We have known for a while that American Airlines is planning on refreshing its long haul product, and there is an exciting update regarding that.

American’s new Boeing 787 configuration

American Airlines has a fleet of 46 Boeing 787s, and is ordering 43 more. American will have one of the largest Boeing fleets in the world when all is said and done. We are having to wait a bit longer than planned for new jets because American has been having issues with Boeing delivery delays.

There is an interesting update regarding that, as the always knowledgeable xJonNYC has some insights about what we can expect. It is expected that American will deliver their Boeing 787-9s starting in 2023.

  • Will feature just 235 seats, compared to the current configuration that features 285 seats
  • This will include 51 business class seats, 32 premium economy seats, 18 Main Cabin Extra seats, and 143 economy class seats; for reference, current 787-9s have 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, 36 Main Cabin Extra seats, and 198 economy class seats
  • These planes will have all new business class seats with doors, plus all new premium economy seats
  • These planes will have a business class walk-up bar in the galley near the second set of doors, plus Viasat Wi-Fi

New 787-9 designated 787-9P. 51 biz, 32 PE, 18 MCE, 143 MC. New PE seat, new biz seat with doors, same MC seat as 7878T. Walk up bar in galley @ 2 L/R.

Viasat & Thales.

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) April 11, 2022

This represents a huge change to how American is configuring its Boeing 787-9s, both in terms of the number of seats and the product.

American’s new Boeing 787 business class

There is no official word on what business class seat we should expect on the new American Airlines Boeing 787s. There were two options under consideration when American was testing new business class seats in 2020.

The Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat has a door similar to what you'll find on the A350-1000s of British Airways and the A380s of Qantas. This would be a logical evolution since American currently has reverse herringbone seats on most of its planes.

British Airways’ A350-1000 business class

The Adient Ascent seat was the only one that was on the Boeing 787-9s. The configuration of the product can differ between airlines, making it unique.

Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787-9 business class

The product would be a nice improvement over what American currently has.

American’s current Boeing 787-9 business class

Why would American make Boeing 787s so premium?

Premium American is planning on making the new Boeing 787-9s. Is this a sign that American wants to become a more premium airline? I wouldn't read too much into that.

We have seen configurations change several times, as American has struggled for years with configuring its wide body jets.

  • On the one hand, there are synergies to having a consistent configuration, so that planes can easily be cycled throughout the system efficiently
  • On the other hand, not all markets have the same amount of premium demand; American has generally taken the approach of cramming as many seats as possible into jets, and that has largely applied to 787s up until now

My guess is that these new planes will be used to create a new subfleet for premium markets. The plan is for the Boeing 787-9s to be American's flagship aircraft.

Even though the 787-9s have not had enough premium seats for some routes, American has sometimes flown the Boeing 777-300ER to these destinations.

It's clear that American is trying to make sure it has a jet that works in premium markets but has better economics than the 777-300ER, and that's exactly what this will be.

American’s 777-300ERs have 52 business class seats

Bottom line

By the year 2023, American should start taking delivery of more Boeing 787s. We knew that we should expect a new business class seat, but we didn't know how premium the jets would be.

The upcoming Boeing 787-9s will have more business class seats than the current 787-9s have. The economy will be going down in seat count while the premium economy will be going up.

I can't wait to learn more about this development from American.

What do you think about American's plans for Boeing 787-9s?

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