PHOTO TOUR: Qantas partner American Airlines' new Boeing 737-800

By John Walton, September 2 2011
PHOTO TOUR: Qantas partner American Airlines' new Boeing 737-800

Connecting to the USA on Qantas via Los Angeles (LAX) or Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)? The Red Roo's oneworld partner American Airlines has its new Boeing 737-800 planes with the new Boeing Sky Interior on show.

With improvements for both business (US domestic first class) and economy class passengers, there are a few changes that Australians connecting on to US cities on these planes -- the most numerous in American's fleet -- will welcome.

But the new information is in a fairly dry YouTube video, which you might not be able to watch at work or on your iPhone or iPad. So we've pulled out the most interesting bits from the video. 

The tour starts with Dallas-based flight attendent Kazumi Chapa welcoming you on board:

At the front of the plane, the "first class" (which is roughly equivalent to Qantas' domestic business class) has four rows of seats in a 2-2 configuration:

The cabin lighting is LED-based, meaning it will be brighter yet less harsh than existing fluorescent lights:

The LED lighting can also dim to various colours to simulate morning or night skies:

Legroom and seat pitch (the space between your seatback and the one in front, which is the space you can call your own onboard) are a little tight for planes that run on routes several hours long:

A sleeker, more modern overhead panel with larger buttons and tannoy speakers at every aisle is a useful touch:

Unfortunately, in-flight entertainment is limited to shared fold-down LCD screens rather than individual monitors, even in First Class. (Note: these planes do not fly to Beautiful Norway.)

Without decent entertainment, it's a good thing that there's at-seat power, in universal AC points that don't need a specific adapter:

The catches on the luggage bins on the new planes open either upwards or downwards -- a blessing for the shorter-statured traveller.

They're also larger than previous bins, which is very fortunate in the USA, the land of the free and the home of the carry-on bag:

Economy class is the regular 3-3 configuration, with overhead monitors for entertainment. 

The differences from the older 737s are more elbow room in the window seat (since the cabin walls are sculpted to provide extra space), bigger overhead bins, and an airier and lighter cabin:

This gesture apparently means "the seats pivot forward rather than reclining" -- so while nobody will be leaning back against your knees, you'll have less legroom if you want to lean back yourself:

A moveable headrest with side supports is welcome in Economy, especially if you've just got off a 15-hour flight from Sydney and need to get some more sleep:

American has around 150 of the older interior 737-800s in its fleet, and plans to receive over 50 more. As American continues to retire its older, less efficient fleet, expect to see them increasingly often on your connecting flights within the US.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


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