New AA seat falls (almost) flat
By Barney Gimbel, Fortune writer-reporter

(Fortune Magazine) -- Luxury and business class don't belong in the same sentence for most U.S. airlines. Sure, you'll get a bigger seat and better food than in coach, but don't look for those lie-flat seats found on many foreign carriers.

American Airlines (Charts), however, is trying to play catch-up with its new business-class seat - set to be rolled out on select international flights this fall. The berth includes a state-of-the-art entertainment system and, most important, converts into a 77-inch-long almost-lie-flat bed. (It reclines to 171 degrees.)

But while it's a welcome improvement, I found the seats slightly claustrophobic at a recent preview. I'm 6 feet tall, and when the seat was fully reclined, my legs felt squeezed under the seat in front of me, a configuration that would make it difficult to sleep on my side.

One American Airlines devotee sitting next to me called it "worlds better than what they had, but Virgin and British (Charts) still have them beat." The best-case scenario? American's move gets the other U.S. airlines to follow suit.  Top of page