many airlines have products which avoid being labelled under these common names – such as Qatar Airways’ & its QSuite. Of course, first class for some airlines is more then just the seat and onboard product. First class may also include access to exclusive lounges or chauffeur services from the terminal to the aircraft.
What are your thoughts about this move? Does it really make much of a difference for premium travelers? Let us know what you think in the comment section.