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AA Replacing Angle-Flat Business Class Seats on Transatlantic 757s

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Update: We’ve updated this post to include photos of the actual 757 seats provided by American Airlines. AA has confirmed that it will be updating a total of 24 Boeing 757s between now and the end of 2017.

In an overdue move, American Airlines is finally retrofitting its old 757s used on some transatlantic flights — swapping out its sub-par angle-flat seats and installing fully lie-flat business-class seats. AA has opted to use the same B/E Diamond seats its uses on its transcontinental A321T aircraft.

AA’s business-class product is generally quite inconsistent across its fleet. It seems that there’s a different type of business-class seat on each aircraft model. Due to supplier issues, sometimes there’s even a different type of seat in the same model of aircraft. Each American Airlines business-class seat announcement seems to unveil yet another new option. So, it’s nice to see American Airlines use one of its better existing options for this installation.

American's retrofitted 757 business-class seats. Image courtesy of AA.
American’s retrofitted 757 business-class seats. Image courtesy of AA.

That said, this installation has a lot of disappointing features. The biggest difference between this installation and the A321T is that there are no permanent in-flight entertainment screens. AA is opting to go with the so-called tablet system which it uses in its 767-300 business class. This means that business-class passengers won’t have any IFE screens during boarding, taxiing, take-off, landing and taxiing to the gate. This is a rather absurd cost-saving measure.

Also, these B/E Diamond seats are a much better fit for the 146-inch cabin width of the A321T, rather than the 139-inch cabin width of the 757. Since the seats aren’t any smaller, there’s a much narrower aisle as a result. To avoid very narrow areas, the rows seem to be slightly offset, meaning flight attendants may end up needing to weave the service cart down the aisle.

United uses the same seating arrangement for its BusinessFirst flights to Europe — but includes in-flight entertainment screens.

The 2-2 arrangement means that passengers in the window seat will have to climb over passengers in the aisle seat. When that passenger’s seat is fully reclined, this could be difficult to do without waking that person. That said, due to the narrowness of the 757, this 2-2 arrangement seems unavoidable; United uses the exact-same B/E Diamond seating and Delta uses a similar 2-2 arrangement.

Bottom Line

It’s good to see American Airlines finally replacing its angle-flat seats with lie-flat seats for transatlantic flights. However, this retrofit seems to be done out of obligation, rather than with the passengers’ experience in mind. Hopefully this is just a stop-gap measure before these 757s are retired in the near future.

H/T: View From The Wing

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