American Airlines plans to start flying its brand-new, specially configured A321 aircraft between Los Angeles and New York JFK on Jan. 7, according to an internal email that went out to employees this week.
Tickets for flights operated by the new airplanes can be purchased starting on Sunday. According to the email, American will begin on Jan. 7 with two daily departures using the new planes between LAX and JFK. It will increase to five daily flights on Jan. 15 and add a sixth A321 flight on Jan. 31.
Service between New York and San Francisco on the A321 will start “later in 2014.” American begins taking A321 deliveries in November.
American is using the narrow-body A321s to replace its gas-guzzling Boeing 767-200s, which are larger double-aisle airplanes. What’s interesting about the approach is that American is configuring the planes with three classes — first, business and economy. American has a similar setup on its Boeing 767s, but the industry has been moving away from having three classes, especially for domestic flights. All of American’s competitors — United, Virgin America, Delta and now JetBlue — have or will have only two classes of service. (United just took out first class in its specially configured Boeing 757 sub fleet.)
The New York-Los Angeles route is among the most competitive in the world, so it’s probably no surprise that every airline flying the route, with the exception of Virgin America, is in the process of updating its premium cabins. All airlines are placing an emphasis on making sure premium passengers have seats that switch into flat beds.
Keep reading to see American’s message to employees.
Note: This is just a portion of the letter that went out to American employees.
For All American Managers
Subject: First Airbus A321Ts Available for Booking on Sunday, Aug. 11
We’ve been talking about them for quite some time, and now, we’re ready to welcome the A321Ts to our schedule. This November, American plans to begin taking delivery of Airbus A321 Transcontinental (A321T) aircraft as we continue our journey to renew our fleet. Our new planes will make American the only carrier to use a three-class cabin configuration for transcontinental flights, complete with fully lie-flat First and Business Class seats – providing our customers industry-leading comfort and convenience coast-to-coast.
As we prepare for this arrival, on Sunday, Aug. 11, American will load our new A321Ts into our reservation systems, allowing customers and travel agencies to view seat map and route information, as well as purchase tickets onboard the new aircraft.
· American will take delivery of its new A321Ts beginning in November and continuing through 2014.
· The A321Ts are a part of our order for 130 Airbus aircraft from the A321 and A319 variants.
The A321Ts will initially operate two daily departures between JFK and LAX beginning Jan. 7, and will offer an additional three daily departures beginning Jan. 15, increasing to six daily departures Jan. 31. Service between JFK and SFO will begin later in 2014.
· New York and Los Angeles are primary markets for banking, entertainment, technology, and business, and are important connection points for trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific destinations.
· With the introduction of the A321T, American plans to be the only carrier to offer a three-class transcontinental product.
· The three-class configuration of the A321Ts was designed specifically with our most valuable customers in mind and provides a more comfortable inflight experience with fully lie-flat seats in both First and Business class.
· Operating transcontinental routes with a narrowbody aircraft is consistent with the majority of our competitors who also currently fly narrowbody aircraft in these markets.
· Over time, the new A321Ts will replace our Boeing 767-200 aircraft as they retire.
Questions & Answers
1. What are the seat details of American’s A321Ts?
American’s A321Ts will feature a three-class cabin configuration. The First Class cabin will have 10 fully lie-flat seats arranged in a 1-1 configuration, and the Business Class cabin will have 20 fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration. The Main Cabin will be outfitted with 36 Main Cabin Extra seats in a 3-3 configuration and 36 Main Cabin seats arranged in a 3-3 configuration.
2. What are the interior details of the A321Ts?
The First Class cabin will be outfitted with 10 fully lie-flat seats – all with aisle access – in a 1-1 configuration. Customers can individually adjust any component of the fully lie-flat seat including the seat back, head rest, and leg rest. The seats feature a large tray table, a work surface, and water bottle holder. Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets will be offered inflight to complement the in-seat inflight entertainment. Seat controls boast a more intuitive design for optimum customer comfort and simplicity.
The Business Class cabin will be outfitted with 20 fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration and the aircraft will have 36 Main Cabin Extra seats and 36 Main Cabin seats all in a 3-3 configuration.
American will offer inflight Wi-Fi and in-seat entertainment throughout the aircraft. Also, every seat will feature individual 110v universal AC power outlets and USB jacks for charging personal electronic devices.
3. Does American have plans to fly the A321Ts on additional routes?
American continually evaluates its aircraft deployment and will determine the appropriate way to optimize its network, pattern of schedule and fleet plans to match customer demand.
4. Why is American switching from a widebody to a narrowbody aircraft on transcontinental flights?
Using narrowbody aircraft in a three-class cabin configuration outfitted with fully lie-flat premium class seats, Wi-Fi and in-seat entertainment throughout on transcontinental routes allows American to significantly reduce cost and better match customer demand while continuing to provide a truly premium experience for our most valuable customers.