Why I Now Prefer The Planes I Used To Hate

After the merger of US Airways and American Airlines in 2013, the two airlines operated separately up until 2015. All of the US Airways planes were eventually repainted and the interiors were rebranded but the amenities didn’t change. This led American Airlines loyalists to try to avoid these planes because they didn’t have the same features as American’s planes, like seat-back entertainment or power outlets.

Flash forward to 2019 and most ex-US Airways planes still do not have seatback entertainment or power outlets but I’d rather fly on one of these planes instead of one with the new American Airlines interior.

If you’re flying on American through one of the former US Airways hub cities, like Charlotte, Philadelphia or Phoenix, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be flying on former US Airways plane. Such was the case on my recent trip to Charlotte.

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On a side note, after reading this article on One Mile at a Time, I’m mildly obsessed with looking up my plane before my flight.

While my A320 was almost 20 years old, the interior was recently redone. While I didn’t have a bunch of legroom with the 31-32 inches of seat pitch, I was able to put my backpack all the way under the seat in front of me due to the lack of any type of entertainment system or power.

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Flying the other direction, I had a plane US Airways took delivery of just before the merger. It was a less than five-year-old A321.

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Photo by brian.ehlinger on Flickr

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The interior was basically the same with 31-32 inches of pitch. This seat did feel a little wider but that’s the only difference. No entertainment system and no power plug.

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For each of these hour-long flights, I was reasonably comfortable sitting in a window seat in economy. I was even able to set up my iPad Pro and write an article. I could have used the internet but it didn’t seem worth it, considering the short flight time.

I find it interesting that when I used to fly an older plane, I’d feel like I was getting the short end of the stick. Newer planes had all the bells and whistles. They had fancier seats and that fresh look.

When I fly today, for a short flight (around 2 hours or less) I’d prefer to fly on one of these ex-US Airways A320 or A321 planes instead of one of the 737-800’s retrofitted with American’s Project Oasis interior, which I flew on from MCO-JFK. These planes have the new slimline seats with no padding and to me feel more like sitting in a lawn chair than flying on a plane. I’ve taken to bringing a small travel pillow to use for back support because I can’t sit for more than 30 minutes in these seats before my back starts to spasm.

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These retrofitted 737-800’s also don’t have seatback entertainment, even in first class. Instead, they have a “media holder” where you can put your phone or tablet to watch during the flight. They do have access to a power outlet but for a two-hour flight or less, that’s not all that important.

And let’s not forget the “tiny-house” style lavatories.

Final Thoughts

American Airlines has managed to do something incredible. They’ve managed to make the ex-US Airways planes in their fleet preferable, not by adding amenities, but by making their newest product less comfortable in comparison.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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