A different take on the new American Airlines 777-300ER interior

There have been a few stories today about the unveiling of the American Airlines 777-300ER cabin interior configuration. Most of them (including Ben’s) have been rather effusive, raving about the new Business and First class cabins. And, no doubt, the press photos of those look pretty nice.

But there is a third photo included in the press release, the shot of the economy cabin:

The good news is that the photo shows a pretty nice individual IFE screen, universal power plugs and a handset to control the IFE, meaning reduced likelihood of someone tapping on the back of your seat the whole flight. And those are all good things, but there’s one really big bad thing, too. The seating configuration appears to be incredibly tight. Based on this point of view it appears that the cabin will have a 3-4-3 configuration, bringing American in line with Emirates and Air France for offering one of the most cramped coach cabin configurations in modern aviation. The aisle actually looks ridiculously narrow, too, making me wonder if this is even a real shot of the cabin, but if it is that looks like a VERY uncomfortable coach experience.

Some back of the napkin math based on the size of the power ports and the representation of things in the image suggests that the seats are about 17" wide, maybe a tiny bit less. That’s quite a bit tighter than their current economy products, especially compared to their current long-haul configurations. And they’re articulating – or "slidey" – seats, which means the legroom gets worse when reclined. Ouch.

There was some suggestion that there is going to be a "Premium Economy" product rolled out as well, but no details on that in these photos or in the release. That leaves me a smidge skeptical. Adding that to match their oneworld alliance partners would make sense in many ways. It is also the fastest growing segment of seating in the industry. Then again, when starting from zero relatively recently, it is easy to make "fastest growing" show up. It would be a first for a US-based carrier, so it is worth keeping an eye on.

The premium cabins look quite nice. Matching Cathay Pacific for the business class seat is particularly nice. But most passengers are going to be stuck in those economy seats and it looks painful. I hope it is better than that makes it appear.

It also seems that American has decided in the past 8 weeks to shift the planes from the originally announced service to London, putting them on the Dallas-Sao Paulo route instead. That’s a pretty inefficient utilization plan for the newest, nicest, planes, so they must think they’re going to drive some serious premiums on the route. Good luck.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. After taking a closer look at the first pic (since it’s higher res), these seem to be very very good renderings. That’s just a guess though. Coach looks horrendously tight.

    1. So, even if they are renderings, the C and F cabins are rendered with the seating configuration that the company expects to install. Should we believe that the 4 across in the Y picture is just an accident?? There is no way that aisle would be legal, so I’m willing to concede it isn’t a perfect rendering, but the potential for 3-4-3 based on that photo would have me very worried were I a frequent AA flier.

  2. Those are most definitely renderings, not real pictures of the cabins. Yikes, 3-4-3 on a 777? That’s going to be uncomfortable!

  3. I like the 1st class. But what is up with the colors? They cant get some red/white/blue action? It looks so uninviting and generic. I’m not saying they have to go all TG purple seats and all but something different would be cool.

  4. American Airlines won’t emerge from bankruptcy in its present form anyway. The creditors are the owners of the company now and the court process is supposed to generate the highest value for them – and the highest value is unlikely to be the #3 U.S. ailine with its 5 cornerstone cities and worldwide service. I think we’ll see a pretty different outcome, whether it’s led by a private equity firm or by US Air or Delta.

  5. The layout pictured could easily be 2-5-2, which I think is pretty standard on a 777 (and is less cramped than the 3-4-3 seating)

  6. NZ has gone with the disliked 3-4-3 seating in Y for their new 777-300’s and feedback has been poor – maybe AA should listen?

  7. I agree with you about the Y seats. AA has made many positive strides for their Y seats, but putting 10 abreast is going to negate all of their positive strides, since the seat comfort is the very first thing a customer will think about first. When the first thought is pretty negative, then it is pretty hard to turn their overall opinion from a negative one to a positive one.

    AA should go 3-3-3 in Y. Also, I am a little worried about the headrest. I hope they come up with a more plushy headrest [hint: similar to the ones AS uses in Y] that is not flat or matches the seat vertically. Our heads in a relaxed sitting position is usually positioned more forward than our backs.

  8. Having used the GRU-DFW route many tunes over, I couldn’t be happier with the news of new metal on the route. I has usually been junk! The last to receive any kind of upgrades.

    With the new directive from Obama about visas and the World Cup / Olympics coming up, it is easy to forsee a big increase in demand.

  9. RE: GRU-DFW route.

    At the moment, the Brazilians will pay. Oh, yes, they’re going gangbusters down there, and they’ll pay.

  10. I love it how airlines in the US are always trying to keep up with airlines from Asia. I mean, nice try American, with using the same business class seats as Cathay Pacific, but, seriously, you’ll never come close- not even a scratch- to their service; the people/amenities on the ground, the food in the air, or the quality of the flight attendants. I think the search by airlines in the US to be as good as airlines in Asia is hopeless. Agree?

  11. The new biz seat saw service on US Airways before it hit Cathay, so it isn’t like the Asian carriers have a lock on that sort of thing. Actually, my experience lately has been that the US carriers have been investing more in the hard product, particularly in business, than other carriers. Much of that is because most of them don’t have a first class product, but the hard product for the US-based carriers is pretty solid on their new products.

    The soft product on some of the Asian carriers can be better some times, but my experience in longhaul TG C, for example , was pretty bad. Then again, I’m usually looking for friendly and attentive service, not a fawning hottie who may or may not actually get the service right. What do I know.

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