American Airlines drops first-class option for business travelers

American Airlines dropping international first class for more business class seats

American Airlines is dropping international first class for some of its business class seats.

In a memo issued to employees on Tuesday, the carrier said its nonstop service to Mexico City is dropping the ability to upgrade to international first class.

“We’re upgrading to a point of service that offers a wide variety of non-smoking, comfortable first class seating,” said a statement issued to CNNMoney by American Airlines spokesman Dan Senor. “Now, we’re seeing business travelers interested in non-smoking first class on international flights.”

The move comes several weeks after American introduced a “first-class first” policy for its business class and coach seats, allowing passengers to upgrade to the more expensive seats.

“By offering non-smoking first-class and coach seats to first-class passengers, we offer passengers a choice,” Senor said in a statement. “We appreciate that many of our passengers prefer to travel in first-class and coach to experience the comfort of a first-class seat. That’s why the cost of our seats is $1,000 less than competitors.”

The move is especially disappointing for first class passengers on international flights, said Jennifer Varton, spokeswoman for the National Air Carrier Association, the industry’s trade group.

“First-class is the most romantic of all of the international class distinctions because you’re getting the opportunity to fly in a first-class cabin and experience first class amenities, first-class entertainment, first-class dining,” Varton said. “That’s really special.”

The first-class move will likely be a source of contention among frequent business class flyers and frequent first class customers as well as business class passengers who don’t want to give up first class for business class.

“The one thing I’m disappointed in is the business class is going to be a little bit less than what it is today, and many business class passengers are very upset about it,” said Varton.

“Business class is still the most affordable, comfortable way of flying and making a big deal out of a smaller number of seats being less than what it is today, I think it’s a little bit disingenuous or unfair to those who have upgraded business class,” she said. “Most of us have upgraded, but it is frustrating to

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