Ranking the Different American Airlines Business Class Seats

Product consistency?  Who wants product consistency?

Certainly that’s not the goal at the new American…. at least not as far as Business Class seats are concerned!  Due to its merger with US Airways, an aging international fleet and seat supplier issues, American now features no less than nine (9) different international business class products.

Nine.

Of those, seven (7) are on wide body planes used for the vast majority of international routes to Europe, South America and Asia.  Over the past year or so, I’ve been able to fly on each wide body business class cabin in the American fleet, so I figured it was time to decipher the differences and rank them — all in one post!

But first?  The candidates (along with my past and future reviews of these flights) – many of these flights were in the last few weeks or months, so are in my queue to either write and/or edit and publish reviews:

  • A330-200 and A330-300 “Envoy” Suite
  • B767-300 “old” configuration
    • MIA-MXP (upcoming)
  • B767-300 “new” configuration
    • ZRH-JFK (upcoming)
  • B777-200 “old” configuration
    • MIA-EZE (upcoming)
    • SCL-MIA (upcoming)
  • B777-200 “new” configuration
  • B777-300ER
  • B787-8 Dreamliner

Let’s go ahead and profile each of these types of Business Class seats!

A330-200 and A330-300 “Envoy” Suite

Envoy Suites class on US Airways A330-200

Envoy Suites class on US Airways A330-200

The original Zodiac Cirrus model reverse herringbone seat.  US Airways introduced this seat to its fleet several years back.  It features direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration, along with good IFE and good personal space.

Pros

  • Direct Aisle Access
  • Personal Space
  • Good IFE
  • Legroom
  • Readily available on flights from CLT and PHL

Cons

  • Smaller foot well
  • Storage
  • A smudge less private than the B777-300ER and “new” B777-200
  • IFE screen is a bit smaller

B767-300 “Old” Configuration

"Old" American B767-300 Business Class

“Old” American B767-300 Business Class

This is the old, legacy AA “slanted” flat bed seat in a 2-2-2 configuration. IFE is by tablet on international routes (no IFE is available domestically).  This is not your ideal aircraft for an international flight.

Pros

  • It’s not economy
  • Decently comfortable for lounging
  • Decent for travel for a couple (window / aisle pairs)
  • Tablet IFE is much better than built-in IFE on B777-200

Cons

  • Tablet IFE (no IFE domestically)
  • Not direct aisle access for all seats
  • Does not lay flat
  • Awkward reclined seating positions
  • Old, worn product

B767-300 “New” Configuration

American Airlines B767-300 New Business Class

American Airlines B767-300 New Business Class

This refurbished version of the B767-300 is a drastic improvement over the “old” configuration. Featuring a 1-2-1 setup, this cabin has direct aisle access for all passengers.  All seats lay flat, and IFE is with a loaded tablet.

Pros

  • Direct Aisle Access
  • Legroom
  • Privacy (odd row, window seats)
  • Good for travel as a couple (middle seats)
  • Large footwell (aisles)
  • Storage

Cons

  • Staggered configuration means not all seats are the same
  • Tablet Wifi is awkward and comes unplugged on occasion
  • Tray table is difficult to use
  • Not that private (other than odd row window seats)

B777-200 “old” configuration

American Airlines "old" B777-200 Business Class

American Airlines “old” B777-200 Business Class

American has dozens of aircraft with this older business class configuration.  It is very similar to that of the older B767-300 seat, but it has in-seat IFE – though that is quite dated.  Seating is in a 2-3-2 configuration, so there is not direct aisle access.  Seats do not lay flat.

Pros

  • In seat IFE
  • Somewhat comfortable for lounging
  • Decent for travel for a couple (window / aisle pairs)

Cons

  • Small and old IFE screens
  • Not direct aisle access for all seats
  • Does not lay flat
  • Awkward reclined seating positions
  • Not comfortable for sleeping
  • Old, worn product

B777-200 “new” configuration

American Airlines "New" B777-200 Business Class

American Airlines “New” B777-200 Business Class (Rear-Facing seat)

The “new” configuration (“772” on AA schedules) is a massive leap from the “old” configuration.  There are a few B777s int he fleet with this configuration, but the rest of them will get yet another version due to production issues at Zodiac.  This seat features direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 setup, and all seats lay flat.  Rows alternate between forward-facing and rear-facing, and there are certainly advantages to each one.

Pros

  • Direct aisle access
  • Legroom
  • Storage (good on both seats – backwards-facing seats have more)
  • Personal Space (more personal space in backwards-facing seats, but more claustrophobic too)
  • Privacy
  • IFE

Cons

  • Foot wells are smaller in backwards-facing seats
  • Not as much legroom as the B777-300ER when in flat-bed position

B787-8 Dreamliner

American Airlines B787-8 Business Class

American Airlines B787-8 Business Class

The B787-8 Dreamliner features for all intents and purposes the same seat as the “new” configuration B777-200.  It just seems sparklier and newer since it’s onboard a brand new aircraft.  The business class cabin in the Dreamliner is also in a 1-2-1 configuration with forwards and backwards facing alternating rows, which affords all passengers direct aisle access and flat-bed seating.  The large windows and electrochromatic windows are a fun feature for window seats.

Pros

  • Direct aisle access
  • Legroom
  • Storage (good on both seats – backwards-facing seats have more)
  • Personal Space (more personal space in backwards-facing seats, but more claustrophobic too)
  • Windows controlled by IFE or by shading buttons (backwards-facing window seats are closer to windows than forwards-facing window seats)
  • Privacy
  • IFE

Cons

  • Foot wells are smaller in backwards-facing seats
  • Not as much legroom as the B777-300ER when in flat-bed position

B777-300ER

Business Class on the American B777-300ER

Business Class on the American B777-300ER

Quite probably one of the best business class seats in the world.  This reverse herringbone seat is configured in a 1-2-1 configuration provides a spacious seat with generous personal space, storage and legroom.  It features the top of the line IFE product.

Pros

  • Direct Aisle Access
  • Legroom
  • Storage
  • Personal space
  • Privacy
  • IFE

Cons:

  • Large Business Class cabin can result in not getting entree selection in back rows (if not pre-ordered)

Future Planes

Confused yet?

To pile on this, American has announced that it will be installing yet another business class seat on the following planes:

  • Remaining B777-200 retro-fits
  • New B787-9 Dreamliners
  • New A350-900

This is due to the seat manufacturer issues and delays for the seats that are being used on the B787-8 and “new” B777-200.  The issues and delays got so bad that American completely terminated its contract with Zodiac for these seats.

American is currently in negotiations with another vendor for the NEXT business class seat.


As promised, my rankings…

My Overall Rankings

  1.  B777-300ER
  2. B787-8 Dreamliner
  3. A330-200 and A330-300 “Envoy” Suite
  4. B777-200 “new” configuration
  5. B767-300 “new” configuration
  6. B767-300 “old” configuration
  7. B777-200 “old” configuration

Legroom

  1.  B777-300ER
  2. B767-300 “new”
  3. (tie) B777-200 “new” configuration / B787-8 Dreamliner
  4. A330-200 and A330-300 “Envoy” Suite
  5. (tie) B777-200 “old” configuration / B767-300 “old” configuration

Personal Space

  1.  B777-300ER
  2. A330-200 and A330-300 “Envoy” Suite
  3. B787-8 Dreamliner / B777-200New” Configuration – forward-facing seats
  4. B787-8 Dreamliner / B777-200 “New” Configuration – backwards-facing seats
  5. B767-300 “New” Configuration
  6. (tie) B777-200 “Old” Configuration / B767-300 “Old” Configuration

In-Flight Entertainment

  1. B787-8 Dreamliner
  2.  (tie)  B777-300ER / B777-200 “New” Configuration
  3. A330-200 and A330-300 “Envoy” Suite
  4. (tie) B767-300 “new” configuration (tablet) / B767-300 “old” configuration (tablet)
  5. B777-200 “old” configuration

Well, that’s my two cents.  Does anyone else have thoughts on their favorite AA Business Class seats?

 

2 Thoughts on “Ranking the Different American Airlines Business Class Seats

  1. Are still any of the old config (lay angled) A330’s from US Air still operating? I know at one time pre-merger that US Air had some of these still going to Europe.

    Also I assume AA has a schedule to re-config or replace all the old planes. Is there a set schedule for this?

    • All A330s are the 1-2-1, former “Envoy Suite” style — so that’s a good thing. AA has a plan, but I don’t know what the details are other than the 787-8s replacing 767s. Some 767s will be kept around for a few years, but will be the new configurations The 777-200s that have not already been retrofitted, will all be outfitted with a new business class seat (design TBD, as mentioned). New 777-300ERs, 787-9s and A350s will expand routes, replace older A330s and B777-200s as they age.

      The re-configure schedule for the 777-200s was set, but they scrapped the schedule when they canceled the contract with Zodiac – the seat vendor. The retrofit schedule is now TBD until the new seat and vendor is announced.

      I’ll look around for something more detailed.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation