American Airlines Group Inc. is moving forward with plans to phase out its first-class seating option on international flights in favor of new premium seating for its high-end and business-class travelers.
American Airlines confirmed it would drop its first-class seating on long-haul flights during the company’s third-quarter earnings call, citing a lack of customer demand.
“First class will not exist … at American Airlines, for the simple reason that our customers aren’t buying it,” Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja said during the investor call last Thursday.
Raja later clarified that while American Airlines’ first-class seating would be phased out on international flights, it would still remain available on domestic trips.
In September, the Fort Worth-based airline unveiled its “Flagship Suites,” a premium seating arrangement that consolidates American’s first-class and business-class cabins.
The Flagship Suites will debut on the Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A321XLR jets. Described as a “private retreat in the sky,” the Flagship Suites will include chaise lounge seating options, more personal storage space, and privacy doors that section it off from the airline’s standard lay-flat seats.
“By removing first class, we can provide more business class seats, which is what our customers most want or are most willing to pay for,” Raja said.
American Airlines will have 51 Flagship Suite seats on its new 787-9 aircraft and 32 premium economy seats. Airbus A321XLR aircraft will feature 20 Flagship Suite seats and 12 premium economy seats.
Premium seating on long-haul flights will grow more than 45% by 2026,” American Airlines said in September’s press release announcing the new premium seating.
Other overhauls to existing aircraft include a retrofit on the airline’s fleet of 16 Airbus A321T and 20 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. According to the company, the Airbus A321T aircraft is being reconfigured to align with the rest of its A321 fleet.
American Airlines posted a record $13.46 billion in revenue and $483 million in profits during the third quarter of 2022 amid strong post-pandemic travel demand. Analysts had predicted revenue to come in at $13.36 billion, slightly lower than the actual results.
American Airlines posted positive third-quarter earnings despite numerous issues that plagued the airline over the summer, including an industry-wide pilot shortage, canceled and delayed flights, scheduling glitches, and picketing events.
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