American unveils new business and business suites as well as the silent Runway Girl

With the new Flagship Suite, American Airlines is the last American airline to remove long distance last first, and is moving into the industry trend of ambiguously updated business-class naming — with what appears to be the first business division in the front row.

American seats differ between narrow-body and wide-body aircraft, so let’s start with the wide-body. Here, the door spoiler will be installed on new Boeing 787-9s from the factory from 2024.

From the seat shape, screen body structure, support beam under the footrest, and many other design cues, it looks like the 787-9 version of this, at least, is the Adient Ascent.

This is the same seat Dreamliner 2019 product from Qatar AirwaysAnd the Which your author tried in a nice session at the Farnborough Air Show earlier this summer that definitely impressed.

Single-panel doors slide forward to close the wing, and the cabin is positioned in a fully outward-facing zigzag, with the window seats facing the windows and the center seats facing the center line – not the hybrid model used by Qatar Airways.

This design is an interesting choice from America, since in many ways the hybrid model feels more special and allows for a much better experience when traveling with a partner. Given the importance of premium leisure travel to business class passengers as the industry emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on business travel demand, this could be a gamble.

American Airlines Flagship Suite on the Boeing 787-9: This photo shows almost the entire cabin

Center benches refer to each other in this layout. Photo: American Airlines

Inside the suite, it’s the same Adient Ascent we’ve seen before, with a few tweaks. One is an oversized foldable cocktail table that pops out of the literature pocket structure, which is a clever design given its location right next to the aisle.

Overhead image of American Airlines' Flagship wing on the Boeing 787-9, highlighting the table and IFE

The new seat seems to have more cocktail tables than anything else. Photo: American Airlines

A wrist-level passive phone holder on the side table is an interesting addition, but there’s no mention of wireless charging. There is a second small cocktail table in front of this stand. However, the question regarding ergonomics and usability is whether passengers prefer this option over the option of a larger, completely flat table for placing laptops and tablets at an ideal viewing angle while dining.

One noteworthy detail is the QR code printed on the prints pocket featuring the eagle from the vintage Massimo Fenelli logo of American Airlines. While aviation history buffs will be happy to see it again, the last time we reviewed the US brand’s guidelines they said very firmly not to use it, so it would be great to see – in an entertaining and expert way – whether this becomes a new airline icon as these fly. Performances to a real seat.

A closer look at literature on American Airlines' Flagship Suite on the Boeing 787-9.  The QR code on the pocket features the eagle from the vintage Massimo Fenelli logo of American Airlines

Will Massimo Fenelli’s AA Eagle fly again? Photo: American Airlines

Without any fuss, the front row of the Dreamliner’s cabin appears to be a plus-business product, with a door in a different color, extra surrounds for privacy, and extra space. It would be interesting to see how the American brands this seat – Flagship Cabin Extra? – And indeed how do you sell it as a product.

An image showing the American Airlines Flagship wing on a Boeing 787-9, with a noticeable design difference on the seats at the front of the cabin

In the front of the cabin, the first row is designed differently. Photo: American Airlines

There are no details yet on what happens to the 787, which is so late in discontinuing production of the Boeing Dreamliner. There are also no details on whether existing 787-9s – or the 787-8 fleet – or how or when they will be renewed.

Flagship suite on an American Airlines Boeing 787-9 in flat bed position, with pillow and blanket

This show puts the bed at an interesting angle – the usual angle of attack tilt, or some massage of bed length shapes? Photo: American Airlines

However, the Boeing 777-300ER will be re-equipped with the new product, so it is farewell to the first-class rotary seat. With its first-class product your author The last experience was about five years ago and a 2010-era Cathay Pacific Cirrus zigzag bone in business.

The 787-9 and 777-300ER will both be heavy in the business and, in fact, a new, custom-built premium economy seat.

American Airlines Airbus A321XLR Premium Economy

The Airbus A321XLR’s premium economy class seats feature headrest wings for increased privacy. Photo: American Airlines

On the tight side, American is installing a new inward-facing curvy chassis on its upcoming A321XLR fleet. Notably, this product will replace its A321T ICBMs, which offer Collins Diamond in business and Safran Cirrus initially. It appears that those planes will be returned to the wider fleet.

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The product is less noticeable on the A321XLRs, due to the stand’s shape, the curve of the side table, the lighting position, the placement of the privacy divider at eye level, and the two-section door. It’s noteworthy if this isn’t the same Adient product as Wide Bodies, not least because Adient does not offer a narrow version from climbing.

Is it a matter of Boeing’s ownership of the Adient Aerospace product and approvals at Airbus? That would be a complex precedent to set.

From the shows, the solid A321XLR looks decent, with an interesting new round cocktail table on the side table perhaps the most notable feature.

In terms of the upcoming Business-plus division, things are a lot less clear than the 787-9 offerings, with the door color unchanged, and the row numbers not quite matching the reality in rendering in any case. We will watch.

Inside the booth of the Airbus A321XLR Flagship

A distinctive feature of the A321XLR bench is the indoor cocktail table. Photo: American Airlines

In terms of color, materials, and finish, American is consistent — both diligent and off-putting with a muted palette of beige and gray and light faux wood that your author thought gets all the attention for an Ikea oak veneer bookshelf. The point of interest is the red cheat line.

American Airlines Flagship Suite A321XLR

The Airbus A321XLR will feature 20 Flagship Suite® seats when delivered in 2024. Image: American Airlines

Design partner Teague has real slices in this space – Elevated cabin concept From earlier this year, for example – so it’s disappointing that the plate here is rather nice with a red stripe.

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Featured image attributed to American Airlines

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