The A321s will fly from New York Kennedy to Los Angeles and San Francisco. "We are deploying these aircraft on routes where significant first class demand exists," said Friedman, adding that American's top corporate accounts include entertainment and financial industry clients who frequently fly those routes. American has not yet selected the aircraft for its transcontinental routes from Boston, Miami and New York. In general, new A321s, A319s and 737-800s will replace aging Boeing 757-200s and MD80s.

Mann said it's good for American to upgrade its fleet, but it's a little early to actively promote the upgrades. "The claim is that somehow they will have a new fleet overnight," he said. "This is creating expectations that may not be met. "

Realistically, promotion should occur when passengers have some likelihood of seeing new aircraft. "When it becomes a coin flip whether passengers will see new planes, you can talk about them," Mann said. "When it's a dice roll, you can't."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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