/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Why American Airlines' New Airbus A321 is Almost Too Cool: 21 Original Photos

December 17, 2013 at 4:36 PM | by | Comments (0)

Six hours is an incredibly long time to be sitting on a domestic flight. To a frequent flyer, that stretch from New York to LA or SF means lost hours of work and sleep. To an infrequent traveler, it's an interminable wait only made bearable by the promise of eventually getting off the thing.

Why does transcontinental travel suck so hard? The problem: old airplanes, with old seats and old technology. The solution: new airplanes, with new seats and new technology. Please welcome American Airlines' fresh and fighting Airbus A321s to the skies.

For travelers who've experienced American's current transcontinental service onboard the achy-breaky old 767-200s, the new A321s will be a revelation. No doubt; we fully expect passengers to board these aircraft and think "hallelujah, this is going to be a great flight," no matter the class.

The A321s are already creeping around tarmacs, in training with AA until commercial flights begin in January 2014 to LAX and March 2014 to SFO. We had a sneaky peek today at JFK's Terminal 8, soon to be home to the sparkling aircraft as yet another symbol of the "New American."

What you have to understand about this airplane is that it's offering perks usually reserved only for long-haul international routes. For example, the Business Class seats are similar to those on KLM 747s, and the First Class have previously shown up as International Biz on AA aircraft to London and Sao Paulo, or Cathay Pacific all the way to Hong Kong. Here we're talking about passengers enjoying top-quality seats and entertainment on a regular, domestic route, and without having to pay a premium for it.

What's new for everyone on the A321

As we said, regardless of class this is one impressive advancement from American. The A321 will be the only three-class aircraft making the coast-to-coast flights, which means you'v got the choice of First Class, Business Class, or Economy. It will come complete with in-flight WiFi; Gogo's improved ATG-4 network will keep flyers connected and surfing through the skies. Furthermore, AA's transcon flights will now finally have excellent, on-demand entertainment on personal screens. It's crazy to think that they've gone this long without!

First Class

Number of seats: 10, in a 1-1 configuration (meaning each seat has both window and aisle access)
Recline: completely lie-flat with multiple other seat positions
Power: 1 universal AC outlet, 1 USB jack for every seat
Entertainment: 15.4" HD touchscreen monitor with video touchscreen remote control and access to on-demand entertainment of 200 movies, 180 TV programs, 350 audio selections, 20 games, and an improved moving map channel.
Amenities: All the usual perks of First Class travel (Flagship check-in, Flagship lounge access, priority boarding, deplaning, extra luggage allowance, etc). Complimentary full, multi-course meals able to be preordered in advance. Espresso/cappuccino. Amenity kits are complimentary, featuring Akhassa skincare products.

Business Class

Number of seats: 20, in a 2-2 configuration
Recline: completely lie-flat with multiple other seat positions
Power: 1 universal AC outlet, 1 USB jack for every seat
Entertainment: 15.4" HD touchscreen monitor with video touchscreen remote control and access to on-demand entertainment of 200 movies, 180 TV programs, 350 audio selections, 20 games, and an improved moving map channel.
Amenities: All the usual perks of Business Class travel (Admirals Club access, priority boarding/deplaning after First Class, extra luggage allowance, etc). Complimentary meals, able to be preordered in advance.

Main Cabin Extra & Main Cabin

Number of seats: 72 (36 Main Cabin Extra, 36 Main Cabin) in a 3-3 configuration
Legroom: 35" for Main Cabin Extra, 31" for Main Cabin
Power: 1 universal AC outlet, 1 USB jack for every seat
Entertainment: 8.9" HD touchscreen monitor with complimentary access to NBC content, 18 audio stations and assorted other movies and TV shows. Packages for accessing over 150 shows, 300 music albums, audio books, games and 200 movies start from $4 per flight. Also available as a paid package is Disney content, including movies, TV and music (great for antsy children!).
Amenities: Complimentary beverage service, with the option to purchase meals and snacks.

Switching from 767s to the smaller A321s means fewer seats, but what American is losing in overall seat number, they're making up for with increased frequency. By June 2014, these shiny AA A321s will fly between JFK and LAX up to 13 times a day, and 5 times between JFK and SFO. Economy flyers sure won't miss the older planes, as the A321s offer what we can only call a "boutique experience," with fewer seats, less noise, more personal space, crazy better entertainment, and larger overhead bins.

These new A321s almost make a New Yorker look forward to flying to Los Angeles, and vice versa. Seats are on sale now from $359 roundtrip, but be sure to look for the "32B" in "aircraft type" before you click to book!

{Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

Comments (0)

Post a Comment

Join the conversation!

Not a member? .