American Airlines has opted to drop first class on 47 of its long-haul Boeing 777-200s and instead is installing new lie-flat business seats. The seat count will go from 247 to 289 seats, to be completed in late 2016.
“We’re responding to what demand is,” Casey Norton, an American spokesman, mentioned to Bloomberg. “We’ve looked at what the demand level is for business and also what we need in the main cabin as well. That’s where we think we’ve hit the sweet spot.”
Three-cabin service will continue only on the 777-300ER, the largest aircraft American flies with routes such as Miami-Sao Paulo (routes where the airline sees a demand for paid first class customers), and one domestic plane, the Airbus A321T, that flies cross country between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Bottom line: Delta has also opted for business class over first class. Some industry experts say that the move to business class from first class is partially the result of corporate travel policies that state employees may not purchase first class seats but are allowed to purchase business class. This move by the airlines will up the competition for business class seats using frequent flyer miles.