American Airlines eliminating first-class seats on international flights

American Air Says Goodbye To Md 80 Jetliner After 36 Years
Passenger seats are seen in the first and economy class cabins of an American Airlines MD-80 aircraft at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) near Dallas, Texas, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. On Wednesday, after 36 years, American will operate the last commercial trip of the MD-80, flying from Dallas to Chicago. Airlines now have moved on to models with better fuel efficiency, additional seats and the latest technology, including a more computerized cockpit. Photographer: Cooper Neill/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Originally Published: 20 OCT 22 10:12 ET
Updated: 20 OCT 22 13:53 ET

(CNN) — American Airlines expanded on its plan to drop first-class seats on its international flights and replace them with more business class seats.

Some of the new seats on long-haul international flights will be dubbed “Flagship Suites” and feature seats that convert into beds and doors for privacy.

The change was first disclosed last month and reiterated Thursday in a conference call with investors by Vasu Raja, the company’s chief commercial officer, who said the change is in response to customer demand.

“The first class will not exist … at American Airlines for the simple reason that our customers aren’t buying it,” he said in response to a question.

American Airlines later told CNN that Raja was referring to international flights only.

“The quality of the business class seat has improved so much. And frankly, by removing [first class] we can go provide more business class seats, which is what our customers most want or are most willing to pay for,” Raja said.

Most planes used on domestic routes, including virtually all single-aisle jets, will continue to have the standard first class seats at the front of the planes. Although they also have more leg room and might recline more than economy seats, they don’t lay flat.

“This is mostly a name change. Business class at most carriers is what we would have called first class 20 years ago,” said airline consultant Mike Boyd.

Many planes used on international flights by American already dropped the seats designated as “first class,” instead offering business class, premium economy seats which are slightly wider than standard economy seats as well as the economy seats that fill most of the cabin.

Rivals United and Delta airlines dropped the first class designation on their international flights years ago, going with with more luxurious business class offerings. Delta made the change in 1998, United did so in 2016.

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