American Airlines is Adding The Airbus A321 Transcon from Boston to Los Angeles But, It’s Actually Bad News

American Airlines has been flying a fleet of Airbus a321-200s configured in a premium-heavy layout between a select few markets on the East and West coasts for years now.  American’s Airbus a321T (T for transcon) is one of my favorite aircraft.  Featuring only 72 seats in coach, 20 lie-flat seats in business, and 10 lie-flat seats in first class, the Airbus a321T is a delight to fly.

Moreso, passengers flying in American’s Flagship First Class product between JFK-LAX/SFO get to take advantage of American’s suite of exclusive Flagship services.  These services include private check-in at American’s Flagship Check-in areas at New York-JFK, Los Angeles, and Chicago, access to American’s portfolio of Flagship Lounges, and a fantastic onboard product.

When I got word that American was going to add the Airbus a321T between Boston and Los Angeles, I got really excited.  Delta and JetBlue offer their premium transcontinental product on far more routes than American.  I thought American was finally expanding beyond New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  While yes, American is adding its Airbus a321T between Boston and Los Angeles once daily starting in December, this isn’t the great news I was hoping to hear.  Here’s why.


The Details of American’s New Airbus a321T Route

As I mentioned above, it’s been confirmed that American is putting an Airbus a321T on one daily roundtrip flight between Boston and Los Angeles.  However, the addition is for a short time only.  Here are the details of this new addition;

  • Flights begin December 15th and end January 7th
  • From Boston to LAX, the A321T will be operated as flight AA333
  • From LAX to Boston, the A321T will be operated as flight AA1360
  • Both the Eastbound and Westbound flights will be offered daily from December 15th to January 7th

The moment I found out that this addition was once daily and for a short period of time, I knew this route wouldn’t be branded and sold as a premium transcontinental flight.  That’s where things go south, at least for me.

Yes, Business Will Be Sold as Main Cabin Extra But, Upgrades Will Be Impossible

American Airlines is only selling tickets in first class and main cabin on these flights.  This means that there will be 20 lie-flat business class seats in a 2-2 configuration being sold as Main Cabin Extra.  These seats are available to all passengers, however, non-elites will have to pay.

Obviously, free access to lie-flat business class seats on a six and a half hour flight is phenomenal.  On such a long flight, even paying $75 for a seat like what’s found on the Airbus a321T is worth it.  But, keep in mind, service will be the same as what’s offered in economy.  American will offer a limited menu of snacks, sandwiches, and wraps to purchase and non-soft drinks will set you back a few bucks.

Still, if you’re an AAdvantage elite, these Airbus a321T routes are a must.  Even for non-elites, access to lie-flat seats for $100 is a no-brainer.

Business Class is Being Sold as Main Cabin Extra

Business Class is Being Sold as Main Cabin Extra

Kiss Any Chance of An Upgrade Good Bye!

What’s not so great for AAdvantage elites is having just 10 first class seats.  On all other Boston to Los Angeles flights (and vice versa) there are 16 first class seats.  This means that there are 6 fewer seats for elites to potentially score an upgrade.  It’s also worth noting that, typically, the fewer a number of seats in a cabin, the higher the price.  That’s not always the case but especially as a first class cabin fills up, prices go up too.

Other BOS-LAX Route News: Avoid American Airlines flight AA709 on November 24th unless you like American’s cramped Airbus a319s.  AA709 will be operated by an Airbus a319 with just 8 seats in first class and 120 cramped seats in main cabin.

No Flagship First Class Service

Though you’ll be paying the same price that you’d pay for Flagship First Class service between American’s premium transcontinental destinations, you won’t receive any of the benefits.

American will be offering the same non-enhanced first class service on Airbus A321T flights between Boston and LAX.  Additionally, first class passengers won’t receive lounge access.  You can also say goodbye to premium champagne, amenity kits, and Bose headsets.

American Airlines First Class JFK-LAX Lie-Flat Seat

With hit or miss catering, I’d seriously advise against spending thousands to sit in first class when you can just sit in a lie-flat seat for the price of an economy ticket and some change.

Update: View from The Wing reports that you can score a seat on one of these flights for just $518 if you connect in Washington DC. Here’s the full post.

But Hold Off On Booking a Ticket on These Flights

Though I’m just going to chalk of the current pricing to a fluke on American’s end, I’d advise anyone considering booking one of these new A321T flights to wait.  At the time of writing this post, a one-way economy ticket on these flights is more expensive than a first class ticket.  On Google Flights, you can’t even access economy inventory.

How much are we talking to score a seat on American’s Airbus a321T?  For a cool $1300, you can get yourself a seat in main cabin.  Actually, that’s not really true.  For $1300, you can get access to a seat assigned to you at the airport.  Only Main Cabin Extra is available at the moment.


Overall

Assuming American lowers the cost of an economy ticket to a reasonable price, I’d make it a point to book a ticket on either flight AA333 or AA1360.  The Airbus a321T is a very premium aircraft.  72 seats in main cabin make even the coach experience seem somewhat premium.  Additionally, if you’re an AAdvantage elite, you can score a lie-flat seat for the price of a coach ticket.  If you’re a non-elite, you can upgrade to one of those lie-flat seats for under $100.

As previously mentioned, I’d honestly just book a coach ticket on these flights, select one of the 20 business class seats, and bring something from the airport onboard.  There’s a Shake Shack in LAX and trust me, Shake Shack can be WAY better than some of American’s domestic first class meals.

Do you plan on flying on AA333 or AA1360 this December?


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