American Airlines Stripping Out Business Class Seats on 787-8 Retrofit

Jul 22, 2018

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.

Over the last two years, American Airlines has worked to revolutionize its fleet — for good and bad. One of the positive developments has been the quick installation of premium economy on its long-haul aircraft. Before United’s first premium economy seat took flight in June, AA had 85 aircraft with a total of 2,030 premium economy seats already flying.

So far, the premium economy retrofits have been positive for flyers. While business class seats were pulled from some 777-200s to simplify the fleet, the airline has otherwise maintained the business class cabin and pulled space from economy to install premium economy. One of the results of this retrofit is that business class seats make up a higher percentage of the aircraft — and standard economy seats became a smaller percent of the aircraft. That means it became easier to get a business class upgrade… or at least an extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra (MCE) seat.

Aircraft First Business Premium Economy Main Cabin Extra Main Cabin Total
A330-200 before 20
(8%)
16
(6%)
222
(86%)
258
A330-200 after 20
(8%)
21
(9%)
54
(22%)
152
(61%)
247
(-11)
777-300ER before 8
(3%)
52
(17%)
45
(14%)
205
(66%)
310
777-300ER after 8
(3%)
52
(17%)
28
(9%)
28
(9%)
188
(62%)
304
(-6)
777-200 V1 before 45
(17%)
55
(21%)
160
(62%)
260
777-200 V2 before 37
(13%)
58
(20%)
194
(67%)
289
777-200 after 37
(14%)
24
(9%)
66
(24%)
146
(53%)
273
(+13/-16)

Unfortunately, that positive trend is ending with the Boeing 787-8 retrofit. The first seat maps for the retrofit aircraft are now showing up on ExpertFlyer, and it’s bad news for those looking to get a business class upgrade.

American is stripping out eight business class seats and reducing Main Cabin Extra by 13 seats to make room for a four-row, 28-seat (2-3-2) premium economy section. Unlike most of the other retrofits, the total number of seats on the aircraft is going up:

AA 787-8 Before After
Business 28 12.4% 20 8.5%
Premium Economy 28 12.0%
Main Cabin Extra 55 24.3% 42 17.9%
Main Cabin 143 63.3% 144 61.5%
Total 226 234 (+8 seats)

Premium Economy is already on sale on the AA 787-8 for flights starting May 2, 2019. The first 787-8 flight that I see with premium economy for sale is Flight 86 from Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) to London Heathrow (LHR):

In addition to the loss of 13 Main Cabin Extra seats, there’s another downside to this reconfiguration for window seat lovers: American is putting almost all Main Cabin Extra (MCE) seating into the middle column of the aircraft:

We reached out to American Airlines and an airline spokesperson confirmed that the seating arrangement we found is reflective of the airline’s plan for the retrofit. However, this could change as aircraft prototyping won’t start until September and installations won’t begin until 2019.

H/T: Sensei on FlyerTalk

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • 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
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.