Dallas based American Airlines has revealed its plans to streamline its narrowbody fleet of aircraft. The airlines’ two largest sub-fleets, the Boeing 737-800/MAX8, and the Airbus A321 will both receive a common configuration.
American currently operates 300 737-800/MAX 8 aircraft, with 104 more still to be delivered. Currently, the 737-800s are all outfitted with 160 total seats including 16 first class seats and 30 main cabin extra seats. The economy seats have 31 inches of pitch (the distance between the same spot on rows of seats). With the delivery of the first 737 MAX8 aircraft this past week, the new 737 configuration entered the fleet. All 299 existing 737-800s will be reconfigured to match the configuration of the 737 MAX8 at 172 seats consisting of 16 first class seats, 30 main cabin extra seats, and 126 main cabin seats. In the main cabin, the seat pitch will be reduced to 30”, similar to the pitch on American’s small fleet of 30 sharklet equipped A319s. All seats will feature a tablet holder, similar to the ones currently found on United’s domestic 777s. All seats will also feature power outlets, but will lack the seat back entertainment screen currently found on the newest 737-800s and A321s.
American will also reconfigure two of its three A321 sub fleets and will most likely configure the A321NEO the same way in the future. Of the 219 A321s, 202 of them will be reconfigured beginning in 2019. The ex U.S. Airways A321s and the non transcontinental A321 (32B) will be reconfigured to a standardized configuration of 190 seats. This is an increase of three seats from the ex U.S. Airways aircraft, and an increase of 9 seats from the American A321s (32B). The A321s will also have 30 inches of pitch, which American claims will not reduce legroom due to the seats being thinner. Like the 737s, the new seats on the A321s will not have seat back entertainment screens, but instead will have tablet holders as well as power outlets. Presumably, American’s 100 A321NEO aircraft on order will also be delivered in this configuration when the airline takes its first one in 2019.
American’s other narrowbody fleets, the MD-80,757, A319, A320, and Embraer E190 will remain unchanged for now. The MD-80s will be all gone by the end of next year, while the E190s will be gone by the end of 2019. America is currently in the process of retiring the rest of its 757s, but some of the internationally configured ones will likely be kept around for at least a few more years. The A319 fleet was recently standardized at 128 seats, but 30 of them have seat back entertainment screens and sharklets. These aircraft fly on longer missions to South America, as well as to mountain airports in the Rockies.
All photos by author Alec Mollenhauer