Cruel and Unusual: AA Puts Panned 737 MAX on Some of Its Longest Domestic Routes
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.
American Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft have been in service since November 2017, and I’ve yet to see a report of a positive experience in economy. Legroom is squeezed throughout the plane with 30 inches of pitch in standard economy and only 33 in “Main Cabin Extra” extra-legroom economy.
As a sign of how bad it is, AA even has less pitch on its 737 MAX than ultra-low-cost Ryanair will have. While United copied many aspects of AA’s 737 MAX, at least it installed 34 inches of pitch in extra-legroom economy. Not even AA’s first class was spared on the 737 MAX, offering up to three inches less pitch than other AA 737s — and much less padding.
The 24-inch wide lavatories on AA’s 737 MAX have been panned by passengers and flight attendants alike. And there are only two bathrooms in economy for 160 passengers. Good thing AA allows economy passengers to use first class bathrooms, so all 172 can share the three lavs. However, to AA’s credit, at least the 737 MAX sinks no longer spray water at Waterpik speeds, thanks to a prompt fix.
And there aren’t any in-flight entertainment screens on the AA 737 MAX. Instead, you’ll need to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and connect to AA’s Wi-Fi system to access free entertainment.
Not surprisingly, American Airlines passengers are actively trying to avoid the 737 MAX as well as the 737-800s which have been retrofit to offer just as bad of a passenger experience. Avoiding both is going to get harder and harder as the airline takes delivery of more 737 MAX and ramps up the 737-800 cabin refurbish under “Project Oasis.”
To maintain legroom with less pitch between seats, AA installed “slimline” seats with less padding. That might be fine for a short flight, but it isn’t designed for longer flights. So, where is AA now scheduling this aircraft? On two of its longest domestic routes.
According to RoutesOnline, American Airlines will start flying the 737 MAX between Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA) starting September 4 and between LAX and Washington Reagan (DCA) starting September 5. These 2,300+ mile up-to-6-hour flights will operate on the following schedule:
- AA163 — Los Angeles (LAX) 8:00am Departure ⇒ Washington Reagan (DCA) 4:11pm Arrival
- AA163 — Washington Reagan (DCA) 5:30pm Departure ⇒ Los Angeles (LAX) 8:16pm Arrival
- AA2237 — Los Angeles (LAX) 9:17pm Departure ⇒ Miami (MIA) 5:25am Arrival
- AA1061 — Miami (MIA) 9:10pm Departure ⇒ Los Angeles (LAX) 11:49pm Arrival
If you need to fly on these routes, thankfully the 737 MAX isn’t the only option. American Airlines has seven other flight options on the LAX-MIA route and one other option on the LAX-DCA route.
All images by the author except as noted.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
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.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- 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.
- 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