Leaked Configurations on New American Airlines A350 and Boeing 787-9

American’s new business class seat will be the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond going into their Boeing 787-9, Airbus A350, and later retrofits of Boeing 777-200s. Here’s that seat:


Source: American Airlines

American is introducing a premium economy product beginning with the Boeing 787-9 later this year, then the Airbus A350, both new aircraft for the airline. These seats are from B/E Aerospace as well.


Side View of American Airlines Premium Economy Seats, credit: American Airlines

Over the next few years American will retrofit existing Boeing 777-300ERs, Boeing 777-200ERs, Boeing 787-8s and Airbus A330s to include Premium Economy.

These new 787-9s and A350s with have new business class and premium economy for the first time, but American hasn’t announced the number of seats in each cabin.

Reader R. sends me an internal document revised in January, so while likely final there’s the possibility that changes have been made.

The Airbus A350 is expected to accommodate 318 passengers with 32 business class and 24 premium economy seats.

The Boeing 787-9 is expected to accommodate 277 passengers with 28 business class and 21 premium economy seats.

These breakdowns are skewed towards economy, because in contrast American’s existing Boeing 777-300ERs have over 19% business and first class seats (and no premium economy). Given the move towards more seats and fewer premium seats, I’d guess that the premium economy retrofit of that aircraft may come at the expense of seats in higher cabins.

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. Those ratios mean it is very likely that either SUs will eventually only move one from Y to W or that J will be so full that SUs will be unlikely to clear anyway.

  2. Two interesting things to observe:
    -10-11% Premium Cabins – that’s crazy small. (As you pointed out) Even the lo-C 772 refits are 12% – so definitely a trend (goes a long way to explaining why only 4 SWUs)
    -Provisioning for espresso machines in business…not a part of the current business class value prop

    It would definitely appear AA is moving toward the ‘you get what you pay for’ model with business. Not loving the chances of securing C class awards on many of these birds in the future.

  3. Premium Economy is being installed because it appears to airlines that these seats can sell vs the higher cost (other than discounting we’ve seen this year during off-peak business travel season) of business seats. This would suggest that SWU upgrades may not be from coach to PE but still be to any empty business seats unlikely to sell. And that any upgrades into PE would be through monetary instruments (i.e. last minute at check-in for cash, or in advance using miles). When AC introduced this cabin, it did not change the upgrade credits required for business but created a mid-level of credits for upgrading from economy to PE, or PE to business. Obviously we’ll see some time next year when these planes begin to enter service and in 2018/9 when these cabins enter the 777 fleet, both refurb’d 772s and modified 77Ws.

    PE will be too valuable as a revenue-generating tool to give away.

  4. Why do US air carriers insist on basing their aircraft interiors on gun-metal-gray like color schemes? Ugh, boring! Adding a little color to these seats and the cabin, like Qatar A350s, would create a more pleasing environment.

  5. I would agree David B Premium Coach is here to stay, and frankly I like the idea. As I wind down my business travel and and the price of redemption grows, along with having to plan your vacation around award availability I would not be opposed to paying PC. I just purchased my next EK trip using AMEX two for one, one way. then buying return on local economy. By the by EK is coming our with a premium coach class, now that should be interesting.

    BA has a nice premium coach product.

  6. I wasn’t that impressed with AA’s new business class seat on the 777-300. I found it very narrow and confining. The economy seats were just beyond awful at 10 across. Anyone in window seats is just trapped in their seat for the flight.

  7. As far as the business class flat bed seats-I found the seats on the 777W (American to be excellent) Virgin Australia new seat is similar with more storage than American. Cathay Pacific seat- I thought American seat was better.

  8. I’m assuming they aren’t retrofitting the a330-300s because of their impending retirement.

  9. @john I hear you on the color palettes. DL definitely knows what “good” looks like, as is evidenced by their employee uniforms over the years. I feel that management just gets cheap though, and half-asses it. Can’t really speak to UA, but AA’s “steel”/grey coloring at least goes with their old liveries.

  10. Welcome to the new normal of want business, buy business. AA is not too far behind DL’s lead of reducing the size of business class cabins, in order to match demand and price rather than upgrades. Fortunately, AA still have their 20 77Ws in a premium heavy configuration to match demand in high value markets like LHR, HKG.

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