American Airlines Deletes First Class on International Trips

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Flying overseas in business class or better is one of those things – like getting the good seats at the game – that once you’ve done it, it’s hard to go back to coach or the stands. Some luxuries, you will convince yourself, are worth paying for. According to The Wall Street Journalone such option — first-class seats on international American Airlines flights – is soon away. American says this decision was made, partly, to add more seats in business class, which these days, is pretty much what the old first class was anyway.

American had previously said as much last monthalthough WSJ reports that an American executive on an earnings call Thursday said clearly that the airline is making the change for the simple reason that first class doesn’t sell as well as the other good seats on the plane.

“And frankly, by removing [first-class seats]can we offer more business seats, which is what our customers most want or are most willing to pay for.” [said Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raj.]

[…]

…the airline will equip its long-haul fleet with new “Flagship Suites”, which include lie-flat seats and sliding doors for privacy, in a refit that will increase premium seats on these planes by more than 45% by 2026.

The new suites will be included on newly delivered Boeing 787-9 planes and Airbus A321 XLRs starting in 2024. American will also retrofit its Boeing 777-300ER planes to include the new suites.

The sliding door thing seems kind of unnecessary, but then people get really weird on airplanes, especially on long trips, and some people value their privacy more than I do. More importantly, this says that many of the business class seats lie flat, which is the real game changer, because flying overseas after hours of restless sleep in an upright seat as opposed to restful, continuous sleep lying flat makes a difference between day and night.

In any case, this seems to be mostly an exercise in branding, as “first class” only sound more expensive than “business-class”, like, like WSJ notes, have most of the same benefits anyway. Are any of them worth it to you, you poor dirtbag? It’s a personal decision, although I prefer to save my money for my destination and arrive in London or wherever stiff as a board, after flying coach. The times I have flown first or business class were paid for by someone else, which was nice of them. On one such flight I even sat next to the actress Rooney Mara once. I’m sure she was doing something much cooler in France than driving a stupid luxury SUV.

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