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American Airlines Drops International First Class Cabins

The airline will remove its First Class cabins from its Boeing 777 fleet in 2024, replacing them with new business class 'Flagship Suites'

by Fergus Cole

October 24, 2022

Boeing 777-300 First Class Row / Photo: Courtesy American Airlines Newsroom

American Airlines has confirmed it will end its First Class cabin on long-haul flights, replacing it with its newly-announced, closed-door business class seats.

During a call with investors last week, the chief customer officer at American Airlines, Vasu Raja, said that the airline was axing First Class on international flights as there is not enough demand for it.

“First class will not exist on the 777, or for that matter at American Airlines, for the simple reason that our customers aren’t buying it,” said Raja.

Customers will be surrounded with comfort and expansive personal surfaces and storage areas that they can utilize to fit their needs in the Boeing 787-9 Flagship Suite / Photo: Courtesy of American Airlines

The airline will instead focus on its new ‘Flagship Suites,’ unveiled last month as a luxurious upgrade to its business class cabins. These suites are part of the carrier’s plans to increase premium capacity on long-haul flights by up to 45% by 2026 and will include fully-reclinable seats that can be converted into beds, privacy doors, and extra personal storage space.

These Flagship Suites will be retrofitted on American Airlines’ current Boeing 777-300ERs, its new Boeing 787-9s, and incoming Airbus A321XLRs, and will be available to passengers in 2024. 

Also, part of the airline’s plans to boost capacity over the next three years is an increase in Premium Economy seats available on long-haul routes.

The Airbus A321XLR will have 20 Flagship Suite® seats when it is delivered in 2024 / Photo: Courtesy of American Airlines

American Airlines has clarified to customers that First Class seats will only be removed on long-haul international flights, with the service set to be retained on domestic routes. In total, American Airlines will only be shelving eight First Class seats on their Boeing 777-300ER planes and swapping them with its new Business Class seats.

Vasu Raja further explained the airline’s decision to axe First Class on international flights, telling CNN, “The quality of the business class seat has improved so much. And frankly, by removing [First Class], we can provide more business class seats, which is what our customers most want or are more willing to pay for.”

Mike Boyd, a consultant for American Airlines, was also quick to reassure First Class customers that the level of service they can expect won’t change much:

“This is mostly a name change,” he said. “Business class at most carriers is what we would have called First Class 20 years ago.”

American Airlines is not the first major U.S. carrier to drop First Class cabins on international flights. Delta Air Lines did away with first class on long-haul routes in 1998, while United Airlines made a similar move in 2016.