Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I suspect that, for the first time in their lives, many passengers are now checking which planes their chosen airline flies.

The awful tragedies involving the new Boeing 737 MAX have made flyers aware that some planes might be more reliable than others.

American Airlines is one of those affected by the grounding of the MAX. It has 24 of the planes already in service and estimates it's canceling around 90 flights a week.

In the midst of this headache, the  airline actually launched a new plane last week.

Understandably, there wasn't too much fanfare.  

Still, if you're flying between Phoenix and Orlando, you might get a chance to enjoy -- if that's the right word -- the Airbus A321neo.

The name might excite you. Doesn't it sound like a brand new version of the Airbus A321 that you know?

It is. 


You may remember how the MAX gave airlines -- American found itself in the vanguard -- the chance to shove more seats into the plane and garland the result with utterly tiny bathrooms? 

Yes, the ones described by one American Airlines pilot as "the most miserable experience in the world."

Well, the A321neo is improved in the way the MAX improved on the 737.

It's crammed full of seats. It enjoys reduced legroom, even in First Class. Oh, and the seats are much thinner and unlikely to be conducive for a flight from, say, Phoenix to Orlando.

American, though, wants you to focus on the slightly greater number of First Class seats, the larger overhead bins and the WiFi that should work.

I fear one or two travelers might focus on the fact that there are 196 seats on the plane (15 more than on the regular A321) and no seatback screens.

So if you're flying with your spouse and three kids from, say, Phoenix to Orlando to go to Disney World, you might want to make sure you have five electronic devices among you to enjoy the ride.

Ultimately, there'll be 100 of these A321neos flying the American flag.

Ultimately, your current A321 will be retrofitted, just like most of the airline's 737-800's, with the more cramped conditions.

You won't be able to avoid the reduced space. This is, quite simply, the future.

One where airlines -- American isn't alone in doing this. It's merely the most enthusiastic -- try to find every way possible to squeeze passengers.

Passengers, of course, will merely hope to breathe and tolerate.