US Airways completes first class upgrades


A few months ago US Airways announced their intentions to retrofit their larger regional jets with first class cabins. It appears that work has now been completed, making upgrades available now for passengers on an additional 640 flights daily.

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There are a lot of reasons that this sort of fleet conversion makes sense, both for customers and for the companies; I wrote about it a bit when this change was first announced back in April but it seems worth revisiting now that the conversion is complete. Customers – particularly the folks with elite status, arguably the folks contributing the most to the margins – are happy because they have access to first class capacity. Whether through upgrades or through purchasing directly, the first class cabin is great for those customers.

At the same time, airlines are working hard to maintain capacity discipline. And the regional fleets offer some of the highest costs per seat and generally operates in more marginal markets where capacity controls are more needed. By cutting ~7.5% of the seats on the fleet they’ve removed a whole lot of available seat miles (ASMs) from the market. Plus, they made the cuts without needed to kill frequencies, the other means that is normally employed to reduce ASMs.

Wins all around indeed.

Here’s the breakdown on the new cabin configurations:Express First Class Aircraft Chart

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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.

5 Comments

  1. The interesting thing about these US conversions is that when Parker et al took over the airline several years ago, one of their first acts was to remove first class seating from the US East Airbus fleet in order to add additional rows of coach. They also added additional seats to the larger Embraer jets, shrinking pitch.

    My suspicion is that the changes have less to do with capacity discipline and more with the fact that every other legacy now has F seats in the smaller jets.

  2. Controlling capacity in a manner that maintains or slightly increases operating costs (increasing cost per average seat mile) isn’t really capacity discipline in the way that reducing frequencies or changing to less capacious and cheaper to operate (per flight if not per asm) equipment is.

    This is about retaining competitiveness and appeal to profitable customers.

  3. While I applaud US Airways for the upgraded seats and first class section, I just flew on both an RJ 701 and RJ 900 with the new First Class section. The first class seats have the tray table in the armrest, which is typical. What is NOT typical is that there is not enough “Play” in the ability to move the table away from your body. In other words, unless you are slim and time, you CANNOT use the tray!!! Since most folks in FC are business folks like me who want to work, this is a HUGE DUMB MISTAKE. This also means there is just a very small place to put your drink and snacks between the two seats, making that awkward.

    This month’s US Airways magazine touts all the work and planning and design that went into these new seats.

    Obviously, they never tried them out on “real” passengers.

    Another STUPID move by US Airways. But guess I shouldn’t be suprised.

    1. I’d hardly call bigger seats a stupid move, even if the tray table is less than ideal. But that’s just me.

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