American Airlines has massively simplified their long haul fleet, mostly by retiring older planes. The Boeing 767 is gone, along with the Airbus A330s. No more Boeing 757s. All wide body planes in American’s fleet are either 777s or 787s. Wit this change, knowing what seat you’ll have on your business class flight will be easy, right? Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. There are now 3 seat types, all are relatively modern flat bed seats with all aisle access.
Things are simplified compared to their more diverse fleet with many business class seating types from just a few years ago, at least now it is a bit more clear. Still, for some planes, knowing exactly which seat will be on your flight might not be confirmed until you are on board. I’ll try to demonstrate the options, so you can at least have an ideas what to expect. I’ll begin with 2 aircraft types that have only one seating configuration. On these planes there won’t be any surprises, unless there is a change to the aircraft type operating the route.
American Airlines Business Class on Boeing 777-300ER (77W)
Flagship of the American Airlines fleet, the 777-300ER, (77W on American schedules) has 52 seats in business class and 8 seats in the first class cabin. The Business class seats are among my personal favorites that I’ve experienced, featuring the Cirrus seat, manufactured by
Zodiac (now) Safran.
This seat design is owned by Cathay Pacific. Plenty of space, very private, and decent storage spaces. Hard to believe, but a product first launched over a decade ago, and for the most part it still feels modern. Not the best seat for 2 people to be close by or easily talk while seated. Still, a lovely private seat for solo travelers. This is my favorite business class seat that American flies. American has reupholstered the seats and changed the finishes slightly, keeping the seat feel relatively fresh. That said, an older IFE controller, and not that large of a screen, are hints of the age of the design. With regard to privacy and comfort both seated and reclined, I find it hard to beat. The high partitions around the top of the seat mean it is difficult to see others even in a large cabin of 50+ seats
There are 20 77W’s in American’s fleet, and all have the same seating configuration. Easy. If you see 77W on your itinerary, you know what your seat will be like, and I find it excellent. There is a small mini cabin in front of door 2, featuring 8 seats in rows 3 and 4. I like this area for more privacy, and feels less like a giant cabin, particularly compared to seated near the back of the cabin. The rest of the cabin is between door 2 and the wings, rows 5-15. The seats are all the same, physically. For me, window seats are much preferred, even if I had to sit in the rear of the cabin. Hard to beat both a window and an aisle seat. Still, the aisle seats in the middle of the cabin are fine, especially on the long flights these planes typically fly.
American Airlines Business Class on Boeing 787-9 (789)
The newest plane in American’s wide body fleet, the Boeing 787-9. There are currently 22 of these planes in the fleet, with 25 more on order, with the new deliveries from 2023. Presumably new deliveries are intended to replace some of the older 777-200ERs. The business cabin configuration is the same on all planes, and the 30 seat cabin has the Collins Super Diamond seat. These seats face forward, are 21 inches wide, with a fully flat bed with decent privacy and storage options.
The seat finishes are noticeably more modern than on Cirrus seat on the 77W, but the walls of this aren’t as tall, so I find it less private. The IFE monitor is fixed in front, so no need to move it for taxi and takeoff. That said, it can be difficult to see the monitor clearly when reclined. The table folds and slides under the monitor, which makes for more storage room, but the table can bump into knees/shins when reclined.
This seems to be the ‘current’ AA business class seat, as this is what is being installed in all new delivery wide body planes. This came about due to issues that American had getting Zodiac to deliver their “Concept D” seat, which I’ll cover below. The Super Diamond seat is in use by multiple carriers, and is an excellent seat.
This seat also has a shoulder strap that must be worn for taxi and takeoff. Not that big of a deal, but something to keep in mind. Also of note, it appears that American will introduce a new business class seat that presumably will be introduced on these new delivery 789s currently scheduled for 2023. And it seems like there will be suites with doors. That’s the current trend, but who knows 2 years from now…
American Airlines Business Class on Boeing 787-8 (788)
American started flying the Dreamliner back in 2015, eventually the fleet grew to 20 of the -8 variety. These all are configured the same way, now with 238 seats on board. Business Class has a unique seating configuration with flat bed seats that are comfortable, but are my least favorite in their fleet. Starting in 2020, they also started receiving a new set of 788s, eventually growing this fleet to 42. These newer planes will have the Super Diamond seat in business class, much like the larger 789 mentioned above. I’m not aware of any plans to unify this fleet, so it seems that flyers won’t know which seat will be on board won’t be possible until the plane is assigned to the particular flight that day. Either configuration has the same number of seats, but the orientation is different.
American’s original batch of Boeing 787-8 came with 28 business class seats. Eventually the cabin was reduced to 20 seats, to make room for premium economy. Currently there are 20 business class seats between doors 1 and 2, in a 1-2-1 configuration. These seats alternate forward and reverse facing, with the A and L window seats in even numbered rows facing rearward. The D and H aisle seats in the middle of the cabin have rearward facing seats in the odd numbered rows.
Some people dismiss facing to the rear automatically. I actually prefer it, especially on overnight flights or when sleeping. Due to the nose up angle of the plane, it feels more normal when facing backwards. Take off and landing feels somewhat strange, as the sensation of the plane accelerating feels backwards. The rear facing seats seem a bit narrow, as there are immobile arm rests on both sides. I’m not that wide, so it doesn’t bother me, and arguably a positive is that this can make for a more private feeling as well. Although due to the alternating front/rear setup in the cabin, passengers look face to face with people across the aisle. Can be awkward. Keep in mind there is also no shoulder belt in rear facing seats.
Another issue with these seats is that they rock and/or shake when passengers in connected seats adjust their seating position. American has said this issue is being addressed, but I haven’t seen this confirmed anywhere.
Yes, it’s a flat bed, with decent privacy. That’s very important, but there are several annoyances with this seat. This is my least favorite business class seat in American’s fleet.
Reminder that new delivery 788’s have the Super Diamond seat, identical to and shown above in the American 787-9 fleet. That’s good news, but even after the 22-plane new order of 788’s is complete, the 20 original -8s will still have the Concept D seat. The only way to try to predict which cabin will be on your flight is to track tail number of the plane. N800AN through N819AN have the Concept D seats, and N870AX and higher will have Super Diamond.
Original plans had all 22 new 788s scheduled for delivery by the end of 2021, but this rate has slowed a lot. Now it is unclear how quickly American will grow the 788 fleet.
American Airlines Business Class on Boeing 777-200ER (772)
The 777-200ER makes up the largest portion of American’s wide body fleet, with 47 planes. Similar to the 788, there are 2 business class configurations on the 777. Both have 37 seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration split across 2 cabins on either side of doors 2. Which planes have which seats? Well, 19 of the planes have the Concept D seat, and the rest have Super Diamond. Almost 60 percent have Super Diamond, but still there is no way to know which configuration your flight will have until boarding. Check the (unofficial) American Airlines fleet site, which shows which plane has which seating concept, but know that swaps are always possible.
Final thoughts on American Airlines business class seating options
American has streamlined their long haul fleet, which now consists of only 777 and 787s. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you know exactly which seat you have unless your flight is on a 777-300ER or a 787-9. Both of those fleets have only a single seat type, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. Both the 787-8 and 777-200 have several seating configurations, and your flight could have either one. Exactly which you likely won’t know until boarding. In any case, all business class seats are flat bed seats, with all aisle access, but some seats are better than others. The Concept D seat alternate forward and reverse facing, and some flyers find them narrow. Certain seats sometimes move when an adjacent passenger adjusts their position. I much prefer the Super Diamond seat on all 789s, the majority of 772s and a growing number of 788s.
Hope this is helpful when determining what your seating configuration will look like for your flight in American Airlines Business Class.