My First Flight in American’s New Slimline Seats (Trip Report)

By my standards, I’ve been traveling a lot. It’s been a draining and emotional couple weeks, and to make things more challenging, I’ve been fighting a head cold. I had already committed to attending American’s Annual Leadership Conference, but I wavered since I just wasn’t feeling great. In the end, I went, and I’m glad I did. I was able to experience the new American coach seat for the first time. It’s not bad.

[Disclosure: American provided flights and hotel]

American 321 In Seat Video

I was originally going to fly on Tuesday and I had picked a flight on a 767 (pre-refurb, so it would have been… not great). But I was just finishing antibiotics for a sinus infection and I wasn’t really up to it. Instead, I asked American if they could push me to the next day and on a slightly later flight so I could rest. The flight, on a brand new A321, was pretty open and they were happy to help.

I was really glad to see American give me a seat in regular coach and not in Main Cabin Extra. On domestic flights, I really like trying out the standard coach products. That’s especially true when slimline seats are involved.

On the morning of the flight, I still wasn’t feeling great, so it was time for drugs. I had been told by a doctor that I should shoot some Afrin up my nose an hour or two before the flight and I’d be good to go. Holy crap. That’s an understatement.

Afrin is some serious stuff. I shot it up my nose and it burned like a mofo. After that, I think it started to eat my brain from the inside. My heart started racing and I got a bit dizzy. But sure enough, my head was cleared out.

I left home at 10a, parked at Quikpark, and made my way to Terminal 4. As usual, the Pre Check line was empty and I was on my way to the gate. It’s a much nicer experience when I’m not sitting in rush hour traffic.

I passed one gate showing an earlier DFW flight had canceled, so I knew my flight wouldn’t have an empty seat. As usual, there was a crowd of my nemeses, the “group 3” people, just blocking the boarding area. I had to weave through before I could get into the jet bridge with my group 2 boarding pass.


February 18, 2015
American 2419 Lv Los Angeles 1144a Arr Dallas/Ft Worth 445p
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 49A, Runway 25R, Depart 2m Late
Dallas/Ft Worth (DFW): Gate C2, Runway 18R, Arrive 4m Early
N126AN, Airbus A321-231, Ugly Flag colors, ~99% Full
Seat 30A
Flight Time 2h28m

Boarding took forever. I finally made it all the way to the back and took my seat. This was my first time in American’s new coach seats (other than a visit on the new A321T that I didn’t fly on), and it looked pretty good.

I took my seat and found plenty of legroom, but as with other slimline seats, the magazine pocket and the screen seemed pretty close. I decided to reserve judgment until I had been in them for a couple hours.

View From Gate 49A at LAX

The flight attendant that was manning the PA was not in a good mood. She barked that people better hurry up and sit down because we were 5 minutes from departure time (we were really more like 10). Then a couple minutes before, she came on again sounding resigned to a late departure. Turns out we pushed 2 minutes late.

I had started my inflight entertainment on the ground. The NBC in-flight stuff that’s usually on an overhead screen was free. Movies were $5 to $8. I just flipped on the NBC stuff and used it as background noise.

IFE Options American

We taxied down and then took off into a soupy murk. It was a foggy/hazy mess just off the coast of LA, but we were above it soon enough. By the time we had turned back around over land, I was able to break out my laptop and log on. I was shocked that I was able to open it up and put it on my tray table with no trouble. If the guy in front of me had leaned back, it would have been bad, but this was still better than my experience on United’s seat on the A320.

I started working and the flight attendants came by with drinks. I just had water, and was feeling pretty good in my Afrin-induced state. But they didn’t do another service and I started coughing toward the end. Sorry about that, seat 30B.

After a couple hours, I decided to really evaluate the seat. First off, it was comfortable. I couldn’t believe it. Thirty minutes into a Southwest flight and I’m in pain. That United A320 was torture. But this? I was totally fine with one big problem, as you can see below.

Big Entertainment Boxes on American

The inflight entertainment system was good, and the interface was well-done, but there is a massive box under the seat for both the window and middle. It’s awful. I’d much rather just scrap the screens entirely on a domestic flight. Give me wifi and a working power outlet and I’m good. International is a different story.

The flight attendants have a different aspect of the inflight entertainment system they hate. The call button on the screen is really easy to hit accidentally. It was going off constantly on our flight, and you could see the frustration on the faces of the flight attendants.

Flight Attendant Call Button on American

A couple hours in, we were rudely interrupted by the famously despised US Airways-era credit card pitch. If you’re going to put inflight entertainment on the airplane, you really shouldn’t interrupt me to sell a credit card. Not cool.

But at least they don’t need to interrupt with connecting gate info anymore. That’s all on the screen. We landed right on time.

The Annual Leadership Conference was interesting, as always. But most interesting was the briefing we had afterwards about the complaint against the Middle East carriers. I’ve seen the information that was given to the feds, and it’s certainly thought-provoking. I wondered before what they knew that we didn’t. Now I know. I can’t write specifics yet, but hopefully it won’t be too long.

For my return, I had asked them to put me on a later flight than originally scheduled so I could at least sleep in and rest a bit. That was helpful, and I made my way to the airport for the noon flight.

We were at gate C33, and I quickly learned that checkpoint didn’t have Pre Check. So I walked to the next one down since I didn’t have a time crunch. Once though security, I found the gate and prepared for boarding.

Incredibly, there were not a million people blocking the boarding entrance. The guy doing the announcements had the most pleasantly-mellowing voice. It was a surprisingly nice boarding experience.


February 20, 2015
American 2433 Lv Dallas/Ft Worth 1210p Arr Los Angeles 133p
Dallas/Ft Worth (DFW): Gate C33, Runway 18L, Depart 1m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 48B, Runway 25L, Arrive 7m Early
N852NN, Boeing 737-823, Silver Eagle colors, ~99% Full
Seat 24A
Flight Time 2h59m

Once onboard, I found that I was on a 737 with the older interior and the old paint job. It’s always a guessing game with these guys, but at least I was able to admire the shiny fuselage on the way on to the airplane. I still don’t like the new livery.

I took my seat and read as we taxied out on a cloudy day. We were told it would be a long three hour flight with hefty headwinds. Oh well.

We took off into the low clouds and made it into the sunshine shortly after. I logged on to wifi and did work the entire way. We sat in a high cloud layer much of the way, and that’s no fun. It was a little bumpy so the seatbelt sign stayed on most of the time, but it wasn’t anything notable.

Sitting in a Cloud Layer

The flight attendants came through and did two drink services. I had some water and that was it. I did pay close attention to the seat since this was an older interior. You know what? My legs were more fatigued on this one than they were on the new seats coming out. That was a surprise.

American 777 and 737 with Winglet

We finally came out of the cloud layer over Palm Springs and descended in for an early landing. By this time, my head was pounding so I was really glad to be home.

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38 Comments on "My First Flight in American’s New Slimline Seats (Trip Report)"

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Ron
Guest
I flew AA from LAX last week and was confused by the boarding process. There was pre-boarding for various elite groups, but not for families with children. We were group 3, and at some point the monitors were showing boarding for groups 2-4 even though they had only announced group 2. They also announced that they would check all rollerboards for groups 3 and 4 to save time, and some people did go ahead and check them, even though in the end there was plenty of room in the overhead bins. Overall rather confusing and disorganized. Also, they don’t allow… Read more »
Greg Wesson
Guest

“We taxied down and then took off into a soupy murk.”

Is this a comment on the weather, or your head after the Afrin?

DaninMCI
Guest

I’ve heard that the AA Slimline IFE screens don’t tilt or don’t tilt much so if the person in front of you reclines it’s hard to see the screen. It doesn’t sound like you had a chance to test that rumor. Thoughts?

Jason
Guest

They actually don’t tilt at all. This is also the case, I believe, on AA 77W. If the person in front of you reclines, you’re pretty much SOL in this respect. It stinks and is a huge design oversight (or maybe not oversight, but a cost decision)

dwhubbard47
Member
One thing that I found that worked well when flying with a head cold was a product called Ear Planes. These little ear plugs have a valve that relieves the pressure slowly so that your ears don’t “pop”. You put them in before take off and remove them after you have reached cruising altitude. You put them in again when the announcement is made to turn off all your electronic devices before you land. They are sold in drug stores and some airport shops. They also have some for children now. Try them the next time you fly with a… Read more »
MeanMeosh
Guest

I take it these aren’t the same Recaro slimlines that everyone seems to hate, i.e. Southwest’s “Devolve” seats?

Tatum
Guest

Have you flown on a DL MD90 lately? Those seats are extremely narrow and tiny. Luckily I’m pretty short and I fit in them well, but someone who’s wide or tall wouldn’t find them comfy.

Guru
Guest

MeanMeosh… The SWA seats are not RECARO

A
Guest
I would love to hear a comparison of this new AA interior vs. what DL has on their newer planes. I’m quite fond of the Delta coach product on their 737-900’s and hopefully coming soon to all their aircraft. Looks like AA has similar quality/comfort, although I’m not sure if DL has a big control box under the seats. I’m an aisle person so wouldn’t know. As for IFE on domestic flights, I do enjoy it on the longer 2+ hour flights. If you can’t even watch a movie over the course of a flight, why bother, but transcons can… Read more »
Dr. Jordan
Guest

Are the seats on the 321 better than the 319…I found AA’s 319 the most uncomfortable ride in Y…and that was on IAH-DFW! The IFE was great though. I try and avoid UA 319/320 with the refurb as well.

MeanMeosh
Guest

I found the same issue in VX on the 319 vs. the 320. The 320 was fine in coach, even on the long-ish flight from DFW to SFO. The return on the 319, though, was not good. My thighs were killing me after about an hour and a half, just like they did on Southwest’s Devolve seats. It was odd, as I don’t believe there’s any difference in pitch between the 319 an 320 on VX. Maybe it was just me being super tired after a day full of walking.

Doug Swalen
Guest

” I’ve seen the information that was given to the feds, and it’s certainly thought-provoking. I wondered before what they knew that we didn’t. Now I know. I can’t write specifics yet, but hopefully it won’t be too long.”

You big tease…

IO
Member

thanks CF for the trip report. i continue to live vicariously, but little by little my passion for airlines is fading.

jaybru
Member
Love your trip reports. My guess is that you don’t comment in each of these report on half the things about your travel experience that drive you crazy. Thank you. I suppose each of us look at the travel experience from a perspecive that is our and ours alone and things that seem to drive others crazy don’t register. Experience, I suppose. Bottom line with the trip: were you comfortable? Today, I find the answer is absolutely NO. Either they don’t know what basic “comfort” is, or if they do, and they know you’re not comfortable, the basic purpose of… Read more »
Miss Informed
Guest
Back to sinuses. I didn’t see anyone mention the idea of using saline spray to prevent/cure sinus problems. I’ve always had a terrible time (my first time flying was in 1970) with descents, especially to airports at or near sea level, since my home altitude is just short of 7,500 ft. Many years ago my doctor suggested I try Ocean (brand of saline spray – generic substitutes are a lot cheaper and every bit as good). I’ve hardly had any trouble since. I start with a little spray about 2/3 of the way through a flight, with an extra dose… Read more »
Scott
Member

I was surprised that you called the seats “not bad” given the actual review you gave them and since you said they were better than both United and Southwest. I would have expected maybe “ok” or “fair”.

wowlimo
Member
We are a local limo company in miami and tend to pick up a large number of travellers from miami, ft lauderdale and west palm beach airports.. i must admit, many of our chauffeurs can tell you countless stories about flights, seating and the constant corner cutting airlines tend to take. We’ve discussed this a few times in the office and we, just like airlines, can have slightly fluctuating rates depending on gas prices.. the past few months, we were actually able to lower our prices – although slightly – but we’re doing just as fine. why can’t airlines elevate… Read more »
PF
Guest

Things certainly have changed over the years. One drink service LAX-DFW. That’s not good, but AA does serve the full can. Just hope a mid-flight request for another cup of ice is met with a smile.

stan
Guest

it’s amazing that the giant infotainment boxes under the seats make the entire system seem like a relic, even though it has just been rolled out. although Delta Studio can be clunky to use, i’d much rather have something like that as an option so that the already cramped coach seating can have just a bit more legroom

Andrew
Guest

But Cranky, that credit card pitch is “an exciting limited time offer ONLY available in-flight”!!! I know because they’ve been telling me about it every flight for the past five years.

PiedmontFH227
Member
1) on the LAX to DFW segment they probably did one service because under 2:30 flying time that is all that is required. It’s can be as much as 45 minutes shorter due to the winds when you go west to east. Even if they had wanted to do a second service, there was probably minimal left to do one with. 2) the AA 319 seat is the most torturous thing I have ever experienced. I simply cannot imagine Spirit using a 28 pitch when, at 30 pitch, my knees were crammed against the seat in front of me. I… Read more »
Leslie in Oregon
Member

I’m really glad you got through these flights without damage to your sinuses or eardrums. In eight years of long-haul flying, I had more than a few passengers and fellow crew members who, even though they had followed their physician’s advice, were not so fortunate. Flying with a sinus or ear infection at the altitudes that commercial jet passenger a/c fly is a real risk, even with medication.

HouseofV
Guest

In July last year I got to ride in a brand new AA 738 and was appalled by those boxes.

Back then the IFE was free so I didn’t mind them (I picked the right seat, actually. An A seat.) but now that you have to pay I too find them borderline worthless….but not completely.

I linked my name to a trip report I wrote about it (in Spanish but check the pictures) with some more detail.

Also got to ride on MCE on a 321recently …the mini cabin with 3 rows, I believe. It was insanely spacious!

David
Guest

One of the main comments of the review is the leg fatigue. Has anyone developed any trick to minimize this fatigue???

George Smallhorn, Owner Inflight Canada Inc.
Guest
Your report was actually sent to me by another airline with a particualr emphasis on those boxes under the seat. I can’t stand them either. Years ago I decided, after numerous flights where it was a constant fight between my feet and my briefcase as to which would rest on my lap, I decided my company would design a method to re-locate them off the seat and out of the passnger cabin. We’ve implemented this design onto 200+ commercial aircraft over the years during retrofits. We call it iCACHE and it removes all those boxes and their associated wires from… Read more »
pdquick
Guest

The new livery has grown on me.

Fred
Guest

Flew this and actually really liked the seat, even more than the old version, which I also flew. The underseat entertainment box is absurd. I believe all BCDE seats have them, i.e. all aisles and middles.

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