American Airlines Will Retire All Its Non Lie-Flat 757s This Year

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Part of the significant fleet overhaul that American Airlines embarked upon shortly before Doug Parker and friends took charge saw a number of the airline’s Boeing 757 aircraft refitted with a modern lie-flat premium cabin.

Of the 34 Boeing 757s that American Airlines still has operating 24 were refitted with the same Business Class seats as are found on the airlines’ popular A321 transcon services between the coasts.

American Airlines refitted 757 Business Class

Unlike the transcon A321s not all the the refitted American Airlines 757s offer inflight wi-fi (in my experience) or seat back entertainment in Economy Class but the seats are, nevertheless, very good (for a narrow-body aircraft).

The refitted 757s have mostly been operating some of the shorter and less popular transatlantic routes that American Airlines offers (like Philadelphia – Glasgow) but they also pop up on domestic routes and on shorter regional routes too.

The older and unmodified 757s (relics from last century) can currently be found primarily on routes to Hawaii but, according to TPG, American Airlines has now confirmed that all 10 of these aircraft will be heading to the bone yard by the end of this year.

This is an accelerated retirement schedule as these aircraft were expected to hang around well into next year.

Good News & Bad News

The good news is that if your flight is scheduled to be flown by an American Airlines 757 you’ll soon be able to book the premium cabin with confidence knowing that it will be offering a very good lie-flat seat up front.

The bad news is that the older 757s will be replaced by American’s A321neo aircraft on the Hawaii routes and, although these aircraft are yet to be delivered, there’s every reason not to look forward to their arrival.

The A321neo will be configured with the “Project Oasis” interiors which will feature smaller lavatories, thinner seats and more seats overall (in a similarly sized aircraft to the 757). It’s also likely that the seat pitch in First Class will be smaller than what we currently find on the 757.

American’s A321neo aircraft are not designed to be comfortable for flyers, they’re designed to maximize revenue for the airline by cramming in as many passengers as American thinks it can get away with…and on routes of 5+ hours in length that’s not going to be fun.

American Airlines 737 MAX 8
American Airlines 737 MAX 8 Economy Class – Project Oasis Interior

One glimmer of light is that the A321neo will offer 20 First Class seats while the outgoing 757s currently only offer 12 so, technically, the chances of getting an upgrade or finding a SAAver award seat should be better…..although this being American Airlines both are very unicorn-like on the Hawaii routes.

Bottom Line

The acceleration of the retirement of American’s 757s will give flyers a little bit of certainty with regards what they can expect when booking a flight scheduled to be flown by a 757….but it also means that the arrival of the A321neos on the Hawaii routes is that much closer to reality.

Personally I refuse to fly in aircraft which offer the Project Oasis interiors unless I can guarantee myself an exit row seat….but even then the aircraft can feel claustrophobic and densely packed.

Flying domestically with American Airlines has now reached a point where avoiding the unpalatable aircraft is the primary concern but also the hardest thing to achieve. More and more routes are now operated by aircraft touting the Project Oasis interior and these routes will only increase in number as the refits take place and new aircraft come on-line.

Can someone remind me why anyone would choose to fly with American domestically if another reasonable option is available?

Featured image courtesy of American Airlines


  1. A few points need to be corrected. First the international 757s DO have hi-speed WIFI and passengers can stream or watch Live TV on their own devices. Also, tablets with hundreds of movies and TV shows are provide to Flagship Business (layflat) cabin customers.

    The a321 NEO will not have 16, but 20 first class cabin seats and 47 (or close to that number) Main Cabin Extra seats. Hi-speed internet, power at every seat, Live TV, streaming and device holders will be part of the new cabin package along with HUGE overhead bins.

    • Thanks for the First Class seat number correction (now addressed) but are you sure about the wi-fi on the 757?

      I flew in a reconfigured 757 in summer 2018 and there wasn’t any wi-fi onboard (at least none that was mentioned or that showed up when I searched for a network). Is it possible that some have it and some don’t?

      I should have been more specific with the seat-back entertainment comment – I have clarified that I meant there are no IFE screens in Economy Class.

  2. I’m pretty sure the 321neo will be delivered with 20 first class seats and all 321s will get 20 when they get retrofitted.

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