American’s new 777 product awes, but carrier is not first in US with top-notch seats

February 2, 2012

Comfort, Multimedia

American 777 economy 150x150 Americans new 777 product awes, but carrier is not first in US with top notch seatsAmerican Airlines’ new interior on its forthcoming Boeing 777-300ER is rightfully making headlines in North America. But do not forget previous product achievements from US carriers – yes, they do exist.

American’s business class designed by James Park Associates has been linked to Cathay Pacific, that bastion of service and quality and which offers the same seat. Yet before Cathay, US Airways introduced the seat (“Envoy Suite”) on its A330-200 fleet in 2009.

Delta also previously selected the product, manufactured by Sicma as Cirrus, for its 747s and A330s. Before that product decision it installed other celebrated seats: Contour’s Vantage on its 767s, and for its 777 the Contour-manufactured herringbone suite designed for Virgin Atlantic.

Even American’s economy product on the 777-300ER has been spruced up, looking sleek and with Panasonic’s Eco smart monitor. But if mock-up visuals are correct, American will go for 10-abreast in economy, a configuration some carriers swear by for the additional revenue while others swear off for having noticeably narrower seats. That will be a loss to the passenger experience.

The biggest improvement and potential for US industry trend setting is what American is not talking about: the exact product for its new premium economy cabin. That class has not properly existed in the US, with Delta and United largely selling standard economy seats with additional legroom but not many more frills.

If American can market it, a fully-fledged premium economy product – which can offer the highest margin per floor space used – can give US passengers an even greater experience, and for airlines improve profitability.

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About Will Horton

Originally from New York City - now lives in Hong Kong. An active follower of the air transport industry interested in how the Asia-Pacific region's emerging airlines are addressing the passenger experience given their high-fuelled growth. Will also writes for the Centre for Aviation. He previously worked for Flightglobal.

View all posts by Will Horton
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