American puts its swanky Airbus A321T on yet another new transcon route

Apr 22, 2021

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Hoping to catch a ride on American’s most luxurious jet? Well, there’s great news.

The Fort Worth-based carrier announced on Wednesday that it’ll deploy its premium-heavy Airbus A321T on a fourth regularly scheduled route, from Boston (BOS) to Los Angeles (LAX), beginning on Nov. 2.

The A321T last flew this 2,611-mile transcon route back in September 2019, per Cirium schedules, before it got downgraded to a mix of service with the “regular” Airbus A321 and Boeing 737-800.

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Now, however, fueled by the carrier’s Northeast Alliance with JetBlue, the A321T is making a comeback in Boston. As the two airlines cozy up, they’re planning to offer a premium transcon experience and metal neutrality on the routes between New York and Boston and both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO).

JetBlue will deploy its Mint-equipped Airbus A321s, and American will use its Airbus A321T on the aforementioned routes. Additionally, AA will soon launch a JFK premium transcon flight, to Orange County, California (SNA), using the A321T on July 2.

The plane, outfitted with just 102 seats, is arranged in a three-cabin configuration, with 10 first-class pods, 20 business-class lie-flat beds, and 72 coach seats, half of which are designated as extra-legroom Main Cabin Extra. Especially compared to Spirit’s A321 with 228 seats, this plane is downright spacious.

Flagship First on the A321T (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The premium configuration was originally designed for deep-pocketed leisure flyers and business travelers with flexible expense accounts who frequently criss-cross the country.

American temporarily grounded the jet during the height of the pandemic, leading some industry observers to wonder about the A321T’s future role in AA’s fleet. Some even speculated that the plane might be destined for retirement.

But American’s vice president of network planning squashed such rumors last fall when he told TPG why the A321T was grounded. “It’s pretty simple. The A321T is a business-focused aircraft and there’s very little business demand right now,” AA’s Brian Znotins told TPG. “VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure demand” warrants a “low-frequency, high-gauge schedule,” he added.

Related: AA exec details the future of the carrier’s swankiest jet

Within weeks of those comments, American started bringing the A321T back to its bread-and-butter JFK to LAX and SFO routes, right before the transcon wars started heating up again. After a five-year hiatus at JFK, United resume service in the market on March 28 with flights on its “high-J” Boeing 767, outfitted with 46 Polaris pods.

While American now dukes it out with Delta and United in New York, the carrier (and JetBlue) will seemingly have a competitive advantage on the transcon routes from Boston.

That’s because both Delta and United recently dropped premium transcon service from Boston to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Instead of flying planes with posh lie-flat seats up front, they’ve downgauged to standard domestic recliners.

Combined with JetBlue’s Mint business-class service, American and JetBlue will operate the most domestic lie-flat seats from the Boston area. It’ll be interesting to see if, or how, Delta and United respond.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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