Health & Fitness

Is This The End Of First & Business Class?

  • Mar 7, 2024
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Is This The End Of First & Business Class?

Lie-flat seats have been one of premium travel’s defining perks for decades. Whether you’re right at the pointy end in first class or enjoying the delights of business class, you’ve been able to lie back and get a good night’s sleep. However, American Airlines is scrapping theirs for good.

American Airlines is phasing out its Flagship First Class product and reconfiguring its fleet, becoming the latest airline to succumb to a much wider trend in the premium travel experience. The airline’s Airbus A321T — known for its premium cross-country routes like New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco — will see the wholesale removal of first-class cabins.

Before we go any further, I want to highlight that many of the facts and figures from this piece are drawn from Gary Leff over at View From The Wing, who always has his finger right on the pulse when it comes to the finer details of these fit-outs. The A321T currently features first-class, business-class, and economy cabins, but that’s all about to change…

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American Airlines plans to retrofit these aircraft into a bog-standard domestic configuration with recliner (but decidedly not lie-flat) seats upfront and standard economy seats towards the rear. The move anticipates the long overdue arrival of Airbus A321XLRs, which will eventually replace the A321T on premium routes with business class suites that include the much-overhyped sliding privacy doors.

This reconfiguration will allow for a massive increase in the number of seats — and, as. result, the amount of cash that American can make from each flight… see our piece on densification — from 102 to 196, with premium seats taking the biggest hit. Economy class will also suffer reduced legroom and fewer “Main Cabin Extra” seats with paid-for extra legroom.

Arguably even worse news is that seatback entertainment screens, padded seats, and larger lavatories will be removed, as well as in-flight catering being reduced.

This shift in strategy began when US Airways management took over the carrier ten years ago, but reflects a much broader industry trend away from traditional premium offerings in favour of a more “streamlined” and “cost-effective” (read: less enjoyable) approach.

American are far from the only carrier doing this. Finnair has led the charge with its Collins’ Aerospace AirLounge seats, which offer a ‘cocoon-like’ that provides the space for lie-flat sleep without a recline function. Measuring almost a metre across at their widest point, the seats have been welcomed by most passengers, so far…

In part, their decision to remove lie-flat seats stems from a growing trend of ‘recline-related disputes’ among passengers. With passengers confined to such close quarters — even in business class, when you consider the extended duration of said trips — tensions can quickly rise and even lead to physical confrontations as often-exhausted travellers vie for limited personal space.

By eliminating the recline feature altogether, airlines aim to cultivate a more harmonious travel environment.

While the response from passengers has largely been positive others have been open about their mourning the loss of the traditional lie-flat luxury, rueing the prioritisation of peace over hard-earned opulence.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by menshealthfits.
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