Watch Out for Smaller Seats on American Airlines’s New 737-800s

My buddy and travel blogger Gary Leff has a great tip for American Airlines (AA) passengers scheduled to fly on one of the airline’s 737-800s. The older 737s are configured with 160 seats, but AA is slowly retrofitting them to offer 172 seats each. This means it’s going to be a lot tighter onboard, even in first class and Main Cabin Extra (MCE). For example, MCE is going from 35 inches of pitch (legroom) to 33 inches. First class seats will offer three inches less pitch, too.

Gary says, “If you’re flying an American Airlines 737-800 you need to watch your seat assignments because when the airline assigns a tail to your flight — a specific aircraft — it may be one with more seats and a different seat numbering scheme. So you may wind up in a different seat than you thought you had reserved.” He says that the way to tell if you’re in a tighter plane is to check the seating chart, where “instead of rows 3-6 being first class, it’s rows 1-4.”

I always check and recheck my flight reservations, which I was reminded is a good habit the other day (when I triple-checked my reservation and found that AA is discontinuing its L.A.-Toronto flight, one that I take often). AA had rebooked me and my family on a route with a connection and didn’t notify me. So again, always check and double-check your reservations. As Gary showed, even your seat can change between the time you book and departure, and if it does you’ll want to be able to make changes in advance.



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Johnny Jet
I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

5 Comments on "Watch Out for Smaller Seats on American Airlines’s New 737-800s"

  1. I’ve “experienced” these, absolutely appalling, and I’m a big guy. And whatever you do, do not take the exit row or the front row of Economy, the tray table is in the arm rest so even less room. It has got to account now where I am frightened by the US carriers, it’s getting to a point where Amnesty International or UN Human Rights need to intervene due to mistreatment of people. Shame on you AA. And unless I absolutely need to, they won’t be getting another cent of my money. What President Trump should do is order all taxpayer funded bureaucrats and public servants MUST fly only Economy. Let’s see how quick AA are brought to order. 5 minutes flat, I guarantee it.

  2. Yet another reason not to fly AA.

  3. Having just seen firsthand the retrofitted 737-800, I can’t imagine how they can make plane seats any more uncomfortable. They don’t recline, they have no cushion and are even more narrow. The worst surprise was that the restroom is where they got the space for another row of seats. If you weigh more than 180 lbs., better plan to hold it until landing because if you get in, you won’t be able to turn around to sit! What is wrong with these people? Oh yeah, they fly private planes. No wonder.

  4. As Americans (including me) get fatter, the seats keep getting smaller, seems self-defeating on the part of the airlines. Charge me an extra $50 and give me a more comfortable seat.
    Who has the widest seats and the most legroom in coach anyway?

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