Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: American Airlines' New A319

[If you are not a frequent flier you may wish to skip this posting.]


Wichita, along with Cleveland, Charlotte, and Memphis are test markets for American Airlines' new A319. It has been in service for about a month. So, when I learned my flight from DFW to Wichita yesterday was going to be on the new plane, I was excited and decided that I would write a review for the blog.

Before going further, I want you to know that I am a very frequent business traveler. While I do travel for pleasure once or twice a year, more than 90% of my flights are for business. I look at an airliner as a productivity tool. If I can't work on the plane, it is a real problem. Since switching from United (UA) to American (AA) in spring I have been very pleased. AA's flights have been on time much more, are larger (too many regional jets on UA), the fee to upgrade to first class is very reasonable (eating on the plane is a big help if you have a tight connection) and the flight attendants and other employees are much more congenial.


The Review

Immediately upon boarding, one word came to mind: Cramped.

There are too few first class seats (eight), no opportunity to upgrade. There are also far too few of the Main Cabin Extra (more legroom) seats. The flight to Wichita was 100% full in both cabins.

When you sit down, you are greeted by an unblinking "creepy guy" staring at you. Several times, in the middle of something else, creepy guy would pop back on the screen for no apparent reason.
The seats are extremely flimsy. Even though the man in front of me did not recline, every time he shifted in his seat, it nearly knocked my iPhone out of my hand -- twice. The seats are so flimsy, a mechanic was putting one back together with duct tape. That is just amazing after only a month in service.

The seats are so close together, I couldn't even come close to opening my small MacBook Air. The image below is the maximum I could open the lid and the person in front of me was not reclining.
The A319 is more cramped than a regional jet! I found that to be shocking. Not once could I operate my computer which is unacceptable. AA likes to sell its GoGo internet (which usually works fine) but they will not be able to sell internet to passengers (outside of first class and main cabin extra seats) that can't even open their computers.

The seat wasn't the only thing flimsy. The reading light went out three times during the flight. I liked the entertainment system, but the only reason I watched the television show is because it is so cramped I couldn't even comfortably read my book!

I understand many other frequent fliers are complaining about the lack of space. That impression isn't just from reading postings like the one at the link (and another here) but by talking with some AA employees. It is hardly getting rave reviews.

I really like American Airlines. Since Wichita is one of the test markets, I hope this feedback is helpful in reconfiguring the jet in a way that it will produce acceptable revenue for American without chasing customers away. For now, I will go out of my way to avoid flying the A319 -- I just can't take the hit in productivity.

3 comments:

  1. Let me preface I am an EP with American but seriously, the new A319 planes have the most cramped seating I have experienced so far. The MD80's were better and more comfortable as compared to these new aircraft. Southwest offers more roomier and better quality seating in comparison.

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  2. The original plan was to replace the MD80s with Boeing 737s. That plan did not survive the US Airways takeover. What they were thinking, replacing airplanes that routinely flew 100% seat occupancy with SMALLER airplanes, I will never understand.

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  3. All comments seem anti airbus and really belong in the way the plane is configured by the airline

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