American Airlines will soon announce a new business class seat for its Boeing 777-200s, its Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A350s, and it will be "even better than what we see today," an airline executive told briansumers.com.
The executive added that American, which has lagged behind Delta and United in installing flatbed business class seats, should finally catch up with rivals by mid-2017.
"Our goal is to have lie-flats on widebodies systemwide over the next year to year and a half," Fern Fernandez, American's vice president of global marketing, told me at the end of January. "We will catch up."
You may be confused why American needs another seat. American has introduced four business class seats since early 2013 when it debuted a new, industry-leading herringbone seat on its Boeing 777-300ERs. Since then, American has installed three other flatbeds - one for Boeing 767s, another for A321Ts flying transcontinental routes, and another for Boeing 787s and Boeing 777-200s.
Why does American need one more seat?
American had planned for the fourth seat - the one it picked for 787s and 777-200s - to go on most future deliveries. But Zodiac, the company that makes the seat, has had trouble delivering what it promised. The problem is so bad that American canceled its contract with Zodiac and said it would start searching for another seat design. Zodiac will still deliver seats for American's 787-8s and roughly half of its 47 Boeing 777-200s, but the rest of the 777-200s will get this yet another seat.
Fernandez said by now American should be more than halfway through retrofitting its 47 Boeing 777-200s. Instead, it has only completed about 10 aircraft.
"We are just not far enough through [the retrofit] now," Andrew Nocella, American's chief marketing officer, told me. "We are disappointed by that. We are committed to getting it going as quickly as possible. It's hard to change an aircraft program midstream but in this particular case it was necessary."
Between the 777-200s, the 787-9s and the A350s, I calculate American will be putting this new seat on about 65 aircraft, give or take.
But this does not put an end to the seat saga. American will also soon announce one more new business class seat for the Boeing 757s it flies on longer international routes.
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