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American AirlinesBy Joe Brancatelli

The 70-seat CRJ-700 series of regional jets is only slightly larger than the 37- and 50-seat RJs operated by the commuter affiliates of the major carriers. And now American Eagle, the wholly-owned commuter subsidiary of American Airlines, is adding a “first-class” cabin on the planes.

Matching arch-rival United Airlines, Eagle will retrofit 25 of its existing CRJ-700s with a first-class cabin and take delivery of 22 new ones with first class already installed. The new cabin, which debuts July 2, will feature nine seats in a 1-2 layout. Seats will have 37 inches of legroom and be 19.5 inches wide between the armrests. (The new cabin meansthe planes will now have 63 or 65 seats in total.)

Jon Snook, senior vice president of customer service, says Eagle’s first-class service will match that of AA’s mainline cabins. “The mission I’ve got is to make Eagle’s first-class service have the look and feel of the first-class cabin of our mainline jets. And when American serves a meal in first, Eagle will service a meal in first.”

Most of the two-class RJs will fly from American’s Chicago/O’Hare hub. They’ll be used both as a replacement for larger jets on some routes currently served by American and in combination with full-size American jets on other routes.

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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.

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