Confirmed: American to Reduce the Size of New 777-200 Business Class Cabin

I’m really looking forward to American reconfiguring their international fleet with new business class. I love the new product on their Boeing 777-300ER and they’re finally getting started on the 767s and the 777-200s.

Here’s what we’ve seen with the 777-200 seat.

From what I’ve heard about the new 777-200 seat, it’s even better than the 777-300ER seat. It has more space. There are both forward and rear-facing seats, and from what I’ve been told the rear seats are better with substantially increased work space.

But it’s not clear that I’ll ever fly these seats or at least I may fly them when the planes are first getting reconfigured, but it turns out they are going to reduce the number of seats in business class over time and that will make both awards and upgrades harder to get.

There was a rumor floating around, that appears to have originated at a discussion at airliners.net, that American has:

  1. Pushed off the retrofit of their Boeing 777-200 fleet, which is getting fantastic new seats
  2. Because they’ve decided to reduce the number of business class seats

Here’s the rumor:

The first 4 777-200s will go into the hangar in October to be reconfigured. The original plan was to have 45 business class seats, the company had decided to further reduce this number to 37 (36 for sale). MCE will be reduced to 36 and the balance will be 209 regular economy seats for a total of 282.

Since there’s been plenty of speculation on blogs and in multiple frequent flyer forums, I reached out to American to get clarification.

And it turns out there is something to the story, but it’s not exactly what has been rumored.

  • There are 777-200s being reconfigured in the planned 260 seat setup with 45 business class seats. Those have not been put off, and will continue.
  • But there is a new configuration that they are going to switch to.
  • Eventually the planes being reconfigured with 260 seats will themselves get reconfigured with more seats.
  • And the Main Cabin Extra section will grow, not shrink.

Here’s what an American spokesman confirms about the configuration change.

The current retrofit is underway. We’re going to 260 total seats (45 Business, 45 Main Cabin Extra). That retrofit will continue into 2015 when we switch to a 289 seat configuration 37 business, 48 Main Cabin Extra). All 260 seat aircraft will also be converted to 289 at some point.

They further clarified that while this remains subject to change, American will likely “have 10-20 in service before they retrofits switch to 289.”

We’ll have a window of time where we get the bigger business class cabin, and I’m looking forward to that. And disappointed to learn that what will be their flagship business product will get smaller and tougher to get (but then that’s sort of the idea on American’s side, I’m sure).


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That’s really weird. Why do this only to partially undo it later?

    And any word on the rumor that the removal of the walk-up bar is part of this change?

  2. Why people defend AA…

    They’re now giving United a run for its money on cheapness.

    At this point MileagePlus may well be the best program for intl premium cabin access for elites.

  3. The new MCE will be 10 across. It’s a downgrade all the way, less business class seats and no desirable MCE seats.

    Their new 738s have huge entertainment boxes for the VOD in all the aisle F seats. How could they justify that?

  4. So now instead of releasing 0 of 45 J seats on international flights, they’ll just release 0 of 37.

  5. You can see the difference between the AA team plan and the US team plan already.
    Intl F is dying. So the 777s go to business only anyway.
    Making the MCE 8 across with old business class seats like BA does would have been fantastic, or even with old recliner seats a really better product would have kept the value of loyalty high.
    .
    @cw is right – They will have no real award or upgrade space.
    The bloggers are touts for US, while the reality is likely to go the way of DL and UA.

  6. What about the 767s? Is there any date for these.

    I do the ORD to DUS and it really needs it. Every time I ask AA they give me the run around when it will happen.

  7. Any word on how would the 48 MCE extra seats would be aligned? Is it 9 or 10 to a row?

    “289 seat configuration 37 business, 48 Main Cabin Extra). All 260 seat aircraft will also be converted to 289 at some point.”

  8. @Gary Thanks, that’s really unfortunate. Would have to reconsider whether 10 a row is worth the chance of an upgrade.

    How would 10 a row lead to 48 seats though?

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