My First Flight on American’s Oasis-Configured 737 (Trip Report)

American, Trip Reports

When we went looking for return flights from Puerto Vallarta, there were plenty of options, but we settled on American since the airline had two returns between 1 and 2pm while everyone else was later in the day. I thought about using miles for this — space was readily available — but we had credits to burn, so the roughly $213 and change for each ticket was covered.

Let’s pick up this report right where I left off last time. We had made our way through the gauntlet of pre-departure madness and had just gotten through security. On the other side, we still had time to kill since we had arrived so early. It wasn’t too crowded nor was it hard to keep spread apart despite the fact that those stickers on the seats telling people to distance aren’t going to stop anyone.

I generally hate flying out of Puerto Vallarta, but I found out it’s way less painful if you aren’t hungover. Still, the individual gate PA systems create a terrible cacophony, and the one at our gate was particularly bad. Eventually, we figured out it was time for group 5 to board, so we walked on up. Naturally, I was flagged for an extra inspection of my carry-ons, but eventually I was allowed on the airplane.

March 22, 2021
American 312 Lv Puerto Vallarta 114p Arr Los Angeles 335p
Puerto Vallarta (PVR): Gate B8, Runway 22, Depart On Time
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 43, Runway 25R, Arrive 10m Early
N987NN, Boeing 737-823, Ugly Flag colors, 16/16 First Class, 78/156 Coach
Seat 19C, Coach
Flight Time 2h56m

This was my very first experience on an Oasis-configured 737. That’s the one with 172 seats that had people ranting and raving about how horrible it was. I had no complaints whatsoever. It looked good on the inside thanks to the Boeing Sky Interior, though I still find American’s gray/bluecolor scheme on the seats strange. Coach was half full, so we took our seats behind the exit rows and were happy to find the middles empty. In fact, a few rows around us were empty until others started spreading out, as suggested by the Captain when he asked people to try and social distance. (That seemed like a really weird announcement to make.)

Legroom on these seats was about what I’d expect in any regular coach seat. It wasn’t anything special, but my knees weren’t touching the seat in front of me.

Each seat had a 110V power outlet as well as a USB port. And though there is no seatback video, there is a well-designed holder that makes it easy to put your phone or tablet up. I should note that tablet holder is not good for kids. It angles up and is too high. But for adults, it works really well.

We pushed back on time and I waved to my old friend, the jungle-bound Aviacsa 737 that continues to recede into the jungle, before we turned on to the shortened runway due to construction and headed into the wild blue yonder over Banderas Bay before circling back around to head northwest abeam the Sea of Cortez.

The captain told us they had just flown down and it was mostly smooth. They expected the same for us, but there was some hesitation there. Turns out, it was not smooth. Later in the climb, it started to get bumpy, and it stayed that way most of the flight with only a brief break in the middle. The Captain came on to say we were going to stay low at 32,000 feet because the ride was being reported worse above that. A quick look at the weather showed why this would be the case — the jetstream was roaring east over northern Mexico, and we were fighting against it the whole way.

The flight attendants came through with little packs that had water bottles, pretzels, and a sanitizer wipe. That was the extent of the service, but they were coming up and down regularly to collect trash and check on everyone.

I decided to watch An American Pickle on my phone using the streaming offering, and it worked well. Once it was over, I realized they had Apple TV+ shows, so I was able to sneak in the first two episodes of Ted Lasso. I’m gonna need to find a login so I can finish that show.

We cruised past San Diego and then went briefly over the water before coming back over land, hanging a left, and lining up with the southern runways. With runway 25L closed for work, we landed on 25R which was so delightful. We rolled right off the runway and headed straight into the gate.

Unfortunately, the T4 customs facility wasn’t open — not sure if it has been at all — so we had to walk down, up, over, and around to get over to the Bradley Terminal. Once there… it was empty. The kids don’t have Global Entry, so we had to go through regular immigration with them. There was no line. Then we got our bag and there wasn’t anyone even looking at people walking through customs. We just walked right out.

The plan was to just get a Lyft home, but they’ve moved taxis back into the terminal area at LAX, so we figured we’d do that. That was dumb. The taxis now come in the bottom level of the parking garage, so we walked over there and… it was empty.

The taxis had spent so much time arguing they needed to be in the terminal area, and now they make you call them to dispatch someone. We would have been better off just taking the bus to the rideshare area.

In the scheme of things, that didn’t matter. Just know that if you’re flying in coach on American 737s, the new Oasis-configuration is great. First Class may be a different story, but I can’t speak to that.

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39 comments on “My First Flight on American’s Oasis-Configured 737 (Trip Report)

  1. For someone who lives in Europe, the most amazing thing to me is that there are still airline magazines in the back of each seat… I haven’t seen one of those since Feb 2020

  2. The Oasis experience on AA’s 737 is no different than it is on DL or UA. It’s all perception. For some reason AA’s Oasis/Kodiak projects have garnered a lot of press and attention, but meanwhile, DL and UA have done almost the same to a lot of their domestic fleets. DL and UA put a nicer stitched logo in the pleather seating. That is all. I’ve found AA’s interiors crisp, clean, spartan, yes, but that’s flying today. We’re not in 1975 and this is not and AIrport movie.

  3. I am an ExPlat on AA so I have spent some time in first on these planes. I can add that the first class seats are standardized across the fleet now…same layout on most narrow bodies including the 73s, the 319s, and the 321s. Some older US Air planes have not been converted and don’t even have power outlets.

    Service on longer flights in first is still limited to a choice of a cold sandwich or a prepackaged fruit plate. You can still get alcohol on these flights in first though.

  4. I agree, Cranky. I fly out of DFW a lot and I was used to sometimes flying Oasis and sometimes not over the last two years (not anymore as the non-oasis 738s are largely gone) and I found myself preferring the Oasis configuration: Always a place for your bag, clean, guaranteed high speed wifi (though not directly related), and plenty of space.

  5. “I generally hate flying out of Puerto Vallarta, but I found out it’s way less painful if you aren’t hungover.”

    You literally just summed up my past 5 visits to PVR. While that airport leaves a lot to be desired (they have to figure out the traffic situation), overall, I find it to be one of the better airports in Mexico in terms of amenities and efficiency.

  6. I think that the relative horribleness of the Oasis interior is more evident to those of us who are taller (I’m 6’5″) than to those who aren’t. For me, that interior would be hell. And, while it’s true that those planes have the same pitch as some equipment in the DL and UA fleets, those fleets are not standardized in the way that AA is working hard to be. For example, most UA flights are tolerable in economy – though I do recall a certain 757-200 which was a 3 hour torture chamber for me from SFO-ORD. That was an exception, but a very bad one. In the case of AA, this is what I can expect on all of their newer planes. No thanks, I’m not in the mood for DVT right now, no matter how nice the upholstery may be.

    1. Thanks for the TR, Cranky.
      Like stogie, I am also 6’5”, and find Oasis a terrible seating experience. (WiFi and luggage space is indeed better, but there’s no need to torture your customers to get those benefits.). What he forgot to mention was the new bathrooms, where I have to stand at an angle since my shoulders don’t fit sideways. There’s a special place in hell for whoever designed those….

      1. Muskoka – Oh yeah, good point. I didn’t use the lav on this flight, but no doubt it is the torture chamber that I’ve experienced on other aircraft.
        The new lav trend is awful all around.

        1. I’ve had no problem with the Oasis configuration and think the handful of folks pushing this “hellhole narrative” have a misguided understanding of what coach travel is like. As far as the smaller lavs go, I react to them the same way I react to using a public restroom that has an electric hand dryer instead of paper towels: I’m mildly annoyed, but I’m not going to stop patronizing that business because I’d rather have paper towels. I understand the economics of smaller lavs and if they save me a buck every time I fly, I guess I’m OK with them.

      2. Muskoka, don’t blame the airlines. Blame the customers for seat pitch.

        On flight after flight after flight I get on, the back is completely full and Main Cabin Extra or whatever each airline calls the section with more pitch is half empty or more.

        No wants to pay more for legroom. And the ULCCs run full too.

        We get this because people are willing to be squashed to heck for a few hours and save $39.

        1. Southwest is generally fine; I have had enough room in every seat I’ve ever occupied on their planes. UA coach seats have just enough space to make a 2-3 hour flight livable (there is the occasional tighter pitch, but it’s the exception). Can’t comment on DL. Air Canada is (like UA), just enough – though Rouge is Oasis tight, but with a full-sized lav.

          So, no, I disagree with the “oh, it’s the same as all the others” nonsense here. It’s not; it’s inferior from my perspective. Of course, it’s you’re 5-8, it wouldn’t matter and you’d be more bothered by the color of the upholstery or the placement of the lavs.

  7. Thanks for the review and 100% agree with you. The Noise about Oasis comes from DL bloggers trying to tear AA down. I’ve flown both 737 and A21 Oasis, upwards for 6 hours and had no issues. The space is good (better in MCE) the over heads are huge on both models, wifi and streaming rocks. The Kodak FC is a huge improvement verses the Oasis FC so once that’s rolled out, AA’s product is solid and consistent.

    I think post pandemic, AA will shine again, looking at the plans for inflight service and the fleet standardization and simplification, I am pretty excited to be flying with them AA.

    1. Show me a blogger that’s a DL fanboy!! I think you’d be hard pressed. But show me a blogger that’s not out for clicks. And I think that about sums up the AA hate for the back of the bus.

    1. Those two shows make AppleTV worthwhile for all mankind is absolutely gripping, but Ted Lasso was such an unexpected pleasure.

      1. Give Long Way Up a shot. Very interesting to see the logistics of their journey. On top of that, you get to see some stunning scenery, and it helped me plan a trip.

  8. The problem with Oasis is not in Y, other than the reduced seat pitch. In F, there is ZERO under seat storage in between the seats due to a bar protruding down in what has to be the stupidest design of an F class seat I’ve ever seen. The seat padding is terrible and they also don’t recline much at all; I would say about the same amount as a Y seat. Throw in the lack of PTVs and the ‘cabin’ just comes across as cheap overall, wondering why anyone would pay more the product other than a bigger seat?

    But when you’re targeting Spirit’s clientele these days, I guess it makes sense to have a similar product…

  9. I avoid the 737; not because of all of the quality issues but because the plane is not as wide as a Bus. And the lavs on the 737 are horrible for anyone over 4 foot tall.

    Side note: Cranky, have you ever written a piece comparing airline and aircraft lavs?

    1. I don’t recall that CF has posted anything on the subject, but I’ll bet he’ll respond to our comments with a flushed face.

      1. Amen to that!

        I don’t really plan it as such, but between the relatively low amount of liquids offered to pax in the back of the plane and the “ick” factor of tiny airplane lavs, I do my best to avoid them if at all possible. I’ve flown multiple trips from the US to Italy without using the lav on the plane, and without holding it in.

        I will say, however, that if you think, “The plane is about to land, I think I can wait a little longer and use the restroom in the airport after I get off the plane and clear customs,” you will invariably get stuck waiting for a gate and/or in an hour-long line to clear customs.

  10. I got to experience a legacy AA 321 and its way better than those Oasis torture tubes. AA/United are the last airlines I would fly anyway.

    1. Those oasis “torture tubes” are identical in seat pitch to Delta’s new a220-100 in first and economy and literally even the same seat in first as the delta a220, but why worry about facts?
      Take a stroll through sometime… oasis is the same in economy as nearly their entire narrowbody fleet and AA Oasis usually has more pitch in first class than Delta’s fleet.

      1. I don’t fly Delta either bro:

        A220 comfort > 737 comfort
        5 across > 6 across
        Delta customer service > Getting the west Nile virus > AA customer service
        IFE > No IFE

        But hey, thanks for for trying to patronize me.

    1. ChrisTopher – HA! That would be my wife. I had to borrow her phone to take the picture of my phone, so she was just waiting for me to give it back to her.

      1. For a second there I thought that was one of your kids, but when I realized it was an adult I just figured it was a random pax in front of you wondering why you were taking a photo. Yes, the “Please give me back my phone soon” glare from the wife does make sense.

  11. I’m on what appears to be an Oasis 738 LGA-DFW on Friday (based on the 156Y)…I’m in F, so will be curious as to how it is in the F seat.

  12. I do like the placement of the USB port on AA in the seatback. UA’s plug placement between the seats below the seat cushions is awful. You almost have to be a contortionist to get plug in there especially if you are in Economy Minus.

  13. I am not a fan of the oasis layout. The thinner seats allow me to feel every time the person behind me hits, kicks, or grabs it.

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