American’s President Says They Need to Fly Better Seats on Cross Country Flights – Hasn’t Figured Out How to Do It

American Airlines President Robert Isom held an employee town hall on Friday in Los Angeles.

A premium services employee asked about whether they’ll get lie flat seats on cross country flights, something her ConciergeKey customers are asking for, “they really are requesting the transcon like the New York flights.. this is just something we see all time.”


American Airlines B/E Aerospace Diamond Business Class Seats

American has been saying they plan to put lie flat 757s on cross country flights but they continue to not do it.

And in fact they’ve scheduled the Boeing 737 MAX to fly Los Angeles – Washington National and Los Angeles – Miami in the fall.


American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX First Class Cabin

Far from a premium experience, the plane best known for less legroom than ever before, less recline, no seat back video and lavatories barely meant for small children also has less legroom in Main Cabin Extra and less legroom in first class too.

Here’s how Robert Isom explains it,

If Vasu was here today, Vasu heads up our network planning group, he would tell you that the 321Ts which have a fantastic lie flat first class product and also a really nice business class product and really just a very small coach section. He would tell you that that’s performing very well. And it does well to San Francisco and to Los Angeles.

One of the things he’d also tell you is that the marketplace is demanding more lie flat seats. And so one of the things you have seen recently, or you will see… we’ve brought the 330 out here from Philadelphia and that provides a lie flat product.

We haven’t quite yet figured it out for DCA. And it’s not because we don’t want to. It’s because in terms of having that lie flat product you’ve got it on the aircraft that can actually service DCA you’ve got 757s which is, those 757 lie flat seats are really dedicated to the European marketplace. And that is something we haven’t made the move on. You can’t fit widebodies in. In terms of 321Ts those are fully occupied San Francisco and Los Angeles now.

I guess how I’d sum this up, out of JFK out of Philadelphia out of Charlotte to the West Coast, Seattle, and San Francisco and LA I think that you’re going to see more lie flat seats rather than fewer. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be flying a ton of widebodies, but it does mean the marketplace is paying a premium for it and they’re really appreciating the product.

Back in March American said they were still evaluating plans for the Boeing 757s that had been pulled from New York JFK – Manchester and Paris. They still don’t seem to be ready to pull the trigger, even though Delta flies Washington National – Los Angeles with lie flat seats up front and American is squeezing legroom in their standard seat product starting in September.

American knows they can fly a 757 with lie flat premium seats to Washington National. They know they have 757s which are an uncompetitive transatlantic offering. Why they haven’t figured out how to do it remains a mystery.

However it doesn’t explain why they’d fly a 737 MAX, whose slimline coach seats become back breaking on flights over 3 hours, Los Angeles – Miami.

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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Comments

  1. Does it appear AA is beginning to mirror UA these days? They waffling speaks volumes for lack of clear direction. while I love my international lie flats personally not sure of transcon but that is a personal preference having said that I think AA’s inability to execute a game plan is striking.

    For me if I am going to fly a cattle car then SW is the only way to go, they seem to be the only ones to densify a 737 and make it comfortable and actually pleasant.

  2. I don’t understand this comment at all: “I guess how I’d sum this up, out of JFK out of Philadelphia out of Charlotte to the West Coast, Seattle, and San Francisco and LA I think that you’re going to see more lie flat seats rather than fewer. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be flying a ton of widebodies, but it does mean the marketplace is paying a premium for it and they’re really appreciating the product.”

    So if they aren’t using “a ton of widebodies”, they won’t pull the 757 and the 321T are all called for already.. then how is this going to happen? I guess that’s the point of your article. All talk.. no plan or action.

  3. It’s worrisome that industry experts like those leading AA can’t manage to figure out how to deploy a product that will not only keep them relevant but that might actually garner some business…

  4. I’m beginning to wonder if AA’s executives are secretly trying to short their own stock. Either that, or they’ve been smoking something. As a business traveler who flies transcons from the DC area every month, I avoid AA like the plague. I can’t imagine why any sane person with the option of flying first class would choose the “Max” over Delta One or United. UA doesn’t have lie-flats to LAX, but at least their first class cabin has a curtain separating it along with a good amount of legroom. (unlike the Max). Southwest operates a cattle car from BWI-LAX– but at least they treat PAX nicely and don’t charge for bags. At both ends of the spectrum, AA isn’t bothering to compete.

  5. I wish the guys running AA would have gone with the US Air name and let the AA name die with the bankruptcy.

    It is sad to see what once was a good airline get trashed like this by the likes of Parker, Isom and Kirby(now gone).

  6. When I redeem my AA miles, I ALWAYS fly on one of their partner airlines. AA’s product is simply sub-standard, and getting worse. Not to say Cathay Pacific is much better. They seem to be following AA’s lead going downhill…..

  7. American Airlines does offer lie-flat seats on the A321 in F JFK-LAX/SFO, and in B on select flights.

  8. Oh, good. I thought this article had something to do with the American president, the disgusting rat.

  9. > “it does mean the marketplace is paying a premium for it and they’re really appreciating the product.”

    Translation: no we do not want the extra revenue and we certainly do not want customer satisfaction.

  10. I read this as AA will be introducing lie flats on select frequencies CLT, PHL to SFO/LAX. Which would be a good start.

    What do you want them to do with the fleet hand they have? It’s not like 2 757s will make a real difference.

    Maybe they’re working on a 321 config that’s more mint like.

  11. I don’t understand the mindset that says lie-flat seats are important on this route but not that route, ignoring time of day. As I see it, time of day matters more than route. I don’t really care if I have a lie-flat seat for a 4-6 hour mid-morning flight. I care a lot of I have to endure a 5-hour red-eye flight without even a decent recline (like the old international J barcoloungers).

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