Skip to content

American Airlines CEO says he doesn’t know if partner JetBlue has lie-flat seats

Oct. 03, 2022
4 min read
JetBlue Mint Studio
American Airlines CEO says he doesn’t know if partner JetBlue has lie-flat 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.

It can be hard to keep track of all the different airline products and services out there — even if you're the CEO of the world's largest airline.

It's a bit awkward, though, when it's a major competitor. Or a partner. Or both.

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said on Monday that he was not familiar with the details of JetBlue's Mint product, to the point that he was unsure whether the product features lie-flat seats.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly Aviation newsletter.

Isom's statements came during testimony at the antitrust trial over the Northeast Alliance between American and JetBlue in U.S. District Court in Boston on Monday. The Department of Justice alleged that the alliance amounts to anti-competitive action that will lead to higher fares. However, the two airlines have argued that the alliance is the only way they can effectively compete against Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in the Northeast.

"I've never flown the Mint product, I don't know if Mint is lie-flat," Isom said. Then he clarified that while he was aware that JetBlue "has a domestic first-class product, I can't speak to all the amenities they include."

Isom added that he was drawing a distinction between domestic first class — which American offers on most domestic routes — and "international business class" and flagship products.

A 10-hour flight is a lot more snooze-able in first class – see how many points away you are from a cozy, 30,000 foot slumber with the free TPG App!

The discussion of lie-flat products took place during a broader questioning by DOJ lawyers surrounding competition and cooperation between American and JetBlue on premium transcontinental routes — specifically, those from Boston and New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Based on questioning, the DOJ appeared to argue that since American and JetBlue both offer a lie-flat premium product on those transcontinental routes, the NEA eliminates competition.

"With the NEA in place you don't have to worry about JetBlue coming after American for your premium customers, right?" DOJ lawyer Bill Jones asked Isom.

American operates a subfleet of Airbus A321s on that route, dubbed the A321T. It features 20 business-class seats and 10 Flagship First seats — all of which are lie-flat, in configuration otherwise used on long-haul flights.

While it is not uncommon for CEOs in any industry to leave the finer details of things to their teams to fully understand and manage, the transcontinental market is of considerable importance to U.S. airlines, with fare premiums often paid by high-volume and high-value business travelers.

While there are several domestic routes from the New York-area airports and Boston that are excluded from the alliance, those premium transcontinental routes are not among them.

It also was not the first time that an American Airlines chief has admitted to being unaware of an important and relevant onboard product.

Former CEO Doug Parker faced criticism in 2018 when he admitted he had not flown the airline's new "Project Oasis" cabins; these cabins were the subject of fierce criticism from passengers over cramped seats, tiny lavatories and a lack of in-seat power. The airline ultimately altered the final design of the cabin, although the coach seats remained cramped.

From the trial: American Airlines forgot it had landing slots at JFK. Then it lost some of them

Monday saw testimony from Isom and current American Airlines senior vice president Scott Laurence, who, in a previous role at JetBlue, was widely considered the driving force behind the alliance.

Much of the testimony focused on intentions and mechanisms behind the alliance, with little in the way of surprise.

Boston, which is not slot-constrained in the same way as the New York airports, was the subject of questioning earlier on Monday.

"The Northeast Alliance created an opportunity for us to be as viable a competitor in Boston as we could be," Isom said in court.

The trial, which began on Tuesday, Sept. 27, is set to continue for up to three weeks. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes and American Airlines chief commercial officer Vasu Raja are among those who have testified, with former American Airlines CEO Doug Parker expected to testify this week.

TPG is reporting from the trial in Boston, so stay tuned for the latest.

Featured image by DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY
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.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023