Three Digits to Check Before Booking Your Next American Airlines Flight

American Airlines is undergoing a massive effort to revitalize their fleet and incorporate new, fuel-efficient aircraft.  While it will be great to see all of the new aircraft come online, until that day we are occasionally forced to fly on some very old aircraft.  This is only compounded by the addition and cross-fleeting of US Airways jets after the merger was completed.  Understanding the various aircraft types can be confusing but it’s important to know which of the American Airlines jets you’ll be flying because it can drastically change your flight experience.  Let me fill you in so you don’t get caught on a dud next time you fly.

Locating the aircraft type

When searching on online booking sites or the main American Airlines page, you’ll see a three-digit code that represents the aircraft type.  Let’s take a look below:

american airlines jets

Booking screen

Notice where it says aircraft?  The three digits next to it tell you what type of jet you can expect to fly on (unless there’s a last minute equipment swap, of course).  The example above is for a relatively short DFW-LAS flight and you’ll see there are actually three different possible aircrafts!

Let’s cover the mainline American Airlines jets you’ll come across on domestic flights with the pros and cons of each.  American Eagle jets are different, of course, and I may run a post there too, depending on feedback from this one.

DFW Founders Plaza

American Airlines 787-8

American Airlines Jets

  • M80 – McDonnell Douglas S80.  Gogo wifi but only DC (think car cigarette lighter-type) power, main cabin extra seats with extra legroom.
  • 738 – Boeing 737-800.  Gogo wifi, AC (regular plug) power, main cabin extra seats with extra legroom
  • 319 – Airbus 319.  Gogo wifi, AC power, main cabin extra seats with extra legroom, only 8 seats in First Class (harder for upgrades), cramped coach seats, in-flight entertainment screens (reduced footroom under the seat in front of you)
  • 320 – Airbus A320. Gogo wifi, no power, no main cabin extra.
  • 32B – Airbus A321 that is configured for regular domestic use.  Gogo wifi, AC power, main cabin extra seats with extra legroom, in-flight entertainment screens (reduced footroom under the seat in front of you).  If you’re flying one of the premium trans-continental routes, 32B could also mean the A321T, so check the seat map, if you see three classes you’re on a 321T, if two classes you’re on a regular 321.
  • 321 – Airbus 321 that came from US Airways, Gogo wifi, no power, no main cabin extra.
  • 757 – Boeing 757.  Gogo wifi, AC power, main cabin extra seats.
  • 752 – Boeing 757 for international flights.  Main cabin extra seats.
  • 763 – Boeing 767-300.  Check the seat map, the jet code is the same for the old cabin and the retrofitted cabin.  If the seat map in Business (or First, if on a domestic route) shows 2-2-2 across the cabin then it’s an old cabin with angled lie-flat seats.  If it shows 1-2-1 then it’s a retrofitted cabin with the updated business class seat that lies flat
  • 777 – Old configuration Boeing 777-200.  Three cabins (first, business, economy) on international flights with business class available on domestic flights as economy seats.  Angled lie-flat seats in Business, while coach has the old in-flight entertainment system, no wifi, no power.
  • 772 – New configuration Boeing 777-200.  Two cabins (business, economy) on international flights with domestic flights sold as first and economy.  Lie-flat seats in Business class, main cabin extra in economy, international wifi.  Economy seats have AC power and in-flight entertainment but some sections are 10-across, 3-4-3 is a cramped way of going through a flight.
  • 77W  Boeing 777-300ER, American’s premium jet.  Three cabins (first, business, economy) featuring one of the world’s best Business Class seats.  Main cabin extra seating is 9 across (3-3-3) and main cabin seating is 10 across (3-4-3).  International wifi, AC power, and updated in-flight entertainment.
  • 788 – Boeing 787-8, American’s newest jet.  Two cabins (first on domestic flights, business on international flights, economy).  Main cabin extra and main cabin are both 9 across.  Business seats are lie-flat.  International wifi, AC power, updated in-flight entertainment.

What does it all mean?

Basically the entire reason I wrote this post is because I was flying back from Vegas over the weekend and got caught on a US Airways A321 that didn’t have AC power and my phone died halfway through, making for a pretty boring flight.  Depending on the length of the flight and what you’re hoping to accomplish the aircraft type can make a large difference.

Have a read through the above and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

20 Comments

  1. Is there a separate code for former US Air A319’s? I know their config is not as desirable as the pmAA A319.

    Reply
    • I’ll look into it John, haven’t had the “pleasure” of flying one of those yet

      Reply
  2. Get a mophie! It’s the best investment I’ve ever made.

    Reply
  3. Keep in mind knowing the aircraft type is only half the story since US aircraft, even when retrofitted, lack IFE. You can just look at the flight number to know which legacy carrier’s aircraft is flying. 400-899 and 1651-2174 are Legacy US.

    Reply
    • Great point Charles, thanks!

      Reply
    • Is the range for legacy US bigger as I’ve noticed 1641 is also coded as 321.

      Reply
      • Looking into this Vincent.

        Reply
  4. Great, bookmark-worthy post. Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Finally, a really useful (and slightly avgeeky) post! I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain to people why they should pick flights based on aircraft types when possible and that all Southwest 737’s are NOT the same.

    Reply
  6. Good article. There is a huge difference between the 321 and the 32B. I recently flew a 321 (old tired US Airways) to SJU. The 32B is night and day – just flew a LAX-MIA – although the entertainment options seemed limited compared to longhaul flights (only a handful of movies).

    Reply
  7. Please don’t ever delete this post! I reference it all the time when booking flights now.

    I’ve always known what planes correspond to what numbers, but never did all the research to see what all the amenities were with each jet. So helpful!!

    Reply
  8. The 737-800 has new and old versions. The newest version has USB ports and inflight entertainment in every seat. Old versions have standard plugs between seats. I’m an FA that flies this plane regularly.

    Reply
  9. Is there an “entertainment box” under the seat in front of 13D/isle seat? I don’t want to bring anything that won’t fix under the seat in front of me.

    Reply
  10. Sorry, , it is AA “738”
    Than you

    Reply
    • This one is tough. On the reconfigured 738s there is indeed reduced space under the seat but I have yet to determine a way of determining which 738s are reconfigured.

      Reply
      • As far as determining which AA 737-800 to book…The new 737-800’s with IFE & USB Power begin with ROW 8 in the main cabin. The older 737-800’s begin the main cabin with ROW 7. There is no code to tell a difference you can only check once you see a seatmap.

        Reply
  11. Andy – flying on a 757 from PHX to KOA and am paying to be on row 30 with a bulkhead in front of us (for my husband’s leg room), but is there any TV available from this row? I know it going to be a dropdown, but even aa.com doesn’t seem to know!

    Reply
    • You’ll be within viewing distance of a TV but unfortunately I don’t know the rows where the TVs are located.

      Reply
  12. Flying in a few weeks AA First Class #1399 on a 738-Boeing 737. According to seat guru there are 2 versions and looks like is flight is V2. Seatguru says no seat back TV displays only overhead screens. AA just sent me to a generic link “during your flight” which just says setback entertainment on select flights? Is there any way to find the answer to this question? Or just be prepared with a few movies loaded on iPad?

    Reply
    • Hi Susan,

      I don’t know of an easy way to tell unfortunately, especially since some of the new 737s are coming without seatback screens. Either way you will definitely have access to the onboard IFE with your own device.

      Reply

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