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The transformation of American Airlines’ business class product reached an important — although perhaps long overdue — milestone Sunday night. At 8:39pm Central, American Airlines flight number 1236 from Miami (MIA) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) landed as the last American Airlines widebody flight with angle-flat business class seats.
Now, whether it’s a transatlantic flight or to Hawaii, American Airlines passengers won’t have to dread the all-too-familiar last-minute equipment swap from a 1-2-1 lie-flat 767 to a 2-2-2 angle-flat business class product.
The last angle-flat widebody aircraft in American Airlines’ fleet was a 25-year old Boeing 767-300ER with the registration N373AA. The aircraft will be ferried to the desert in Roswell, New Mexico, on Monday as American Airlines flight 9709. This last flight will be the 16,357 flight cycle recorded by this aircraft, which is just shy of 100,000 flight hours since being delivered brand new to American Airlines in June 1992.
Although a flight from MIA to DFW in angle-flat business class seats isn’t bad, this same aircraft was used last week on transatlantic flights from New York’s JFK to Milan (MXP), Rome (FCO) and Paris (CDG).
Earlier this summer, AA retrofit its last 777-200 to replace the angle-flat seats with top-notch B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats. (Unfortunately, AA isn’t ripping out the Zodiac seats — known as “Coffin Class” — installed on a subfleet of its 777-200s).
This means that all AA widebody aircraft now have lie-flat business class seats. That includes all Boeing 767-300, 777-200, 777-300ER, 787-8 and 787-9, as well as Airbus A330-200 and A330-300.
The last American Airlines long-haul aircraft that still sport angle-flat seats are 757-200s. Nine of these aircraft will be retired by the end of the year. 24 of these have already been retrofit with lie-flat B/E Aerospace Diamond seats. These lie-flat seats are designated for use on transatlantic flights. Another 12 AA 757-200s will have recliner Zodiac 6850 seats and will be designated for domestic and Hawaii service.
What does this mean for points & miles collectors? Well, American Airlines business class flights are going to be a lot more consistent. While there’s still a big range in quality between American Airlines business class seats, at least all of them will be lie-flat. If you can find award availability on American Airlines (which is supposed to be getting better), you can rest assured that its going to mean a flat bed.
How does this compare to the competition? Delta still has some recliner-style business class seats on its 767-300s, but these are limited to domestic flights. While still flying 2-4-2 arranged business class cabins across oceans, at least United has had lie-flat business class seats across its widebody fleet for years. So, this lie-flat milestone for American Airlines can be seen as long overdue.
What do you think about this American Airlines’ milestone?
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