American Airlines A320 first class doesn’t suck (at least not a lot)

American Airlines A320 first class doesn’t suck (at least not a lot)

So I finally got to try American Airlines A320 first class. It went just about as well as I thought it would. Then again, prior to this flight, I’ve probably spent less than 20 cumulative seconds ever thinking about it.

Long story short: The seats are very basic with no video screens, but the food is pretty good (I’d rate it a 7 out or 10). Hot towels and warm nuts even made an appearance. It actually didn’t suck!

If only my 3rd grade crush (who didn’t even know I existed) would have given me that same kind of chance…

Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
Sunday, October 1, 2023
Aircraft: A320-232
Registration: N656AW
Duration: 2 hours 49 minutes
Seat: 3A (First Class)

american airlines a320 side view n656aw
American Airlines A320 (N656AW) side view illustration by
aa1756 flight track
Our route from Minneapolis to Phoenix today as AA1756

My full review of American Airlines A320 first class from Minneapolis to Phoenix

The most interesting part of this experience was flying American Airlines out of MSP (an airport absolutely dominated by you-know-who). It was easily the ballsiest thing I’ve done all year – but it’s what I gotta do to get content for the blog I guess.

Arrival at MSP

MSP is easily one of my favorite “big” airports in all the world. Not surprisingly, I went from dropping off a rental car and into the terminal (through security) in less than 15 minutes. There aren’t many other major hub airports as efficient as this IMHO.

SANspotter at the MSP check in hall
Yikes. I’m about to venture into an area where very few have ventured before (outside the Delta / SkyTeam section here in Terminal 1 at MSP). Wish me luck!
Check in for United, air Canada, and American Airlines had MSP
You mean there are actually other airlines here? I had no idea.
American Airlines check-in counter MSP
Judging by the lack of activity here at the American Airlines check-in counter, it seems that I’m not the only one who didn’t realize that Delta actually shares this airport with others.
Walking into Terminal E at MSP
In all seriousness, I am very familiar with MSP (and I’m a big fan). Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I already knew that this American Airlines flight to Phoenix would be departing out of Terminal E without even looking at the flight information displays.
Gate E15 Minneapolis St. Paul airport
More specifically, it’ll be departing out of gate E15. FYI, I was *not* hard-core enough to know that bit info ahead of time.
American Airlines A320 (N656AW) at MSP
Come to think of it, guessing the registration number of the A320 that would be taking me to Phoenix today (N656AW) would be the thing that would make me truly hard-core. I didn’t even try BTW.
SANspotter sitting in Terminal E at MSP
God help me if I ever get to the point where I start memorizing the registration numbers of entire fleets of aircraft.

The boarding process for flight number 1756 to Phoenix

Typical. It seems as if whenever I have a really long layover somewhere, my origination flight is always on time. They started the boarding process exactly when they said they would, ensuring that I’d be spending some time aimlessly wandering the terminals of PHX later this afternoon.

American airlines first class mobile boarding pass Minneapolis to Phoenix
I don’t know. It just feels wrong holding an American Airlines boarding pass at MSP.
American Airlines gate E15 jet bridge MSP
Shouldn’t I be awarded bonus AAdvantage miles (or something) for this? The amount of stink eye I had to endure from Delta employees on the way to this plane today did not go unnoticed.
SANspotter putting in AirPods gate E15 jet bridge MSP
What’s that? I can’t hear you, because (thanks to my AirPods), I have a fully transitioned into “don’t mess with me bro – I’m trying to get pictures for an epic airline review” mode.
American Airlines A320 forward boarding door
See? It’s working magnificently here at the boarding door. Then again, nobody ever talks to me anyway, so the “don’t mess with me” vibe is probably overkill.

My first impression of the first class seats

Honestly? My ‘first impression’ was that the seats here on the A320 looked like pudgier versions of the seats you saw in my American Airlines 737-800 first class review. The lack of video screens was also noticeable right off the bat – but it wasn’t all that surprising considering how stingy American Airlines is with that kind of thing.

American Airlines A320 first class cabin
Welcome to American Airlines A320 first class! The target (seat 3A) has been identified, and I couldn’t help but to let out a very creepy sounding “you’re mine!” on the way down the aisle (just as Maverick indicated to Jester in the original Top Gun).
American Airlines A320 first class seats
Déjà vu like a mofo! Who knew that American Airlines A320 first class looks a lot like United Airlines A320 first class?
American Airlines A320 first class leg room
Leg room is exactly the same. And I hate to admit it, but the jeans and the shoes are as well.
American Airlines A320 first class seatback lack of video screens
Think of this as the “ugly” version of American Airlines A321neo first class. Ain’t no video screens here either!
American Airlines A320 first class row 3
I can almost hear the “I was expecting more” conversation from way over here.
American Airlines A320 first class in seat USB and electrical outlets
Looks like we’ve got both USB ports and standard electrical outlets here between the seats…
American Airlines A320 first class under seat storage space
…decent under seat storage space…
American Airlines A320 first class seat center armrest and headrest
…a decent headrest and a thick center armrest (with controls for the nonexistent onboard entertainment system)…
SANsotter reviewing American Airlines A320 first class
…and…uh…yeah. This isn’t half bad. It’s certainly not as nice as what you saw in my American Airlines 737 MAX 8 first class review, but it’s worth saying again: it ain’t half bad.
American Airlines A320 first class cabin overview
There are 3 rows of seats here in first class on the American A320, with 4 seats in each row (in a 2-2 configuration). United only has 3 rows of first class in their A320s as well, so don’t go thinkin’ that the grass is greener.
Loose bolts in American Airlines A320 first class
What would you rather see on the airplane you’re flying on? Loose bolts -OR- runny paint (as you saw in my Delta 737-900 first class review)?

The departure out of MSP

Another really nice thing about the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport is how condensed it is (at least compared to other major airports). Taxi times are always short – no matter which departure runway is in operation.

Minneapolis Saint Paul airport gate E15 jet bridge
Quick! Let’s get out of here before the competition even realizes that we’ve been occupying their territory…
American Airlines A320 pushing off the gate at MSP
We’re 1 minute late pushing off the gate (which is unacceptable when you’re behind enemy lines).
Taxiing past Delta terminal MSP
Nonchalantly whistling past the Delta gates (hoping that they don’t notice)…
SANspotter sitting in American Airlines A320 first class seat 3A
Who knew that flying American Airlines out of MSP would be so stressful?
American Airlines A320 first class passengers
Then again, there seems to be absolutely no f**ks given by any of the other passengers here in cabin. Perhaps I’m overthinking this.
American Airlines A320 takeoff from MSP
Lift off! I wonder what the story is with that Etihad 777-300/ER down there (other than the fact that it’s obviously too afraid to venture anywhere near the Delta gates)?
American Airlines A320 engine and wing view from row 3
If it wasn’t obvious by now, row 3 is where you want to be in American Airlines A320 first class if it’s awesome engine (and wing) views that you seek.

In-flight entertainment

American Airlines is easily the worst of the big three US Airlines when it comes to in-flight entertainment. Some of their aircraft have seat back video screens. Most (such as this A320) don’t. Their catalog of streaming content is quite good though – and every bit as decent as any other major US airline.

American Airlines A320 first class streaming in-flight entertainment menu
In-flight entertainment on today’s flight will require streaming it to your mobile device. Either that or look over the shoulder of your seatmate. Whatever floats your boat.
American Airlines A320 first class in-flight entertainment movies and live TV
There seems to be a fairly decent selection of movies, TV shows, and live TV on tap. The only thing missing is…
SANspotter watching streaming in-flight entertainment in American Airlines A320 first class
…a larger iPhone! Personal device holders build into the seats would be nice too.
American Airlines A320 in-flight Wi-Fi menu
$15 for in-flight Wi-Fi? That’s robbery! (Says the guy who buys his Cheerios at Whole Foods – even though he knows he can get it far cheaper pretty much anywhere else).

The food

Food is served on all flights over 2 1/2 hours in the American Airlines network. This flight to Phoenix today clocked in just under three hours, so they fed us lunch.

American Airlines A320 first class hot towel
Oh! For a second there I thought she handed me a tampon. Nonetheless, it’s always nice to see hot towels domestic first class.
American Airlines A320 first class drinks and snacks
Warm nuts *and* a full can of soda. Would it be immature of me to say that this in-flight service is ‘kicking the nuts’ of any other major US airline at the moment? Probably. But it’s the truth!

Food quality is surprisingly good IMHO. I chose the chicken, while my seatmate went with the fruit and cheese plate. Both were well-presented. I’m not exactly sure how satisfied she was with the cheese, but I quite enjoyed the chicken.

American Airlines A320 first class lunch tray
I went with the chicken for lunch (as one does when being known as ‘the chicken and rice guy’ in the airline reviewer space).
American airlines first class chicken and potatoes lunch
Here’s another angle of the chicken. I can only imagine what my seatmate was thinking as I was going in closer for these detailed pics…
American airlines first class lunch salad
“OMG the salad too?!” What is it with this guy?”
American airlines first class lunch dessert
Honestly, I didn’t care what she thought of me. Getting pics of this delicious brownie was worth every bit of criticism (and speculation) about my mental state.
SANspotter eating lunch in American Airlines A320 first class
Speaking of not giving a crap, I dedicate this one to the person who sent me a message a couple days ago telling me to stop taking selfies. Duly noted (and spitefully ignored).
American Airlines first class chicken breast
“We only want to see pics of the airports, lounges, planes, food, etc” he/she continued. OK then. Here’s the chicken. Hopefully my reflection glistening in the salsa will go unnoticed.

Seat comfort

While nowhere near as comfortable as the seats I got to experience in American Airlines 787-9 business class, the ones here in A320 first class were respectable. I certainly wouldn’t go far out of my way to book this over anything else, but it’s a comfortable enough seat for flights under 3 hours.

Crossed legs in American Airlines A320 first class
Unfortunately you’re going to have to be a little more bendy than average be able to cross your legs in these seats. I’m not that bendy, and this kinda hurt.
American Airlines A320 first class seat recline
Seat recline is just so-so IMHO. The two people in the row ahead of me were reclined a fair bit, but not enough to be too annoying.
SANspotter in American Airlines A320 first class seat
Pro tip: If for whatever reason you become irritated by how much the person in front of you has reclined their seat, nothing sends the message better than gently tickling the hairs on their arm as they try to sleep.

The arrival into Phoenix

It’s been a while since I’ve flown into Phoenix from the east! I’ve forgotten how beautiful the terrain is, and my nose was glued to the window all the way in…

Starting the descent into Phoenix in an American Airlines A320
I think now would be a pretty good time to queue up the theme song to your favorite Hollywood western in your head. It’s lookin’ kinda wild and rugged down there.
Mountainous terrain East of Phoenix
A virtual fist pump goes out to the mofos who crossed this terrain on horseback way back in the day. Y’all (even the women) were far more manly than I could ever hope of being.
Flying over the salt river in Phoenix
Today I learned that there’s actual / real / legit waterfront property in Phoenix. Imagine that.
Arrival at PHX in an American Airlines A320
Welcome to PHX!
American Airlines A320 N656AW arriving in Phoenix
Also, welcome home N656AW.
Arrival at the Phoenix sky Harbor International Airport
Yup. This is an ex-America West aircraft, which means that it has spent it’s entire life based here in Phoenix. < whispering > It’ll probably die here as well considering that there’s an airplane graveyard just 30 minutes west. < /whispering >
American Airlines A320 first class passengers at the end of the flight
She seems to be in an awful big hurry to get away from me, doesn’t she?
American Airlines A320 first class aisle
“Wait! Come back!”
Phoenix airport jet bridge
Like a bolt of lightnin’ lol. Oh well. At least I had fun trying out first class on the American Airlines A320 today.

Pros and cons

American Airlines is usually an easy target for ornery airline reviewers such as myself. They’re usually very inconsistent from flight to flight, but this A320 first class experience was a perfect example of them getting everything right. Mostly.


  • The streaming in flight entertainment is fast AF. Lots of good content too!
  • There are only 3 rows of first class seats, which makes for a more intimate / exclusive experience.
  • As ugly as the seats are, the huge (and very flat) seat-backs help to create a cocoon-like feeling. They actually felt kind of private!


  • The seats look very plain without video screens. It cheapens the experience IMHO.
  • No personal device holders (which would have made watching the streaming in flight entertainment more enjoyable).

Comments (4)

  1. Peter

    October 31, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      October 31, 2023
  2. Jake

    December 22, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      December 22, 2023

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