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:
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.
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
- 7M8 – Boeing 737 Max 8. No seatback IFE, power at every seat, dense seating configuration
- 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 – This could be either a legacy-American or legacy-US A321, kind of a crapshoot now whether you’ll have seatback IFE or power
- 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. 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.
- 789 – Boeing 787-9, American’s newest jet. Same amenities as the 787-8 above.
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!