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American Airlines Plans Flagship First Phaseout

The last U.S.-based carrier to offer an international “first class” product will begin taking it out of service, moving to an expanded long-haul business class product.
Flagship First seating aboard American Airlines flights will come to an end, as the Fort Worth-based carrier plans to install a larger business class product instead.


Simple Flying reports the phase out will begin in 2023, with the delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliner airframes due to the carrier.


New Cabins Call for Retrofit of Widebody and A321T Cabins

Of the three major U.S.-based carriers, American was the last to offer a true “first class” cabin on both select domestic and international flights. The airline’s Airbus A321T offered three classes of service featuring lieflat seats, while the international Boeing 777 features a larger, swiveling lieflat seat in the front of the aircraft.


However, under new plans for the legacy airline, the service option will give way to an expanded business class cabin in the future. The new cabins are expected to offer an expanded section of lie-flat seating, starting with new deliveries of Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2023. From there, there’s no timeline for retrofitting of the Boeing 777 or Airbus A321T aircraft, but work is expected to begin in the future.


The goal for the carrier is to ultimately phase out the front-of-cabin service in favor of the more streamlined service. No details about the seat have been announced, nor how it will affect some of the carrier’s other luxury services, like the Flagship First Dining at the carrier’s premium cabin lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York.


On the domestic side, the lieflat seating form the A321T could ultimately go away as well. According to the report, the three-cabin domestic aircraft reserved for trans-continental service will be refitted with a more standard business class, while the new business class will be reserved for the airline’s A321XLR international aircraft, set to be delivered in 2024.


New Cabins Follow Standard Set by Legacy Carriers

The plans for American follow a standard set by the legacy carriers dating back to 2016. In that year, Delta Air Lines was the first to debut a hybrid business-first class suite product which has since been expanded to their long-haul fleet. Later that year, United Airlines announced a similar move with Polaris, a hybrid concept which included lieflat seats and access to a luxury lounge.

not2017 September 16, 2022

Delta introduced "Business Elite" in 1998. That included combining First into BE on international flights. But the origins of BE was actually in the early 1990s. Delta One was introduced in 2017. Continental had "Business First" which was introduced in 1993. So the combining of first and business has a longer history than explained here. 

DataPlumber August 30, 2022

FT used to be about random people posting speculation and fantasy as facts.  

Now, we're posting bloggers speculation as facts. Way to go!!

PHL August 28, 2022

You are citing SimpleFlying as the source, yet their own blog about this has absolutely no sources cited.  The removal of First from the small subfleet of A321T and B777-300 has been a rumor for some time, which is what the forums are for.  I expect more from the editors at FlyerTalk and would hope they post content that is backed with reputed sourcing than simply regurgitating another travel (blog) site.

edgewood49 August 27, 2022

Good news as if AA could possibly support and delivery a first class product with any reasonable ray of hope. 

toxman August 26, 2022

@SteveinA2 Agree. Unless they have invented a time machine

@50ae I also had the same question