American Airlines Has Decided to Eliminate Its First Class Cabins Because “Customers Aren’t Buying It”

American Airlines will be the first to offer a new way to travel. “First class will not exist on the 777 or at American Airlines,” said Vasu Raja, the chief commercial officer of American Airlines, during a call with investors on Thursday.

Raja said, “Customers aren’t buying it,” which is why they are making the change. He added, “The quality of the business-class seat has improved so much, and frankly by removing it, we could provide more business-class seats, which is what our customers most want or are most willing to pay for.”

In September, American Airlines told the press about its new “Flagship Suite” business class. This announcement comes after that. The new suite has a sliding door and a bed that can be laid flat.

Starting in 2024, American plans to put the new suites in their Boeing 787-9s, Airbus A321XLRs, and Boeing 777-300ERs. With this change, it plans to offer 45 percent more first-class seats on its long-distance flights by 2026.

In its third quarter, American Airlines Group also made a record $13.5 billion in sales. Even though it flew at 9.6% less capacity than it did during the same time in 2019, it ended the third quarter with $14.3 billion in total available liquidity, which was more than double what it had at the end of 2019.

The industry as a whole has seen a steady rise in air travel. American said in April that it would no longer enforce the federal face-mask law. This means that customers will no longer have to wear face masks in U.S. airports or on domestic flights. Raja talked about how the changes have affected the structure of America.

He said during the call: “The demand for travel and for air travel, in particular, has never been higher and remains strong in the kind of all-future periods. But the shape of that, the composition has changed a lot. Now we’re in a place for the quarter where 45 percent of our revenue came from blended trips, about 30 percent from discretionary, or what we historically called leisure trip. And the remaining 25 percent from non-discretionary that we’ve historically called business trips.”

In December 2021, Robert A. Norton, a professor of public health at Auburn University, talked to PEOPLE about how air travel would change because of the pandemic. He said at the time that “aeroplane travel and cruise ship travel will likely continue to expand closer to normal.”

He added, “Once therapeutics are available, I would expect a significant increase in pleasure travel of all varieties. People are suffering from COVID fatigue and have lots of pent-up energy that could drive a desire to get up and get away. Outdoor activities are very safe and don’t require masks, so I anticipate that 2022 could bring a very safe and successful year. People will still get sick from COVID, but the therapeutics and the anticipated universal Coronavirus vaccines (maybe a couple of years away) will be game-changers.”

Norton also stated that “travel decisions are very individual and dependent on a variety of elements.” “People with underlying comorbidity must continue to take COVID seriously,” he said. “COVID continues to kill, but it is here to stay. If people measure the risk as manageable and want to travel, then they should do so. Everyone should continue to practise good sense.”

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