The Peculiar Way AA is Retrofitting Its Aircraft to Fit Extra Legroom Seats
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
American Airlines is in the midst of a massive premium economy retrofit project. The airline placed its first aircraft retrofit with premium economy into service at the end of June. Just over six months later, by the end of 2017, AA expects to have 63 widebody aircraft with premium economy.
We’ve seen how the retrofit looks on the 777-200, but AA’s first Airbus A330-200 retrofits have just emerged — and the layout certainly caught our eye.
First, let’s take a step back and explain. American Airlines calls its extra-legroom seats “Main Cabin Extra.” Most AA planes have a section of Main Cabin Extra (MCE) seating at the front of economy, complemented by bulkheads and exit row seats through the rest of the cabin. Here’s AA’s MCE seating on its 787-8 Dreamliner:
And here’s what it looks like on the 777-200 with premium economy retrofit:
The current version of American Airlines’ A330-200s doesn’t have a Main Cabin Extra section. The only MCE seats are at bulkheads and exit rows. In July, the airline confirmed to The Points Guy that it wasn’t going to install any additional MCE seats during the retrofit. Shortly later, the airline reversed its decision and mercifully decided to add 38 extra-legroom seats for a total of 50 MCE seats.
So, how does the A330-200 look after the retrofit?
One of these isn’t like the others.
We reached out to American Airlines about why the retrofit cabin was designed like this. An AA spokesperson explains:
To accommodate Premium Economy, we had to optimize the space as much as possible while keeping lavatories, galley ways and closets for our team members and customers.
While that is the official line, I’m suspecting that there’s more to it than that. In order to fit a typically multi-row Main Cabin Extra section in the front of the economy cabin, American Airlines would’ve had to move seats in all three columns. By just moving the G and H seats, they are able to leave the A-F seats where they are — surely reducing the cost and effort of the retrofit.
I’m not saying that this retrofit design is bad. It’s just… peculiar.
Featured image by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees