American Airlines A319 First Class Review
Updated: Nov 1
With all the time I have now ( April 2020) and because this is the most recent aircraft I have flown on (March 2020) I thought I’d add another review of American Airlines Domestic First Class. Some of this is really just rehashing many things from my review of American’s A321’s https://www.patstravelreviews.com/post/american-airlines-a321-first-class-review but I can update their Wi-Fi and Inflight Entertainment (IFE) options which have become a little obsolete since these reviews were published. ** See bottom for updates to catering, Wi-Fi and seating. I apologize as many things have changed (and returned) in the last few years and trying to keep up has made this hard to read. I hope to have a new review of their B737 soon that will be much more current.
First Class on the A319 only has two rows in a 2×2 configuration for a total of 8 seats. Much like American’s A321’s there are two versions of the A319. The ones inherited from USAir (averages almost 20 years old) that American refers to as Version 2 and the ones AA
purchased before the merger (delivered in mid 2010’s) that they refer to as version 1. Also, like the A321’s there are several variants to the older A319’s. Different leg room, especially in the bulkhead. Some planes have a cut-out in row 1, others do not. The seats with the cut-out have at least two inches extra leg room and is much more comfortable than the ones without. The seat pitch between the two versions are the same (38″) in row 2, however, the newer (version 1) planes have more pitch (distance from back of chair to wall) in the bulkhead, meaning it is easier for the passenger in window seat to get by their neighbor. All the USAir seats have been renovated, and like the A321, they kept the original seat and just reupholstered them. Well, there is one change (and I am also seeing this on more A321’s). Every USAir A319 I have flown on has had a storage area under the center armrest that also has a power
plug in it. This is a big improvement over the seats that did not have a power port (like many of the USAir A321’s still don’t). So the seats have the same tray table and same recline as when USAir took delivery of them. This also means that there are some signs of
aging even though the padding is brand new. Like the B737-800 and A321’s seats with TV screens, version 1’s recline is less intrusive as it slides forward a little as well as the seatback. This is a nice feature if sitting in row 2 as the forward seat does not intrude on your space nearly as much. They also have a storage area (where it says “No Storage” :)) in the outer armrest and non-bulkhead seats have two small drink trays (bulkhead has one). On some of the renovated B737’s (planes with a row 1) the tray table has a device you can place your tablet to watch their personal device entertainment. I have yet to see an A319 with this. The seat back pockets are smaller in the bulkhead and some of the renovated seats (row 2 only) have a different take on seat back pockets (3 separate spaces). *** AA now (Feb 2023) has one First Class Seat on their A321's & B737's. They have done away with the seats with the seatback IFE. So now all Entertainment is through your own device. All seats on the B737 & A321 have tray tables with own-device holders and non-bulkhead seats have own device holder on back of seat in front. All have storage areas under center armrest that includes a power port. I have not flown on many A319's since this review, but the few I have, have these new standard First Class seats. See photo's below. The only thing is the seatback in row 2 did not have device holder. American has also reduced the leg room in all bulkhead seats. It is still good and you can pass your seatmate without them having to get up, but not nearly as roomy as it was.
As of now the A319 has Main Cabin Extra (Rows 8-10 and exit row 14), whereas, not all the A321's have MCE ( *** All A321's now have Main Cabin Extra - just different configurations). Hopefully they will do same with the A321's as they have with A319's. Unfortunately, because of this, there is no way to differentiate what version you will be on during the booking process. The newer A321’s were designated as A32B, but they did away with that (you can still tell what aircraft by looking to see if plane has MCE). Now the new A321neo’s are designated as A32Q’s, but with the A319, it is just labeled as A319 (**** still the case - all A319's have same seat map). All seats are grey leather with an adjustable headrest and have a comfortable width of 21 inches. They have generous sized overheads and unlike other airlines with only eight seats in First, the forward overhead bins are left empty so all eight passengers should have enough space for their carry-ons (*** this is the one area I am not sure of. AA has put large overhead bins on all B737's and A321's that can fit bags on their sides, greatly increasing storage. I will update this when I can confirm it).
American uses the A319’s on mid to short range flights and to secondary markets. My most recent flights were between PHX and Fargo. Some other routes I have flown on the past year or two are MCI & MSP to PHX, ORD to EWR, STL to DFW, LAX to OKC to name a few. The service is the same with all domestic flights regardless of aircraft (regional jets may differ). A blanket will be on your seat as you arrive (no more blankets) and a pre-departure drink may or may not be offered. I am not sure whether this is just my imagination, but it seems on flights that most likely have former USAir crew (to/from PHX, CLT, PHL) will serve a pre-departure beverage of choice. Whereas, flights to/from DFW, ORD, etc. (AA crew) may not. Whether it is my imagination or not, pre-departure drinks are not always offered. The other inconsistency with American (and honestly with many airlines – and not just in US) is the service. For the most part the flight attendants on American are great; friendly & helpful. But, like other airlines they have their share of jaded, disgruntled, and bossy flight attendants,
One of my favorite things about AA is you can pre-order your meal choice 24 hours to 30 days prior to departure. If you don't pre-order, like with pre-departure drinks, there is some inconsistency in how flight attendants will take your order. American had a policy called FEBO; Orders are taken from the Front on Even numbered flights and from the Back on Odd. Either way pre-ordering is a much more equitable way of getting your meal choice. Especially for those that purchase First Class tickets (as opposed to someone who gets upgraded). On most flights with meals a hot towel will be handed out before the meal service starts. This wasn’t the case on my recent flights to and from Fargo, but I’m assuming that was an anomaly (hot towels have returned after being discontinued during Covid).
Meals can differ by flight time and distance. On shorter flights a snack basket is passed around. Contents of the snack basket differs from time to time (nice to have variety). On
those flights that are around two hours (also depends on time of day and route) or red-eye flights, AA may serve a small cold plate of cheese & fruit or hummus, I’ve also just received a cup of warm nuts and a chocolate chip cookie. It is too complicated to go into great detail (especially now that they are not even serving meals on most flights) of which flights have a meal or not. As an example, ORD to the NYC area serves a full breakfast, but
may serve a snack for lunch and most other routes of that length would only get a cold plate at best. On flights designated as breakfast, lunch or dinner, two hot meals are usually offered. There is always a vegetarian choice which is usually pasta. On some lunch flights I’ve seen a salad with side of cold chicken as a choice along with a hot dish. Breakfast is the same. Usually an egg dish or oatmeal, but I have seen a fruit plate as an
option as well. Breakfast always comes with a choice of bread (bagel, cinnamon roll, croissant, etc). A warm small bowl of premium nuts always precedes lunch and dinner
and usually a choice of a chocolate chip or snickerdoodle cookie for dessert (usually served separate). On longer flights (4 hrs) ice cream will be served for dessert. For the most part I find American’s catering to be edible, and more times than not, enjoyable. As I said on my other two reviews what I like most is the meals are always served hot. Other airlines (especially United) can learn a lesson from this. To see what American is currently (May 2021) serving visit my review on traveling during Covid-19; https://www.patstravelreviews.com/post/what-is-it-like-flying-during-the-covid-19-pandemic Hopefully regular service will resume by the end of Summer (photo of snack box is Covid meal). It is now Nov 2021 and while AA has improved their meal service from these boxed snacks, regular catering has yet to return. United is serving hot meals in First now and I have heard rumors American will resume theirs in the near future.
** As an additional update (July 2022). Some good news, American has resumed serving hot meals, but only on flights longer than 1500 miles (or over 3.5 hours - ORD to the West Coast). On flights from 900 to 1500 miles they serve a cold meal (see bottom 3 photos - have yet to fly on longer flight). They are once again offering pre-departure drinks, hot towels after take-off and real glassware with meal. Plus, you can pre-order your meals in First again. On shorter flights they pass around the Snack Basket. Lunch & Dinner start with warm premium nuts and a beverage of your choice. Hopefully they will lower the distance they serve hot meals as this effects all their DFW flights to California (as of late 2022). I have been on a few AA International Business Class flights recently, and the service is back to pre-pandemic levels. Not sure why they have not done the same thing domestically. As an example, I haven't seen a blanket or pillow on any domestic flights since prior to the pandemic. **** (Feb '23) American is basically back to pre-pandemic service. There is usually one hot meal choice now on flights that ware under 3 hour/1500 mile barrier. So LAX to DFW, LAS to DFW etc. now have a hot meal choice. Hot towels have returned to most flights and happily, the nice ramekin of premium nuts are back. Pre-departure drinks are back, but like before pandemic, this was not always followed. Blankets seem to be gone forever (except on Premium Transcontinental flights) and basket service seems to be gone from 1 hour flights like DFW to MSY or ORD to MCI. Now, just a packet of pretzels or premium nuts with a drink.
In-flight Entertainment (IFE) on American’s A319’s is also similar to their A321’s and B737’s. Version 1 have seatback monitors, whereas version 2 only has personal device IFE. However, current and recent deliveries (B737Max & A321neo) will not have seatback screens. Further, American has started to remove the screens from those planes that had them (not International fleet) and unfortunately this process has been sped due to the grounding of planes during the Covid-19 outbreak. So at some point in the future all domestic aircraft IFE will be thru Wi-Fi on your own device. In the meantime, even those aircraft with seatback monitors will also have access to wireless programing. I prefer the seatback IFE. The TV’s are touchscreen and HD capable. They are slightly bigger than 12″ (8.9″ in Economy) which is much more screen than a tablet. Plus, it keeps the tray table clear to eat. You can access programming either by touch screen or handset (in armrest). While for the most part the content is the same, the seatback IFE has games, music, info and a moving map which wireless does not. But, personal device has 12 channels of live TV (CNN, ESPN, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNBC, NFL, Telemundo, USA, Disney, TNT, and Bravo - ** their live TV is currently unavailable. Not sure if this is just temporary ** Live TV has returned and still has 12 channels, Bravo, Disney and Telemundo have been replaced by Fox News, NFL and ESPN2) and access to Apple Music (only on flights with ViaSat Wi-Fi) in addition to movies and television programs. As I said one of the reasons I am writing this review is to update American’s Wi-Fi. Currently American uses three companies for Wi-Fi. Panasonic on their B777's and 787's, gogo inflight or AA inflight. AA inflight is through ViaSat which is replacing gogo. Most flights I’ve been on actually have the ViaSat version, but all of the A319 flights I’ve been on had gogo. I assume they are updating by aircraft type and the A319’s (and probably A320’s) are the last to change to ViaSat. Actually, when looking at your device all connections are through AA inflight. If when you sign in and the address is "wifionboard" then it is through gogo, if address is "AAinflight" then it is through Viasat. I like gogo because it has free messaging and one hour free Wi-Fi for T-Mobile members. Both have free access to AA.com as well as a few of their partners. The advantages of ViaSat is the speed is much better than gogo and it is available from gate to gate. Gogo still starts and ends at 10,000 feet. For some reason the rates are still inconsistent. Based on either per hour or by flight. The entire flight rates makes sense as it is based on flight time and I have seen as low as $8 on short flights and up to $18 on cross-country flights. By the hourly rate can be either $12 or $14. To access AA’s Personal Device Entertainment you must first download the American Airlines app before your flight (can download it onboard, but you’ll have to pay for the Wi-Fi). There is a nice selection of Movies and TV shows on all of their IFE options. Recent releases, classic movies, and a few international selections. My one complaint is they do not update their TV programming. I have watched the first two episodes of Apple TV's Ted Lasso several times the last 18 months. A word of caution, most if not all of the content is uncensored. Some of the more recently update planes have device holders on the tray table and on the seat back in row 2.*** (Feb '23) IFE and Wi-Fi are basically the same, but my guess is that will change. United now has a flat rate ($8) on all flights and Delta has free Wifi. So, my guess is AA will follow. Until then, Wi-Fi prices are still very inconsistent and can be very high (I recently saw $7 for entire flight then $16/hr on another flight). They have introduced free Wi-Fi if you watch an ad from a sponsor. I have received 20 minutes free on some flights, 30 minutes free on a few others and nothing as well. I am not sure if the free 60 minutes for T-Mobile customers is still available on some of the A319's. *** (Aug 2023) - AA now has 1 hour free Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers (only through your phone). In addition, you also can use 4 full flight coverage a year.
I was surprised to read that American Airlines is the largest operator of the Airbus A319 in the world with 133 jets in their fleet. Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic they are currently cutting their fleet size by early retiring some of their older B737’s and their entire B757 fleet. While they do not have any future order’s for the A319 and some of them are over 20 years old, I think American will be flying these for years (especially if the MAX stays grounded). With the exception of MCE and leg room this review should also cover the A320. All American’s A320’s were inherited from USAir so should be similar to version 2. Despite American reducing seat pitch on their B737’s (AA’s B737 had/have up to 40″ of legroom), new A321neo’s & B737Max’s, and doing away with the seatback entertainment that still keeps them in line with United (also does not have seatback IFE on new deliveries) and Delta. I just wish American had another row in First Class on their A319’s, but other than that it is a nice plane that can provide jet service (as opposed to regional jet) service to smaller markets (LAX – OKC) and allows for longer non-stop service to mid-size markets from their hubs (LAX – STL).