UPDATE: I caught up with American's Fern Fernandez in late January 2016 to get an update on American's widebody business class retrofit program, which is well behind schedule. This new story will give you more context on what to expect.
ORIGINAL POST Want to fly in the newest business class seats on American Airlines?
You may have sightly better luck on one of American's Boeing 767-300s. Last week, American marketing Vice President Fern Fernandez told me the carrier had finished installing new seats on more than 70% of its Boeing 767 fleet. Meanwhile, American had added new flatbeds on only three of its Boeing 777-200s.
It helps to have some context. According to its fleet plan, American has 58 767s, but it is only planning to retrofit "up to half" of them. The rest will be retired, eventually. So if we're estimating, we might say American has completed retrofits on about 20 767s. Not bad, but it still means you might get stuck with the old product.
American plans to retrofit all 47 of its Boeing 777-200s. American's Boeing 777-300s already have a new interior and will not be changed.
Why is the Boeing 767 project so far ahead? Two reasons, Fernandez told me. First, American started earlier with the 767s. And second, American needs its Boeing 777s to fly important routes so it has been harder to take them out of service for retrofits.
American plans to have both projects completed by the end of 2016.
I'm expecting American to announce its plans for a retrofit of its Boeing 757s soon. American will certainly add flatbed seats in business class -- I am not sure what kind - but I am not sure if the airline plans any refresh for economy. We shall see.
Here are the highlights of American's new 777-200 configuration from the airline's website:
- Up to 45 new fully lie-flat Business Class seats
- Direct aisle access at each Business Class seat
- In-seat entertainment with more than 700 hours of on-demand audio and video entertainment available on 15.4-inch HD-capable touchscreen monitor in business class
- Individual 110 volt AC power outlets and USB jacks for charging personal electronic devices.
- In Main Cabin, new seats will provide increased knee room and improve overall customer comfort.
- American's retrofit will include the installation of up to 45 Main Cabin Extra seats and up to 170 Main Cabin seats.
- Main Cabin Extra seats will offer four to six inches more legroom than the standard Main Cabin seat.
- Every Main Cabin seat will have universal AC power outlets, USB jacks and HD-capable touchscreen
- The 777-200ERs will have more than nine times the number of entertainment options that are currently available in the Main Cabin on today's 777-200ER.
And here some 767 highlights:
- Up to 28 fully lie-flat Business Class seats, each with aisle access.
- Business Class seats will have individual tray tables with a work surface, and universal AC power outlets. Samsung Galaxy Tab™ 10.1 devices will continue to be available for customers seated in Business Class.
- Cabin will also have 14 Main Cabin Extra seats with four to six inches more leg room.
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