Today American begins flying its A319s between Dallas/Ft Worth and Charlotte, Cleveland, Memphis, and Wichita. Many more markets are coming soon as this airplane begins to replace some flying that’s currently done by MD-80s. Kevin, someone many of you have dealt with at Cranky Concierge, was at the rollout a few weeks ago. He compared the experience between the two airplanes.
As a born cheapskate, I’ve grown accustomed to flying economy. I’m based near Dallas/Ft Worth so that means many, but not all, of my flights are on American. I, like many people, am loyal to one thing: price. But as I get older I’m more concerned with in-flight experience. All things being equal, or close enough, I’d rather be comfortable. Who wouldn’t?
Today, American begins service on its newly received Airbus A319. Although it’s a smaller plane (number of seats), the A319 will replace old MD-80s on the vast majority of the initial routes it takes. So let’s compare the old with the new.
Gone is the 2-3 seating configuration from the MD-80s. The new A319s are 3-3 across which means there are now middle seats on both sides of the aisle. While I’m not a fan of having the middle seat, it does mean that both sides of the plane have full size overhead compartments. The mid-galley in coach and the engines right next to the cabin are also gone.
The in-seat experience is significantly improved as well. The overflowing pouch of magazines and safety cards has been moved up higher on the seat, so legroom is a bit better. Each seat back has a touch screen with entertainment options, USB power, as well as regular plug power. The plan is to upload connecting gate information to the screen as well, so that the flight attendant running down a list prior to landing will not be needed. As you would expect there is wifi throughout the cabin as well, the one thing the MD-80 also had.
There will be limited complimentary programming in each seat, as well as some paid options. Each display has a privacy screen on it, which AA says will prevent the kids from watching those rated R movies in the seat next to them. I say it just keeps me from running a splitter with my wife and saving $5. That’s no good. I’m not a huge fan of where they put the power outlet (encroaching on my knee room) but they also have the USB charger up by the screen. The leg room isn’t great (I’m 6’2″), but I notice and appreciate the magazines being higher to free up some room.
The A319 has many of the bells and whistles you would expect to find on a brand new plane. It’s nice to see things typically reserved for long haul flights, starting to be implemented on short haul routes as well. It’s a big change from the MD-80, that’s for sure.