American to 'downgrade Main Cabin Extra'

6 Oct 2015 by Alex McWhirter
American Airlines is downgrading its Main Cabin Extra seating, according to reports. Until the carrier introduced Main Cabin Extra, US airlines never had a proper "premium economy" cabin. What carriers like United and Delta offered was simply a few extra inches of legroom; the rest remained the same as regular economy. But American's Main Cabin Extra was different. At last, here was a US airline prepared to differentiate the two economy classes by providing fewer seats abreast and therefore a more spacious environment. On the newer B777-300ERs, Main Cabin Extra seating is configured 3-3-3, whereas regular economy is a tight 3-4-3. On the B777-200, it occupies rows 16 to 19. It doesn't compare with the more spacious premium economy cabins of non-US carriers, but it did mark a step change in how US airlines perceived such a product. And when American began to retrofit is elderly fleet of B777-200s the same differentiation was applied. In other words, ten-across for regular economy and nine-across for Main Cabin Extra. Now comes news that American, which only recently began retrofitting these B777-200S has changed its mind. It has seemingly decided to follow its fellow US carriers by removing much of the differentiation. At the time of writing, it is unclear what amount of legroom will be offered, but the plan is to adopt a ten-across layout that will be the same as in regular economy. American has yet to make the news official. But reports emanating from across the Atlantic, along with GDS displays, suggest that the first of the retrofitted B777-200s will operate flight AA62 on December 20 between Miami and Paris Charles De Gaulle. It will take some time before the entire (here we assume all the planes will be retrofitted) B777-200 fleet acquires the tighter seating and then one must assume that American will turn its attention to the newer B777-300ERs. So if you are taking one of the airline's retrofitted B777-200s in a few months' time and are accommodated in Main Cabin Extra, then do not think you have been downgraded. Alex McWhirter
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