MIAMI — Does American Airlines’s A319 offer the usual economy class seat, or is there something new? Come aboard with us on a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Monterrey, Mexico, and find out. As an added bonus, I included my two little girls to accompany me and help me with this review!
In March, I had he opportunity to experience the American Airlines A319 business class on the five hour and 30 minute flight from Dallas to Bogota. A few months later, my summer vacation plans included taking my two kids to visit their maternal relatives in Monterrey, Mexico. Our segment from DFW to MTY was on American’s Airbus A319.
We arrived at DFW’s Terminal A from Fort Lauderdale and proceeded to the Skylink train to get us to Terminal D, which handles American’s international flights. Our connection time was just over an hour, but we arrived in plenty of time to find out they needed a replacement flight attendant. To American’s credit, that only took an extra five minutes. We pushed back on time and took off from runway 18L. Flight time to Monterrey was programmed for one hour and ten minutes.
The first reaction by my six and two-year-old daughters, was “we have TVs on the plane!”, after they saw the new personal IFE screens. We got seats on the bulkhead. which means the screens are on the partition between premium and economy. For the other passengers, the IFE screens are on the seat backs. Economy passengers have to pay $5.00 for a pair of headphones, which they can use on future flights. With my frequent travel, I saved a couple for my girls to use.
The IFE itself offers a variety of video, audio, e-reader, virtual map, airport info, and shopping options. The screens have a touch capability or a remote control, and are very user friendly, not hard to figure out. As of this trip, American was using a free trial of its Premium, Basic, and Disney packages. There is also fourth option, a complementary package with limited options.
We were sat in Main Cabin Extra, which provides 34 inches of pitch, four more than the rest of economy. The new seats, arranged in a 3 x 3 configuration, have a slimmer, not necessarily more comfortable, design with adjustable head rests and are 17.7 inches wide. New FAA rules allow for use of the IFE from boarding to deplaning, which definitely helps when you have children. Each IFE screen also has USB and headphone connections, and each seat has a power outlet. American offers food and alcoholic drinks for purchase, but I opted for the complementary beverage service only.
While my girls enjoyed the Disney programming, I opted for the virtual map, while I did some work on my tablet during this quick hop to Mexico. The flight was very uneventful. The only real inconvenience was a terrible smell coming from the front lavatory from the moment we started taxiing to the time we left the aircraft, which leads me to believe it was not emptied properly by ground staff.
American currently has the “adding one new plane a week” slogan as part of its publicity. The A319, along with the 737, is replacing the MD-82/83 fleet, which will be phased out in 2018. On a subsequent flight, I flew on a brand new 737 equipped with the new seats and IFE. The new aircraft generally cover segments ranging from one to five hours. Given the myriad of new IFE options, I think flights on economy will be more enjoyable, which will make them seem to go by faster.
There is also the option to pay for inflight WiFi. The new IFE on American Airlines is really nothing new. I experienced something similar on United two years ago, and I’m glad to see American stepping things up, especially as it becomes the largest airline in the world as a result of its merger with US Airways. Above all, there should be less horror stories about screaming kids on flights, considering the wide variety of games and video they can enjoy. My kids have my AvGeek genes, so they already love traveling. The new IFE just made things better for them.