Yesterday I attended American’s event announcing new premium cabin enhancements. The biggest deal was their plan to reconfigure the business class cabins on all of their international widebody aircraft with the same seat they’ll be getting with their new Boeing 777-300 aircraft, the same industry-leading seat that Cathay Pacific has been putting in their planes.
That’s huge news, it’s a better seat in my opinion than anything that any other carrier (other than US Airways, which offers a similar seat in all its A330 aircraft) offers across the Atlantic.
But it’s going to take a long while to get the reconfigurations done, we won’t see the first one in service for about two years.
Buried in the discussion, along with rehashing all of the other improvements coming down the pike — pajamas in first class, new entertainment systems, better meals, inflight wireless even internationally, some coach seats with more legroom — was a discussion of what the ‘regular’ coach configuration would be on the 777-300 and 777-200 aircraft.
Legacy Continental lays out their coach seats 3-3-3, meaning 3 at each window and 3 in the middle, with aisles in between. Legacy United’s 777 version was 2-5-2, so a big wide middle section. In both cases, they do 9 coach seats across.
American’s Vice President of Marketing was asked about the layout of coach, and I don’t think he had the number handy, he gave some specs and then corrected himself.
Commenter jck asked on yesterday’s post, “Are you sure Econ is 3-3-3 ? Is that in some official press release ? The running rumor is that it might be 3-4-3…..”
And I replied,
I sorta believe that in the end it is 3-4-3. But they answered the question about configuration, actually said 3-4-3 and then CORRECTED to say 3-3-3. So they did specifically answer this question, and you sort of do the math I don’t think you get to the # of seats they’re talking about without doing 10 across in back. So we’ll have to see.
This prompted me to query American on the issue, and here’s what I got back:
American’s Business Class cabin onboard the 777-200ER will be arranged in a 1-1-1 or 1-2-1 configuration giving aisle access to all Business Class customers. Main Cabin Extra seats will be arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration. The Main Cabin seats will be arranged in a 3-4-3 configuration.
American’s First Class onboard the 777-300ER will be arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration; Business Class will be arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration; Main Cabin Extra seats will be arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration; and Main Cabin seats will be arranged in a 3-4-3 configuration.
There you have it.
This is the first confirmation I have seen that American is going to have more elbowroom in Main Cabin Extra than the rest of coach, and not just more legroom.
And it’s also the first time I’ve seen American acknowledge that they’re going to go 10 across in regular economy, not just 9 across.
That’s not unheard of worldwide (eg Air France, Emirates both offer 10 across in coach on the 777) but it’s certainly more cramped than what United, Delta, and British Airways offer at 9 across.
I’m loving the general direction that American is taking with their premium product investments. I’m looking forward to their new business class seat a lot and wish it would come more quickly. But I do think it’s worth noting that their going to cram a lot of seats in back as well.