American Airlines' newest plane made its maiden run and is now ready to join the family.
It's the airline's first Airbus A321neo, and according to a release, it touched down at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) shortly before noon February 1, following an 8 1/2- hour nonstop flight from Hamburg, Germany.
After clearing customs, the plane heads to an airline maintenance facility in Pittsburgh, where it will spend a couple of weeks undergoing acceptance checks conducted whenever the airline adds a new aircraft type to its fleet.
The Tech Ops — PIT team will install Wi-Fi and other customized elements. After that, it will go around visiting other American bases before entering service.
The A321neo — "neo" stands for "new engine option" — will begin flying customers between Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona and Orlando International Airport in Florida in April.
Once the company takes more deliveries, additional routes will include PHX–Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska over the summer, and PHX and Los Angeles International Airport to Hawaii later this year.
The A321neo will replace retiring Boeing 757s. American has ordered 100 neos, with deliveries set to come in over the next several years.
It's an upgrade from the A321, able to fly an additional 400 nautical miles, thanks to improved fuel burn from the new engines. That extra 400 miles puts new destinations within reach.
The neo seats 196 passengers. It has power at every seat and free wireless entertainment to each customer's own device, including free live television. That's a nice way of saying that they've removed the video screens from the back of the seats.
Additionally, American is the launch customer for Airbus' new XL overhead bins which increase capacity. Bigger suitcases for everyone.
It also has more seats: 196. Airline blog View From the Wing notes that airlines are required to have one flight attendant for every 50 passengers, so 196 sneaks in under 200. They accomplish this by offering less distance between seats, less padding for each seat, and smaller bathrooms.
The plane has 20 seats in first class, with five rows (one more than the current four). There are 47 "Main Cabin Extra" seats and 129 regular coach seats.
American signed up for the "Cabin Flex," or "NX," option of the A321neo, which has a new door configuration.
The A321neo is part of an order for 460 aircraft placed by American in 2011, which also included 100 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. American's fleet has become the youngest among U.S. network airlines.