American Airlines’ premium-heavy Airbus A321T jets are staple of the carrier’s most prominent domestic routes. This includes the flagship AA1 service from New York to Los Angeles. But soon, the Airbus A321XLR will take pride of place on American Airlines’ cross-country flights.

The A321XLR is a brand-new aircraft type – one that isn’t yet flying with any airline. But American Airlines has 50 of these jets on order. At first, they’ll take over AA’s transcontinental routes as the Airbus A321T is progressively reconfigured and repurposed. But the plane has the potential to go long-haul as well.

With the ability to fly for up to 11 hours non-stop, this single-aisle jet can go the distance. After all, ‘XLR’ stands for Extra Long Range. It’ll allow AA to toggle the plane between domestic and international destinations.

Speaking to media at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Vice President of Customer Experience at American Airlines, Kimberly Cisek, shares the airline’s ambition for the new jet. ‘We will not only be able to expand seasonal long-haul routes to year-round routes, but we’ll also be able to fly to new popular destinations we wouldn’t have been able to do before,’ she explains.

Matching its versatility, American’s Airbus A321XLRs will feature three classes. There’ll be a Flagship cabin – a premium Business Class offering – as well as Premium Economy and Economy Class. It’ll be the first time that AA is offering a true international-grade Premium Economy experience on a US domestic flight.

The outgoing Airbus A321T planes are equipped with separate First Class and Business Class cabins. AA is the last major US airline to offer these dual premium cabins together on a single flight. Going forward, Flagship is designed to cover both bases with just one seat. Let’s take a look.

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American Airlines Airbus A321XLR Flagship cabin

Travellers accustomed to First Class on AA’s A321T jets won’t be disappointed here – and Business Class passengers are in for an upgrade. On American’s Airbus A321XLRs, Flagship offers private suites in a single aisle layout. The 1-1 configuration provides a window view and direct aisle access as standard.

‘We have brought a widebody experience to a narrowbody aircraft,’ Cisek explains. ‘Our Flagship product has helped influence how we have designed the overall product,’ she says of the broader cabin design. At first glance, it’s an impressive layout. Eagle-eyed high-flyers will notice a few similarities with the competing JetBlue Mint product as well.

But American Airlines is proud to show off its newest premium cabin. The ‘single-aisle lie-flat seat will be equipped with open living space, personal stowage, (adjustable) lighting and privacy elements,’ Cisek adds, ‘including suite doors.’

On a six-hour transcontinental flight, there’s a lot to like. But how will American Airlines’ passengers react on longer international sectors aboard the single-aisle A321XLR? After all, given the aircraft’s range and capabilities, travellers could find themselves aboard an 11-hour non-stop flight. I ask Cisek what the airline is projecting.

‘So actually, our A321T that we fly today on transcon gets very great customer satisfaction reviews,’ she explains to Point Hacks. ‘We have no doubt that the aircraft you saw – the XLR – will be delivering that, (and that) our customers will continue to really enjoy the experience even on a longer haul flight.’

Premium Economy and Main Cabin

With Flagship taking on a 1-1 layout aboard AA’s Airbus A321XLRs, Premium Economy sits in a 2-2 configuration. Comfort-wise, there’s both a swing-up leg rest and a fold-down footrest. From experience on other flights, this helps travellers of both taller and shorter stature to get comfortable for the journey.

For other nifty inclusions, you’ll also spot wireless smartphone charging. The design cradles the phone within the shell next to the seat. This keeps the phone at easy reach but also prevents it from slipping down the side of the seat during turbulence. A comprehensive multi-pocket storage pouch also keeps your other goodies close by.

For American Airlines, ‘this will be the first ever Premium Economy – true Premium Economy‘ on domestic flights. AA’s offering also sports ‘privacy headrests, amenity kits and (other) soft products.’

Economy Class has a standard 3-3 layout. But unlike most of AA’s domestic jets, these birds retain seatback screens for complimentary inflight entertainment. To help ease cabin baggage struggles, American Airlines is also fitting ‘Airspace L Bins’ throughout. Designed by Airbus, these overhead lockers can accommodate 60% more luggage than their predecessors – particularly when bags are loaded side-on.

USB-C and AC power will also be standard across every cabin of American’s A321XLR. But when will the first passengers get to experience this new plane in AA colours? ‘It’s a little early to share dates on when we will be taking our first delivery,’ Cisek tips. ‘We’re working closely with Airbus as well as our other suppliers, and we’ll have a date to share with you soon.’

As for destinations, ‘probably one of the first routes that the aircraft (will fly), is our transcon,’ Cisek adds. For instance, Los Angeles to New York. Once deliveries begin, ‘we’ll start to transition the A321T into the A321XLR.’

Also read: Up close with Etihad’s new Boeing 787 Business Class seat

Photography by Chris Chamberlin for Point Hacks. Other imagery generated by Chris Chamberlin from source material courtesy of American Airlines.

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American Airlines previews new Airbus A321XLR cabin for LAX-JFK flights was last modified: June 20th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin