Have you heard that American Airlines is “Going For Great”? Unfortunately even as relatively loyal Executive Platinum, I find that to be mostly an empty promise. In a recent Media Day, information about fleet plans were discussed, and my main concern is the fact that American Airlines economy seating is about to get a lot tighter.
Like many marketing slogans, repeating it doesn’t make it true. I find this “Going for Great” concept to be egregious considering how many less than great things American flyers have experienced in recent years. I’m certainly not alone disliking this. But in case flyers forget, there is this reminder before each flight at least those with video screens which are also presumably going away…
Comments from American Media and Investor Day
American held their Media and Investor Day on September 28. I do not claim to be qualified to discuss the financials, but I do have comments on a few items related to the passenger experience. I’m admittedly annoyed at the arrogant nature of some of the comments that came from this presentation. Perhaps the biggest whopper of all was from CEO Doug Parker: (Source: Bloomberg)
“I don’t think we’re ever going to lose money again,” Parker said. “We have an industry that’s going to be profitable in good and bad times.”
The world’s largest airline has a huge fleet, and several years post merger still has a mix of onboard amenities. As an example, with over 200 A321s in the fleet, some have power and in seat TV, and others have neither. That number doesn’t include the A321T used for premium transcon service. There is talk of “Major Fleet Harmonization and Optimization”, which sounds good, but it essentially means more seats in the same space as before. The following slide from media day shows some of their plans for flights making up the bulk of the narrow body fleet:
American continues to add to their fleet with new planes, and recently took delivery of their first Boeing 737 Max 8. The Max 8 is the same size as the 737-800, but has 12 more seats. Prior to 2014, the 737-800 fleet had 150 seats, so this isn’t the first time American has packed in more seats. So in less than 5 years, some 737s went from 150 seats to 172. Going for
We know about American Airlines Economy Seating, what about In Flight Entertainment?
In 2017, American is taking delivery of 20 new A321s and 20 737-800s. Each of these are delivered with in seat video screens, and in the “spacious” configuration shown on the left of the image above. There are 5 737 Max 8 scheduled for delivery in 2017. These come with 172 seats, and no screens, only streaming entertainment. Some don’t care about any media that the airlines provide, and bring their own. In my case, I prefer at least to have the option. At least power is provided at each seat, much of the legacy US Airways fleet still lacks that.
Thanks to photos of the new seats in a post from View from the Wing, one positive feature I discovered is that at least American seems to offer mounts for phones/tablets in the seat, which allows the tray table to be free for food or a laptop. This looks very similar to the system United uses on newer seats in their domestic fleet (photo from when I flew on the United domestic 777):
The domestic US airline market continues the race to the bottom. With minimal competition, maybe Doug Parker was on to something. Although we’ll see what happens if oil prices work their way back up. It is clear to me that loyalty is dead…
For my travels, status should hopefully help me avoid the worst of these seats. Hopefully I’ll be able to access extra legroom seating. That’s my plan anyway. What about you?