How to fly AA’s best business-class seats for onboard social distancing domestically
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American Airlines’ fleet is extremely inconsistent, especially on U.S. domestic routes. Some long domestic routes will lack power outlets and inflight entertainment screens — even in first class. Meanwhile, you can find lie-flat business-class seats sold as economy on one-hour flights. So if you’ve got some flexibility in your travels, knowing American Airlines’ fleet schedule can mean getting a superior (and more private) experience.
The problem is: AA’s fleet schedule varies widely from month to month. So, we at The Points Guy dig into it regularly to unveil where you can find these excellent seats.
Unfortunately, the chances of finding these better seats on domestic routes are drying up as American has retired many of its internationally-configured planes in recent months, including the 767s, 757s and A330-300s. Additionally, a large portion of its wide-body fleet is still parked. Yet, finding these seats is not impossible.
Whether you splurge on a first-class award or paid ticket, get a free upgrade using 500-mile upgrades or get a complimentary upgrade as a Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum member, here are the ways to fly on American Airlines’ best business-class seats for onboard social distancing without having to bring your passport. Unlike Delta, AA doesn’t offer any closed-door suites, but as you’ll see, some seats still offer a lot more personal space than others.
If your upgrade doesn’t clear or you don’t want to pay for first class, keep in mind that AA’s entire widebody fleet offers premium economy seats. While sold as premium economy on international flights and flights to/from Hawaii, these seats are labeled as Main Cabin Extra on mainland domestic routes. That means that these seats are free for Platinum, Platinum Pros and Executive Platinum elites. While you won’t get any extra service while sitting in premium economy seats on mainland domestic routes, these seats are a definite upgrade over the rest of the economy cabin.
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As one of the best business-class seats in the sky, American Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER (abbreviated on schedules as 77W) is a great way of traveling anywhere. However, it’s typically expensive to buy an international round-trip on this aircraft; award availability on these flights is especially hard to get and upgrades on these premium routes are highly sought after.
If you’re looking to try it out without a passport, the good news is that the aircraft is currently operating some domestic routes. This summer, you’ll mostly find this aircraft operating on cross-country flights between Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX), but there are also some one-off flights between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami in July:
777-200: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond or Zodiac Concept D
American Airlines has two different business-class seats in its 777-200 fleet — the “rocking” Zodiac Concept D seats and the much-better B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats. You can’t tell these apart from looking at the seat map. And, even if you do book a particular version, equipment changes mean there’s no telling which type will show up at your gate. However, both versions are lie-flat business-class seats.
So, looking for 777-200s on domestic routes is sure to provide a better-than-average first-class experience and a better-than-average Main Cabin Extra experience. Here are the routes on which AA is using these aircraft within the U.S.:
|DFW||MIA||2550||10:25||14:23||5-Aug||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily|
|DFW||MIA||1219||16:40||20:42||5-Aug||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily (exc. 8/10, 8/13, 8/14, 8/19)|
|DFW||MIA||2206||17:10||21:05||6-Aug||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily (exc. 8/10, 8/13, 8/14, 8/17, 8/19)|
|MIA||DFW||2575||7:12||9:09||5-Aug||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily|
|MIA||DFW||1756||10:00||11:56||5-Aug||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily|
|MIA||DFW||1114||11:50||13:47||5-Aug||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily|
|DFW||OGG||119||11:00||14:25||30-July||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily|
|DFW||OGG||7||9:20||12:50||25-Oct||27-May (end of schedule)||Daily|
787-9 B/E Aerospace Super Diamond
While American Airlines mostly keeps its fuel-efficient 787-9 Dreamliners on international routes, periodically it will have to position these aircraft between hubs due to scheduling needs. This opens up a golden opportunity to try out AA’s newest business-class seat for yourself.
787-8: Zodiac Concept D
While it’s certainly not the top American Airlines business-class product, the lie-flat seats up front on AA’s 787-8 are definitely worth booking over a standard domestic first-class seat. You’ll find this aircraft frequently flying between Dallas and Chicago (ORD) and DFW and Honolulu (HNL).
|DFW||ORD||1258||12:20||14:46||Now||27-March||Daily (except 7/7, 7/8)|
Although we’ve focused this post on widebody aircraft so far, it’s important to note that AA operates lie-flat seats on its specially-configured A321T aircraft. The trouble with both of these aircraft is that they can’t be distinguished from the standard recliner-seat versions of the A321-200 without looking at individual seat maps.
However, the A321T can reliably be found on these domestic routes:
- New York Kennedy (JFK) — Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York Kennedy (JFK) — San Francisco (SFO)
- New York Kennedy (JFK) — Boston (BOS)
Additional reporting by JT Genter.
Featured photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.
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