Business travel is picking up noticeably, partly driven by pent-up demand, and American Airlines is responding by adding first-class cabins to all of its CRJ-700 aircraft, flown by its American Eagle affiliate.
The new service starts July 2.
This from Peter Bowler, the president American Eagle: "By July we will have our fleet of 25 CRJs converted by American Eagle mechanics to the new first class and main cabin design, and we will have taken delivery of the first two of our 22 new CRJs ..."
American Eagle will offer the first class service from its Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) hubs. From Chicago, customers it will be available on flights to Atlanta; Reagan National; the preposterously named Newark Liberty International; the hilariously named George Bush Intercontinental; Oklahoma City; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; San Antonio and Salt Lake City. From DFW, it's Cleveland; Milwaukee; Northwest Arkansas Regional and Little Rock, Ark.
American Eagle said it worked with the manufacturer, Bombardier, design new leather seats for both the first-class and coach cabins on the planes to use the seat-pitch space for better comfort. With thew new first-class cabins, the American Eagle CRJ-700s will have either 63 or 65 seats in coach and nine up front. (See update below)
It's going to be interesting to see how the new design works. The American Eagle CRJ-700s currently have 70 seats in a single class, each with 31 inches of pitch, or legroom -- which is not bad for a regional jet. American says the new cabin seats will be slimmer and better designed to take advantage of the existing space.
[UPDATE: Doing the math? Evidently, American's announcement did not. Obviously, adding 9 first-class seats doesn't leave room for 63 or 65 coach seats. See reader comment below.]