American Airlines has taken delivery of its first new Airbus A319s and invited me and a cadre of other travel writers to examine the new aircraft in Dallas last week. I was already at LAX on another matter, so it made it easy for me to hop on an early flight to DFW in order to check out AA’s latest fleet addition.
It was my first opportunity to see the new livery up close and while I am admittedly not a fan of changing the tried-and-true, the composite material of many next generation aircraft that AA plans to acquire makes it necessary to move on from the polished aluminum livery. The tail still reminds me too much a mix of Transaero, Air France, and Cubana–surely AA can come up with something a bit more unique.
The aircraft had the new-car smell and was immaculate inside. Naturally.
AA frequent flyers are worried about the aircraft having only eight seats in first class, versus the 16-seat first class cabin on the MD-80s that these aircraft will be replacing. That will no doubt make upgrades harder, but the planned route utilization of these aircraft minimizes to an extent the 50% reduction in first class seats.
Look for the new aircraft on the following routes from Dallas–
- Beginning September 16: Charlotte, NC, Cleveland, OH, Memphis, TN, Wichita, KS
- Beginning October 1: Dayton, OH, Lubbock, TX
- Beginning October 14: El Paso, TX, Huntsville, AL, McAllen, TX, Toronto, Canada
- Beginning November 1: San Salvador, El Salvador
- Beginning November 21: Bogota, Colombia
- Beginning December 19: Vail, CO, Gunnison, CO, Jackson Hole, WY
The longest flight is the 2,439 mile flight from Dallas to Bogota, which is too long to fly to in coach, but I look forward to flying this aircraft on the many shorter routes this plane will be utilized on where missing an upgrade won’t hurt too much. AA hints that these aircraft will not just replace the MD-80s, but provide more frequent service, so we must wait to fully understand the ramifications of a much smaller first class cabin. The seats are comfortable, though, and with only eight seats those willing to purchase a paid ticket up front should enjoy very personalized service.
Coach is great, and I do mean that. Legroom in Main Cabin Extra is more than sufficient and even in “deep” coach Recaro’s articularting seat pan and upper literature pocket in each seat give more knee room and a more comfortable feel even when the seat in front is reclined.
Each seats featured a variety of video-on-demand, mixing some complimentary options (essentially what AA shows now on overhead screens) and some premium content, including over 200 movies. Costs start at $4 and will vary based on flight time. All options are free in first class.
In-flight power and USB hook ups are available at each seat as well, including a new and intuitive place to plug in–on the seat in front, eliminating the need to fumble under the seat cushion to find the plug.
Lastly, the aircraft will feature a much faster high-speed internet from gogo, allowing for more connectivity and higher surf speeds. With internet and seat-back IFE, even a longer flight should be tolerable, though keep in mind that internet will only be available within North America.
US Airways ripped IFE out of their aircraft and has no plans to re-introduce it on its domestic fleet, contemplating a streaming internet-based IFE option instead at some point in the future. Seeing how many now travel with iPads and laptops, that makes a lot of sense to me, but the Thales system in AA’s new A319s are really quite elegant. Assuming the merger goes through, how the two carriers will harmonize their divergent IFE philosophies is anyone’s guess right now.