The best seats in first (business) class on American Airlines' Boeing 737-800

By John Walton, July 19 2011
The best seats in first (business) class on American Airlines' Boeing 737-800

Qantas passengers transferring to US domestic connecting flights in Dallas/Fort Worth or Los Angeles LAX are likely to find themselves on one of American Airlines' Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

But which are the best seats to pick in what AA calls First Class -- but what non-US readers will call domestic business? The latest in our ongoing series on the best seats to pick for your flight has some insider tips.

The plane

American Airlines will have over 200 Boeing 737-800 planes when its current order book is completed. There are already over 150 in the fleet, and it's the single largest type of plane that AA flies.

It's the only variant of the 737 that AA operates, although the latest versions have the upgraded and more spacious Boeing Sky Interior installed. There's no change to row numbering or our seat recommendations, however.

It's a relatively small plane -- especially compared with the 747 or A380 you'll have crossed the Pacific in -- with 16 seats in first class in a 2-2 configuration, with economy behind in the usual 3-3 layout.

The First Class cabin

American's 737s have four rows of first class seating, with two seats either side of a single aisle in each row. For reasons best known to American, first class starts in row 3.

Ahead of the cabin on the left is a closet, and on the right is a galley kitchen. The first class lavatory is all the way at the front of the plane, beyond the entrance door, so it's unlikely to disturb you in flight.

Immediately behind row 6 (the fourth row of business class) is a thin wall and curtain separating you from economy.

Video monitors mounted to the wall and ceiling are the only entertainment on these planes, and they're located above rows 3 and 5.

The best seats on the plane

3B: there's actually less room for your legs in the bulkhead seats at the front of the cabin in row 3, because you can't stretch your legs under the seat in front. But the closet in front of 3B doesn't stretch all the way out to the aisle. So there's a bit of extra room for your feet if you're tall and don't mind keeping your feet out of the way of the crew and their trolleys.

Row 4: you want to be as far forward as possible in the cabin to avoid the noise and disturbance from economy immediately behind row 6.

Row 3: even though there's a bit less legroom here, it's better than being further back. Note that you'll have to put your baggage up in the overheads for takeoff and landing, since these are bulkhead seats.

The worst seats on the plane

Row 6: with economy right behind (and that row often given to parents with infants and children), you're most likely to be disturbed at the back of the cabin.

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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