American Airlines is flying an Airbus A321 to Cancun, Mexico, without any liferafts onboard. This route would typically fly over the ocean directly, but as they do not have the required safety equipment on board, the specific A321s are forced to hug the Mexican coastline.
What are the details?
Flying on American Airlines from Dallas Fort-Worth to Cancun on one of their six daily flights you might notice something odd. The flight times vary up to an hour depending on the flight, despite listing the same operational aircraft, an Airbus A321.
This is because several of these Airbus A321’s are from the older US Airways fleet and never flew over bodies of water, thus never packed liferafts, as discovered by View From The Wing.
The difference in flight times is around 30-40 minutes, but can sometimes be up to an hour.
Not only is this a waste of time for passengers onboard the aircraft, it is also a massive waste of fuel. Having life rafts onboard would seriously not be a lot of weight (they are just inflatables after all) and yet, without them, the aircraft have to fly for approximately 15% longer.
These non-sea flight routes are perfectly safe without the liferafts (the aircraft never goes out of range of land) but if I was onboard it seems like American Airlines is taking penny-pinching to the extreme.
These aircraft are due to be densified and upgraded to the new American Airlines interior (the new Oasis that will increase the number of seats onboard) so hopefully, they will include liferafts as part of the refresh.
As View From The Wing pointed out, American Airlines is striving to be more environmentally conscious and show their passengers that they care about the environment, yet blatantly burn through fuel in a bid to avoid paying for safety features (again, which they take great care to not need through route selection, this route is perfectly safe).
Perhaps they are choosing not to upgrade these aircraft just yet as they have a new fleet of Airbus A321XLR’s on the way. They may deploy these aircraft on this new route thanks to their better fuel efficiency and other interior improvements. These new aircraft may also have a new premium economy cabin that will be perfect for the tourist market.
American Airlines configures its Airbus A321 fleet in a three-class layout. There are 16 recliner seats in first class in a 2-2 configuration. They have 38 inches of pitch but are not flatbeds. Following this is ‘main cabin extra’ which has standard economy seats with extra legroom. There are 36 seats in a 3-3 configuration and each has 35 inches of pitch. Lastly, there are 129 standard coach seats with 31 inches of pitch.
What do you think of this news? Will you prefer the quicker flight? let us know in the comments.