0 min left

AA Shrinks Seat Size in First Class and Economy on the Boeing 737 Max

Both first and economy-class passengers can expect to feel the squeeze on the carrier’s narrow-body craft.

The furor over American Airline‘s plans to introduce seats with 29-inch pitches on-board their new Boeing 737 Max planes may have abated, but it seems that space is still a contentious issue in the cabin. After considerable criticism from those in the aviation industry and even from their employees, the carrier has settled on a 30-inch pitch in economy.

This, says Gary Leff of BoardingArea, is just a hair shy of what many passengers have come to expect as the norm “since the current standard for a mainline legacy airline is 31 inches.” However, the goal of these new planes is to maximize space, which, Leff reports, the 737 Max certainly does. “The idea is to squeeze in more seats, and they’re doing it by taking away legroom both from first class and economy, by shrinking the lavatories, and by uncovering every inch of underutilized space on the plane,” commented Leff, who took the inaugural flight of the carrier’s Boeing 737 Max 8 plane from Miami to NYC just last week.

While Leff says that this particular craft does have some unique features, such as at-seat power points, satellite Internet and tablet-friendly seatbacks, major concessions have been made for the sake of space. “The word is ‘densification’,” writes Leff. “When US Airways took over American they increased the number of seats onboard 737s from 150 to 160. Now they’ve managed to get 172 onto the plane.”

What’s more, this space-saving theme is evident in first-class too. “There’s less seat pitch in first class, too (37 inches versus 38 inches currently) and less recline as well (effectively four inches instead of six),” he says. Additionally, Leff reports that there is no bulkhead division between first and economy classes. But while he concedes that the economy seats on AA’s new craft aren’t “the worst thing in the sky,” Leff explains that his “complaints about space are really complaints about economy — as it’s experienced today on American Airlines, United, and Delta — more than they are complaints about this economy.”


[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
oldAGE December 7, 2017

At a towering height that is smaller than the US average and a weight tipping the scales lower than the US average, I find the AA product that currently exists as sub-optimal. It's a bit better in MainExtra but not much better. Being an AAdvantage member since its inception, I find the value of AA with my Lifetime status not worth the loyalty. If the back of the plane is going to suck on American, I may as well fly by price and save myself some money in/out of my primary market. That's the problem with US Domestic Airlines. They don't know how to compete. They think price is everything and they are absolutely wrong.

ohange December 7, 2017

@Richard D Re: Southwest 737Max8 vs AA's 737Max8... SWA puts 175 seats in their 800 series, even the Max 8s. Article says AA has 172, but the difference is AA's is a two-class configuration, while SWA's is 175 in a single class configuration. To draw out how they get 175, WN has the 6 across seating with a single center aisle, the exit row has no A or F seat, and the rows are staggered. There is also no A-B-C in Row 1. So that's 30 rows, X 6, minus 2 exit row seats, minus 3 Row 1 (180 - 5 =175). I have not seen a layout for the AA Max 8, but I would bet it's 16 F, and 26 rows of Y class. (16 + 156 = 172)

NoelTheOne December 7, 2017

@WillTravel4Food The problem with that argument is that those evacuation tests aren't done in anything close to real-world conditions, and recent research has questioned how valid they are in measuring the speed of evacuation in actual emergency. https://www.thedailybeast.com/flying-coach-is-so-cramped-it-could-be-a-death-trap

Jacobruiz December 7, 2017

The entire flying experience on any American airline stinks. Give me a magic wand and I can fix it in one wave: allow Asian and Middle Eastern carriers to fly unfettered in the US and nobody would ever tolerate their poor, callous service or aging, cramped aircraft again. This “money above all else” attitude along with their rancid corporate thinking and tired old planes should be relegated to the trash heap of airline history. Like Trump, they serve nobody but themselves. Flying should be glorious and they’ve made it misery.

jonsail December 6, 2017

Probably a smart move re: the domestic first class seats by this logic: A few years ago domestic first was occupied mainly by elites with economy tickets. Now with the shrinking of economy seats more and more formerly economy flyers are willing to pay for domestic first class. and they are displacing free elite upgraders. Such folks migrating from ever more cramped economy, myself included, aren't going to be put off by a 37" seat pitch instead of 38". (I am, however, put-off by British Airways 30" seat pitch on intra-Europe business class.)