American’s new Flagship Suites business class will replace first class

Flagship Suites will feature on long-range flights, offering privacy doors and a chaise lounge-style seating option.

By David Flynn, September 21 2022
American’s new Flagship Suites business class will replace first class

American Airlines is beefing up its business class with a seat so good that the Oneworld member will remove first class from its international fleet.

The all-new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites feature more personal space than American’s current business class, along with the very on-trend sliding door.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

As a halfway point to transforming into a lie-flat bed, American claims its Flagship Suites convert into a relaxed “chaise lounge position” – which to us sounds like marketing-speak for what other airlines and seat-makers invariably refer to as Lazy Z, sun-lounge or deckchair mode.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

Other creature comforts include several storage nooks, power from AC and dual USB-A and USB-C sockets and, Executive Traveller understands, wireless charging for smartphones. 

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

Each Flagship Suite is angled away from the aisle for greater privacy, with a sliding partition between the paired middle seats if you’re travelling with a partner.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

There are suggestions the seat is a customised Ascent model from Adient Aerospace, which is also seen on Qatar Airways’ latest Boeing 787s and has been selected by Hawaiian Airlines for its first Dreamliners due from 2023; approached by Executive Traveller, a spokesperson for Adient Aerospace declined to comment, but notably did not deny the suggestion.

We’ll first see the Flagship Suites on new Boeing 787-9 deliveries expected from 2024.

They’ll also be retrofitted to the older Boeing 777-300ER fleet starting in late 2024, with those jets – which usually feature on the Sydney-Los Angeles route – seeing their eight first class seats replaced by an extend Flagship Suites business class cabin of 70 seats.

American Airlines' current Boeing 777 first class.
American Airlines' current Boeing 777 first class.

American’s forthcoming Airbus A321XLR aircraft will also be getting the Flagship Suites treatment, to better compete with JetBlue’s A321LR Mint Suites and United’s A32X1LR Polaris.

The A321XLR Flagship Suites boast the same core features as their Boeing 787 and 777 siblings – such as large HD screens, handy storage areas and sliding doors – although they’ll be angled towards the aisle.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 business class.

Each A321XLR will have 20 Flagship Suites arranged in a 1-1 configuration, which is establishing itself as the premium layout for long-range single-aisle jets.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 business class.

American says the versatile A321XLRs with Flagship Suites will appear on trans-Atlantic flights from its US northeast hubs as well as ‘premium’ transcontinental routes (such as New York and Boston to Los Angeles and San Francisco) – a wide-reaching network along the same lines as the Qantas A321XLRs due in lane 2024. 

Those domestic transcon routes which currently have first class alongside business class will also see first phased out, with American’s premium A321T jets being retrofitted to match the rest of the domestic A321 fleet as the A321XLRs take over.

It’s not yet known what the extension of the Flagship brand to business class and the elimination of first class means for airports where American Airlines currently offers an upmarket Flagship First Dining room inside some Flagship business class lounges (including New York JFK, Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles).

American Airlines' Flagship First Dining features in several Flagship Business lounges.
American Airlines' Flagship First Dining features in several Flagship Business lounges.

American recently began selling Flagship Business Plus fares which include dining room access on east-west and some international flights.

As previously reported, American is embarking on a sweeping upgrade of its Admirals Club lounges – the first of which opens at Washington DC’s National Airport later this year – and some elements of the new Admirals Club design will also make their way onto the Flagships Suites.

The new-look Admirals Club.
The new-look Admirals Club.

American Airlines’ new premium economy

The next wave of Boeing 787-9s and the A321XLRs will also see a new premium economy seat.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 premium economy.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 premium economy.

 

Each of the recliners  comes with headrest ‘wings’ for privacy, extra storage areas, larger video screens and a swing-down footrest.

American Airlines' new premium economy seat.
American Airlines' new premium economy seat.

 As with the Flagship Suites, there’ll be a different premium economy seat on the Boeing 787-9 and A321XLR, but sharing similar features.

American Airlines' new Airbus A321XLR premium economy.
American Airlines' new Airbus A321XLR premium economy.

One notable result of this is that American will also end up boosting the premium seating options on these jets, in a sign of confidence for what lies ahead.

The 30 factory-fresh Boeing 787-9s will have 51 Flagship Suites in business class, 32 premium economy seats, 18 Main Cabin Extra seats, and 143 Main Cabin economy seats – out of a total of 244 seats, just over a third will be in the business and premium economy cabins. 

The 50 new A321XLRs will arrive with 20 Flagship Suites and 12 premium economy seats.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 31

I'm seriously impressed with this and the A321XLR, Premium Economy looks excellent - like flying in your own private jet !

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 147

Looks fantastic. Esp the A321XLR P.E. seats as you say ptcruiser. Interesting that first class is now finished.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 341

So an improvement for Business Class  international AND transcon, the new International Business looks like the OLD Transcon Flagship First with an added door.  Only ever flew Transcon AA LAX/SFO-JFK once in Business due to the terrible old 2-2 seating like Continental, and many times Flagship First 1-1  - my favourite Flagship First  Transcon is going, from 10 1-1 chairs to Business 1-1 - so an overall reduction in seating.  The Flagship First Dining room pictured is in JFK and was previously only for those of us traveling International First from T8 JFK, and a few of us travelling transcon A321T Flagship First

09 May 2016

Total posts 15

USA Airlines could have the most modern and up to date aircraft BUT it is in the cabin regardless of class which will determine whether the passenger had a good flight. USA airlines lack one simple fact. THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GIVE SERVICE. PERIOD. If I had the choice i.e FIRST Class New York to Dubai , You guess. Emirates. There is no comparison.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 144

@cross40

You hit the nail on the head. AA, and for that matter DL and UA could invent a stunning, spectacular, jaw-dropping business class cabin 100x better than SQ and QR, and yet.........if their cabin crew persist in behaving like surly New York subway attendants, all that monetary investment will mean absolutely NOTHING. It's the 'whole package' that's the secret to the success of airlines like Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways! A new business class seat alone will never do the job.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 May 2019

Total posts 29

There have been unsettling rumours of American ditching Flagship First on the A321 transcon routes for some time but if this is the replacement product things are looking up!

I’d be very happy to see this seat on transpacific flights so that I can just outright book American and ditch Qantas. The service standards are no different these days and with Qantas’ 18K return fares and a rapidly ageing fleet booking American will be a no brainer, particularly for those who fall in the chasm between retaining platinum on 1200 credits a year and qualifying for platinum one. Well done American! Hope you gobble up quite a bit of Qantas market share!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1387

Definitely sounds like First is on the way out, and AA will settle on Flagship, PE and Economy.

Rumours that new 321XLRs will replace the 321Ts on the transcon routes, with the 321Ts refitted.


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