American Airlines is upgrading first class on its Boeing 737s

Jan 24, 2020

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American Airlines is rejigging its plans to update the interiors of its Airbus A321 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft with some soft improvements to first class following customer feedback.

The A321s are going to 190 seats from as few as 181 seats today, and the 737-800s to 172 seats from 160 seats under the “Project Oasis” retrofits. All of the retrofits will be done by April 2022 under the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier’s latest timeline.

Beyond the general layouts, however, the exact fittings are not set in stone. American began flying its first 737-800 with a number of customer-driven first class updates in what could be called Oasis version 2.0 on Jan. 18.

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“We are responding to customer feedback in our First Class cabin,” American vice president of global marketing Janelle Anderson told TPG on the updates Friday. “We take customer feedback very seriously.”

American has made at least six updates to the first class cabin on the 737-800s, compared to the Oasis 1.0 iteration. Changes include:

  • An improved privacy divider between the first class and economy cabins;
  • Three inches of additional legroom in the first row via a cutout from the forward closet;
  • More under-seat storage room;
  • Tablet holders;
  • A cocktail tray;
  • An improved seat cushion.
An American 737 with the updated
American has increased the privacy of first class with new cabin dividers on its 737-800. (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)
The new first class divider on American
The new first class divider on American’s updated 737-800s. (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

“It aesthetically looks a lot better than the plastic divider,” said Anderson of the new privacy screens. The update is two fold: one element is an expanded leather seatback that closes the gap between the seats in the last row of first class, and the second is a larger divider made out of leather that descends from the overhead bin.

Related: American sets end date for A321, 737 ‘Project Oasis’ updates

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
American’s Oasis 1.0 divider between first class and economy on the 737-800 provided less privacy than the updated version. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

The Oasis 2.0 first-class updates, once installation is certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will be outfitted on the 82 reconfigured 737-800s by year-end, said Anderson. The remaining 222 737-800s in American’s fleet will be receive the updated first class during their Oasis overhauls.

The first class improvements are not limited to the 737-800s. American will add the extra under-seat storage room and cocktail tray to its A321 cabin updates; it’ll also incorporate all of the improvements on its 737 MAX 8s after the jets are cleared to return to the skies, said Anderson.

American CEO Doug Parker suggested Thursday that the airline will not resume MAX flying until “late summer or early fall” at the soonest.

The airline has not changed its plans to add 12 seats to each 737-800 with the Oasis 2.0 updates. The aircraft will still be outfitted with 16 first class, 30 Main Cabin Extra and 126 Main Cabin seats.

In addition, American has not changed its mind on offering seatback inflight entertainment. When asked, Anderson reiterated the airline’s line that it can offer passengers better entertainment options through high-speed Wi-Fi and streaming services to personal devices.

Featured image courtesy of American Airlines.

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