On Monday, information began circulating that American Airlines is considering refitting its premium transcontinental Airbus A321Ts with its standard domestic cabin, known as ‘Oasis’. While perhaps understandable given how long business travel may take to return to pre-crisis levels, it would make many fliers sad to see American’s unique narrowbody configuration go.
American Airlines’ A321Ts are fitted with ten of the carrier’s premium Flagship First suites, featuring a 1-1 layout and lie-flat beds, as well as 20 business seats in a 2-2 configuration. Under normal circumstances, they are deployed on American’s premium transcontinental routes from New York JFK to San Fransisco and Los Angeles. As the only North American carrier offering a three-class cabin, along with narrowbody capacity, this has given American a wing up on premium domestic services.
Setting up for prolonged premium crisis
As we are all too aware, the pandemic has sent passenger demand diving nose-first into the ground. While the leisure and visiting friends and family segments have seen a slight recuperation, particularly over Thanksgiving, predictions are that business travel will take years to return to pre-crisis levels. As online meetings, calls and webinars have become the new norm, flying to-and-fro across the continent to do business may not be what it used to, even post-COVID.
Thus, American is reportedly considering refitting its unique premium A321Ts. The idea that seems to be circulating in the carrier’s corridors or virtual meeting rooms would be to strip them of the four seating options they currently offer and replace them with the standard domestic offering – Oasis.
No more transcontinental narrowbody lie-flats
The 10 first class, 20 business, and 36 Main Cabin Extra, which offer extra legroom in economy, would be taken out. The cabin would instead be fitted with American’s standard offering Oasis, featuring 20 domestic first seats and 170 economy.
This would eliminate the truly premium segments along with all seatback in-flight entertainment. It would also see American squeeze in more seats for a 190 configuration, as opposed to the current 102.
Now, this is still just a rumor circulating the internet and remains unconfirmed. Many would be sad to see American’s premium Airbus narrowbodies turned into just another part of the domestic fleet. However, given the current climate, it is not an unthinkable scenario.
I think I'm now hearing A321T will be Oasis'd, 190 seat config.
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) November 30, 2020
Does it make sense?
It could make sense to lessen the premium offerings while the pandemic is still suppressing demand and there are more than enough premium fitted widebodies to go around featuring a higher ratio of standard seats. However, when demand returns, it would mean that American will have lost a highly competitive product on the transcontinental market. We shall have to wait and see if the speculations turn out to be true.
Have you flown on the American A321Ts? Would you be sad to see them go? Do you think American will go through with the move? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.