There are some aircraft you’d love to spend time on. The super quiet, super comfortable 787-10 Dreamliner, with its large windows and HEPA filtered air springs to mind, as does the exceptionally spacious A380. However, others are not so pleasant, and are perhaps best avoided. One such craft is the American Airlines 737 MAX.
The single aisle Boeing aircraft looks OK from the outside. It’s more fuel efficient, which is good, as it promises lower costs to the carrier and cheaper seats for us. However, once you step inside, you start to see the problems.
First class is a definite downgrade from other 737’s. In fact, the seats are the exact same as those AA supply on their premium economy flights, so hardly luxurious. The pitch is actually smaller than those on a premium economy seat, at just 37” compared to the 38” you’ll find on other flights. They do have the promised power plugs and armrest storage, but the angle makes them almost impossible to use.
In a bid to maximise the number of available seats in the Max, AA decided to do away with the bulkhead which typically separates first class and economy. Instead, there’s a weird, partially transparent flappy thing hanging from the overhead bins. This means those at the rear of first class are likely to endure seat kicking by economy travellers and practically no separation between the classes.
For economy class, there are just three rows of Main Cabin Extra seats on the AA 737 MAX. The pitch in these seats is just 33”, making it the least generous MCE seats in the entire AA fleet. Standard economy is even worse, with super-narrow seating and just 30” of pitch. The in-flight entertainment is somewhat poor too, with no screens in the back of the seats, just a holder for your own tablet. The notion of bring your own device is somewhat ‘out there’, but at least AA provide free streaming entertainment on board.
Perhaps the worst bit of the AA 737 MAX specs comes when you need to manage the call of nature. Squeezing 172 seats into a 737 (16 of which are in first class) is a pretty epic feat, only achievable by grabbing every available inch of space from the other on-board facilities. Consequently, the two (yes two bathrooms for 156 passengers) are some of the smallest you’ll ever see at just 24” wide.
If it’s all sounding rather dark to you, you’d be right. Comparing the AA 737 MAX specs to those of the standard 737-800 (before they retrofit an additional 22 seats) reveal a pretty unpleasant picture.
|First class seating||16||16||0|
|Main cabin extra seats||30||30||0|
|Main cabin seats||114||126||+12|
|First class pitch||38-40”||37”||-1-3”|
|Main cabin extra pitch||34”||33”||-1”|
|Main cabin pitch||31”||30”||-1”|
Unless you happen to have some sort of bizarre desire to fly sardine style, whilst waiting an hour for the bathroom, avoiding the American Airlines 373 MAX routes may well be a good strategy.
Initially, the 737 MAX only served on one route, and that was from Miami (MIA) to New York LaGuardia (LGA). This made it pretty simple to avoid the MAX, but now that the airline has taken more deliveries of the craft, it’s beginning to deploy them on many more routes. Here are some of the routes we’ve uncovered as using the 737 MAX:
It’s not always as straightforward to find the American Airlines 737 MAX routes, as the type of aircraft is often not specified when making a booking. Even if it is, it’s often no more than an indication you’ll be on a 737, with the MAX part notably absent for their listings.
Perhaps AA are aware people are trying to avoid their 737 MAX routes, because they’re not making it easy to uncover where they fly. However, this list should give you some indication if you’re as keen as we are on avoiding this aircraft.
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