When Is Southwest Better Than American Airlines In Coach?


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American Airlines has launched a new Coach product on their brand new Boeing 737 MAX. If you have the choice between the American Boeing 737 MAX experience and Southwest, chose to fly Southwest, JetBlue or even Alaska (this preference is currently specifically related to the Boeing 737 MAX plane).


Known as the new ‘No Legroom’ plane, the new Boeing 737 MAX is a densified plane which squeezes more passengers in. The seat pitch on this plane is just 30 inches, compared to the standard for American Airlines, which is 31 inches. The seats themselves are slimline with less padding. This means that the airline can take back legroom out of the space which was previously taken up by the old seat padding.

Television screens have also been removed to save fuel as they are heavy. American has also limited the seat recline to 2 inches (from 4).

The Good Bits

The gate-to-gate high-speed Wi-Fi on these American planes is very good, in concept at least, although there have been numerous reports about this Wi-Fi not yet working properly. There are also plenty of power sockets and the interior is bright with decent oversized overhead bins.

The Bad Bits

There is not enough room for a normal sized person to place their laptop on the tray and type comfortably. When compared to Southwest, with similarly densified cabins, American loses on this aspect. On Southwest, you can type and use a laptop in the space provided. On American, you can type, but only at an uncomfortable angle.

The toilet is also tiny, and I mean tiny, so small that a larger person could get jammed in.


The new 30 inch pitch slimline seat is not really any worse than the existing US Airways Coach, it IS worse than the older American Airlines coach. It is also worse than Southwest, so given the choice, chose Southwest (or JetBlue or even Alaska).

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