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American has finished adding seats to its Boeing 737 fleet — and the Airbus A321s are just a step behind

June 03, 2021
3 min read
American has finished adding seats to its Boeing 737 fleet — and the Airbus A321s are just a step behind
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The ironically named Project Oasis is one step closer to completion.

American Airlines has finished the "Project Oasis" retrofit of its Boeing 737-800 fleet, airline president Robert Isom said on Thursday, adding that he expects a similar retrofit to be completed on the airline's Airbus A321 fleet by the end of the year.

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The Oasis project harmonizes disparate cabins across American's 737 and A321 fleets. The 737s gain 12 seats, bringing them up to 172 — the same amount as on the airline's 737 Max — and the A321s go from as few as 181 seats to 190.

Despite the name, passengers have been mostly displeased with the changes, which — by the nature of adding seats — means less room (or padding) for the existing seats. American previously updated its changes to the first-class cabin of the 737, following customer complaints.

Although American briefly paused the retrofit in 2019 to avoid cancelations stemming from the 737 Max grounding, it resumed with gusto in late-2020, taking advantage of pandemic-related travel lulls to accelerate the work.

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"We sped both of those projects up during COVID because, as you know, we didn’t need all those planes," Chief financial officer Derek Kerr said on Thursday during a Bernstein investor event. "So we were able to put more planes in there and bring those projects much faster to the front."

It was not clear exactly when the project was completed on the 737s. The airline said in October, 2020 that it expected to finish the work by this March, up from the previous goal of April.

The A321 timeline, however, has moved up significantly. Kerr said last year that the company was aiming to complete the retrofit on those aircraft by spring 2022.

Related: The FAA just downgraded Mexico’s air safety rating. Here’s what that actually means.

The densification, while not a passenger favorite, has been viewed by airline executives and investors as a cost-saving measure, thanks to the ability to sell more seats, as well as the simplification created by standardizing the fleets.

American now has just four aircraft types across its mainline fleet, with — once the A321 updates are done — uniformed seat maps across each type.

Featured image by Image by Zach Griff/TPG.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

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  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more