Coast to Coast: American Airlines Offers a First Class Experience at a Business Class Price

by  Alex Schechter | Mar 31, 2014
Plane in the sky
Plane in the sky / undefinedundefined/iStock

A newly-launched service on American Airlines makes travel between New York and Los Angeles easier than ever, thanks to a compact, efficient in-flight experience aboard the Airbus A321T. Earlier this year, the airline introduced the planes to its fleet in an effort to cut down on fuel costs (the A321 is small, with only 66 seats) and offer a more intimate flying experience for the many travelers shuttling between East and West coasts.

At $472, a roundtrip Economy ticket is comparable to similar flights on Delta and United. What makes the A321T special – aside from the super sleek interiors, free WiFi, and the fact that it's specifically designed for the transcontinental route that it flies – is its seat configuration. It's currently the only domestic carrier offering three cabin options for flights between new York and Los Angeles, as well as New York and San Francisco.

So how does this benefit you, the traveler?

First Class is a luxury most of us can't afford. It's an exalted, magical place that we half-notice as we're shuffling onto the plane towards our cheaper, more compact quarters in the back. And there's no exception here: on the A321T, which offers three classes of seats, a round-trip first class ticket between New York and Los Angeles on the A321T costs upwards of $4,000. A ticket in business class is about $1,000 less. That's still a splurge, of course. But if you're looking for good value for luxurious services, a business class ticket might be all you need.

Consider this: with fully lie-flat seats, individual 15.4" HD TV screens (which you can watch with Bose headphones), and multiple plug outlets for your devices, business class has quickly become the runaway star of the A321T's many features. Yes, first class has 1-1 seat configuration and a slightly more elaborate dining program (cappuccino machines, ahem...). But that seems minor when you consider that, in business class, you'll still have a fully lie-flat seat all to yourself, and more or less the same menu options as first class passengers.

Of course, none of this will matter to folks with an airfare budget of $500 or less. But for those with a little more fiscal flexibility, business class offers real bang for your buck.  You'll have a first class experience at a business class price.

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