American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has been going through his fleet of planes, adding a load of extra seats, fitting more into the same space and taking out larger bathrooms and putting smaller ones in.

The American Airlines new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft now has more seats squeezed in than ever before. This is my first plane to avoid.

Now American Airlines is refurbishing their existing fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft and increasing seat numbers from the 160 in current planes up to 172, along with replacing the old bathrooms with smaller ones to fit more seats in.

So far, they have completed modification on (4) of these existing 737-800 aircraft:
Registration N979AN Ship 3DM
Registration N980AN Ship 3DN
Registration N982AN Ship 3DR
Registration N983AN Ship 3DS

There are 3 being converted:
Registration N981AN Ship 3DP Expected to return this week
Registration N805NN Ship 3EE Expected to return this week
Registration N990AN Ship 3DV Expected to return next month
You can track where a given aircraft is flying using FlightAware and Flightradar24.

Next year you will start seeing new similar interiors on Airbus narrowbodies. Again, these will be planes to avoid.

How Bad Is It

In our scroller above, see picture 1 for the existing American Airlines Boeing 737-800s (these are green on the picture). These show 160 seats. When US Airways management took over at American, these planes had only 150 seats. The new management then increased seat numbers to 160. Now they are increasing this seat number again to 172 with super thin seats and just 30 inches between the seats in economy.

They have also removed in-flight entertainment screens, which gives them cheaper, lighter seats that use less fuel due to the weight, teeny tiny toilets and they have added larger overhead bins. The increased volume of bins sounds like a good thing, although with more seats and more passengers travelling with hand luggage only, there is still not enough bin space.

The second picture (the red and blue one) shows an American Airlines newly reconfigured plane with 172 seats. As you can see. There are a lot of seats squeezed into the same place, which isn’t ideal for any traveller but is particularly bad for larger passengers. It is therefore worth going out of your way to avoid these planes.

Another point which is often forgotten about these new plane designs is not just the size of the toilets but also the number of toilets on these planes when there are more passengers. Only 2 bathrooms for this many economy seats will mean long bathroom queues.

How To Avoid These Planes

Knowledge is power, you have read the plane list above, you know which the worst planes are. Now avoid, avoid, avoid! Simply check the plane on your routing and choose a flight at an earlier or later time with an older configuration. Move your flight if you see that your plane will be one of those outlined above.

You may have to check the seat map for modified 737s, in order to avoid them. Even then, there is a chance that your plane may be substituted out at the last minute, so you may still have to endure hours in a torture tube.

Perhaps a better way to avoid these planes is to fly on a different airline such as Delta, who for the most part, treat their passengers much better offering more space between their seats, in-seat entertainment and more.

A third way to avoid the dreadfully thin seats with just 30-inch pitch is to book into Business. You can do this on the cheap with miles and points. If you are US based, you can collect these points by taking out this excellent (free) credit card. Read more in our easy guide.

In the UK, American Express Rewards convert directly to airline miles. The FREE Amex Gold Card is an incredible deal with a huge free bonus of Membership Rewards. For the UK card, you will need to drop me an email for a link to get extra 2,000 referral bonus points.

Final Thoughts

Many frequent travellers who faithfully flew American Airlines for years are now booking with different airlines. Don’t be the mug that pays a similar price and gets stuck in one of these sardine cans. There is usually an alternative at a comparable price… That said, I endured Easyjet this summer. Sometimes you just have to suck it up to get from A to B!

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Take a look at our luxury travel auctions, one of the best places to pick up a travel bargain for a fraction of its actual price. You can also join our auction club mailing list at the bottom of our auction pages to be kept up to date with the latest auction bargains… Don’t miss out.

Remember, if you are planning to book a Business Class flight, a cruise or a luxury hotel, contact our luxury travel concierge to get a quote before booking. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, deals and special benefits. You get better rates and you also help to support our website.

(HT: View From The Wing)

Reviews within this content are solely the opinion of the author and have not been sponsored, influenced, or reviewed by American Express.