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Airbus A321 Transcon / A321T / "32B" 3 class (master thread)

Old Feb 8, 2015, 7:20 am
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AA Transcontinental Three Class Service Airbus A321 "A321T"

NOTE: The "32B" designation is used by ICAO for A321 (-100 and -200) family with "Sharklet" wingtips; the use of "32B" by AA has been applied to "321T", the three class aircraft described here and used on transcon service, and for the "A321", the two class A321S used in "normal" service as well as the A321H ETOPS version used on West Coast-Hawai'i service. ("321" is used by AA to describe non-Sharklets equipped LUS A321s.)

A subset of A321-200 aircraft has a three class configuration (with First and Business with horizontal full flat seats, as well as Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin) for use on transcontinental JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO flights. First delivery was N101NN, Fleet No. 783, 21 Nov 2013. Inaugural flights were AA118 Lv LAX 0700 Ar JFK 1530 Tue 7 Jan 2014 and AA133 Lv JFK 1545 Ar LAX 1925. SFO-LAX began 6 Mar 2014.

These aircraft, referred to as "A321T" or "321T", have 10F in 1 + 1 layout, 20J in 2 + 2, and 72Y in 3 + 3 configuration (MCE rows 11-16); coded "321T" (32B in timetables). F has Zodiac Skylounge solo suite seats with shells similar to the 77W Business suites, J have B/E Aerospace Diamond Parallel horizontal lie flat seats; MCE and Main Cabin Recaro slimline seats. Pets have two small cabins flanking the aisle forward in F, called "Cuddle Class".

In Flight Entertainment is Audio-Video on Demand (AVOD), provided by Thales in its TopSeries system, with 15.4" touch screens offering "200 movies, 180 TV programs, more than 350 audio selections, up to 20 games, and 3-D moving maps" free in F and J, and $4.00 for most movies and TV in Y on an 8.9" touch screen. These are also controlled by universal remote controls. Bose QuietComfort headsets are provided in F and J; these are recovered by crew about an hour from your destination. (Unfortunately, the IFE system has turned out to be extremely unreliable; currently, do not expect to experience seamless AVOD on these aircraft. Some have reported successfully resetting by holding down "O" button over ten seconds on remote and the same procedure for the screen power on button.)

WiFi is provided by GoGo ATG-4 (cellular) service, and is not very fast.

At seat power includes USB 5 VDC and universal 110 VAC outlets. The outlets are awkwardly placed by your head in J, in the seatback in front of you in coach.

Also note: Airbus A320 family - 156 inches (395 cm) outside width
Boeing 737 /757 - 148 inches (380 cm) outside diameter.


Which transcontinental AA flights are operated by A321-200 "A321T" three class aircraft?
All transcontinental non-stop flights scheduled JFK <-> LAX
JFK<-> SFOare operated by three class Airbus A321-200 "32B" (A321-200 with "Sharklets" wingtip devices.

No other regularly scheduled transcontinental non-stop flights (e.g. MIA-LAX, PHL-LAX or -SFO, etc.) use the three class A321-200 "A321T" - even if a "32B" might be used in the future, it will merely be a two class LAA A321-200 aircraft (with Sharklets).


For further discussion on seats, service, etc. on three class A321T aircraft, please see:

Best Business / First seat on LAA transcon Airbus A321 / A321T / "32B" (consolidated)

Best Economy / MCE seat on LAA transcon Airbus A321 / A321T / "32B" (consolidated)

For older posts, see the Archive thread here.
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Airbus A321 Transcon / A321T / "32B" 3 class (master thread)

Old Jan 24, 2017, 7:16 pm
  #1  
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I took this flight in business class from JFK to LAX and I'm on a flight back in first to JFK now. This route is one of the reasons I switched to American from Delta as my company has a preferred contract with American on this route and I like the flight. Here are a few thoughts on business vs first.

Business class offers most of the hard and soft product of first. It has a lie flat seat, same blanket/pillow, plenty of space, good IFE, etc. The food and drink in business is very good - aside from prosecco vs champagne, you get most of what you get in first. Currently, the amenity kits are also the same.

First gives you a bigger seat, champagne and apparently better wine selection, a "starter" before your salad, a few extra entree and desert items, etc. The IFE screen is larger. More space for storage. A dedicated FA who makes sure you are taken care of, etc.

Does AA make enough differentiation between First and Business in the soft product? Probably not to justify thousands of dollars premium. I upgraded on my current flight via miles without a copay.

The main difference is privacy and crowding. The business class cabin on this route feels full generally. Meaning you always have 20 passengers in business (its always sold out) using all of the soft product. First feels more secluded. Even on my current flight (only two empty F seats), it feels like a quiet, private cabin. No seatmate you don't know next to you.

How much that privacy and quiet is worth is up to you. I don't think it would be worth it if you have a traveling companion. But it makes a noticeable difference given the popularity of business on this route. On many of my domestic first class flights, there are empty F seats, for example, and it doesn't feel busy in first. The business class cabin in this flight always is full and has people walking around and such. I think F could be worth it when using miles, SWU, whatever if you want the privacy. I wouldn't pay cash out of pocket for it.

Another funny thing is passenger reaction to the F (and J) cabins. These transcon routes are actually among the most inexpensive for the miles flown in coach. Round trip costs $300-$400. So you have a lot of value customers ogling the first and business class cabins. This has continued since the day they debuted this plane.
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Old Jan 25, 2017, 9:28 am
  #2  
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I'm taking my first flight on the 321T in about three weeks, JFK-LAX-JFK in J both ways. Travelling with the OH and have picked 7D/7F on the westbound, 7A/7C on the eastbound (the 4.30pm flight that gets into JFK late).

I've looked at Seatguru and poked about a bit and it seems I've not made any rookie mistakes but looking for confirmation The JFK-LAX is already completed booked out in J, but the LAX-JFK I could still move to 6D/F, 9A/C or 10D/F if anyone thinks those are preferable.

Thanks!
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Old Jan 25, 2017, 10:38 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by Fraser
I'm taking my first flight on the 321T in about three weeks, JFK-LAX-JFK in J both ways. Travelling with the OH and have picked 7D/7F on the westbound, 7A/7C on the eastbound (the 4.30pm flight that gets into JFK late).

I've looked at Seatguru and poked about a bit and it seems I've not made any rookie mistakes but looking for confirmation The JFK-LAX is already completed booked out in J, but the LAX-JFK I could still move to 6D/F, 9A/C or 10D/F if anyone thinks those are preferable.

Thanks!
I usually fly in 7C. I tried row 6 once and I'm convinced there was less leg room.
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Old Jan 25, 2017, 12:49 pm
  #4  
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Housekeeping note: Off-topic posts have been removed from this thread.

For discussion of AA fares, international food & beverage service, and corporate contracts, please feel free to start a new thread or refer to one of the existing threads on those topics. Thanks. /Moderator
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Old Jan 25, 2017, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by mmgm
I usually fly in 7C. I tried row 6 once and I'm convinced there was less leg room.
Row 6 has different footrests; they're wider but maybe a little less long. Some people might prefer one or the other.

Row 6 has the best view; 7 is OK; the rest pretty much just overlook the wings.
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Old Jan 25, 2017, 3:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Adelphos
I took this flight in business class from JFK to LAX and I'm on a flight back in first to JFK now. This route is one of the reasons I switched to American from Delta as my company has a preferred contract with American on this route and I like the flight. Here are a few thoughts on business vs first.

Business class offers most of the hard and soft product of first. It has a lie flat seat, same blanket/pillow, plenty of space, good IFE, etc. The food and drink in business is very good - aside from prosecco vs champagne, you get most of what you get in first. Currently, the amenity kits are also the same.

First gives you a bigger seat, champagne and apparently better wine selection, a "starter" before your salad, a few extra entree and desert items, etc. The IFE screen is larger. More space for storage. A dedicated FA who makes sure you are taken care of, etc.

Does AA make enough differentiation between First and Business in the soft product? Probably not to justify thousands of dollars premium. I upgraded on my current flight via miles without a copay.

The main difference is privacy and crowding. The business class cabin on this route feels full generally. Meaning you always have 20 passengers in business (its always sold out) using all of the soft product. First feels more secluded. Even on my current flight (only two empty F seats), it feels like a quiet, private cabin. No seatmate you don't know next to you.

How much that privacy and quiet is worth is up to you. I don't think it would be worth it if you have a traveling companion. But it makes a noticeable difference given the popularity of business on this route. On many of my domestic first class flights, there are empty F seats, for example, and it doesn't feel busy in first. The business class cabin in this flight always is full and has people walking around and such. I think F could be worth it when using miles, SWU, whatever if you want the privacy. I wouldn't pay cash out of pocket for it.

Another funny thing is passenger reaction to the F (and J) cabins. These transcon routes are actually among the most inexpensive for the miles flown in coach. Round trip costs $300-$400. So you have a lot of value customers ogling the first and business class cabins. This has continued since the day they debuted this plane.
a very good comparison of the two cabins - I would also suggest the F cabin privacy especially at 1A and 1F (if traveling with someone) and the FA dealing with less customers, are the key differentials. So if that isnt what you look for in a flight, then Biz is just as good.

I have spoken with others who travel together - they prefer Biz, so each to their own , I for one, much prefer 1af. And the crew have always been great when sitting there, even tho sometimes, they have to leave the fruit and snacks and do their paperwork at the front sometimes.
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Old Feb 2, 2017, 7:29 am
  #7  
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I am planning a California leisure trip for the late summer:

JFK to LAX
LAX to SFO (I may take Alaska or Delta for this flight)
SFO to JFK

I'm seeing business class one way flights for about $1,000 and first class for about $1,300 for August. Are first class fares normally that small of a premium to business this far out?
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Old Feb 2, 2017, 7:42 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by Adelphos
I am planning a California leisure trip for the late summer:

JFK to LAX
LAX to SFO (I may take Alaska or Delta for this flight)
SFO to JFK

I'm seeing business class one way flights for about $1,000 and first class for about $1,300 for August. Are first class fares normally that small of a premium to business this far out?
IME yes.....sometimes I see First priced less than J too.
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Old Feb 2, 2017, 8:55 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Adelphos
I'm seeing business class one way flights for about $1,000 and first class for about $1,300 for August. Are first class fares normally that small of a premium to business this far out?
Yeah, I don't think it's all that unusual. Probably worth paying for F, especially if you're flying alone.
Although the better routing would be JFK-SFO//LAX-JFK, since you'd then get Flagship Lounge access (or whatever it'll be called then) and Flagship check-in at both departure points. Don't think SFO has either.
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Old Feb 21, 2017, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Adelphos
I am planning a California leisure trip for the late summer:

JFK to LAX
LAX to SFO (I may take Alaska or Delta for this flight)
SFO to JFK

I'm seeing business class one way flights for about $1,000 and first class for about $1,300 for August. Are first class fares normally that small of a premium to business this far out?
Nice, when I booked the other day for a summer flight the differential was 1000 bucks.
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Old Mar 8, 2017, 8:45 pm
  #11  
 
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Transcon A321T profitability?

I've always been curious as to the economic analysis on the 321T configuration. In particular
- Three class vs Two class. What's the space efficiency difference between how F and J are configured and how much of a price premium does F need to command to be worthwhile?
- How much load factor and price premium the F and J cabins need to command to offset the low density of the plane overall. It basically flies just over half the passengers of a similarly sized 321B.
- Has AA ever released CASM and RASM stats specific to the transcon routes?
- How do the profitability numbers compare JFK/SFO/LAX/MIA? I presume LAX/JFK is the cash cow given the entertainment labor contracts?
- Ultimately did AA make a good choice compared to the configurations of DL, UA, B6?
- Does AA make much/if any money on the advance O fares in Y? Flying across the country for $130-140 seems to be a pretty good deal.
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Old Mar 8, 2017, 8:58 pm
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I don't think that AA releases details on a per-route basis. I do know that fares on this market have dropped a lot since Mint started (Thanks B9!!). I've flow in F on this route 4 times the past 12 months, 2 were J bookings upgraded to F and the others the delta between J and F on the days was small enough that it was worth paying the extra but in general the lowest you see J is ~$650 o/w and F is $1200 o/w. Given J is 2-2 and F is 1-1 and about the same length I'd guess that F occupies roughly the space of 2 J seats so the premium of 2x from a space perspective probably makes sense. What probably really matters is how many in F or J are on I or A fares vs F/J since the delta between the lowest J and a flexible J fare is pretty high ($650 vs $3K)

I think I recall that sometime ago the union removed the requirement for 3 cabin F, though I'm sure some still get it but not sure how much the fact that AA has F and others do not is a factor.
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Old Mar 8, 2017, 9:09 pm
  #13  
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I doubt AA releases such information, and considers it highly proprietary.
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Old Mar 8, 2017, 11:14 pm
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Originally Posted by ryan182
Given J is 2-2 and F is 1-1 and about the same length I'd guess that F occupies roughly the space of 2 J seats so the premium of 2x from a space perspective probably makes sense.
I also originally thought it might be 2:1 but in thinking about it more, I think the F cabin is angled a lot more than the J cabin such that the length of the seat is achieved by having more of the seat be center of aisle to window vs. along the cockpit to tail axis. If that were the case, the 5 rows of F, if replaced by J might only be 3-4 rows of J. Which would mean 10 F seats take the same fuselage space as maybe 12-16 J seats. Maybe someone has measurements or we can eyeball by looking at the number of windows that span the cabin or overhead bins!
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Old Mar 8, 2017, 11:28 pm
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Actually, domestic average airfares, by route and carrier, are collected and distributed by the DOT. Carriers are required to provide this data to the government and anyone can see it. For example, between SF and NY for one of the quarters in 2016, the average UA fare was $412 while for Virgin America it was $298.
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